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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.

Categories: Maldives Tags:

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.

Categories: Maldives Tags:

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.

Categories: Maldives Tags:

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.

Categories: Maldives Tags:

Maldives Photographer of the Month – Jacob Nielsen

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.

Categories: Maldives Tags:

The 6 Most Cliche Things to Do in the Maldives

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!

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New Rebreather Technology Surfaces in the Maldives

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.

Categories: Maldives Tags:

Join the party that never stops in the Maldives

May 7th, 2014 Comments off

Some island destinations are known for their parties. Ibiza and Ios are two party islands that immediately come to mind. In the Maldives, the liveliest gatherings are around the coral reefs, which is a scuba diver’s idea of a real happening place to be.

The fringe of islands known as the Maldives is a tranquil, ocean retreat above the water surface. The many resorts and local islands are, for the most part, a place where people relax in quiet beach or pool-side settings. Locals go about their daily tasks and seek a shady lounging area when the sun’s rays are at their peak. Tourists awe at the blue-green lagoons and soak in those rays that they don’t get enough of during the rest of the year.
 

party on the reef CK Tse Flickr2 Join the party that never stops in the Maldives

The reef is where the party is at, in the Maldives. Photo: C.K. Tse, Flickr


 
A quick peek below the surface, however, reveals that the country is much more than meets the eye. The water is aflutter with activity around the many reefs, channels and thilas scattered between the islands. Whether the sun is shining or not, the underwater world keeps on moving. By day and by night, see what makes the reefs “the place to be” in the Maldives.
 

The venue & the guest list

 
For any great party you need the ideal location and freely flowing refreshments. The thilas provide a hub for the fish and crustaceans that make up the marine environment. The coral of the thilas are also an essential source of nutrients. The corals are literally the life of the party.

Then there is the parade of colourful characters around the place, cheery clown fish and angel fish, bright butterfly fish, schools of stripped oriental sweetlips and multi-colour parrotfish. Eagle rays survey the scene as they glide around. There are the cliques and groups from the wrasse to the snapper and the triggerfish to the fusilier. Sometimes you can see them in distinct groupings, doing their own dance, and other times they mingle.

Another type of venue that attracts crowds in the Maldives is the submerged shipwreck. The old metal frame comes to life with the vivid coral and other creatures, like sea slugs, that attach themselves to the wreckage. That living base then attracts fish and scuba divers alike.
 

anemone clown fish flickr Join the party that never stops in the Maldives

Clown fish dance around the anemone. Photo: Jon Connell


 

Special guests

 
When the stars are out on the town it attracts a crowd from far and wide. There are some VIPs that attract lots of attention from divers and even other fish. Manta rays and whale sharks are the VIPs of the Maldives marine community. When a manta ray or a whale shark graces the scene, the cameras come out for the photo ops. Divers want their photos taken with them and if it were possible they would surely ask for their autograph. There are even the dedicated cleaner fish that are quick to grab the opportunity to provide the important pelagic with their services.

Celebrities are not something you see every day at home but the Maldives is teeming with stars and celebrities both above and below the water surface.

Where whale sharks go, people will follow. Their massive size is seen not as intimidating but as part of their allure. The same can’t be said for the underwater kingpins.
 


 

Kingpin intimidation

 
With a sly, cunning demeanour the slick shark rules the reef. When these guys move in your direction – all are on edge. Both sharks and barracudas play the role of kingpins of the marine environment. With just a look or a sudden move they can disperse a crowd, though their main weapon is not a gun, but their razor sharp teeth.

That’s from the fish point of view. On the other hand, divers need not be intimidated but rather should show a level of respect. The reputation of sharks as flesh-hungry man eaters just doesn’t play out like in the movies, within the calm waters of the Maldives.
 

buzzing reef Jon Connell flickr Join the party that never stops in the Maldives

In the dark and in the light the Maldives reef is a beautiful sight. Swim through on the Ibura Tila. Photo: Jon Connell


 
The buzz of movement doesn’t stop from day to night on the reef either. When some hide away, others come out to play. Nurse sharks, zebra sharks coral polyps and many others are the night hawks of the sea. Mantas like to play in the dark too. There is always someone to keep the festivities going. In that way, the reef is like a vibrant city.

If you’re ready to join the party you can find some great deals on Maldives Dive Travel, like the last minute May deals on MVs Orion and Virgo. Join the party, click here.

Categories: Maldives Tags:

Feel the Force of Diving with BlueForce Leo

April 29th, 2014 Comments off

When it comes to Maldives scuba diving, the experience of a dive cruise cannot be beat. Not only that, but the dive quality in the Maldives has made this destination into one of the most noteworthy in the world for diving holidays. Dive cruisers like Blue Force One – aka MV Leo – are leading the way in unique diving tours of the atolls that really show off the best of the region.

About to embark on their 18th consecutive season in the Maldives, the long-running status and continued customer satisfaction are what make Blueforce a top operator in the region. For their 2014-2015 season, they have a varied program of weekly diving cruises ready to go, led by their trusted team of guides. Their team’s extensive experience has helped them select the most appropriate route for each week of the season, which will help ensure that every cruise is an unforgettable trip.

Just a few of the attractions they have planned for are mantas, whale sharks, and many types of sharks such as gray, tiger, reef and hammerhead. Not to mention the thilas with their multicolored marine life and wrecks that divers can enjoy during the trip.
 

 

The Boat

 
Blueforce’s MV Leo is a 42-meter ship with all the amenities a dive traveler could ask for, and more. It is accompanied by a dive dhoni where the diving equipment and compressors of nitrox are kept.

Each of its 10 cabins has full ensuite bathroom, hairdryer, convenient remote control lighting and a/c, 32’ satellite TV, WiFi, safe, bathrobes and towels. There are hot water showers, room service and towel service. Of these 10 cabins there are 3 extra-special rooms with extra features such as seaviews, bathtub or Jacuzzi tub.

On the Lower deck are 6 standard cabins and 1 master cabin. On the main deck are the common areas such as the comfy living area with 65’ TV, satellite and theatre sound and equipment, massage arm chairs, kitchen, dining area, as well as one of the suites. On the upper, 2nd deck there is the 3rd suite and 1 additional standard cabin with twin beds. There is also the spa massage room, sauna and shower, 2 outdoor Jacuzzis accompanied with lounge chairs and a solarium with mattresses. On the 3rd upper deck is a large solarium with sun beds.
 
blueforce boat1 Feel the Force of Diving with BlueForce Leo
 

2014-2015 Routes

 
Blue force has tailored routes depending on the season. The main ones are:
• 5 Atolls Classical and South
• South Hemisphere
• 6 Atolls Classical and North
• Big south Up or Down
 
5 Atolls Classical and South
This is the most famous route in Maldives. Leo has been taking this route for last 16 seasons and the team is experienced in the best dive spots. They know the details of the reef and atolls and the best time for diving each spot. The Classical and South route goes through South Male atoll and Felidhoo where divers experience channels and pelagic fish at spots such as Devana Kandhu Miyaru. There’s also the spectacular night diving for nurse sharks. The cruise wraps up in Ari Atoll where divers swim around thilas, manta cleaning stations and are on the lookout for the whale shark.

Duration: 7 nights and 7 days diving. Departure and arrival in Male.
Itinerary: North Male, South Male, Felidhoo, Ari and Rasdhoo
Marine life: Whale sharks in the south; Mantas, thila reefs, whale sharks & wrecks in Ari.

6 Atolls Classical and North
The route 5 Atolls Classical & South is extended with the addition of Baa Atoll at the beginning or end of the cruise. First South Male Atolls and Felidhoo are visited for diving in the channels and great spots such as Miyaru or Kandhu Devana, then a night dive to look for the nurse sharks of Alimatha. Then off to see manta cleaning stations and looking for whale sharks in Ari Atoll. Top off an already jam-packed-with-excitement cruise by visiting Baa Atoll and Hanifaru Bay for snorkelling around concentrations of mantas in the world-famous lagoon, when the conditions are right (moon, current, tide, plankton). Besides snorkeling at Hanifaru dive the thilas at Dharavandhoo and others where a myriad of colorful fish delight the eyes and camera lens.

Duration: 7 nights and 7 days diving. Departure and arrival Male then Dharavandhoo or vice versa.
Itinerary: North Male, South Male, Felidhoo, Ari, Rasdhoo & Baa Atoll takes one week, then the boat returns to do the reverse Baa to North Male during the following week.
Marine life: Whale sharks in the south; Mantas, thila reefs, whale sharks & wrecks in Ari. Plus mantas in Baa Atoll’s famous Hanifaru Bay
 

shower and sauna blueforce Feel the Force of Diving with BlueForce Leo

Steam room and sauna on the upper deck.


 

South Hemisphere Tour
With the success and experience gained from 10 expeditions into the Maldives’ south atolls, Blue force developed one of the largest southern hemisphere tours in the Maldives. Planned for the months with optimal conditions, these tours take place during a 12-week period from February to April, 2015.

The Blue Force Leo bases its operations in the equatorial region in the south of the Maldives archipelago for 8 weeks, providing divers with a unique southern circuit. The quality of marine live and reefs in this region is spectacular and undoubtedly an experience not to be missed by an avid diver.

The route to and from the southern region is great for a dive tour too. In fact, divers can combine a week in the south with a week dive trip down or back up to the south from Male. To make the most of the southern sights it is highly recommended to book 2 weeks by combining the Big south down followed by a week in the Southern hemisphere or (the other way around) a week in the southern hemisphere followed by the Big South up.

Duration: 7 night cruise on the southern atolls
Itinerary: Gaaf Alif, Foamulah, Addu Atolls (either direction). Cruise starts or ends in Gan or Kooddoo.
Marine life: See thilas and corals like the Maldives of 25 years ago. Discover channels, whale sharks, mantas and the largest wreck in Maldives, the British Royalty.

Big South up/down
During the months of February and March in the Maldives islands, it’s likely to find the ideal conditions for a cruise on the central atolls. Mantas and whale sharks in Ari, as well as night dives with dancing mantas. Channels of the more southern atolls will excite as will the pelagic life of Vaavu and Meemu atolls. It’s a tour that goes deeper into the south than most traditional tours. You can also connect with the unique southern hemisphere tour before or after the Big South up or down tour.

Duration: 7 night cruise on the atolls heading north or south through the southern atolls
Itinerary: North Male, South Male, Ari, Vaavu, Meemu, Thaa and Laamu (either direction). Starts/ends in Male or Laamu.
Marine life: Nurse sharks, mantas, whale sharks, hammerheads
 
beach massage blueforce Feel the Force of Diving with BlueForce Leo
 

Tailored to divers

 
MV Leo is Rebreather Friendly. If you want to take your CCR, the Leo is prepared with oxygen and booster pump, which is available on board for a surcharge.

Not only that but Nitrox is free. The advantages of nitrox are many and we have found the incorporating it into our dive packages makes for a more enjoyable trip overall. Divers get the possibility to extend up to 20% dive time without decompression. It’s ideal for dives like Donkalo Thila, where manta rays dance around. The reduced worry about multiple safety stops has radically changed the way our diving cruises can operate.  Our Nitrox Membrane system NRC along with our compressors and L&W, allow us to load the required bottles for the multiple daily dives.

In addition to the increased safety factor of nitrox, the fatigue that is often experienced after 3 dives is reduced and passengers can therefore enjoy after-dive activities, such as island visits. This allows the trip to have an extra element, beyond diving, eating and sleeping, to include the discovery of a country by meeting its people and its culture.
 
 
The boat facilities, combined with the tailored itineraries and supercharged extras, like nitrox, make Leo Blue Force a real force to be reckoned with when it comes to dive cruises. See more photos and specific itinerary dates on the liveaboard page here.

If your travel dates are within the next month, check out the last minute deals on some great liveaboard packages here.

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