Maldives Live Aboard Holiday Adventure


Some time ago, in March 2009, my boyfriend James and that i continued the things i are only able to describe as the holiday of a lifetime inside the Maldives. During the last 10 years, since our first holiday together to the Bay Islands of Honduras, where we got certified as SCUBA divers, we have been keen "holiday-divers". I mean that we only dive once or twice a year, while on holiday by this. Because it encourages us to travel somewhere different each year, it's a great hobby. So, far, we have been to Egypt, Florida, Malaysia, Thailand, Australia and Mexico, and all of the trips have been amazing. Our trip to the Maldives eclipsed all other holidays in terms of comfort, service and most importantly, the marine life we saw there. maldives liveaboard

Travel to the Maldives is expensive, especially if you stay in one of the many gorgeous resorts, some of which are at least US$ 500 per night! As keen divers, when we were looking at the many options, it made sense to choose a liveaboard holiday. Until we started researching, I didn't realize how huge the Maldives are. If you want to visit a good selection of dive sites, staying in a resort is not feasible because you end up spending so much of your time in the dive boat travelling to and from the dive sites and less time actually diving, they cover an area of about 300 square kilometers, so. With the liveaboard option, you merely cruise round the archipelago on the main liveaboard then jump to the smaller dive Dhoni that travels alongside the key liveaboard for every dive. Because the smaller boat can get to shallower waters - so closer to the actual dive sites - and all the equipment is kept on board the Dhoni so you don't have to drag it anywhere, this is great. Simply enter into the Dhoni, wear your gear, and jump in water. Of all of the diving trips we have been on, we have never had such an easy experience. One thing's without a doubt, the Maldives has definitely spoiled us!

maldives liveaboard

There is a wide variety of liveaboards in the Maldives, all of which offer differing levels of comfort and amenities according to their price. While our budget wasn't enough to get us one of many fanciest resorts, we were able to get among the higher end liveaboard boats. So, we chose the Island Safari 2 Royal, mainly because it looks like one of those cool private yachts you see in places like Monaco and Key West. In the end, when else are we going to get to enjoy every week living like kings for a small fraction of the cost of renting a yacht that way? So, we booked for a 7-night "Scuba Safari".

Our trip began using a long 14-hour flight from London to Male Airport Terminal, connecting in Qatar. Long flights are something that we have grown familiar with since our love affair with diving began. If you want tropical waters and the best coral reefs in the world, long flights are part and parcel, unfortunately, living in the UK. One good thing about London is that flights out of here are some of the cheapest in the world. Our flight for the Maldives cost approximately US$1,000, which we thought was pretty reasonable. When we arrived in Male, we were met in the airport by a representative from Island Safari 2 Royal, and were come to the boat, which left from Male. We boarded the boat and waited a short while for all the remaining guests to reach then we set off.

The boat was absolutely gorgeous. Better still than it had appeared within the photos! There are 8 rooms and 2 suites on board, and we chose the suite because it has a bathtub, and both James and I love taking a bath after a day's diving. I believe people underestimate the physical exertion of diving; it's not a question of just floating around in the water. After all, you're swimming for a number of hours each day on the scuba holiday, so that you get really worn out. Our suite was gorgeous, using a nice big window so we awakened to views in the amazing turquoise waters from the Maldives and seemingly permanent sunshine and spectacular sunsets. The rest of the boat was gorgeous, using a nice dining room, which was slightly more formal than you might expect, two comfortable lounge areas for relaxing and watching tv and a really big outer deck, perfect for sunbathing, my second favourite pastime after diving! There's nothing like going back to grim England with an outrageous suntan.

Once all the guests were aboard, we set sail towards the first dive site; it had been early afternoon, therefore we would have time for that introductory dive on the first day. Before that, we were given a delicious welcome cocktail (non-alcoholic since we were going diving) and reached meet all of those other guests. We experienced a very international group with another couple through the UK, a small group of 4 from Italy as well as a couple from Germany. While the crew spoke a, German and English little Italian, English was the dominant language onboard, and since all of the guests were fluent, there was clearly no language barrier. Needless to the, I, James and say other Brits had no language skills to offer you up, therefore we were relieved! Our first dive was the introductory dive where everyone reaches recap on the diving skills and basically prove to the crew that we are all capable scuba divers. Currents inside the Maldives could be strong, so you will need to possess some scuba experience to get the most from a diving holiday here. Everyone on board had lots of diving experience and we all had a minimum of an Advanced Open Water certification, so that we had no problems whatsoever.

We took the intro dive at Hanns Reef in the North Male Atoll, and although it was merely the intro dive, we saw some good marine life together with a Moray Eel, a few Turtles, a large group of Blue Stripe Snappers and a lot of Glassfish. Which had been it for the first day, and everyone was tired from travelling, therefore we relaxed, chatted using the crew along with other divers, mainly about previous diving holidays, and tucked right into a delicious meal of Asian-style shrimp salads, rice and kebabs. It absolutely was absolutely delicious so we all crossed our fingers that each and every meal would be this tasty.

We spent the first two days of the trip cruising around the North Male and North Ari Atolls, visiting such dive sites as Nassimo Thila, Rasfari, Rasdhoo Madivaru and Makaru Thila. Highlights from these sites were the spectacular Manta Rays at Rasfari. While diving, we saw tons of Mantas getting cleaned and some batfish playing around the reef. Then, after the dive, we went for any short snorkel across the site, and saw a lot more Mantas - maybe exactly the same ones - these are such peaceful and majestic creatures, and thus big, it's quite unbelievable. Another memorable site of the initial few days was Ghangethi Pass, where we saw a team of 30 White Tip Reef Sharks of numerous sizes, a tremendous Manta Ray, maybe 5 metres across and a very cool Leopard Shark, something I needed never seen before.

All of the sites were teeming with beautiful marine life. Whenever we didn't see among the 'big creatures', we might always see a lot of pretty reef-fish, tiny invertebrates, gorgeous corals and usually some big pelagic species as well. In others there would be 30-50, even though the main star of our trip was definitely the Manta Ray, at some of the sites there would be just one or two. We had never seen, or perhaps imagined, numerous Manta Rays in a single.

Our night dive came on the fourth day of our own trip with a site called Maaya Thila. Night diving is usually a fascinating experience and i believe it's the one instance where even seasoned scuba divers feel a bit nervous. It's one thing being in the ocean when you can see, but surrounded by such an intense darkness is always a little intimidating and gives that extra adrenaline buzz. The behaviour of the fish is a touch different during the night, when the majority of them do their hunting. We saw a team of White Tip Reef Sharks looking for some dinner as well as a Moray Eel, away from his hole within the reef and swimming around a Turtle, and also a beautiful Lionfish as well as the usual phosphorescent plankton. Very cool!

The following evening, we visited the local community on among the islands. It's quite interesting to see how these folks live this kind of simple live life, totally in harmony making use of their environment. Every way to obtain protein which they eat comes from the ocean, and is usually served having a coconut or some other fruit that grows naturally on the island. They did some traditional dances for we and us bought some nice souvenirs from them. This seems to be their main income source, besides the things they make by selling their catches at market in Male or to resorts across the islands.

The very last two times of the liveaboard safari, we spent around the South Ari and Vaavu Atolls, in which the highlights were Fotteyo and Cocoa Thila. At Fotteyo we saw a team of dolphins come through, which can be really unusual while deep-sea diving. We saw some beautiful Eagle Rays and some of the best coral reef we had seen all week. This is a fantastic chance of the underwater photographers inside the group to take some beautiful shots from the coral using the reef fish and pelagic species within the foreground. Sun Island in the South Ari Atoll was one of the most important sites of the whole trip, as it was the sole site where we saw Whale Sharks within the whole trip, which is probably the big draws in the Maldives. There was actually two different Whale Sharks at this location and they were HUGE!

Overall, the diving was superb, we saw much more creatures than I could ever mention here. There can be no diving on the last day, because it's not safe to fly so soon after scuba diving, so we spent the day snorkeling in the morning and then shopping in Male in the afternoon, because a lot of guests leave the Maldives directly from the liveaboard safari. Male is a very congested city, and is definitely not the place to spend your Maldives holiday, but it's worth spending a day there just to check it out. The fish market is particularly intriquing, notable and the truth is how each of the fishermen from across the islands are available in using their day's catch as well as the resorts from around the nation buy it up and carry it to feed their hungry guests.

We made a decision to extend our trip by a few days and take advantage of these gorgeous resorts and fully relax after our fantastic liveaboard adventure. We chose the Coco Palm, Dhuni Kolhu, because it was only 30 minutes from the airport and we didn't want to have to travel too much. We were more interested in the relaxing massages in the spa and the over-water bungalow. Whenever you consider the Maldives within the travel brochure or on the net, it's the over-water rooms that catch the eye, therefore it seemed almost wrong to leave without spending at least one night sleeping in just one. Our last two days at Coco Palm were totally breathtaking, so much in fact, it's likely to be difficult to get a honeymoon retreat more perfect than this one!


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