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  • Writer's pictureShaun Yeo

Magical Maldives!

Updated: Nov 9, 2019

Maldives! A dream honeymoon destination, widely known for its private island resorts, with crystal clear turquoise waters and white sands in a tropical paradise.

It was very long journey from Gibraltar to Maldives, lasting over 24 hours, including 3 flights! I first had to make my way to London, where I met the rest of the dive team. Some divers where on my Gibraltar to London flight, others made their own way there on a different flight, and the rest who already lived in UK, made other arrangements to meet us at London Heathrow Airport. I had an 8 hour wait between flights in London, and the check in desk did not open till 4 hours before departure, so it was a long wait roaming around the airport. The next flight was an overnight flight which took 11 hours, taking us from London to Sir Lanka. I find it hard to sleep on planes, so this made the flight feel like forever, especially being the longest flight I have ever taken. The final part of the journey was a connection flight at Sri Lanka, which took us direct to Male, an airport in the Maldives. All of us kept looking at our watches, as the plane had taken off 30 minutes late, and we would only have 20 minutes to get off one flight and onto the next! Luckily, the crew were aware we were on the London flight, and they were all waiting for us before closing the gate to our connection flight! Our final flight was only 1 hour! Once in Male, we had to hang around for 2 hours, for our transfer to arrive. This gave me enough time to have some food, buy a SIM card for my mobile internet, and change some money into the local currency. I was surprised to see that the airport and runway were in the middle of the sea, and the transfer to the main Island of Male was by ferry. But our transfer was with the dive boat, from the airport directly to our liveaboard.

Suffering for a prolonged period of now 9 weeks from a viral infection, including secondary infections such as sinusitis, I wasn’t able to do the 1st and 2nd dives on the first day of diving. I was getting a painful sinus squeeze above my eyebrows, which wouldn’t equalize below 2 metres! Eventually after lots of decongestion medications, I managed to do the 3rd dive of the day. I still had a sinus squeeze but I forced air into the cavities affected, eventually being able to descend onto the reef. The current was extremely strong here, and the visibility poor. There was no way of stopping to take a photo, unless you had a reef hook! All the corals were also dead, I was not impressed with the diving on the first dive, and thought to myself, is this what diving in Maldives is? Drifting with the current along the reef, we finally found a sheltered place, where the current disappeared. Here I managed to take a few photos of some marine life belonging to the Indian Ocean, I had never seen before.

Day 2, I decide to skip the first morning dive due to decongestion again, but I manage to dive the next 2 dives of the day. Now we have moved north from Male, still in Male Atoll but on the Eastern side of the atoll. The visibility is now much clearer and I see more corals and marine life than on my first dive yesterday, but still the reefs are almost dead. One of the instructors tells us that Maldives suffered severe coral bleaching on its reefs a few years ago, although I saw on the last dive, at least 30 crown-of-thorns starfishes, which I’m sure are contributing to the dying state of the corals on the reefs. I finally see the marine life I have been looking for on my last dive of the day, a nurse shark, sting ray, and purple and red sea anemones with clown fish living in them.

Day 3, again I miss the first dive of the morning. I’m feeling much better today with my sinusitis, but I preferred to save myself for the next two dives of the day. My first dive today is on a reef consisting of beautiful overhangs, which the locals call caves. Here I photograph the amazing colours of the reef. The visibility is good at this dive site and the corals are much better than on previous dives. A turtle pops out of nowhere on our safety stop, just at the top of the reef! Our afternoon dive has to be the best dive I’ve had in Maldives so far. In just one dive, I must have seen 10 sharks throughout the dive. Black Tips, White Tips and Grey Reef Sharks, all roaming about, some lying on the sand resting. Also lying in the sand I saw 4 large Feather Tailed Sting Rays, and then suddenly out of nowhere, Mantas swim past! One past inches above my head. What an amazing dive this was!

Day 4, today I also do 2 out of 3 dives. I didn’t want to force any injuries on my sinuses! My first dive is our last in North Male Atoll. The weather finally starts to improve and we decide to travel to South Male Atoll in the afternoon. The dive crew decided to go back to Manta Point, a dive site I had missed on the first day of our trip due to sinus squeeze on decent. But this time I had the opportunity to have an amazing dive, watching Mantas on a cleaning station, just down at 15 metres on the reef. After spending 30 minutes with the Mantas, my dive buddy and I, decided to explore the rest of the reef. We came upon a large turtle and another Manta passing by. I also saw a Sting Ray and White Tip Reef Shark pass in the distance. My second dive today was now in South Male Atoll. We dived a reef with a steep slope down into the blues. Here I caught site of a beautiful Spotted Eagle Ray, and another turtle. I also enjoyed the lovely colours of the reef, with small blue triggerfish found everywhere.

Day 5. My viral infection, including the secondary infections (i.e. sinusitis), looks like they have now completely left my body. Today I do the full 3 dives of the day. We start of with a nice reef full or beautiful colours. Here I find my favourite red and purple anemones, full of clown fish. The visibility not too bad but then turns into murky waters as we drift from the ocean side of the reef, into the channel going into the atoll. Dive 2, we dive on a Thila, similar to what we call a seamount. We are briefed on the possibility of being surrounded in grey reef sharks and the strong currents we will experience on this dive site, none of which were present! It looks like we got the slack part of the tide, and the visibility was not great, so I didn’t get to see any sharks. I stayed on the reef instead, which had lovely overhangs full of colourful corals and plenty of species of fishes. The final dive today is on the edge of a reef, through which the channel connecting the atoll runs to the ocean. Here I get to see one baby white tip shark and two turtles. The visibility was not very good here either.

Day 6. We finally get a break in the weather and we manage to travel down to Vaavu Atoll. The first two dives are done in South Male Atoll in a reef, followed by the third on the new Atoll we have just travelled to. Here we do a night dive at the famous Alimatha dive site. Well known for its shark infested waters, a famous dive site for diving with nurse sharks at night! We are all briefed on the diving and safety procedures we will use. We all kneel down on a sandy bottom just at 10m, in a circle formation. Suddenly out of nowhere nurse sharks appear from all directions. Squeezing in between divers to get to the centre of the circle. Sting Rays also appear and large amberjacks too! They put on a great show for us, there must have been at least 30 nurse sharks and 4 sting rays I had seen. I got bumped into, by numerous nurse sharks, as well as whipped by their tails and rubbed against as they swum past me. This had been the best dive of my life. What an amazing experience!

Day 7. This morning I feel congested again, and decide to give the morning dive a miss. The next dive is on a reef I found rather boring. We went in search of sharks but didn’t see any. Usually I choose to have a look at the reef instead when no sharks appear within the first few minutes of the dive, but the corals here were mainly dead and not much marine life was around. I managed to find a small turtle and a small lobster on this dive. After this dive we started making a move to our next dive site, were we would anchor for the night. As we started making our way to the next dive site, the Donghi, the dive boat that follows us throughout the trip, had some problems technical problems. The engineer, and captains spent hours trying to fix the boat. The repairs still wasn’t done by the time we were going to have the afternoon dive, so we decided to visit a beautiful sand bank on the reef. The “little islet” was amazing. Beautiful white sand and turquoise waters. There was a baby shark found dead on the shore, and hundreds of crabs racing across the sand. After about an hour, the Dingi came to pick us up and told us the Dongi was fixed and we could dive. By the time we had the briefing, kitted up and got to the site, the sun was setting. I had problems equalizing my left ear, and when eventually I could descend, I had lost my dive group under the water! I decided to take a few photos of some colourful anemones on the reef top and then ascend and abort the dive. There was no way I would find my dive group in the low light and visibility we had on the reef. Solo diving is no permitted in Maldives.

The next two days, my sinusitis reappears, and I am not able to dive anymore. I did a total of 15 out of 25 dives. I was happy with the amount of dives I did, considering my illness, and I had seen all the marine life I wanted to see in this trip. We missed the night dive with the Mantas and visiting an Atoll where we could find Whale Sharks due to the poor weather conditions. Overall, I would prefer to dive in the Red Sea again. The corals are in a much healthier state, and the visibility much better. I’ve always wanted to dive in the Maldives, and I have now done it. I wouldn’t come back again, unless it would be for a honeymoon in a private island resort.

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