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Things that Fly in the Maldives

August 13th, 2014 Comments off

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s … a manta ray? In the Maldives there are a limited number of actual bird species. This is not a country to which birdwatchers flock. Under water there are, however, many species that can make divers do a double take and wonder whether they are indeed many meters below the water surface.

Here are a few creatures that seem to soar like birds through the water as if it were air:


 

Manta rays

Not only is the swimming style of the manta ray similar to a bird in flight but it can actually leap into the air. The manta ray is a creature of the open sea that doesn’t dip below 40 meters. That’s why the harmless creature is accessible even to snorkelers. With just a pair of fins, a mask and a snorkel Maldives’ divers can fly with manta rays.

There are about 600 species of ray, of which the manta ray is the largest. The Latin name of the manta ray is Manta birostris and it takes its name from the word “manta”, which in Spanish means “cover”, a name that describes the flat, expansive body shape. In the up to 20 years that it lives a manta ray’s wing span can reach up to 8 meters, corresponding to 2.2 times the length of its body, without the tail. Unlike the sting ray’s long stinging tail, the manta ray’s appendage is short and harmless. Its colouring is black or dark blue on the back and white on the belly.

The Maldives is the perfect environment as manta rays like the areas the coast and coral reefs in tropical seas and temperate waters. Though it doesn’t frequent the Caribbean Sea. The manta ray is ovoviviparous (eggs hatch inside of the uterus before birth). The gestation period is 13 months, after which the mother gives birth to one or two cubs. They can be around 1 meter wide and weigh approximately 50kg, feeding mainly on plankton and small crustaceans.

You may not know but the manta rays can leap into the air. Indeed, it springs out and hydro planes for seconds of air time out of the water. These jumps can reach 3 meters. Scientists do not yet know for sure the significance of this practice, but it could be part of the courtship rituals of the male.

This harmless giant, 3 to 5 meters wide, feeds on plankton. In the Maldives, it is observed similar to the whale shark with the migration of plankton. Both massive creatures are present in Ari Atoll South from November to April, manta rays move to the north of the archipelago in the atolls of North Male, South Male and Vaavu the rest of the year. To observe their habits, locate manta “cleaning stations”. These are places where mantas are cleaned of their parasites by smaller fish called wrasses. If you are able to see mantas feeding you can witness a beautiful water ballet.

Diving with Manta Rays may go something like this: On a trip through Ari Atoll, stopping at “Manta Point” (Madivaru), divers are down in the deep when the instructor points at what seems like a blob approaches them. Divers try to stay below the approaching creature to attract it with bubbles and to avoid scaring it away by putting themselves in the manta ray’s direct path. As the majestic flying creature gets closer divers can make out the distinguishable features from the white underbelly and wingspan of serveral meters to the front mouth lobes and wide gaping mouth.

The key to prolonged and close up manta encounters is to watch from a certain distance. When startled or blocked from passage they might be scared away.

 

Spotted Eagle Ray

Another bird-ressembling marine species that prefers gliding through the open water is the eagle ray. With a shape similar to the manta ray they seem to flap their wings to move through the water but their size and characteristics are distinct.

The much smaller eagle ray is heavily spotted with white spots all over its surface-facing, top side and has a long thin tail. They have even been known to fly into to air when jumping out above the water surface. Eagle rays are less likely to swim around divers as they are more shy than their larger cousins.

Just like the manta ray, these rays swim as individuals or in large groups though they do not feed in the same way. Eagle rays can eat creatures larger than plankton such as squids and crustateans thanks to their strong teeth and shovel-shaped mouth.

 

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Dolphins jump in the Maldives. Photo: you_only_live_twice


 

Dolphins

It’s always exciting to see dolphins as they seem to appear out of nowhere when you least expect it. Playing in the wake of boats, that’s when visitors can often see them in action. They jump into the air and actually fly for just a moment.
 
Hopefully you will also fly in the Maldives, via international or domestic flight, or even by seaplane. Now is the time because it’s manta season and there are some great deals on dive cruises that let you fly with the manta rays. Check out our awesome dive cruise deals.

Categories: Maldives Tags:

Get Pumped for Pelagic Season in the Maldives

August 4th, 2014 Comments off

Did you ever put yourself in the place of Jack, climbing up the giant beanstalk and finding himself among giants? The magic of being among giants is a very real feeling when you swim with mantas and whale sharks in the Maldives. Fortunately these are gentle giants – they won’t be grinding any bones for their bread.

Pelagic season is now and this is the time to visit the Maldives.  Many know the Maldives for its turquoise blue lagoons surrounding white sands and palm-fringed isles. They say that the crisp summery breeze is all you need for a great vacation while you dip your toes in the ever-warm seas and soak up the tropical sun.  Divers know differently of course.

The Maldives has immense natural beauty, and a great deal of it is under the surface of the sea! The colorful gardens of corals are a mesmerizing sight with the vivid colors of the exotic marine life buzzing all around. The sight goes from beautiful to stunning and humbling when the whale shark graces the scene.

 

nicoboxethai whale shark 600x450 Get Pumped for Pelagic Season in the Maldives

Small, yet still big, whale shark. Photo: nicoboxethai, Flickr


 

Gentle Giants of the Sea

 
According to research done in 1994 based on the sexual maturity in whale sharks, which is roughly around 30 years, the Whale Shark may be one of the longest living fish in the world. A century could pass by as it ages gracefully, without much thought for the human race that drags on across the continents.

Its name is a misnomer: While it is called a ‘Whale’ Shark, they are classified as fish due to similarities in their skeleton, which is exclusively cartilaginous, just like sharks. They are referred to as whales simply because of their massive size that averages around 17 to 21 feet, with the largest ever recorded being at 41 feet in length. Although they have vestigial teeth, these gentle giants feed on small fish, fish eggs, plankton and other larvae that abound in the seas and pose little danger to snorkelers and divers.

Rhincodon typus, the species of Whale Shark common to the Maldivian seas, can be seen around south Ari Atoll which is a marine protected area, as well as around Hanifaru Bay in Baa Atoll, a biosphere reserve area. These juvenile sharks are usually 15 to 25 feet in length, a bit smaller than those found elsewhere but no less a giant compared to tiny divers.

Although now is the time when dive cruises focus on whale shark sightings, which increase in frequency during the south-west monsoon season, the creatures can be spotted all year round.
 

Christian Jensen tiny divers big whale shark 600x450 Get Pumped for Pelagic Season in the Maldives

Little divers, big fish. Photo: Christian Jensen


 

Swimming with Whale Sharks

 
Here in the Maldives, some dive safaris offer the chance to swim with whale sharks. Your dive safari captain or the water sports center in the guest house or resort will be able to guide you to the best possible areas for seeing whale sharks.

As you will seen in many photos of whale shark sightings, divers need only their snorkeling gear rather than the full scuba gear in order to swim with whale sharks.   Whale sharks often swim up at the surface where they can filter feed on the phytoplankton.  Divers will be at an advantage over the average snorkeler with the ability to use dive skills to free dive down to get close to the animal while others are stuck at the water surface.

However, if you are indeed amongst the lucky few scuba divers who have had a whale shark venture into where you’re diving, then you’re in for a real treat! With your dive gear you will be prepped to comfortably stay longer alongside the gentle giant.

While most Whale Sharks are a bit on the shy side and just pass through, some of them do stop by to play with divers and snorkelers, letting them get a photo like meeting a celebrity in the ocean. Most scientists and environmentalists urge adventurous folk to refrain from touching the sharks because it can cause lesions on the shark, and lead to infection.

Your dive guides will inform you the best practice for respecting the whale shark’s habits and making the most of the experience.

 


 
 

Hanifaru Bay

 
Up north in Baa Atoll, the Hanifaru Bay is a peculiarly shaped lagoon which has the tendency to accumulate a large amount of plankton. A large number of manta rays and whale sharks stop here to have a filling meal.

Divers in large numbers are no longer allowed to enter into Hanifaru for scuba diving to prevent scaring away the marine fauna and to reduce the impact made on the fragile area. Smaller groups are still allowed to observe from a safe distance while snorkelers can enjoy the view from the surface.

Certain dive safaris operate to Baa Atoll, while there are quite a few resorts in the area that will be more than happy to arrange a trip to Hanifaru Bay.

 

In the Maldives you have a special opportunity to feel in awe being next to massive creatures that roam the waters of the earth. Now through September, Pelagic Magic cruises, offered by MV Orion of the Constellation Fleet, take divers to ideal destinations for pelagic species.  And these special tours now have a special price! Check out the massive discounts on MV Orion and the rest of the Constellation Fleet, here.

Categories: Maldives Tags:

Maldives Photographer of the Month – Alexander Brown

July 29th, 2014 Comments off

The Maldives is more than high end resorts. Beyond the masses it is easy to hide among the islands and even have an adventure or two. Our Photographer of the Month, Alexander Brown, stayed many months in the Maldives and has some great photos and videos to prove it.

Even adventure sport enthusiasts like Alexander – British photographer, filmmaker, and former kite surfer – can get their fill by exploring local islands. We asked Alexander about his photography and about being in the Maldives so that his experience can inspire your travels.

Here’s a video from his team at Basement Vision:

Interview with Maldives photographer/filmmaker Alexander Brown

Q1: What made you get into underwater photography and photography in general?
Alexander: I was travelling the world in my teens as a professional kite surfer (and making promo films) where I found myself on a trip to the Maldives in 2007 for a video shoot. Long story short, I had a pretty bad accident (which led to the end of my pro career) and started snorkelling while on the trip to get some fitness back. This was the first time I saw a coral reef in real life and I was amazed.

Over the next 3-4 years I became passionate about this new marine world and ended up wanting to do my bit to raise awareness and help the conservation efforts. It was during my university degree where I wrote and directed my first documentary film, which I ended up shooting in the Maldives. I did my open water diving course right before flying out for the production phase!
But everything was totally un-planned for. My Dad was a Navy bomb disposal diver and had spent years training and becoming a real expert. Diving had never appealed to me despite my Dad as a role model (with a really crazy job) bringing home all sorts of diving stories. It really was those first times I snorkelled after my accident when I realised I had to find out more about the underwater world.

 

Q2: How would you describe your style of photography and what you want to “say” with your photographs?
Alexander: I admire the style and natural style of the type of material that National Geographic and the BBC produce, so that was always my benchmark for producing the perfect picture “in-camera” as opposed to manipulating a shot in post.

Being more focused on the filming side of things, I always aimed to create sequences that educate the viewer or tell a story. My Maldives work was really conservational based, even though I worked with a handful of resorts for commercial purpose too. But most of all what I want to say through all my work, both under water and above, is how one should chase whatever it is that they really want.

After leaving the Maldives mid last year for Australia, I have pursued my other passion for outdoor adventure, travelling the country in a self-built campervan and documenting the travel. I really love to explore and capture it all on camera, and I try to make that happen by any way I can.

 

Q3: When did you first go to the Maldives and what attracted you to go there? Was photography a motivation or an afterthought?
Alexander: As I mentioned, my first trip to the Maldives was for the kite surfing film shoot. In fact, I was producing the shoot and we were filming a new kite model that my key sponsor was about to release. I chose the Maldives as the location not because it was a world-class kite surf spot, but because it represented total escape with its perfect tropical coral islands, clear turquoise water and innocent nature.

I guess I didn’t know it back then, but the whole kite surfing approach as a natural wind driven sport, really supports the need for greater awareness of climate change impacts that’s having effect on such fragile paradises.

Luxury reef 550x356 Maldives Photographer of the Month   Alexander Brown

Luxury water bungalows built on what was once a natural and beautiful coral reef. The destroyed reef now needs human help to re-grow at this luxury resort.

 

Q4: 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?
Alexander: Well I went straight from the training pool back in England to the tropics of the Indian Ocean, so I was really lucky that my first open water dives I could enjoy in such warm waters with magnificent views. What I did have though is the pressure of having a camera in my hand from that very first OW dive and the need to shoot perfect shots from the start.

My photography theory was easy to transfer after I got used to operating my camera through the housing, and luckily enough I never had a problem with my buoyancy etc. The hardest thing I actually shot was a half/half shot of water bungalows built over a dead coral reef – there was a super strong current and I only had an hour to get the shot. It got some attention on the National Geographic “your shot” web site which was great.

 

Q5: Where are your favourite spots, above and below the surface, to take photographs in the Maldives? What makes them ideal?
Alexander: I really cannot get enough of shooting the Maldives from the air. I had some great flights in the seaplanes for various jobs, some days had fantastic views while overs the visibility was terrible. Just like underwater. In the Baa Atoll, there was one reef that I visited frequently called Hatta Giri and it was just an endless landscape of the most perfect hard corals. That was really great to see.

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A beautiful piece of Indian Ocean coral reef. Hatta Giri, a submerged Thila in Baa Atoll, Maldives. Photo: Alexander Brown

 

Q6:  What is it like to stay in the Maldives?
Alexander: Tell us about your average day when you’re there. I lived on an island called Velidhoo for over a year. The owners of Palm Villa, a guesthouse there, really supported the work I was doing and invited me back to stay after my documentary film trip. Thanks to them, my partner and I had a base within the country. This allowed us to work on our projects and travel the country to explore the real Maldives, outside of the resorts. It’s a fascinating place when you get living alongside with the locals.

 

Q7: What is one thing you wish you knew when you started taking photographs in the Maldives? Do you have any tips for visitors trying to capture their moments in the region?
Alexander: If only I had known how much more was outside the resort I first stayed on. If you want a high-class vacation, cocktails, great food; then book a resort. If you want adventure in a place that has no schedule nor is tainted by mass tourism; then get yourself to some local islands!

 

Q8: What technology/software/camera gear do you use to capture and process your stunning tropical & underwater scenes?
Alexander: I use Canon DSLRs and run Mac computer systems. Its industry standard really. I don’t look into the newest camera gear, simply because I cannot afford it. My 7D/5D setups are good enough for print magazine and indie cinema – so they are more than sufficient for my needs. Video editing is actually my favourite part of the process. It is so creative and you can completely craft a story or emotion through choices like music or colour grading.

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A group of tourists snorkel alongside giant manta ray swimming in Hanifaru Bay, Maldives Baa Atoll. Photo: Alexander Brown

 

Q9: If your camera was to get stuck in one mode or setting, what one would you hope it would be? Why?
Alexander: My last shoot in the Maldives was actually with countless manta ray at Hanifaru Bay, with the Manta Trust team from the Four Seasons. My camera did get stuck and wouldn’t focus which was such a bummer. But I slowed the shutter speed a little and gave the animals motion in my images. I thought it highlighted their movement with a softer image, as they are actually really fast swimmers! All the other pictures I had seen before just showed the ray in super crisp detail, almost motionless.

 

Q10: What projects do you have in the pipeline that we can look forward to seeing?
Alexander:I actually just quit a really rubbish office job in Brisbane, and bought a Lonely Planet Guide to New Zealand today. I really want to get in the ocean there to go find penguins, orca whales and other amazing marine life. Along with living life from my campervan of course.

 

Alexander Brown is an aspiring British outdoor photographer and filmmaker. Now in year 10 of living from a suitcase, he continues to share his appreciation for natural world through various adventures and ramblings. You can read more from him on his blog here and see more videos and photos.

Thanks to Alexander for his time and his team at Basement Vision for their talent and expertise.  We look forward to seeing more of what they produce about the Maldives and Beyond.

Get yourself to the Maldives where the mantas are waiting! Nautilus Two has all inclusive packages on for a great price this August during Manta season. Check out the dive cruise special price here.

Categories: Maldives Tags:

19 Telltale Signs You are Addicted to Scuba Diving

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!

Categories: Maldives Tags:

How to Get a Maldives Scuba Diving Deal

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.
 

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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!

Categories: Maldives Tags:

Why Summer in Maldives is Better than Wherever you Are

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.

Categories: Maldives Tags:

Indulging in a Need for Speed in the Maldives

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.

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10 Things Only People who Scuba Dive in the Maldives Would Understand

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.
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  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.
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  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.
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  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.
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  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.

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Top 3 Reasons to Book Dream Voyager this Summer

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.

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Don’t Leave Home Without these Essential Items for your Maldives Dive Trip

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.

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