July 21st, 2014 Comments off

If you’re reading this we can already assume you, or someone you know, is bordering on scuba addition. Or, maybe you’re thinking of trying scuba diving and you’re wondering what all the fuss is about. Your life may change when you discover scuba, like it has for so many others.

In the Maldives it is particularly easy to slip from recreation to obsession when you live a scuba lifestyle for more than a day or two. While others are concerned with a work-life balance you think a scuba-life balance describes your situation more closely.

We all have activities that we enjoy from time to time. So how do you know that an activity has passed that greyish line into the realm of obsession? If you initially denied any accusations of scuba addiction, you’ve already made it to the first stage – denial. Read on to see just how far your scuba addiction has sunk in.
 

diver with turtle flickr 600x450 19 Telltale Signs You are Addicted to Scuba Diving

You can’t get enough of dive photos


 
You know you’re addicted to scuba diving when:

  1. You hear this often: “Didn’t you go on vacation? Where’s your tan?”
    Then you smile remembering what you were doing instead of lazing in the sun. You don’t mind that many of your daylight hours were spent in a wet suit under many meters of sea water.
  2. The time you spend diving is only a fraction of the time you spend talking about it
    Not just during the trip but before and after you catch yourself bringing scuba into the conversation on a regular basis. Or you didn’t even realize that you did that until now, in which case your addiction is really far gone.
  3. You become a morning person if it means getting in an extra dive
    Waking up for work – set 3 alarms and snooze them all. Waking up for scuba – no alarm needed.
  4. Your closet has been reorganized to make room for dive paraphernalia
    Move over rarely worn outfits and shoes for those special occasions. The most important occasions in your life now only involve wet and dry suits and a pair of special booties.
  5. Leisure time = scuba time
    Whether for actual diving or for research and planning, it’s all about scuba. Your internet browser history is 80% dive-related.
  6. Holding your breath underwater just seems unnatural
    You start refusing to swim without a snorkel. You imagine yourself in the shower with a snorkel just for a laugh.
  7. Instead of football stats or local news you talk about equipment configuration
    Topics of normal conversation become boring
  8. You make big life decisions based on your desire to dive
    Pregnancies are planned to avoid interfering with dive trips and you may decide to buy a vehicle to get you to diving locations more easily. On the other hand you might start selling off items to feed the diving addition. You plan your annual budget around dive trips and gear.
  9. When you catch a whiff of your dive gear, that weird indescribable odor unique to you, you secretly enjoy it
    While others ask, “What’s that smell”, you get flashbacks of shark sightings.
  10. The return home is spent planning your next dive trip
  11. No one ever asks you what you want for your birthday
    Anything scuba will do.
  12. As you’re reading this you’re nodding your head
    And you are now realizing why you get all of those dirty looks from your partner and non-diver friends.
  13. You were probably sent this list as a passive intervention from the same people above
  14. You imagine breathing thru a regulator when you’re at home
    If questioned by anyone you explain it as calming breathing techniques because that sounds more normal than what you were really doing.
  15. During sales periods you only go to dive shops
    Black Friday here you come!
  16. You fall asleep with your fins or dive booties still on
    And hopefully someone got a photo of that.
  17. During your dives you mimic the fish and try to befriend them
    You think that you can communicate with them.
  18. You’re signed up to get all the scuba news and deals
    You have a constant feed via newsletters, magazines and social media.
  19. You often dream of scuba
    Sometimes the experience is so vivid you wake up feeling refreshed as if it really happened. A great way to start the day!
     

     
    If you agreed with any one of these you’re likely addicted to scuba diving. So your lifestyle is heavily affected by scuba – who cares?! It’s obvious that you’re not alone. An addiction to scuba is better than all of the other most common dependencies out there so if scuba is the dominant one you may be doing yourself a favor.

    Soothe your diving urges with some Maldives diving. Thanks to the deals on summer packages and the upcoming manta season, there is no better time than now to head to the Maldives on a dive package.

    Warning: Diving in the Maldives may force diving addiction to surface even more quickly.

    Book your summer diving deal here!

 
July 16th, 2014 Comments off

Dive spot hopping in the Maldives makes for a fully packed holiday. Liveaboards in the Maldives already offer great value by exposing scuba divers to many attractions in one tour and, all the while, transporting them in style. But, there are extra special deals that pop up providing even better value.
 

theia sunset 600x386 How to Get a Maldives Scuba Diving Deal

New horizons each morning and evening from Theia and dive liveaboards


 

The Dive Safari Package

 
Liveaboards offer packages that keep divers on the move among the islands, and keep the drain on their pocketbooks to a minimum. Even when the idea is to splash out in luxury, there are ways to save on the splurge.

Rather than a nightly stay, as in a hotel, booking a package is a way to add value for guests and make sure their needs are taken care of. Out on a boat in the middle of the Indian Ocean guests don’t have many choices of where to eat, which makes full board packages on liveaboards an industry standard.

Typically, liveaboard cruises in the Maldives offer, as standard, breakfast, lunch and dinner (aka full board meal plan), water, tea and coffee, 2-3 dives per day with tanks, belts and transport by dive dhoni, airport transfers, dive guides and applicable taxes. Also included may be fishing and snorkelling gear, a desert island picnic, a local island visit and a Male day trip.

Extras could include things like additional beverages, insurance, some taxes, gear rentals, and internet service. Tips for staff are an additional cash cost to factor in as well. Some boats include nitrox in their packages which may bring huge value if you’re a nitrox diver. Be sure to check the list of inclusions and exclusions to see how well the items fit your needs.

When meals, dives and transfers are included money management becomes much easier. It means that the basics are covered, and extra funds are needed only for souvenirs, supplementary activities and maybe some extra drinks or borrowed equipment in the case of a breakdown.

Arguably, dive packages provide mega value compared to resorts. The total spend for a non-package holiday is more difficult to budget in advance as well. The room bill will increase as certain meals are paid separately and activities are charged to the bill. Just getting out of the resort for a few hours will likely set you back a few bucks too. Dive packages aim to include as much as possible so guest are set for the week.
 

stingray dining 600x400 How to Get a Maldives Scuba Diving Deal

Meals on wheels, full board meals served on Stingray


 

When to Expect Deals

 
Promotions pop up year round in many shapes and forms. The most common are the last minute deals. It may be a last minute deal that pushes you to grab those few extra vacation days at work and jet off to the Maldives. Scooping up a surprise deal feels amazing! If, however, you’re trying to wait for a last minute deal you’ll need patience and nerves of steel. What will be available at the last minute is unknown until, well, the last minute. Usually last minute offers are released within the same month or the month before the discounted travel dates.

The biggest seasonal discounts come around in the “off season”. Summer Specials during the non-tropics summertime, are offered from May to October. Even the top luxury cruisers, like ScubaSpa Ying, have off season specials. The sumptuous cabins of the boat are where spa and scuba intermingle in perfect harmony – and the current discounts are also in perfect harmony with your budget.

Packages tailored to celebrations can also be found at certain times of the year too, at New Years for example. These are packages with special inclusions but are not necessarily discounted rates.
 

What’s the Deal?

 
Various types of deals pop up from free nights to percentage discounts. Liveaboard stays in the Maldives are either 7- or 14-night packages so reductions are often based around this. For example, the “Stay 7 Pay 5″ deal is popular. You can also see price reductions around 15-20% as well as other specials and discounts, such as flat price reductions (300 euros off).
 


 

How to Get in on Dive Deals

 
Those who find the best deals look on a regular basis and keep their eye out over a period. This strategy goes not only for holiday packages but for flight rates as well. Plus, keeping up with fluctuating prices means you’ll know a really good deal when you see one.

Awareness of the usual package inclusions, which you now have, will allow you to compare apples to apples on discounted package rates. You won’t be fooled into choosing a package that seems cheaper but doesn’t have all the items based on your needs (nitrox, internet, snorkelling/fishing gear).

To keep up on prices, you can use newsletters and social media that “feed” you with news as it happens. Maldives dive travel sends a weekly newsletter to their subscribers with their most recent promotions and updates their Facebook page with these promotions as well.
Stay current and connected! Subscribe to our newsletter and Facebook Page so you will know immediately when promotions are released.

Speaking of promotions, here comes a last minute deal for Theia and another for Stingray!

 
July 2nd, 2014 Comments off

While flocks of tourists arrive in the Maldives during the Northern hemisphere’s winter season, there are some great reasons to head to the tropics in the summer too. Not least, the increased abundance of marine life and the bargain shop prices.

We think the positives outweigh any pitfalls that come along with the summer season, especially for divers. Here are the main characteristics of the summer season so you can decide for yourself if a Maldives’ summer will be in your future.
 

turtule maldives Albena Flickr 600x450 Why Summer in Maldives is Better than Wherever you Are

“I get lonely in the summer, won’t you come visit?” Photo: Albena, Flickr


 

On the plus side

 
Prices drop
Probably the biggest overall benefit of visiting the Maldives in the summer is price. Down come the prices to help convince tourists that this is the place to be in the summer. When you book in the summer, you’ll feel that sense of having got great value. Who doesn’t like discovering a great bargain? As a diver, this season provides even more value because the activities are not weather-based, and this season brings with it what scuba divers dream of – flocks of feeding creatures. More on this below.

You can take advantage of the price crash in all types of accommodation and packages, from liveaboards to guest houses and even resorts. You need only choose the holiday that suits you best. You can keep up with dive package discounts as they are added, on the Maldives Dive Travel homepage and Facebook Page.

 

Even quieter
Islands and dive sites are less busy. Unfortunately, holiday periods for some are limited and many people focus on a winter escape. Then, there are those that want to do nothing but lie in the sun. In the low season, you weed out all of those people and find a less “crowded” Maldives (as if such an expansive nation could ever be considered crowded).

There are fewer tourists during the low season which is great news for the tourists that do come. Not only are there great deals to attract you, but while you’re there, you’ll have the lay of the land (and below the land). Less diver traffic means there will be more marine life to see and less people to contend with for those ultimate shots of whale sharks and mantas.
 


 
Warm breeze always blowing
Air temperature is consistently warm year-round, and the water temperatures are always pleasant. The Maldives is summer throughout the year. North of the tropics, people have to wait for the lakes and oceans, as well as the air around them, to warm up enough to dive in. Even once the northern summer does come the warm hot days can be few and far between. All the while, the waters and tropical breeze of the Maldives sit at comfortable, ready-to-swim temperatures. The low season temperature averages in the high 20’s to low 30’s.

One thing to note about Maldives’ weather forecasts is that they are unreliable due to the expansive nature of this country. In addition, the forecast is given for Male while actual weather conditions vary from island to island.
 

On the negative side

 
Reduced visibility
In terms of scuba diving during the southwest monsoon there is poorer visibility as massive numbers of plankton fill the ocean waters. This negative point is quickly turned into a plus when you consider what this means in terms of marine life. Where plankton goes, mantas and whale sharks follow. August is manta season, and it’s the chance of a lifetime to see swarms of feeding mantas.
 

manta diving Henrik Winther Andersen Flickr 600x413 Why Summer in Maldives is Better than Wherever you Are

August is Manta season in the Maldives. This could be your new best friend! Photo: Henrik Winther Andersen, Flickr


 
Precipitation
With the monsoon season, comes a higher chance of rain, but it doesn’t “rain underwater”! Also, while the rain falls more often than in the high season, it’s sporadic. It is said that a “rainy season” month could have 10-15 rainy days. Visitors are likely to have warm sunny weather interspersed with showers and the occasional tropical rainfall.

For many divers that have “braved” the low season, they have found little difference between low and high season and chances are it won’t rain most of the time. For those who just want to sun tan, this might not be ideal as, in their case, the possibility of “washout” days is real. But how can you be washed out if you’re underwater? That’s what is great about diving.

If you’re comfy on the boat with a hot tea or coconut or even better, underwater with a whale shark, it can rain all it wants, frankly. And, what a cool experience to see both extremes of the tropical islands that are the Maldives. Where there is water, there is life.
 
 
In summary, the plusses clearly outweigh the negatives. Don’t limit your Maldives vacation plans to the winter when “everyone else is doing it”. Go beyond the norm and get to experience another great side of the Maldives.

What we love best about the Maldives’ official “low” season is what you will love too: the plankton-filled waters, exploring temporarily deserted dive sites, and the deals that come along with the less popular season.

Speaking of great deals, the award-winning Constellation fleet and its dive-focused guest house invite you to come enjoy the summer with them, especially August. Find out here about their liveaboard promotion and Casa Mia guest house promotion.

 
June 24th, 2014 Comments off

The pace of life in the Maldives is slow. Hence its popularity as a getaway and relaxation destination. But not all life moves so slowly around these islands. We sometimes have a need for speed that can only be satisfied with fast moving creatures.

Laid back is one way to describe the way of life in the Maldives; sometimes it’s painfully lackadaisical if you want to get something done fast. By boat is the main mode of transportation – also unhurried. I guess since the fastest creatures of the Maldives are hidden deep in the sea, no one realizes how fast things can move.

Super-fast fish, like barracuda, sharks, wahoo and sailfish, make the rest of the Maldives seem like it moves in slow motion. As scuba divers saunter along, or ride the fast moving currents, fish run circles around them.

 

 

There are two ways to see the speed – scuba diving and fishing. Here’s more about these remarkably fast Maldives creatures:
 

Spotted by Scuba Divers

 
Of the fast creatures in the Maldives, those most commonly encountered by scuba divers are slick sharks and sometimes barracuda. Their swift movements make them a bit intimidating, and it’s an exhilarating experience to dive among them.

While they can swim quickly, you’re more likely to see reef sharks coasting through water. Don’t let this fool you, they can really move if they want to. Their average speed is said to decrease at night, possibly due to colder water or prey that are easier to catch.

Blacktip reef sharks can be recognized by their black-tipped fins; all of their fins have a black tip. The marking is most prominent on the first dorsal fin (main back fin) and the bottom of the tail fin.

Just because they are fast doesn’t mean that they go far, however. Black tip reef sharks like to stay within a relatively small area, keeping to a local area for several years at a time. If you return to the Maldives, you might be able to visit your blacktip reef friend again in the same spot. The younger ones are familiar to non-diving tourists too, as they like to hang around in shallow sandy flats. For those not used to being in the water with sharks this may cause fear at first, but they are basically harmless if unprovoked.

The other two most common sharks of the Indo-Pacific are the grey reef shark and the whitetip reef shark. The grey reef shark looks similar to the blacktip reef kind, with the exception of the lack of black markings on the main dorsal fin. The whitetip exhibits quite different behaviour than the other two, sticking closer to the sea floor rather than staying around the reef. They prefer caves or more sheltered areas.

Another “shark” spotted by divers is the whale shark, which moves much more slowly than their friends by the same name.
 

sailfish CFocean 600x387 Indulging in a Need for Speed in the Maldives

A stunning sailfish. Photo: CFoceanimages


 

A Sight for Fisherman

 
On the other hand, the dive community rarely encounters wahoos and sailfish. These are game fish that are sought out and more commonly seen by fisherman. Swimming in bursts of 70 mph make the sailfish is the Speedy Gonzales of the Maldives sea, as well as the entire ocean. They can go 100 meters in just 4.8 seconds.

A sailfish is recognized by its high, deep blue and black dorsal fin that stretches the length of its back, which is also its namesake. The long swordfish-like bill is also distinctive. Their size is impressive for their speed, at up to 3 meters (9.8ft) long and up to 90 kg (200 lbs). The act of raising its “sail” is a reaction to feeling threatened or excited; it usually swims with the fin down at its side.

Other than speed, confusing predators is what the sailfish does best. The raising of its sail fin makes it appear larger, and the fish can change its colour too, from iridescent blue and silver to light blue with yellow stripes; an instant disguise of protection.

Speed and size make the sailfish a highly prized game fish, yet it and the marlin are under a catch and release policy in the Maldives. And there are catch limits on other game fish like wahoo, tuna, jackfish and trevally.
 


 
Wahoos are grouped in with tuna and mackerel in type. Its long body of shimmering blue and silver, with blue stripes, can go up to 60 mph (97km/h) giving the sailfish a run for its money. To tell it apart from the barracuda, which is similar in appearance, you can look to the wahoo’s tail, which is more blade-like and its teeth are smaller.

Another animal that you can spot getting some speed in the Maldives is the dolphin. You don’t even need to be underwater to see them. In fact, you’re more likely to see them chasing the wake of your boat or swimming alongside it.
 
So while the Maldives is known for relaxation that doesn’t mean that you can’t find exhilaration within its boundaries.
 
For some great diving in the Maldives with nitrox included in the packages, check out the deals now on the Constellation Fleet dive cruises.

 
June 17th, 2014 Comments off

Whether you’ve joined the club, or you would like to, being someone that has visited the Maldives comes with familiarities unique to this place in which we can share.

Then, within the Maldives “visitors club” there is an even smaller group of those who go there to scuba dive. We can share in our common experiences and relive the moments that make Maldives diving special. Those who are yet to go can get a sense for what it’s like.

 


 

Diving in the Maldives? We get it

 

  1. Everyone thinks that the Maldives is just a honeymooner destination for beach bums, but you know that there’s so much more to it than that. Scuba diving is a well-known, well-established activity in the Maldives, yet most of the press the Maldives receives revolves around resorts and luxury. When you mention that you’ve been to this tropical island nation those who don’t know you well probably just assume that you were basking in the sun and heading to the spa every day.Divers know better, as the country’s reefs and marine life are high on many a scuba diver bucket list. A liveaboard honeymoon combines the traditional romance with exciting adventure and activity; it’s the best of both worlds.
  2.  

  3. Being humbled by the seclusion and isolation of being in the middle of the ocean. Out on a dhoni you get a real sense of the distance between the islands, and it’s immense. The fact that the Maldives is invisible on Google Maps until you zoom shows how engulfed it is by the surrounding ocean. But to feel that on a small dive dhoni is intensely realistic.This island nation extends over 90,000 square kilometres yet its land area is just 300 sq km. It is hundreds of kilometres from anything that resembles mainland; it’s about 340 km from India and 700 km from Sri Lanka.
  4.  

  5. Cringing every time someone pronounces the name of the capital as the opposite of female – “male” – instead of Malé (“maleh”). Then, you have to decide whether to correct them straight away or throw in the word while you’re speaking to hint at the correct pronunciation. Talking about Malé probably reminds you of this strange island that seems to jut out of the sea – another cool memory of things to see in the Maldives.
  6.  

  7. Feeling excited about coming face to face with a shark while underwater, while majority of the country’s tourists would freak out. Thanks to the media, people tend to fear all types of sharks. On one hand, this prejudice and discrimination against sharks is a shame (if sharks could protest, I’m sure they would). On the other hand, it leaves the magic of shark encounters to scuba divers making part of the Maldives dive experience. The dive log of Maldives’ divers includes many sightings of different types of shark.Thanks to the reputation of sharks among non-divers, divers can even enjoy the reputation of a risk taker or rebel for diving with sharks.
  8.  

  9. How annoying it is to be stuck on a beach or next to a pool with no reef or scuba gear within reach. Physical limitations restrict us to maximum diving duration and frequency. But even when we’re not diving we want to stay active. Snorkelling, swimming, surfing and other sports keep us from getting bored in typical relaxation tourist activities. Unless it’s a massage or spa treatment to soothe muscles and skin from all the diving.
     
    whale shark Christian Jensen 600x450 10 Things Only People who Scuba Dive in the Maldives Would Understand

    Awesome encounter; underwhelming photos compared to being there. Even for great photos like this. Photo: Christian Jensen

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  11. Recognising the let down of photos of mantas and whale sharks. Photos and even the highest resolution videos just don’t capture the feeling of swimming next to the magnificent creatures. And these encounters never get old no matter how many times you come across them. Warning: these feelings lead to cravings for another Maldives dive vacation!
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  13. Preparing for holidays involves more than getting a base tan or a new swimsuit. Diving gear and diving skills are essential to make the most of a scuba-cation. Tuning up your buoyancy and reviewing your dive techniques prior to departure lets you avoid wasting any time upon arrival in the Maldives. Also, your suitcase will be full of dive gear rather than resort night out clothes. You make room by packing just one pair of sandals, no shoes required on the liveaboards.
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  15. Getting in and out of your dive gear is second nature. With 2-3 dives per day from liveaboard boats, your scuba suit becomes like a second skin. Getting geared up is nothing more than getting dressed in the morning.
     
    sandbank Mohamed Malik 600x293 10 Things Only People who Scuba Dive in the Maldives Would Understand

    The total isolation of a Maldives sandbank. Photo: Mohamed Malik

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  17. Knowing how it feels to stand on just a few meters of sand, surrounded by nothing but a blue-green lagoon and ocean as far as the eye can see. Sandbanks, also called finolhu in the Maldives, can come and go with the changed in tide. Setting foot on these totally isolated small bits of land is a treat. These locations are a true escape from civilization.
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  19. Feeling uneasy about having to stay on land for too long.BBQ outing – sure; local island visit for a few hours – great. But you yearn to get back on the boat for the next dive.

Any other things you can think of that Maldives’ divers share? Comment below.

Experience the Maldives in a whole new way by diving from a guest house! Deals on now for Casa Mia – get deals here.

 
June 12th, 2014 Comments off

The warm waves of the Indian Ocean are lapping up against your boat. You look around out across the water and you see a blue-green lagoon lining a tiny sandbank. You pass by as you noticed some dolphins playing in the wake of the boat and there is no land as far as they eye can see. Until, the outline of water bungalows and another island come into view. This is the Maldives.

When you look to your immediate environs though, what do you imagine the boat to be? You can begin by looking up at the study masts catching the wind, then look across the teak and mahogany outfitted deck to the terrace, sun lounge and restaurant. You are on the Dream Voyager Yacht.
 

dream voyager ship2 Top 3 Reasons to Book Dream Voyager this Summer

Set sail on the Dream Voyager of the Maldives


 
There are many reasons to choose the Dream Voyager for your Maldives liveaboard trip. Here is our top 3:
 

No. 1: The Exquisite Boat

 
This is not just another boat or cruiser. It’s a classical two-mast sail schooner with a luxurious environment. It’s a more intimate and relaxing experience with a limited number of cabins, just 6, so the number of passengers can reach just 12.

For divers, the “sidekick” dhoni takes you and the equipment to the best dive spots. For non-divers the main boat stays poised for relaxing and enjoying being at sea, with the panoramic views of the Maldives’ islands.

The 4-star luxury yacht offers free Wi-Fi and air-conditioned rooms fitted with carpeted flooring, a wardrobe and a TV with CD player. Each room’s ensuite bathroom comes with a bathtub, shower, hairdryer and bathrobes.
 

DREAM VOYAGER Guest Cabin 600x398 Top 3 Reasons to Book Dream Voyager this Summer

Dreamy guest cabins to sail in luxury


 
As for the food and facilities, the high quality service that you would expect from a luxury hotel continues throughout the boat. Breakfast is served buffet-style while lunch and dinner are based on set 5-course menus. The Captains Bar has light refreshments and cocktails available. To enjoy the Maldives night atmosphere, there is an alfresco dining option, an open air dining area on the aft deck.

Spa facilities provide pampering while the comfy lounge in the salon provides a place to kick back and socialize. Or curl up on a cushioned sun lounger to feel the heat of the tropical sun.

For those who are really into boat specs, this custom-built yacht is capable of 12 – 13 knots and is powered by 2 x Ford 220hp engines when not under sail. The steel hull has a beam of 7m (22.9ft) with a draft of 2.9m (9.5ft). An 8-man crew sails the schooner.
 

No.2: Special Summer Itineraries

 
Seasons change in the Maldives even though the temperature and the length of day stay about the same, during the May to October south west monsoon season diving changes as the fish food sources change. Where plankton are plentiful pelagic will follow.

Dream Voyager adapts their itinerary for the change in winds so divers can get the best experience. Overnight anchorages will take those on board to Himmafushi, Rasfaree, Lagoona, Rannalhi, Guraidhoo, and Guhli. With three dives per day the diving is diverse too. From caves to thilas to kandus (channels) and night dives, the Dream Voyager summer itinerary is fully packed from Manta Point to Vagali, Kudahaa and Kandooma. Both their summer special itinerary and their regular itineraries are just as full of excellent diving.

There’s also the option to customize an itinerary with additional activities such as fishing, snorkelling and BBQ facilities available upon request. A Male excursion can be a way to top off the trip and experience the Maldives on land as well as on water.
 
dream voyager lounge Top 3 Reasons to Book Dream Voyager this Summer
 

No.3: Summer Deals

 
Deals and discounts can be a great opportunity to book a trip of a lifetime for even better value than we imagined. In this case, Dream Voyager is showing off their summer special tour, available for selected weeks in July, September and October. For just 861 euros per person, this awesome boat will take divers around the atolls with 2-3 dives per day. Also included in the package is care from start to finish, with airport meet & greet, transfer to the boat, welcome drink, full board accommodation (all meals, water, coffee & tea), fishing gear, applicable taxes and transfer back from the boat to the airport.
 
After all the images conjured up of the islands and liveaboard cruising, it’s hard to snap out of the dream and make it all a reality. To go beyond imagining and get yourself on the Dream Voyager, now is the time. Take advantage of the two night free promotion available now; more information here.

 
June 4th, 2014 Comments off

The dream has come true and your dive package and flights to the Maldives are confirmed! Now, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the excitement and forget about the essentials. Don’t worry, we’ve been there and done that so we can recommend the items to make your holiday top notch.

In secluded tourist-focused destinations such as this, especially when you will stay on an island or liveaboard away from the capital, you want to make sure you have the supplies you need. Imported tourist products are likely to be priced higher as they’re brought in specifically for tourists, and the options are limited.

Even if you’re a seasoned dive traveller, there are a few items specific to the Maldives that you will want to ensure are to tick off your packing list.

 


 
Don’t get left high and dry on a Maldives sandbank without these items:
 

Underwater camera

 
For a one-off trip some people may be satisfied with a disposable underwater camera. However, if you’re a diver or plan to film underwater regularly you might want to invest in a digital underwater camera. A popular option these days is the GoPro Hero camera range for action and sports. It’s not only a really compact unit, but it also has lots of scuba accessories like underwater housings, specialty mounts, lens filters, and battery extension packs. There is even a specialty scuba mask that mounts the GoPro, which could be a cool hands free option.

If you do go that route, research the best filters and ways to make the most of the GoPro features before going on your trip. Certain resources like this guide to GoPro filters will help you take the best photos.
 

Dive gear

 
Your wet suit serves as temperature control and protection and it will depend on your personal preference whether you bring a 3mm or a 5mm.

Other than tanks and weights (and sometimes nitrox) which may be included in your package, dive equipment may be rented to divers. To avoid these extra costs, don’t for get to pack your own ABC set, dive computer and other dive essentials. Remember that dive light for those night dives when you might come across manta rays or nurse sharks and other “night life.”

Don’t forget your dive certification, log book, and travel/dive insurance. Insurance may be compulsory for your dive package.
 

maldive divers nadia and massimo 600x450 Dont Leave Home Without these Essential Items for your Maldives Dive Trip

Make sure you bring all of your diving kit. Photo nadia & massimo, Flickr


 

Sun block

 
You may think this is obvious. However, not all sunscreens are made equal. For long term sun exposure when you want to protect your skin from sun damage and burn, you can try Riemann P20 sunscreen. This is not your average sun protection. Once applied, wait 15 minutes for it to soak in fully – then you have a shield for all day waterproof swimming. It’s less like cream and more like oil, but it protects for 10 hours against the sun and is waterproof too. It’s perfect for long days out swimming, snorkelling and enjoying the Maldives sun. It’s also ideal for fair-skinned people that are especially sensitive to the sun. It can be found online or in some pharmacies.

No matter what type of sunscreen you opt for one thing holds true, these products are fairly expensive. Try to buy them at a time of year in your home country when they are reduced in price, and don’t wait to buy it abroad where it will likely be even more expensive. Also, go for a higher SPF than you usually use at home; the sun is intense in the tropics and equatorial region.

One last sunscreen-related tip: Don’t forget to put it on! In the excitement of the arrival it’s easy to forget, especially on the first day.
 

Other “fun in the sun” essentials

 
Don’t forget the usual sun hat and sun glasses, of course. And you probably won’t even be wearing shoes most of the time on a liveaboard, but bring sandals. A larger beach towel is a must for sun bathing (your accommodation or liveaboard will likely provide shower towels).

Include some loose fitting clothing, including some t-shirts or knee-length shorts for local island visits.

There are no dress codes on the liveaboards, but if you’re staying a guest house or making local island visits, you should bring some light clothes to go over your swimwear for local public areas. When visiting local islands, for women the goal is to cover shoulders to knees and for men waist to knees, approximately. Check in advance if your guest house has a private beach where bikinis are acceptable.
 

USD

 
When preparing the funds for your trip, you’ll want to get your funds exchanged into USD. The Maldives has its own currency, the Rufiyaa, however tourists pay hotels, souvenirs, tips, etc, all in dollars. Payment with USD is widely accepted; in fact you can’t pay in Maldivian Rufiyaa at accommodation outside Male. If you must do so, there will be an extra charge.

Also, bringing an extra amount for tips is suggested, this is a tip-based economy whether on the liveaboards or on the local islands.
 


 

Additional tip

 
If you haven’t used your equipment recently, remember to test it well before departure.

Check for leaks, chips, and anything that needs to be updated or replaced prior to departure. Dealing with those issues are not something you want overshadowing your dive or relaxation time. You don’t want to miss a moment since you never know when a whale shark is going to saunter through the group of feeding mantas that you are watching (like in the video above).

If you haven’t booked your dive trip yet, check out the deals for Dream Voyager on this summer.

 
May 26th, 2014 Comments off

Photography is one of those things that, from time to time, you can get it right if you take enough shots. If you go back to the Maldives every year, you are bound to come back with a few great photographs. Underwater photography, however, has its own set of tricks and challenges.

The sign of a talented photographer is one who can get it right from the beginning, just like our photographer of the month! We were impressed by Jacob’s photos initially, and after finding out that he had visited the Maldives only once, we were even more impressed by his collection.

 

tchami wreck 600x400 Maldives Photographer of the Month   Jacob Nielsen

Capturing the mystery and intrigue of a Maldives wreck. Photo: Jacob Nielsen


 
Jacob has been selected as our photographer of the month and you can read the exclusive interview with his Maldives’ experience below:
 
1. Q: What made you get into underwater photography and photography in general?
A: I love to travel, and as for most people that involves taking pictures to preserve the memories. That grew into a love for photography, and especially underwater photography.

2. Q: How would you describe your style of photography?
A: I am a hobby photographer, so I take pictures of places and events I go to, but I definitely prefer nature and travel photography.

3. Q: When did you first go to the Maldives and what attracted you to go there? Was photography a motivation or an afterthought?
A: I went for the first time in October 2013. I have wanted to go ever since I was a kid, after a friend of the family showed me pictures and video from diving in the Maldives. The sole purpose of the trip was to go diving, and I always bring a camera when diving.
 

tchami whale shark 600x400 Maldives Photographer of the Month   Jacob Nielsen

Front view of the much-loved Maldives whale shark. Photo: Jacob Nielsen


 
4. Q: What are some of the challenges of underwater photography and how do you overcome them? What are some of the most challenging things you have photographed?
A: For about 4-5 years, I have been doing underwater photography with a simple compact camera, with no external lighting other than the sun, but last year I “graduated” to a DSLR setup with external lighting. I’ve been using a DLSR for years above the water, but taking it under the water and adding external lighting is hard – no matter how many books or articles you’ve read on the subject. A lot of the shots will be bad, either because of technical problems or because the marine life just doesn’t care about staying still icon wink Maldives Photographer of the Month   Jacob Nielsen However, practice makes perfect, and it’s fun to see how you constantly improve.

Macro subjects are definitely the hardest to shoot. Taking a picture of a Manta Ray or a Whale shark is easy – of course, the picture is not automatically great, but it’s hard to miss the subject in the viewfinder. Small critters hiding in corals, or just being so small that they’re hard to see with the naked eye, that’s really hard though – especially when you add elements such as currents and poor visibility.
 

tchami anemone 600x400 Maldives Photographer of the Month   Jacob Nielsen

Getting up close and personal. Photo: Jacob Nielsen


 
5. Q: Where are your favourite spots, above and below the surface, to take photographs in the Maldives? What makes them ideal?
A: I’ve only ever been to the Maldives once, but I had an amazing night dive with Manta Rays near Fesdu Island. Other than that I had many fantastic dives, seeing e.g. rays, turtles, sharks and schools of fishes, owing to the nutrient rich waters caused by the (sometimes strong) currents.

6. Q: What equipment do you use to capture your stunning tropical scenes?
A: Canon 7D in a Hugyfot housing with an Inon Z-240 strobe.
 

tchami manta night 600x400 Maldives Photographer of the Month   Jacob Nielsen

Night manta. Photo: Jacob Nielsen


 
7. Q: What is it like to stay in the Maldives? Tell us about your average day when you’re there.
A: I didn’t have the chance to live on any of the islands, instead I stayed on a liveaboard; MV Virgo. On a typical day, we were woken up, served a light breakfast, followed by dive #1, then a breakfast followed by a few hours to relax, and then dive #2, lunch, then some hours to relax and then dive #3 after which dinner was served.

8. Q: What islands, dive spots and/or attractions do you highly recommend in the Maldives?
A: Diving, diving and more diving.

9. Q: Do you have any tips for visitors who are try to capture their moments on camera in the Maldives?
A: Make sure to bring extra memory cards!

10. Q: What projects (photography or Maldives related) do you have in the pipeline that we can look forward to seeing?
A: Nothing set in stone yet, but most likely I’ll be going to Australia and hopefully see some big white sharks.

tchami 300x300 Maldives Photographer of the Month   Jacob Nielsen

Jacob Nielsen, Amateur photographer

Thanks to Jacob for taking the time to answer our questions, and also for sharing his photography with the world. You can find more of his photography here on his photostream on Flickr.

Jacob went diving with MV Virgo, one of boats in the constellation fleet. Recently, we’re excited to announce that the fleet was awarded Best liveaboard brand in Maldives in the Maldives Boating Awards 2014. Read more on that Maldives liveboard news.

 
May 20th, 2014 Comments off

Certain travel destinations and activities are called cliché for a reason – they’re popular. Why are they popular? Because they are unique and worth a visit.

Despite the clichés that some people may associate with the Maldives, it remains a definite “must-see”, “bucket-list” destination (to use come cliché adjectives). In any case, we’re giving you some ways to make your island holiday original.

 

dhoni bungalows cocoa maldives 600x399 The 6 Most Cliche Things to Do in the Maldives

Not your typical water bungalows, these have a Maldives dhoni twist. Photo: Chi King, Flickr


 

1. Soak up the sun on the beach or poolside

 
Probably the most predictable of activities in the Maldives, achieving that sun kissed look is the goal of many a tourist who dips their toes in this region. And who can blame them? When they’re coming from colder climates where the sun doesn’t come out for months at a time, it’s no wonder.

To mix it up though, a day away from the sun loungers will do you good. Head over to a local island to see what life is really like for Maldivians.
 

2. Clichéd photos ops

 
There is no shortage of photos taken in the Maldives each year, though some pictures are more common than others.

You could go for a typical beach sunset or palm-fringed seashore pose. Then there’s the characteristic water bungalows that stretch around the island lagoons, a seaplane on the water and aerial views of the islands, all photos that you can find in almost any Maldives visitor’s photo album.

To accompany these idyllic scenes in your album why not add some originals like daily life photos of Maldivians or a sunset photo with a unique silhouette, or get creative and try to capture a “sense of place” in the photo. That means, include a Maldives-specific element in the scene so people can tell where the photo was taken at a glance and to set it apart from similar photos of other tropical destinations.

Some of the typical photos taken in the Maldives are the same as the ones taken in other island vacation spots so a feature like a flag, a dhoni or a sign in Maldivian can make sure the photo doesn’t blend in with those from other dive vacations.
 

maldives couple romantic 600x450 The 6 Most Cliche Things to Do in the Maldives

The Maldives is ideal for couples… hence the Maldives honeymoon cliché. Photo: Ahmed Zahid, Flickr


 

3. Honeymoon for the unimaginative?

 
A Maldives honeymoon is an international travel cliché. Yet, the essence of a dream honeymoon is synonymous with what the Maldives is all about – luxury, relaxation, seclusion and privacy. Couples can escape to a place where they feel they are the only couple on earth – what a fantastic way to reinforce the bond and share a special memory together as newlyweds.

This match is just too perfect to suggest an alternative. A Maldives honeymoon will never get old. One way to tweak the experience for your tastes would be to focus the accommodation or activities on your specific tastes – take a diving holiday honeymoon, for example, or even a surfing holiday package. Have a photo shoot underwater with a whale shark or on the reef.

You could even get creative: Bring outfits that you can wear underwater for unique photographs in wedding attire.
 

4. Swim with a whale shark

 
Cliché? Who cares?! Just being in the presence of a whale shark is an experience of a lifetime.

So, if you’re going to take part in the whale shark experience, make sure you get a great photo. Take a look at the various photos on Flickr of people with whale sharks and notice how the best shots are taken. What position is the diver in and where is he/she looking? Where are the diver, the whale shark and the photographer in relation to each other? Find what looks most impressive and try to do the same. Because if you’re going to travel all that way and follow your dream of swimming with a whale shark, having a great photo of it is the real icing on the cake.

That being said, don’t be so caught up in getting a photo that you forget to live in the moment and feel what it’s like to be with the big creature – that’s something that can’t be captured in a photograph.
 

swim with whale shark maldives 450x600 The 6 Most Cliche Things to Do in the Maldives

A great shot – swimming alongside, showing the massive size of the whale shark and still enjoying the experience. Photo: Christian Jensen, Flickr


 

5. Track down a manta ray

 
Whether it’s at feeding or cleaning stations or just around the open water, wherever mantas go, people follow.

Like with whale sharks, swimming with manta rays is a stereotype of the Maldives. Also as with whale sharks – who cares?! This is a stereotype that you want to be part of. To be next to the gentle giants is a humbling moment that will live on for years to come.
The same advice goes for the manta ray as for the whale shark in regards to taking photos and taking in the moment.

Additionally, seeing the manta rays in great number during the feeding frenzy is a way to make you manta moment a bit more original.
 

6. Snorkel around the house reef or dive with a liveaboard

 
As a fairly effortless activity, and with all of the reefs around, snorkelers are as common as crabs scurrying across the sand on the beaches.

Rather than stick around the resort house reef and where the fish the aggregate around the underwater structures, the jetty and the bungalows, venture out to a pinnacle in the middle of the sea for some more adventure.

Scuba divers can take snorkelling to the next level with free diving down rather than just staying at the surface.

Speaking of scuba divers, for them the liveaboard experience could be considered a cliché. For divers visiting the Maldives the liveaboard option is commonplace – or is it? If you’ve seen some of the luxury liveaboards that cruise the Maldives waters then you’ll see that a liveaboard holiday is anything but ordinary. Jacuzzis and gourmet meals have become the standard. Take ScubaSpa Ying for example, the on-board spa caters to divers who don’t want to deny themselves the pampering that the country’s resorts are known for.

Not only that, but guest houses are opening up dive centres on local islands for a completely different experience. Casa Mia is one example of a guest house focused on scuba diving.
 


 
We do realize that a “Top (insert number here)” list is a cliché in itself, but we enjoy irony almost as much as we enjoy the Maldives. However, instead of making it a Top 10, it’s a “Top 6” list. Are we not just, so original?

Don’t let common perceptions of the Maldives influence your dream Maldives holiday. If it’s your dream, go for it and make it your own with a few personalized adjustments. Click to find out about and book a stay with ScubaSpa Ying or Casa Mia while their promotions last!

 
May 14th, 2014 Comments off

The Maldivian island chain of the Indian Ocean may be secluded, but that doesn’t prevent the dive industry from keeping up with the latest scuba dive technology.

In recent years, new technologies have “surfaced” which are taking scuba diving to the next level. Recreational rebreathers, like the Explorer from Hollis, at first glance look like a futuristic jet pack. One guest house with onsite dive centre is jumping at the chance to get divers into the water wearing them and seeing the Maldives with a whole new perspective.

 


 

Comparing scuba circuit systems

 
Technological advances are generally developed to facilitate activities or solve problems. In the scuba diving realm, one of the biggest limitations is dive time. Other smaller issues include inconveniences with bulkiness and disturbing the marine life with noise and air bubbles.

These are all issues addressed with the new rebreather from Hollis, called the Explorer. It’s a nitrox-only, hybrid circuit system that can function as an open or closed circuit.
Regular, open circuit nitrox diving continues to grow in popularity. This standard type of nitrox diving involves tweaking the air within the diver’s tank to create a mixture that allows for several advantages over non-nitrox scuba air tanks. While it’s still not required or prevalent, some dive boats in the Maldives are now offering nitrox diving as standard, included in their dive packages, like the Constellation Fleet for example.

To further understand the differences, regular non-nitrox scuba has a very specific ratio of nitrogen to oxygen, as it tries to mimic the air found on the surface of the Earth as closely as possible. Nitrox diving, on the other hand, tweaks this mixture; it uses a lower percentage of oxygen than regular air. This takes less of a toll on the body and therefore allows longer dives and shorter wait time between dives while the body readjusts.

Compared to the current commonly used open-circuit scuba systems, the closed-circuit, or hybrid rebreather systems not only look sleek but make the experience of diving more smooth and comfortable. The main advantages of the system is more efficient gas usage (even longer dive times of up to 2 hours), decompression optimization, no visible bubble or sound during operation underwater.
 

hollis rebreather ascent New Rebreather Technology Surfaces in the Maldives

The Explorer rebreather in action


 

Scuba dive technology at its finest

 
Don’t let your precious oxygen escape in bubbles that just float to the surface and disturb the marine life. With a closed circuit or hybrid system the air is recycled and warmer than with open-circuits. Hence the term RE-breather. Compared to the air mixes in other scuba systems, the Explorer uses Nitrox only.

Rebreathers are not new but the Explorer is different because it’s actually a hybrid that can switch between open and closed circuit easily, while underwater, with a small turn from the diver and monitoring via the computer.

It is electronically controlled which allows the unit and the diver to maintain an optimal balance of PPO2 and maximize dive time. Additional features include: Plug and Play absorbent cartridges, easy guided setup with go or no go, optional CO2 tracking as well as its compact and user-friendly design.

The futuristic unit boasts a convenient jacket-style BCD and the smart electronics guide the user through setup, sensed the negative loop test, analyses the gas and performs a positive loop test, making setup a 10- to 15-minute process.

To buy a new model, divers will need to make an investment of around $5000. Training courses cost around $150, or more for advanced levels (in which you get to use the rebreather).
 

hollis rebreather computer New Rebreather Technology Surfaces in the Maldives

Hollis Rebreather computer monitor


 

Rebreathers in the Maldives

 
Explorer has reached the Maldives and Casa Mia is a guest house that will start offering the training course in 2014.

Their Hollis Explorer Rebreather Courses will be available from August 2014. Currently, their instructors are building up their hours and experience in preparation for teaching the use of the rebreather. Excitingly, they already have the units on site, which will allow clients to dive Nitrox 32 – 40% extending bottom times and removing bubbles, a great plus for photographers.

Not only that but Nitrox available at Casa Mia from the 1st of June 2014. It is currently being tested and installed.

As for liveboards, MV Leo & MV Orion of the constellation fleet offer free nitrox and are fully rebreather friendly, supporting a range of units from Poseidon MKVI to AP vision, and others depending on the boat. They have the booster pump, stage tanks, sofnolime and all the gear required to carry out your rebreather diving adventures.

This new technology is really at the forefront of scuba diving. For avid divers it could be the next level of exciting diving adventure! Get to Casa Mia for the release of their standard nitrox by taking them up on their offer of 20% off packages from May to July. More info on the discount here.