Diving in Paradise – a week in the Maldives

Maldives Beach
Hello Maldives!

After a year of planning, waiting and anticipating, I can finally say that I’ve been scuba diving in the Maldives! And what an incredible week it was!

Maldives - Rainy Male
Rainy first morning in Male – not quite how you imagine the Maldives to look like! Male is really built up like a city!

The weather was a bit of a concern at first – the week’s forecasts were rather wet and our first day there was not promising at all with grey clouds and perpetual rain, this trip was not off to a great start; after all what is the Maldives without its cerulean blue waters and sunny green islands? Being cooped up in a rocky boat was not what I had in mind…

Maldives - Sunny Island
Sunny days for most of the trip, phew!

But thankfully the weather made a turn for the better and out came the classic postcard Maldives – sunny skies, unbelievably blue waters… it was really awesome just sitting on the sundeck and enjoying a 360 view of the sea with the occasional island passing by.

Maldives Tanning
My favourite spot on the sundeck – three stories up, catching some rays and sea breeze on the sloping roof. You’ll see more of the Handy Cruise in a separate post later on…

I spent a lot of time outside soaking up as much island-ness as I could, so I’m definitely a little more tanned now (and a tad burnt on my thighs, ow). As with dive trips, I was either diving, eating or sleeping most of the time. The great thing about doing an LOB (Live on Board) dive safari is being able to reach all the different dive sites in the various atolls and islands of the Maldives, so there’s huge variety in both dive sites and things we see.

Maldives Sunset
I mean seriously, the sunsets were all damn amazing

Diving in Maldives is definitely an experience, and one you need to be prepared for: I’m glad I have been diving for awhile before coming here as the waters are not easy at all! Quite often we had to deal with strong currents on the surface and while diving, but that’s also what brings the big creatures you want to see, so it’s unavoidable if you really want to see those critters. Visibility also wasn’t the highest; quite a lot of sediment in the water in some spots.

Also, I had one of my worst dive experiences to date: Very cold waters, really strong currents combined with pressure from deep dives gave me the worst splitting headache in the world, which resulted in some nausea and puking, unprecedented given that I don’t get motion sickness usually. Thank goodness for Panadol and long healing naps!

Before Diving
All geared up to dive! Shout out to Smartbuyglasses for sponsoring the cool blue Rayban New Wayfarers 🙂

I did 18 dives in total over 6 days, so the dive logs will take some churning out, especially since I got to field test the Sony HDR AS-15 Action Cam on this trip and will need to do some video editing. I’m just so so so happy that I got to get up close and personal with some of the critters that I’ve been dying to see for the longest time, the whale shark and manta ray!

Here are 10 of my favourite photos or screenshots so far:

Maldives - Coral
Some of the coral reefs are pretty amazing and colourful – it doesn’t always show up well on my camera, but I think I managed to capture some of it in this shot
Maldives - Baby Eagle Ray
If you’ve seen this already on my instagram @jac_theocctrav, my favourite baby eagle ray without the signature long tail that this species is known for. It’s as cute as a button, and about A3 paper width (most of the other eagle rays we saw are about 2x the size at least, and usually in the distance)
Maldives - School of fish
I’ve seen schools of fish, but not quite in the sheer numbers that you see them here! I like this particular shot because it reminds me of wrapping paper some how, and the waters were pretty at this dive site.
Maldives - Moray Eel
one of my favourite shots of the trip is this moray eel I ran into quite early on – they’re common and not the most exciting creatures, but I like the angle that I managed to get in this shot
Maldives - Whale Shark
Whale shark! This is actually a screen capture from a video I took and one of the few frames where I didn’t have too much interference from other divers. We spotted this one while diving – I like that the dive guide at the bottom gives you an idea of how damn big this creature really is!
Maldives - White Tip Reef Shark
This white-tip reef shark was just chilling out on the sand behind us. I kinda leopard-crawled closer and zoomed in a bit to get this shot. It is totally giving me the side eye.
Maldives - Blue Striped Snapper
There were zillions of these blue striped snappers that lived in huge shoals, but I particularly like this shot that my dive buddy P took with my camera (hers flooded, sadly!) because the colours are so vibrant here.
Maldives - Coral silhouette
I’m quite fond of this silhouette shot that I framed 🙂 Nothing particularly special about the fish or coral, but I just like the way it looks.
Maldives - Manta Ray
This is about the best that I managed to edit of my night dive manta ray shots – visibility was very low, it was night so hardly any light, and these creatures were moving pretty fast! And they are huge, at least my height in length, and tend to swoop in very scarily close to you
Maldives Red Lobster
This was a random find, a red lobster hiding in a crevice. I’m just happy that I managed to get a pretty in-focus shot

We did get up to other things though in between dives – there was some fishing going on in the evenings that I chiefly watched (don’t like touching fish and hooks, ugh) which led to some pretty spectacular fish meals later in the week.

Maldives - Fishing
Stealing a photo from P’s instagram of a pretty bountiful catch one evening! There was a lot of fish in the following days for lunch and dinner…

Also, we got to visit a deserted paradise island of sorts, with the clearest water ever to swim in (but a helluva lot of mozzies in the afternoon – my back was like a buffet for them) and had a lovely candlelight BBQ outdoor dinner there at night. The stars in the sky were amazing to behold, but unfortunately the party got curtailed by a sudden downpour.

Maldives - Paradise
Look at the water, it was amazing to swim in. It becomes coral reef at some point further out, before becoming a steep dropoff where the water turns a really dark blue.
Maldives - Sand Whale Shark
This amazing sand sculpture was done by the boat crew and is all sorts of amazing. It’s actually about the size of the first baby whale shark that we spotted, and so much effort was put into it! Very impressed!

And after we got back on to dry land (I swear some of these islands are not quite like normal land, I was bobbing extra hard in places), we spent an afternoon walking around the capital of Male and stocking up on souvenirs. It was elections in the Maldives and we were there on polling day, so there were lots of flags (pink and yellow were the main parties) all over the town, but it was generally quiet, though many people were glued to the TV for results in the evening.

Maldives Elections
Maldivian flags on this street – others were bathed in yellow, pink or a weird combination of both

Thanks to James and the folks of Scubaddiction for organizing this trip – our party of 18 had a ball of a time diving and it was really fun hanging out with everyone, meeting old friends and making new ones.

Maldives - Scubaddiction
Us and the boat crew in the front of the boat! can you spot me? Thanks to Glenn Yong and Scubaddiction for the picture
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