Once you dive abroad, there’s no other way to travel. Ordinary cruises or beach holidays no longer seem to cut it after taking a scuba diving vacation.
One way to dive abroad is to book a liveaboard or dive safari package, in which divers stay on a custom cruiser, whose itinerary revolves around hitting selected dive sites in the region. Liveaboards combine the benefits of a cruise and the facilities of a scuba dive centre all in one. In the Maldives there are also guesthouses that offer dive centres, as well as resorts, but here we will focus on the Maldives liveaboard option.
Arrival and meet & greet in Male
Well, it will actually be at the airport in Hulemale, but the main arrival port of the Maldives is referred to as Male International Airport, where almost all visitors to the Maldives will arrive and depart from. Some may hop onto a connecting domestic flight to start liveaboard tours in a more remote atoll, but majority of itineraries start from this transport hub.
Most liveaboards will arrange for a representative to meet guests at the arrivals area, from where they will be guided and transported to the liveaboard cruiser at the designated time. Once aboard, guests are welcomed and are encouraged to settle in.
An obligatory check dive is carried out at the first dive site to check gear, skill levels of the group and get a refresher on dive essentials.
Multiple daily dives
Depending on the day and dive boat, this will range from 2-3 dives per day. This count doesn’t generally include the arrival and departure days, when no dives take place for safety reasons. There needs to be an adjustment period for the body between flying high and diving deep.
Night dives and/or early morning dives will be mixed in for certain dive sites that are best seen at those times.
In the disclaimer of many dive boat itineraries you may see a notation that exact sites could vary depending on local conditions, and even diver experience. Liveaboards have the flexibility to choose a different dive site if the conditions are not favourable at the planned site. Fortunately, this means divers can still hit the water when weather doesn’t cooperate at one particular site. The dive guides know the areas well, and can make the best decisions to ensure divers get a great experience.
Focus on safety
The impeccable safety records of liveaboard companies in the Maldives have come thanks to diligence of crew, guides and guests themselves. In addition to accompaniment by professionally trained and highly experienced dive guides, every ship is fully equipped with emergency equipment as required – oxygen, first aid, fire alarms and extinguishers, and life preservers. Additional safety equipment available can include safe air analysers and lost diver tracking systems.
Geared towards diving
In the Maldives the traditional boat is called a dhoni. There are smaller and larger versions, and a custom equipped dive dhoni is used by the liveaboards to get divers up to dive site entry points and to store dive gear and compressors. The liveaboard itself is usually a cabin cruiser yacht with 2-12 cabins, chartering 14-24 guests at a time.
All the conveniences for divers will be there, and all is tailored to ensure maximum dive time. Divers unpack gear only once and a dedicated dive dhoni transports the eager group to the selected dive locations where conditions are at their best. There are camera rinse stations and battery charging stations on board, as well as wet and dry storage areas and staff available to refill tanks.
Diverse dive sites
One of the best and adventurous elements of liveaboard diving has to be the access to dive sites across several atolls within just one trip. It’s not uncommon for itineraries to hop from North and South Ari to North and South Male and to others like Vaavu and Rasdhoo all in a 7-day trip. The same experience can’t be achieved when staying at one island base location.
Some dive boats will also start in an outer atoll working its way back to Male, or vice versa, making for an even more unique and varied itinerary.
Constant temperatures in the air and water.
While air temperatures average around 27 degrees Celsius, the water moves around the 28-29 degree mark. There are wet and dry seasons but, so close to the equator, it stays within a narrow temperature range throughout the year. Not to mention, the sunrise and sunset take place at about the same time year-round, keeping the number daylight hours remaining constant too.
A range of other activities
More than diving is on the menu for liveaboard tours. While scuba addicts would like to stay submersed all day long, it’s just not possible. Fortunately, guests of liveaboards are given facilities and activities to keep themselves active (or not so active depending on their wishes). Lounge chairs and jacuzzis are now a staple of most liveaboards in this region. As for activities, guests can enjoy evening and daytime excursions, such as a beach BBQ dinner or picnic on an uninhabited island, a guided Male visit, a local island visit and fishing. These activities are often included in the package price.
Air-conditioning and ensuite bathrooms are standard for Maldives’ liveaboard safari boats. Depending on the cruiser, spa facilities and fitness classes like yoga and pilates may also be on offer.
This is the liveaboard holiday in a nutshell, in the Maldives. But of course, to put into words the real experience is impossible. Get yourself into the warm waters of the Maldives this year. A spring holiday is in the cards for you, as Theia’s April deal is now on – Click for more info here