Blog about Underwater Life and Scuba Diving

Scuba Diving in Maldives

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Maldives – a heaven for divers, whether you are a beginner or a dive master, you will love diving there and remember it all your life all you need is to find flight deals . At the resorts operate special courses both for those who are preparing to dive for the first time and for experienced divers too. There are special places with soft corals, gentle slopes and plenty of tropical fish for novice divers, so even newbie will fully enjoy his diving experience.

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Experienced divers have opportunity to conduct night and drift diving, also steep walls, caves and cliffs are there to amaze you. Wreck diving is not a problem here, all you have to do is to choose which sunken vessel you’re planning to see. But the most exciting is to discover something new, for group of divers countless number of yet unexplored reefs are waiting for their time.

Swimming underwater in the Maldives can be everywhere – both in the lagoon at your resort, and at the furthest from Malé atoll. In many resorts there are special schools for divers.

Almost all islands have reefs located nearby, to which you can swim straight from the beach. Best of the reefs is located in the resort of Ellaidhoo, a bit worse – on resort Bandos, Wade, Embudo Village, Giraavaru, Helengeli, Baros, Baros Ra and Twin Island (Maafushivaru). But of course here are not all reefs worthy of attention. In general most resorts are surrounded by small reefs and if you want to reach a reef straight from the beach resort, make sure that reef is available nearby. Those who want to enjoy not only the coastal waters, dhoni will you to an underwater safari.

Ari Atoll - Ellaidhoo

Ari Atoll – Ellaidhoo

Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru > Aerial view

If you’re new and healthy, you can take a short course at your local resort (there are 3 types of diving courses: for beginners, special, high complexity).

Those who already can be called Scuba Divers need to take with them the certificate and diving log. If you have not engaged in diving for a while, you will be asked to make a test dive, so the instructor can observe how you feel in the water. These precautions are made because of lack of sophisticated medical equipment in Maldives, and such small inconvenience may be brought to you.

Maldives reefs

Maldives – dual band atolls over 90 thousand square km – part of a volcanic ridge stretching from Laccadives Islands to Chagos. The largest atoll in the world – Huvadu is Among 26 atolls of the Maldives.

Laccadives Islands

The atoll consists of numerous small islands surrounding a large lagoon. Lagoon depth is from 40 to 90 m bristling with reefs, corals and Tilly – reef deep bedding, lying on the sandy bottom. Calm waters in the lagoon create favorable conditions for the formation of branching and reef-building corals with about 900 species of tropical fish. If you want to get acquainted with the fish to be found here, buy a book of local marine biologist RK Anderson.

In the Maldives, there are many faros – concentric reefs inside the atoll. Faro is not a true atoll, but instead forms part of the rim of a barrier reef or a larger atoll. Faro is located near the outer sides of the atolls, longer, and some are broken, like a horseshoe, but they rise from the bottom of the atoll, and it seems they are forming a lagoon within the lagoon. The depth of this lagoon is usually up to 6 m, and only sometimes reaching 40 m.

Each island is surrounded by the so-called local reef, due to which in almost all resorts tourists have excellent opportunities for scuba diving. Visibility in the lagoons is usually good.

Ocean on the outside of atolls reaches 1-3 km in depth. There are several vertical reef walls In the Maldives, and though many slopes are gentle, in some places very steep cliffs exist. Outside of atolls water is very clean, and marine life is extremely diverse and full with colors. Some reefs on the western side of the atoll of Male and South Male are inhabited with starfishes, and unfortunately they are causing significant damage to corals.

Best time for diving in Maldives

The best time for scuba diving is from January to April, when the sea is calm, the sun is shining, the weather conditions are great and the visibility in the water can reach 30 meters. It’s possible to meet whales in the strait at the southern tip of Ari Atoll from late August to October. But if you want to see giant rays and whale sharks, the best to visit Malé and South Male is from August to November and from February to April for Ari atoll, as waters are rich with plankton during this period.

Diving is possible throughout the year, but rain, wind and waves are most common during the season of the southwest monsoon (June-August). During this period, it is difficult and sometimes impossible to get to some interesting places for diving. In a bad season the visibility in the water sometimes falls to 10 m. It is said that the weather in Maldives has a two-week cycle, but there is no clear pattern of change. North-easterly winds in December and January made it difficult to get to the best dive sites on outer and eastern sides of the atoll, but diving can be conducted in lagoons and streams.

Visibility in the water often exceeds 30 m, the temperature of the water is suitable – 27-30C, which allows you to swim with light and comfortable suit.

Maldives rules for divers

In order to make diving safer Maldivian Government has developed a number of rules. Immersions after which ascending requires decompression is prohibited, and diving below 30 m is not allowed. Also it’s a must to have buoyancy compensators (BCs).

Instructors arrange a test dive and if they see that the person feels confident in the water, they allow him to dive alone without joining the group of divers. Some resorts require that diver should not be submerged more than one hour if dive has been conducted from a dive boat or the pressure is at least 50 atmospheres in the BC. Theses rule varies depending on the type of diving and skills of the diver.

Recently shark feeding has ceased to be popular and not conducted regularly. Consult with the instructor about the possibility of meeting with predators. Read also … Protect Sharks

Diving resorts

Dive centers have possibility to arrange diving from a boat in the morning and afternoon , if dive site is located less than an hour away.

Night diving is usually arranged at the request of holidaymakers in most resorts. At the resort with the nearby reefs, where diving is possible directly from the shore, the number of dives is not limited. At Bandos and Ellaidhoo diving can be done all day round. The immersion is carried out with dhoni, large enough to accommodate themselves – divers and their equipment. On boats there is a canopy that protects from direct sunlight. At dhoni usually placed from 4 to 20 divers. Tours are conducted regularly on a daily basis to distant places, which include two dives from a boat included either a lunch (dry rations) or a barbecue on an uninhabited island. Sometimes tours include a visit to another resort.

Packages for scuba diving.

If you are going to dive for several days it is best to purchase a package of services. Prices are moderate and several options are offered. One of them includes two boat dives and unlimited shore dives. This option is more suitable for those who rest in the resort, which has a reef nearby and is planning to make more than two dives per day. The fee for the boat is usually charged separately but many resorts will make discounts if package is ordered. The price for scuba diving is included in the price at Club Med resorts and Club Vacances. On average a package that includes one dive worth $35, 6 dives – $180, 10dives – $250, and six days of unlimited diving – $250-300 dollars. The price for boat an average is $9 per person for per trip and $15 for two. These prices include the cost of rent only for cylinders with air and cargo, all the rest of the equipment can be rented in the resort shop. Average prices for rental equipment are $10 per day for the full set and $2 per day and above for each item.

Test dive.

If you have never dived before, you should conduct a test dive or take appropriate courses. Test dive consists of a short briefing and demonstration, followed by swimming in the lagoon or reef on the island. The introductory part is very short and usually takes about half of the day and helps you to decide whether you want to continue with diving or not. At most resorts you can make a test dive, a cost of which is about $32, this price equipment is included. If you decide to attend courses to get a certificate, then in some resorts the price of the test dive will be included in the cost of training.

Diving Courses at the resorts

Dive courses are not available on all resorts. Theoretical trainings are combined with practical diving and include three to six dives accompanied by an instructor. The first three are usually held in the lagoon and in the nearby reef of the island, and then by boat. Prices range from $150 for a three-day course with three dives to $300 for a six-day course with six dives.

Some schools give out their cards and submarine dive logs, but they are only valid for that resort and will be ignored by many other dive sites. Diving courses at the resorts are focused to introduce you with scuba diving, and if you enjoy this sport, you can move to the next step and get a certificate (C-card).

Certificate. The main certification agencies in the Maldives are PADI, NAUI and CMAS. You can get other certificates too, but not everywhere. Teaching courses are conducted in all major European languages. Before the start of training course, you will be asked to fill out a medical questionnaire. Price for standard certification is $430 (included equipment rental), and $320 for increased complexity, the last includes training courses for night diving, orienteering and navigation. But always make sure if boat fee is included in the price.

Scuba Safaris

One and two week underwater safaris are designed for those who do not want to be tied with resort. They usually start in Male and include a visit to one of the atolls. Baa or Ari, a week-long trips or both atolls in two weeks (in some cases, these atolls are replaced by the South Male and Felida). During peak season, from January to April, all places are occupied so it’s best to book a boat in advance.

Boats for safaris are fully equipped yacht-dhoni length of 12-20 meters and with width of 4-6 m. They can take on from 2 to 14 passengers. Each is accompanied by a dhoni boat: it gets divers to the dive site and carries all equipment.

Usually two dives per day are being performed, and in during intervals tourists visit the fishing villages. You can order a larger number of dives. Scuba Safaris cost 70-90 dollars per day per person (full board), or U.S. $300-500 for 12 dives. These prices also include the price for diving boat, air tanks, weights and instructor.

Drift Diving

Strong currents represent an excellent opportunity for drift diving in the straits and channels of atolls and between them. Going down the reef you can see doorsteps of sea pike swimming against the tide. A quick glance at the reef during the drift will show you how fast is the flow. Be careful with the stingrays, which are looking for food among currents. Look down at the coral trees, crowned with stars, and wave to fishes floating beneath you. When your journey comes to the end, ascent to surface and give a signal to dhoni, it would be in the same direction and they will pick you up. Read also … Drift Diving

Night diving

Night diving is a worthwhile experience: you have an opportunity to see new and more diverse marine life. Photographing fishes at night is simpler, since they can be approached closer than in the daytime. Please also read Night Diving Guide

During the sunset reef is changing, as you may already know fishes change their color. Wrasses bury themselves in sand, fish-butterflies darken and settle in corals, small fish are hiding in crevices and burrows, and the parrot-fish surround themselves with protective mucus. When the day’s fish finish preparations for the night and go to the asylum, night inhabitants appear. Point the flashlight beam on the reef and you’ll see the darted dark-red soldier-fish. In soft coral bushes usually are found small crabs that hide among the corals and sponges.

To see the amazing firefly-fish, find a place near the cave or some other niche, turn off the lights and wait. A few minutes later draped green lights: first one, two, few, and then – a whole sea.

Underwater dangers

It is easy to forget about dangers hiding behind the enchanting beauty of the underwater world, so be always cautious. Always listen to your instructor, he knows local underwater world much better than you. In some areas with very strong currents it’s so easy to lose the diving group. If you are being taken by strong flows, try to swim sideways, and not against it to reach calm waters. Some resorts provide buoys (long tubes filled with air, which are connected to the vest of divers), visible from the boat when ascending. In many shops for divers these cheap means of security are being offered, so they should be stocked up in advance.

If you happen to see a sea urchin or starfish, avoid touching them. These animal contain poison in needles, which is not dangerous to your life, however it may cause you great inconvenience. You’ll not be able to remove the needles from your body, and it will be done by your body automatically. Please also read , dangerous animals of the Red Sea

You may encounter a scorpion fish or stonefish. Do not touch them, and they will not touch you. You may meet a lionfish too, in this case stay away from its sharp fins, because they are poisonous. If you still get stung, treat the wound and surrounding tissue with very hot water, as hot as you can bear. The heat will neutralize the poison, but you still need to consult with doctor.

Suit for diving is optional as the waters are warm, but it can protect you from scratches from corals and bites from undetected water creatures. Spray “Stingose” available from local stores will neutralize the bite. You can use vinegar and wet tea bags, but they are less effective.

The combination of sea and sun increases the risk of burns. Before and after immersion using a good barrier cream is advisable.

One last thing: bring your instrument for measuring the depth of immersion – the water is very transparent, so you cannot calculate and exceed the planned limit of depth.

Instructors at the dhoni usually have oxygen supply for emergency cases. In the centers of diving oxygen supply is sufficient to bring the victim in decompression chamber.

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  • 3fortune said:

    I really wants to go there, what a cool beach :)

  • Yosef Trenggono said:

    I was amazed by the beauty of marine tourism in the Maldive islands. Before this I had never heard the Maldive islands, but when a television show in my country Indonesia show the natural beauty of the sea I feel fall in love to visit the island.
    Never in my life felt the clarity of sea water like crystal in this Maldive islands.
    I hope that one day I have had the opportunity cost and I really want to visit this island.

  • ppppp said:

    just luv those islands


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