How to Prepare for Underwater Adventure in the Maldives
As a world famous diving destination Maldives has more than a thousand dive sites. Many resorts too are well geared to provide some of the best underwater adventures with PADI certified diving schools, PADI and UDI certified instructors and excellent equipment for hire. The natural coastal lagoons around resorts are the perfect places for diver training. The common form of diving in the Maldives is drifts where divers allow the current to move them along. This is also the best way to enjoy spectacular underwater scenery of cliffs, channels, precipitous walls and caves.
Selecting a Resort & Dive Centre
Not all resorts in the Maldives have house reefs and dive centres. Those looking for underwater adventures must select their resort carefully to ensure they have a house reef and are close to at least a few areas that are known for different pelagic and big schools of fish. Most divers heed the maxim that the northern part of the country has better reefs and macro life while the southern part has more sharks Diving is also a seasonal activity. Therefore underwater adventures should be planned accordingly. Going online will help with selection of resorts close to the more popular dive sites and offer information on the facilities offered by the onsite dive centre. Scuba diving forums should also offer the requisite information. While Anantara Veli Maldives, a popular Maldives resort hotel offers all the luxuries necessary for an exotic Maldives vacation for those who want to experience underwater adventure the resort’s dive centre offers PADI courses, orientation dives and diving safaris.
Although diving is prolific from November to May the Maldives is a year round diving destination. During the North East Monsoon from December to May the eastern side of atolls enjoy good visibility. Currents run from east to west in the channels between atolls and reef sharks gather at channel entrances on the eastern side of atolls while mantas hang about the western side of the atoll because of the plankton found there. From June to November during the south west monsoon mantas congregate on the eastern side while reef sharks gather on the western side of atolls. However seasons can be unpredictable. Hanifaru Bay is the exception. From August to November large numbers of Mantas and whale sharks gather around Baa Atoll for the plankton. The area is a marine reserve.
Preparing to Dive
Although keen scuba divers may wish to take their own diving gear, why carry extra luggage on a long haul flight when the Maldives has some excellent dive centres. Almost all centres offer programs for beginners and experienced scuba divers as well as training in many scuba diving specialties. They also offer a wide range of dive excursions. The dive centres have their own boats with oxygen and first aid equipment, a radio and mobile phones. Divers who wish to enjoy more than one dive site can book a liveaboard cruise for several days and be guided to some of the best dive destinations in the country. They also hire wet suits, masks, regulators, snorkels, fins, weight belts, BCD with direct feed, pressure gauges and dive computers and aluminium gas tanks. Divers need to be in good physical condition. Some dive centres may request proof of this. A partial PADI qualification or several hours of diving experience are the other requirements. Divers should check all their equipment to ensure they are in good working order prior to a dive.
Night Diving is something that every resort with a dive school offers. It is part of the underwater adventures in the Maldives. Although visibility is limited to the beam of a head torch, it offers divers an opportunity to see micro and mega fauna that are nocturnal and sharks and rays asleep on the ocean floor. Some night diving tours offer special lamps and masks to detect bio luminescence.
Other Underwater Adventures
Not all visitors to the Maldives are diving enthusiasts. Those who do not dive can now have their own underwater adventure. A whale submarine setting off from Male allows non divers to enjoy views of coral reefs and schools of colourful fish as it dives down to a depth of 100 meters.
Intrigued by history, art and food, Shazzana Hamid is a writer who is passionate about the extraordinary. Disguised as Lavinia Woolf she writes of the exhilarating and enchanting.