The turtles are everywhere. They’re on the beach, stone figures huddled together and looking out to the ocean as one big family ready to storm like it’s Normandy. They’re on the walls, black and white framed pictures lit from above with a spotlight that shines like a halo. They’re even in the name of this island: “velaa” is turtle in the Maldivian language of Dhivehi.
Located on the remote Noonu Atoll in the northern region of the Maldives, Velaa (or Velaa Private Island, to give it its full title) is one of 71 islands in the district. It promises visitors a home away from home, if home was a secluded bolthole in the Indian Ocean that can only be reached by seaplane.