Archive for the ‘Maldives’ Category

How To Avoid Dehydration while Diving the Maldives

November 20th, 2014 Comments off

How can you become dehydrated while surrounded by water? Any scuba diver or sea-loving person will tell you its not only plausible, but relatively common. Avoiding the risks under the conditions of a tropical Maldivian holiday are an important consideration for anyone planning to do water sports in the Maldives.


so much water and diver neville wootton How To Avoid Dehydration while Diving the Maldives

All that water, so little body hydration. Photo: Neville Wootton


Water’s disappearing act
Without us knowing or realizing it, both immersion in and exposure to salt water draws out our body’s needed moisture. Combined with heat and sun exposure (and overexposure), Maldives’ divers are put at great risk of dehydration.

Setting up the dive gear in hot conditions leads to sweating. Then, to make matters worse, the dive suit makes it difficult to tell when sweating is occuring underwater and above.

*One tip is to minimize the time spent in the suit before getting in the water.

Once in the water, a diver breathes compressed air that contains little to no humidity, which strips water loss from the body. Then, the frequent urination that is caused by various underwater factors leads the body to lose additional fluids.

Salt water is not all to blame for diver dehydration – both sun and wind are culprits too. Natural wind and windy boat journeys speed up the skin’s already quick evaporation process in the warm weather. Wind also tricks the skin into thinking that it is cool while, in fact, sunburn may be setting in. Sunburns cause further fluids to be stripped from the body to deal with the sun damage.

Let’s not forget the most inconvenient fluid loss conditions – vomiting and diahorrea. Planning ahead for seasickness by having medication on hand is a good idea – especially if it’s your first time spending extended periods on a boat. Being careful to drink bottled water, since tap water in many tropical countries is not safe to drink, and taking care that the food you eat is well cooked should help avoid any food-related digestion issues.



Dehydration risks
Simply put, dehydration puts divers at risk of DCS. Less fluids in the blood means, thicker, slower movement of nutrients and gas exchange around the body. Scuba divers, especially, depend on gas exchange including nitrogen release, so for divers dehydration increases diving risks.

Lack of body hydration also affects the body in ways that are hard to put a finger on, like exhaustion, confusion and poor decision making that come from an overworked heart as its rate increases trying to compensate for slower blood movement. Not to mention the more obvious unpleasant symptoms like headaches, dizziness and dry mouth.


What to watch for
Signs of dehydration include darker than usual urine or a reduction in urine production. Cramping and a rapid heartbeat could be evidence that blood flow has been reduced to the muscles.

Dizziness, confusion, and fatigue could be most dangerous if they come on during your dive. Let your dive buddy know right away if you’re feeling off.

Any episodes of diahorrea and vomiting should be compensated with additional fluid intake and potentiallly electrolyte replacement drinks/tablets.


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Slap on the sunscreen for those extended periods in the sun. Photo: Neville Wootton


Staying hydrated
Average recommended daily intake of water varies for individuals. The easiest way to calculate it is to multiply body weight in pounds by 0.5 (that’s 0.5 ounces of water for each pound of body weight). For a 150lb person the calculation would be 150 X 0.5oz. = 75oz. Then, 75/8 = about 9.5 glasses of water per day (8oz glasses). Extreme conditions, such as tropical, saltwater environments and sport call for more than the average, so fluid intake would increase from there.

The good news is, all of this “water” doesn’t have to come from plain water itself. Fruits, vegetables and non-caffeinated drinks all contribute to keeping the body hydrated and filled with the nutrients it needs. So don’t pass up that fruit and juice when it is passed around.

What you can pass up are caffeinated drinks, sodas and alcohol if you’re looking to keep hydration levels up.

Sports drinks or other types of electrolyte replacements can help replace major fluid loss in extreme conditions as well.

Further prevention methods include seeking shade when possible and using sunscreen and wind protection to minimize the effects of the tropical wind and sun.


By being cautious and keeping fluid intake up, your Maldives dive holiday will not be ruined by the effects of dehydration. Now that you know, get out down to the tropical islands of the Maldives. Try the new Far North dive itinerary from ScubaSpa! The sister boat to ScubaSpa Ying is here – Check out ScubaSpa Yang, here.

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2 Essential Techniques for Awesome Diving in the Maldives

November 12th, 2014 Comments off

So you’re set on a scuba dive trip in the Maldives. Unless you’re a seasoned diver, and even if you already are, there are two techniques to master to get the most out of your short time in the tropical islands.

Proficiency in buoyancy and nitrox diving are two ways to make the most of every second under water. While buoyancy training should start from the beginning, beginner divers are not required to learn nitrox diving. Certification for nitrox is an add-on option available once a diver is comfortable with their Open Water Diver techniques.

While these skills are not Maldives-specific, they both help divers stay underwater longer, which is crucial when time is of the essence on week-long holiday.

Here’s how to make sure buoyancy and nitrox are working with you rather than against you.




Recreational diving has used nitrox enriched air for about 25 years, yet not everyone opts for nitrox diving. This can likely be attributed, in part, to the increased responsibilities and risks associated with this tool. With proper usage though, it’s a tool worth adding to your dive repertoire as the benefits make for a better dive experience all round. Extended dive times and reduced wait times between dives are the two major benefits.

Know the dangers
The delicate balance of life is at work all around us. When we breath, the percentage of oxygen in the air is perfectly suited to us. When we create artificial breathing environments, like for scuba diving, maintaining the oxygen balance is a matter of life and death. Nitrox diving is especially risky as the dangers of oxygen toxicity are very real.

Both the amount of oxygen and the time exposed need to be taken into account, as well as the atmospheric pressures at the depths you plan to go to. Being able to understand your required nitrogen mix is part of the training you receive during the nitrox certification.

Know the nitrox air tables
The nitrox mix is understood through a table and/or formula. The depth to which a diver can go is decided based on the oxygen percentage and pressure. Again, this is part of the nitrox training. A nitrox dive computer can also do these calculations.


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Nitrox Divers. Photo: Ryan Lackey


Debunk the myths
While nitrox has the amazing benefit of extending dive times and shortening wait times between dives, one thing it doesn’t do is allow divers to go deeper. This is a common misconception. Higher percentages of oxygen in “enriched air” used in nitrox tanks increases the risks of oxygen toxicity at shallower depths than with normal air. That’s why knowing the dangers and the maximum operating depth, found using the table/formula are so important.

Maximize your dive time
Within the right depths, nitrox can greatly extend a diver’s “no-decompression limit”, or dive time. Dive time limits can even be more than doubled at the right depth. One example is a dive at 60 feet using a nitrox mix (EAN) of 36 can be extended from the normal 50 minutes to 130 minutes.

Get your Mix Right
Enriched air tanks are typically made with EAN (enriched air nitrox) 32. This mix allows additional minutes to the dive. More advanced nitrox divers, however, may like to customize their mix to further extend dive times. Instead of seeing how deep they can go based on the given mix (EAN 32), they can turn it around and see what mix will be most effective for the depth that they want to go. For example, by using EAN 40 at 70 feet, they may be able to double their dive time, rather than just add 10 minutes.

Selecting this “best mix” for the dive takes diving to a whole new level by extending dive times to their maximum.


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Hands folded, a picture of perfect buoyancy. Photo: Martin Postma


Hovering and using your buoyancy to move, rather than using your hands, will expend less energy and use less of your air, therefore giving your more dive time. Buoyancy is the skill to master from the get go, an essential for all divers.

Beef up on using your BCD
Hovering eye to eye with sought out marine creatures is made possible starting with your BCD (buoyancy control device). Proper understanding and usage of this most important piece of equipment will not only help you dive more smoothly, but also more safely. The cause of a number of dive accidents can be attributed to lack of understanding of BCD functioning.

From the dump valves to the inflator hose, knowing when and how to use them effectively makes a big difference, techniques which may depend on position and situation in the water. Ensuring a good fit is another important consideration to make buoyancy control a breeze.

Weight it right
Don’t get caught up in a common issue, over-weighting. In the beginning more weight may be used during training as instructors try to help divers learn the required skills more easily. However, experimenting with reducing weight to the minimum is important for efficient, controlled diving. This is where your log books will come in handy – by logging the weight you use plus your own weight you can be more accurate with your recordings (as our own weight can change affecting our future dive calculations).

Excessive air in the BCD is a cause of increased drag and other issues, but some think this extra air is needed to compensate for the additional weight. Reduce the weights to find a better balance.

Position yourself right
Body positioning has a big effect on buoyancy control and a good position can be thrown off by many factors, including fin alignment and weight spacing. By first getting to neutral buoyancy, then adjusting legs and weight spacing to keep horizontal, a good swimming position can be achieved.

Just breathe, hands free
In contrast to movement on land where all of our limbs work together for balance and movement, underwater it’s just the legs and lungs doing all the work. For ascents and descents, breathing changes a diver’s position in the water – take more air in to move up, get rid of air from the lungs to descend. Using the hands is the most ineffective way to control movement underwater – the legs are used for power and direction.

Train for Peak Performance
If you’re having trouble streamlining your technique or are keen to get it right, specialty certification courses are available to learn and practice the all-important skill of buoyancy.


Apply your buoyancy and nitrox abilities in a liveaboard tour. The dive-focused MV Orion offers “free nitrox”, a great choice for avid divers. Just 7 spaces remain for the MV Orion deal, get it before it’s gone – click here.

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Maldives Photographer of the Month – Christian Loader

November 5th, 2014 Comments off

A photo can be an inspiration.  It can lead us to travel to far off places or, in the case of a scuba diver, to deep dark ocean regions.   This month we feature a professional diver who spent almost two years filming and photographing awe-inspiring underwater scenes in the Maldives.  Meet Christian Loader, and read his tips for Maldives photography and his favorite dive spots.

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This large Honeycomb Moray (Gymnothorax favagineus) could often be seen in a cavern on a reef in South Male Atoll, Maldives, and on this dive it took off across the reef searching for its next meal. As I swam with the current to keep up with it, I wanted to capture the undulating motion of the moray as it slithered around the rocky seabed. I opted for a slower shutter speed and small aperture to capture the motion, and powerful strobe-light which brought out the beautiful colour of the moray. Photo: Christian Loader


Exclusive Interview with Christian Loader, professional wildlife photographer and Maldives dive enthusiast:


Q1: What made you get into underwater photography and photography in general?

Christian: I always enjoyed taking photos years ago, just using a small compact camera. Just looking at dive magazines and watching nature documentaries, I knew that underwater photography and filming was something I really wanted to get into. When I left the UK in 2007 and became a diving instructor in Malaysia I started underwater photography using a compact camera, and very quickly wanted to concentrate entirely on underwater photography instead of teaching diving, and make a career out of it.

Every time I taught a diving course, teaching skills in the shallows, I wondered what photos I was missing out on elsewhere! When I joined Scubazoo in late 2007, I learnt underwater filming for the first time, and progressed with underwater photography and filming from then on, and in 2012, I turned my attention entirely to still photography.


Q2: How would you describe your style of photography and what you want to “say” with your photographs?

Christian: My style is varied, and I find it difficult to attribute myself with one particular style. I feel my macro photography can be quite complex, using specialised equipment and techniques, whereas the style of my wide-angle photography is often quite simple.

For the first few years that I was doing underwater photography I simply wanted to capture the ‘beauty’ of the diverse marine life big and small, and that is what I tried to convey in my images. More and more now though I try to tell a story with my images – whether it is simply about the behaviour or habitat of a certain animal, an interaction with people or other animals, or quite often images with a conservation theme or message that hits home to the viewer.


Q3: When did you first go to the Maldives and what attracted you to go there? Was photography a motivation or an afterthought?

Christian: I first came to the Maldives at the end of 2007. I had always dreamed of diving in such an exotic location, and very luckily my first job working for Scubazoo was a long-term position as an underwater videographer and photographer at a luxury resort in Baa Atoll. Underwater filming was the sole focus of my time in the Maldives, and I still can’t believe how lucky I was to be able to dive and film all day everyday there for nearly 2 years! I gradually got more and more hooked onto still photography, especially after moving to another resort in South Male Atoll for another year.


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Feeding formation of majestic manta rays at Hanifaru. Photo: Christian Loader


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?

Christian: Lighting is one of the biggest challenges, and to overcome this I use 2 powerful strobes, and have a powerful spotting/focus light attached to my housing as well. The focus light, or an extra strobe can come in very useful for additional, creative ‘off camera’ lighting. In many shallow, sunlit conditions then using just natural sunlight can be the very best option, shooting in manual white balance mode, resulting in stunning, natural colours of the animal or reef for example.

The most challenging things I’ve ever photographed are probably Blue Whales in Sri Lanka – just being able to get in the water in the right spot to even just see one underwater is the biggest part of the challenge, because they are such shy animals. Underwater, as one passes below quickly, it’s like photographing a huge, blue submarine against a blue background, which is another big challenge.

The other most challenging thing I’ve photographed is the ‘sardine run’ in South Africa. The chaotic action, and tough conditions was something I was very unfamiliar with, having spent most of my diving life in the warm tropics!


Q5: Where are your favourite spots, above and below the surface, to take photographs in the Maldives? What makes them stand out?

Christian: One of my favourite areas for photography above and below the surface is around Baa Atoll – ‘Muthafushi Thila’ is one of the most colourful dive sites I’ve ever seen, with the most anemones too, and Muthafushi Island is a cliché picture-perfect uninhabited Maldivian island. The famous Hanifaru Bay on the right day with the right tide can result in a sight that has to be seen to be believed, with hundreds of Manta Rays feeding on plankton together in this small bay, and even a few Whale Sharks too if you’re lucky. In Baa Atoll, the island Kendhoo is my favourite spot for topside photography, with a significant historical importance as being the birthplace of Islam in the Maldives. The chain of islands next to Kendhoo offers one of the best aerial photos in the Maldives to be taken from a passing seaplane.

Male is a small, crowded, bustling city, and if you have a day to spare then there are some good photo opportunities to be had, especially around the fish market early in the morning.

South Ari Atoll has some of the best dive sites in the country, and one of my other favourite dive sites is ‘Kandooma Thila’ in South Male Atoll, where on the right tide you can be surrounded by Grey Reef Sharks at a ‘cleaning station’, and then finish the dive on the top of this large thila bursting with colour, schools of fish, resident Green Turtles, and passing Manta Rays.



Q6: What is it like to stay in the Maldives? Tell us about your average day when you’re there.

Christian: Working on the resorts and a liveaboard, I never got to enjoy Maldivian resorts as an actual guest, but it was like living and working in paradise! My typical day there would be an early start at 7am and get ready for the first dive of the morning, setting up my camera and underwater housing, then meeting guests on the dive boat and deciding which dive group I would be following and filming for the day. After the first dive we would come back to the resort for breakfast, and then a second morning dive followed. If I had got some decent footage from the morning dives I would spend the rest of my day in my office editing the guests dive videos, and then prepare a screening of the video for them in the bar in the evening after dinner, which was a great time to have a few drinks and chat with guests.

The video screenings were always popular, attracting others to come and watch and inspire new guests to come diving, especially when we were lucky and had dolphins, mantas, or whale sharks in the videos. Aside from the occasional staff party, or a long night in the bar socialising with guests, I usually got to bed early, tired out from all the fun in the sun!


Q7: What is one thing you wish you knew before you started taking photographs in the Maldives? Do you have any tips for visitors trying to capture their moments in the region?

Christian: If you’re a novice underwater photographer and shooting with a small compact camera, then definitely invest in a strobe and also a wide-angle attachment lens. The Maldives is known for its larger marine life such as mantas, sharks, and turtles, so a wide-angle lens is essential.

For visitors trying to capture moments underwater, don’t let the camera take over (or ruin!) your dive. At times, just sit back and enjoy nature’s show, rather than getting frustrated with camera settings etc.


Q8: What technology/software/camera gear do you use to capture and process your stunning tropical & underwater scenes?

Christian: I use a Nikon D800 DSLR camera with various macro and wide-angle lenses, inside a Nauticam underwater camera housing, and I use Inon strobes. For viewing and editing photos & videos I use a Macbook Pro, and for my photo editing I use Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop.


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Giant jawfish, Malaysia scuba diving. Photo: Christian Loader


Q9: If your camera was to get stuck in one mode or setting, what one would you hope it would be?

Christian: Personally, I’d hope it was stuck in Manual mode, because then I would have complete control over all the settings! Manual mode is what most budding photographers should get comfortable with.


Q10: What projects do you have in the pipeline that we can look forward to seeing?

Christian: We’ve just completed our latest book “The Green Heart of Sabah”, being published in November 2014, and for this we’ve been shooting wildlife in the rainforests around Borneo for the last 3 months which has been very exciting and a real eye-opener for us, taking us out of the ocean and into the jungle!


Christian Loader profile pic 1 300 Maldives Photographer of the Month   Christian LoaderPhotographer Bio

Christian Loader (31) is a professional wildlife photographer from the UK, working for the renowned Scubazoo Images based in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo, which specializes in underwater filming and photography.

Christian and his colleagues at Scubazoo have published their very own stunning coffee table books “Maldives – The Underwater Kingdom” in 2011, and most recently in 2014 “Sensational Seas of Sabah”, showcasing the magnificent marine life of these two exotic destinations with breathtaking underwater photography. Scubazoo’s latest book “The Green Heart of Sabah”, published in November 2014, explores the landscapes and wildlife of the lush rainforests of Borneo.

While shooting various projects around the world, Christian’s images have been published in, and graced the covers of a number of worldwide magazines and publications, and his images have also won several prestigious awards in international competitions.

You can find more of Christian’s work here:


Bring out the photographer in you!

If you’re looking for photo opportunities above and below the water surface, check out the latest deals from Maldives Dive Travel.  Recently released: couples will get great value from the Askani Couples Deal.  Check out this awesome deal here.


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Find it hard to relax? Let the Maldives show you how

October 30th, 2014 Comments off

In this day and age there are challenges to finding true relaxation. With constant stimulation from uncountable distractions, it can be hard to really switch off, literally. Turning off the mobile phones and electronics can be like going through drug addiction withdrawal for some. What better place to “detox” than in the Maldives.

To really unwind, the stresses and distractions of the day to day need to be removed, while replacing them with other more invigorating activities and environments.


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Kicking back island style. Photo: MattJP, Flickr


The Maldives offers so much in the way of relaxation it’s easy to get stressed about fitting it all in! Here’s how the Maldives will transport you into a world of calm:

Underwater live screensaver
Scuba divers know the silent underwater world presents a type of tranquil visual setting. Watching the schools of fish move in unison, turtles swim by and rays glide over will wash your cares away. Like immersing yourself in the most realistic screensaver, though much more breathtaking.

As long as sharks don’t phase you, then you can also watch them in awe without becoming nervous or uncomfortable.


Deserted islands
Above ground, relaxation potential is all around. One of the unique features of the Maldives is the number of uninhabited islands where you can feel a true island getaway. Being dropped off on a deserted island of white sand, surrounded by a blue-green lagoon, this is where relaxation comes naturally.

Sandbanks are deserted islands with little or no vegetation where you’ll have that ultimate feeling of seclusion. Then there are resort-owned deserted islands the are groomed and have facilities for more comfort, like toilets and sunbeds. A BBQ on a tropical island is an ideal way to finish off a day of diving in a laid back atmosphere.


Star gazing
Another exceptional experience visitors will enjoy in the Maldives is the sky full of stars. Of course, the sky is full of stars no matter where you are in the world, but only in secluded locations away from civilization can you truly see the sky at its best.

From an unlit boat deck or boat dock the skies of the Maldives really sparkle. Just taking that scene in is a good experience. To take it even further, a star gazing mobile app can show the constellations and guide your gazing in a meaningful way.


Dolphin watching
A pod of dolphins can pop up almost anytime as the dhoni cruises along. The moment they come into sight, people become fixated on watching them swim and waiting to see if the dolphins will pull off any impressive acrobatics. The impromptu experiences reminds us that the Maldives is just filled with awesome marine creatures.


Watch the island scenery from a jacuzzi
The jacuzzi is common feature of any good spa, fitness centre or wellness centre. It is the place people flock to unwind those tense muscles, which is perfect after a day of diving.

Many liveaboards now offer this spa luxury on their boats. The island scenes all around, combined with the massaging jacuzzi jets are a great way to loosen up.

Speaking of scenery, the daily sunsets will delight, whether you are in the Jacuzzi or not.  This flat nation makes for a massive panorama of color as that hot sun goes down.


Classes such as meditation, yoga and pilates
Waves lap in the sea and a warm sea breeze passes by, helping you dive deeper into that sense of calm while you take that yoga pose. Activities like meditation, yoga and pilates let participants focus on their mind and body, so detaching themselves from the stresses of the every day.


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Relaxation at a glance. Photo: Ralph, Flickr


Spa treatments
A no-brainer, the Maldives is known for spa resorts. The laid back atmosphere of the tropical islands lends itself easily to the similar spa environment. This concept of spas is actually a foreign introduction, rather than a traditional Maldivian practice.

What you might not know is that the spa experience is now also available aboard liveaboards and in combination with scuba diving packages. One spectacularly luxurious vessel, ScubaSpa Ying, offers the best of cruising the islands and getting the pampering of an island spa.

Packages on ScubaSpa cater to both spa and scuba enthusiasts, as well as those that want to combine the best of both of those worlds. Their boat also incorporates the other relaxing elements, like onboard jacuzzi, calming exercise classes, and an excursion for an island BBQ evening.


Feel the relaxation oozing from these islands. Now that you know all the ways to relax in the Maldives, it’s time to book your trip to tranquility. Right now your Maldivian detox is available at a 20% discount. Check out the deal on now for ScubaSpa Ying, here.

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Be a Scuba Novice, not a Rookie, in the Maldives

October 22nd, 2014 Comments off

Diving for the first time and diving for the first time in the Maldives call for some extra forethought and preparation.

Taking our bodies to depths under the sea puts our bodies in a vulnerable position; minimizing risk and maximizing glorious exploration is the goal we should aim for as new divers. Being a novice doesn’t mean you don’t know what you’re doing. Certification should provide you with the skills and knowledge to dive safely and effectively.


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The fruits of learning to dive are worth it! Photo: Albena, Flickr


The reality is, on a 7 day trip there is no time for trial and error. To get off on the right foot and avoid some of the rookie mistakes, check out these first timer tips before you dive for a successful, enjoyable scuba diving experience in the Maldives:


Never go it alone in scuba – This is a golden rule in diving and is the reason why the buddy system exists. Buddy up at all times!

Don’t skimp on equipment – quality is safety. Cheapest won’t be best in all cases. Save on your dive package instead by picking up a great deal on our website. On now are deals for…
Do your research, check reviews and look for good value, good quality equipment.

Get a good start – For your first dives it’s best if possible to dive in good conditions – warm water with good visibility and relatively shallow points of interest. Building up your confidence and general scuba experience is important, focusing on your buoyancy control and breathing will prepare you for increasingly difficult dives in the future.

On that note, taking complex photography and lighting equipment on your first dives is not recommended. Focusing on the fundamentals first, is preferable.

Hydration – Alcohol causes dehydration and that’s the opposite of what you want for your body when scuba diving.

Don’t get lazy – Double checks of equipment by a buddy has been shown to save lives.



Suit up accordingly – Pick the right suit for your destination. For the Maldives, recommended dive suits are as follows:
3mm full-length suit – to protect your knees and elbows
5mm full-length suit – if you get cold easily and want maximum protection
You want temperature control as much as protection from the elements. Research and reviews will help you make the best choice. If your neoprene suit is too thin your dive could be very uncomfortable and not enjoyable. You should focus on the surroundings not your suit during your dive.

Regulate – don’t hold – your breath – Relaxed, slow, full inhalations and exhalations will use your air more efficiently and make you a better overall diver. Naturally, without our scuba training, holding our breath underwater is habit. It’s not good practice in scuba however.

Settling the sinuses – the deeper you go the more pressure on your sinuses. Every 3 feet or so you can equalize your sinuses to release that pinching feeling. By pinching and blowing through the sinuses the pressure is kept level and you can avoid the problems that come with descending too quickly.

Follow bubble indicators – Moving upwards should be done carefully with your safety and the rules of ascent in mind. A general rule on moving towards the surface it to never swim faster than your bubbles. There are additional rules set for ascending and avoiding the bends to keep in mind from your training.

Pesky hair – Hair sneaking into your mask can cause leaks and be a real annoyance when it pokes you in the eyes. This includes beards guys! They can prevent your mask from sealing properly.

Happy on the horizontal – Unlike on land, movement underwater while scuba diving is about staying horizontal. Your head position is your steering wheel so standing up will lead you up – not good practice for a seasoned diver.

Hands free – Again, unlike on land, moving your hands is not part of balanced, efficient movement. Underwater, moving arms and hands can stir up debris, limit your visibility and even cause inefficient use of your air. To go up in scuba, good practice is to adjust the buoyancy compensator.


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Depth, time and tank check.


Ask, don’t assume – Take advantage of your dive guide and instructors, even your fellow divers with more experience of diving and the region that you’re in. The more you can find out about the area and general diving experience, the better for you and the extent to which you can get the most out of your dive experience.

Buoyancy do-over – Any change to your equipment, including your suit, require a buoyancy test. Don’t for get to conduct the test to make sure all is adjusted appropriately.

Down low to up high – Going from marine depths to sky highs takes some adjustment time. Be sure to plan sufficient time between plane transfers or flights and your last dive. The amount of wait time depends on how deep the dive was but general advice states a wait time of 24 hours before flying.


Enjoy your dive trip knowing you’re prepared for safety and exploration. Take advantage of the deals from Maldives Dive Travel to get you there, like the Theia special offer now on, click here.

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10 Ways to Be the Best Dive Buddy You Can Be in the Maldives

October 17th, 2014 Comments off

The goal of scuba diving is the enjoyment and discovery of the underwater world. To achieve this goal certain safety measures are put in place, as with a good safety plan divers can focus on fun rather than frantics. One of the key methods used in scuba diving is the buddy system. Through mutual safety this technique ensures the enjoyment of a scuba diving pair, making sure there’s always someone watching your back at all times.


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Dive buddies. Photo: David Thibodeaux


To have a good buddy is to be a good buddy. Leading by example you can make sure your buddy is as serious about safety as you are. Here are some of the best buddy behaviours to be a primo dive buddy:

Fail to plan, plan to fail
Pre-dive, it’s important to come up with a plan with your buddy that both of you will stick to. It should refer to the duration of the dive, the sites to visit, depth, safety stops and minimum air before heading to the exit point, as well as any other discussion points for your individual scuba habits or needs. Knowing the dive site features is imperative to making a plan. The plan will also be based around the pre-dive orientation given by the dive guide.

Double check your buddy’s equipment pre-dive
Another set of eyes over your equipment set-up is a good idea to make sure that everything is working properly. You and your buddy should do this pre-dive.

Give your buddy a hand with their equipment
Getting in and out of some scuba gear may be difficult to do alone, a buddy is there to assist. For any heavy equipment to be brought along during the dive, both parties should divide the load between them.

Be in tip top condition
Not being sick is as important for you as it is for your buddy. You’ll want as much energy as possible to dive and you’ll need to stay hydrated, so hangovers are a no-no too. Getting some energy from food a couple hours in advance and drinking plenty of water will give you what you need. Some people like to take sea sickness pills to build up their immunity but this will not be for everyone.

Maintain active communication
Clear lines of communication are important to always keep open with your buddy throughout the dive. This is done using hand signals. Communicate actively so that both parties are aware of the other’s status at all times.

Know the common hand signals
Following from above, to communicate you need to use and understand the hand signals used in diving. Some could be confusing to the un-trained, like the OK signal versus the “end the dive” signal. These essentials are taught in the open water diver course.

scuba end of dive signal Tyler Kieft 398x600 10 Ways to Be the Best Dive Buddy You Can Be in the Maldives

Scuba “End of Dive” signal. Photo: Tyler Kieft


Here some key signals to memorize and practice:

  • The most common to see in photos is the OK signal, in which the thumb and index finger create a circle and the other 3 fingers are extended. It can be used as both a question and an answer – if your buddy does this sign you should respond the same if you are indeed OK.
  • The thumbs up signal actually means to end the dive. The thumb points up toward the surface. When giving the thumbs up your buddy should respond with the same.
  • To signal a problem there is a two-part sign. First, a flattened hand is rotated side to side. Then, point using the index finger to the problem, whether it be in the water or on the body. One use of this is for an ear equalization problem.
  • At the surface, the problem signal is used to call for attention from a boat and is made by waving an arm over the head. It is basically like one would wave “hello”, so greeting in that manner while scuba diving is not good practice.

Close is comfort
Excitement could lead us to get overzealous with our exploration of the dive site, while forgetting our proximity to our dive buddy. Being aware of you buddy’s location and resisting the urge to wander off is the responsible thing to do. Always stay close to your buddy as you would be surprised at how easily we can lose sight of one another.

Stay within your comfort level
Your skill and training will have provided you with a certain level of comfort and ability. By going beyond that you put both yourself and your buddy at risk if you were to panic or get hurt. If you start to feel uncomfortable, even if that depth was part of the plan, don’t be afraid to communicate to your buddy that you have gone far enough for that dive. Get more comfortable from more training, not from taking more risk.



Respond effectively to emergencies
While full emergency response will be the work of the dive guide and team, you need to be prepared to help your dive buddy get out of sticky situations, both big and small. Entanglement, immobilization and injury can happen and you need to be ready to respond using your training.

Refrain from buddy breathing
Breathing from a single regulator is a skill that should be practiced before daring it in the deep. Don’t buddy breath unless both of you have practiced it before, as the common mistake for newbies is to forget about controlling buoyancy.

Liveaboard teams and dive guides provide another layer of safety protection as well. They will be there to help in the case of an emergency to support both you and your buddy.

Book a safety-focused, full-of-fun liveaboard trip with a team like that on MV Emperor Atoll. Right now the introductory deal on Emperor Atoll will make you drop everything and head to the Maldives. See the deal here.

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7 Common Maldives Photo-taking Mistakes (and how to avoid them)

October 8th, 2014 Comments off

Don’t let your Maldives photos turn out to be duds. Avoid these common blunders and consider these tips for getting the best underwater photos, even as a beginner. Some of these suggestions come from our selected Photographers of the Month, who have proven themselves as masters of capturing the wonders of the Maldives.

Mistake #1 – Blurry or unfocused photos
Fix it with: Control (buoyancy + camera)

One of the most difficult elements of underwater photography is getting a clear and colorful shot. On land, stabilizing at least yourself is fairly easy, while some targets may be on the move. Under the water, however, staying still is not quite as easy as a diver. That’s why buoyancy control is of the upmost importance. Then there is keeping the camera itself immobile enough to get a shot of those slippery targets. Try not to move the camera too quickly after the shot is taken, a short pause will ensure at least one side remains still to capture the moment.

Water clarity can also be an issue with getting sharp, clear photos, but this element is not really under our control. A smaller distance between lens and subject will reduce the amount of distortion (another word). On days with low visibility it might be a time to consider leaving the camera on the boat and just reveling in the experience (see more on this below). Unless, of course, the reduced visibility is attracting manta rays or whale sharks, in which case you might not want to miss that photo op.

Mistake #2 – Not enjoying the experience itself
Fix it with: Forgetting the camera
It’s easy to let the camera get stuck to your hand and watch most of the marine life through your camera lens, while missing out on the feeling of being in the sea among these creatures. On one hand, you don’t want to miss any once-in-a-lifetime moments like when you come face to face with a whale shark or a turtle eating its lunch. Capturing memories and sharing them with others is something we all appreciate. On the other hand, constantly thinking about what to take a photo of impedes your dive experience.

Consider refraining from taking your camera on every single dive by selecting the dives that will likely present the most important photo opportunities. On other dives, just enjoy the ride and take it all in. Alternatively, train yourself to put the camera down once and a while during the dive and resist the temptation to get photos of everything.

lighting on the reef Malcolm Browne 600x399 7 Common Maldives Photo taking Mistakes (and how to avoid them)

The right lighting can bring out the vibrant colors of the reef. Photo: Malcolm Browne

Mistake #3 – Too dark
Fix it with: Balance, artificial light, or filters

Among the top 2 most difficult elements of underwater photography is lighting.
Malcolm Browne suggests using available light and adjusting the white balance as you change depth during the dive. He also uses behind the lens filters from, and a camera that produces RAW images delivers good results with minimal processing

If you want to work with more than natural light, invest in a strobe. This could be worth it if night dives and marine photography are going to become a regular activity for you.

Mistake #4 – Partial shots/missed shots
Fix it with: Mastering your camera

Alexander Brown suggests getting really familiar with using the camera with the housing before the dive. Practice underwater and in imperfect conditions if possible so that you’re ready for anything.

Another reason for missing shots is if your camera too cumbersome or complex. The big thing now for active photography is a GoPro or similar camera. Compact, high quality and made for action, these cameras come in different bundles with the accessories for your sport of choice, in this case underwater shooting. Avid photographers may want to stick with a DSLR, but for the Average Joe a GoPro may be a great alternative.

Mistake #5 – Unrealistic expectations
Fix it with: Practice and learning from mistakes

It can be frustrating at first when photos are not turning out how you envision. It could be tempting to give up and let others get the glamour shots, but don’t throw the camera aside just yet.

Jacob Nielsen suggests considering the reality of photography and not to expect all of your shots to be magazine-ready. He describes how despite using a DLSR for years above the water, taking it under the water and adding external lighting was hard – no matter how many books or articles one reads on the subject. He points out that 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. However, practice makes perfect, and it’s fun to see how you constantly improve.

camouflage scorpionfish malcolm Browne 600x398 7 Common Maldives Photo taking Mistakes (and how to avoid them)

If you don’t keep your eyes focused you might miss things like this camouflaged scorpionfish. Photo: Malcolm Browne

Mistake #6 – Only shooting the obvious
Fix it with: Challenging yourself

Another suggestion from Jacob is to challenge yourself with macro subjects, notoriously the most difficult to shoot. As he describes, getting a big subject like a manta ray in the viewfinder is relatively easy, but tiny critters the hide in the corals that escape even the naked eye are much harder to capture.

Mistake #7 – Running out of storage
Fix it with: Bringing extra memory cards

Extra batteries will also help if one battery decides to no longer work or you don’t have time to charge your battery between shoots.

Practice your photography skills on a last minute trip to the Maldives. Get an unparalleled 2 for 1 diver deal on Leo Blueforce this October. Don’t wait to book as this trip is a one-time-only deal and is only valid for 18-25 October, 2014. For more info and to book, click here.

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Ari vs Male – Which is Better for Reef Diving in the Maldives?

September 30th, 2014 Comments off

At first glance, the Maldives islands may seem like a uniform atmosphere with the tropical lagoons, palm-fringed shorelines, and flat scattered islands popping up to the surface.

Actually, the topography of the Maldives, especially below water level, varies from atoll to atoll. This variation makes for great diving adventures that surprise divers with drop offs from 300-2000m depths, unique pinnacles, caves, overhangs, ledges and barrier reefs broken up by numerous channels.

Male and Ari Atolls are both central and quite large such that they are divided into North and South atolls for administrative reasons and even by physical barriers like a channel, in the case of Male Atoll. Ari Atoll lies on the western side of the country while Male runs along the east.

In Ari Atoll as a whole, only about 1 in 4 islands are inhabited by the local population. More than 1 in 3 are resort islands, leaving the rest as deserted, uninhabited islands of all different sizes. There is a total of about 70 islands in North and South Ari atolls.

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A whale shark in South Ari Atoll. Photo: laika ac, Flickr


North Ari Atoll
North Ari is famous for its thilas or pinnacle reefs with the west side having developed hard corals as a result of the turbulent sea activity and the east side with more fragile formations. This atoll boasts some of the world’s top dive sites, such as Fish Head, aka Mushi Mas Mingilli. As a protected marine area this sought-after site has an abundance of marine life for divers to interact with, since sustainability of the ecosystem has been prioritized over fishing.

Rasdhoo, a popular diving destination, is the capital of Ari and is connected by a submerged plateau at an average of 200m deep.

Maaya Thila is another renowned North Ari hot spot. The star of the show at Maaya Thila are the white-tip reef sharks that comb the strong currents along with some grey reef sharks and great barracuda. That is just the “tip of the fin” though when it comes to fish divers will encounter at this place teeming with life. Day and night, Maaya Thila will impress. Night dives are the best time to explore the caves and crevices where turtles, cleaner shrimp, ghost pipe fish and moray eels like to hide. Octopus can be seen if you take your time and watch as their camouflage skills could trick you into swimming right by without realizing.


South Ari Atoll
South Ari is known for sharks but one famous site doesn’t fit this stereotype. Rengali Madivaru in the north east monsoon season is manta ray central. It becomes a manta ray cleaning station that mesmerizes divers and shows the symbiotic relationships between marine creatures.

When it comes to reef formations, Kudarah Thila dive site has some cool features on its northern fringe – numerous sea fans that together make for an awesome sight. Gatherings of sea fans are a rare and awe-inspiring sight, found here, tucked away on a reef in South Ari Atoll of the Maldives.

Advanced divers have the opportunity to experience another of South Ari’s top dive sites, known as Broken Rock. This site boasts a beautiful canyon and soft corals, along with tiny invertebrates like leaf fish and nudibranchs that prefer the hard coral of the top reef.

All of these superb sites, and the many others unmentioned, are a great argument for Ari Atoll as the best reef diving in the Maldives. However, Male Atoll is famous for more than holding the island capital – it has diving to compete with Ari, as we will see.


north male atoll school of neon fusillier malcolm browne 600x398 Ari vs Male   Which is Better for Reef Diving in the Maldives?

North Male Atoll school of neon fusilier. Photo: Malcolm Browne


North Male Atoll
Comparable in number of islands to South Ari Atoll, North Male atoll is much denser in population with the capital, Male, the most densely populated of all the islands. There are less deserted islands as well with 80% of the atoll’s islands either used as resorts or privately leased. Only 8 of the islands are home to the local population.

Increased boat traffic is a deterrent for many divers on the southern edge of North Male atoll. In the north of North Male atoll is where more isolated stretches of islands and reefs can be found.

Think tropical fruit when you think great diving in North Male Atoll. Banana Reef is one of the longest known dive sites with some of the most stunning underwater topography – soft coral and marine life fill the caves, gutters and overhangs. Brilliant table coral and sponges make this reef a sight to see, along with the sharks that enjoy the currents around the ledges. The massive humphead wrasse are known to this dive site, which is also known as Gaathugiri.

If all that wasn’t enough, there are Nassimo Thila’s elusive caves where nurse sharks like to stay hidden. Scattered around this site are random pinnacles as well as massive porite corals, some grown to a whopping 5 meters in diameter.

Another advanced dive can be found at Kuda Haa where steep ledges attract schools of fish and a cave that holds beautiful coral displays.


South Male Atoll
Separated from North Male Atoll by the Vaadhoo kandu channel, South Male boasts The capital of South Male Atoll is the well-known Maafushi, where several guesthouses have popped up in recent years that have attracted tourists to see another side to the Maldives. Only 3 of the 30 islands in the atoll are inhabited with the majority being resort islands.

Many of the dive sites in the atoll are for advanced divers due to the strong currents pushing through the region. Embudhoo and Guraidhoo dive sites are suitable for novice divers when the currents are right.
Again, caves, sponges and soft coral make the dive sites of the South Male region a sight to see. The sharks, eagle rays, and other pelagic species that enjoy the strong currents keep divers on their toes with wide eyes and cameras in position.


All in all, it’s difficult to compare the two regions because each has such well-known dive sites. Taking a liveaboard tour that covers both atolls is ideal so that as many of the top attractions can be visited in one tour. Then, you can really judge from first-hand experience which atoll takes the prize.

Liveaboards such as Emperor Atoll try to touch on the best of these atolls in their custom itineraries. Check out the introductory offer from Emperor Atoll on this fall: click here to get your offer.

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Top 5 Reasons to Book a Dive Trip with Emperor Atoll

September 25th, 2014 Comments off

Divers don’t really need a reason to get in the water but liveaboards like Emperor Atoll make for great excuses to scuba. A wide range of dive cruisers take divers hopping around from reef to reef and choosing the ideal package for your Maldives dive vacation can be difficult.

The Maldives is well-known for megafauna like sharks, mantas, whale sharks and other large fish. Manta cleaning stations and feeding frenzies are features that attract tourists from all over the world. Booking a trip to the archipelago for a dive excursion is a no-brainer.


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Here are some of the reasons to book the king of the atolls – Emperor Atoll:

No.1 Awesome Itineraries
Making the most of a visit to the Maldives for divers means hitting up as many of the best dive spots as possible. Emperor Atoll offers different cruises for divers to experience the sights most sought out by scuba enthusiasts in the Maldives.

From reef fish to mantas, wrecks to rays, the channels, drifts and pinnacles on the “Best of Maldives” itinerary are sure to excite. Best of all, the cruise is flexible and adapted to the conditions of the day and season. The 17 dives per week included in the package usually venture around central atolls – Rasdhoo, North and South Ari, North and South Male, and Vaavu atolls. Highlights of the trip are the awesome marine mix of sharks, whalesharks, cleaning stations and wrecks. These tours run from October to the first week of January.

Then, during the rest of the high season, from January to April, things get seriously “Sharktastic”! This tour stays more to the south to take advantage of the flow of currents through the island nation. In South Ari and South Male as well as Vaavu and Meemu atolls sharks and other pelagics lurke around reefs and channels for divers to discover an exhilarating side of the Maldives.


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No.2 Diver’s delight
Liveaboards are by nature tailored to divers, though not all boats make all of the extra special accommodations that keen divers look for. Things like nitrox are key and make for a great reason to book a dive week on Emperor Atoll.

The scuba diving experience is made longer and arguably better when you give it a little air – nitrox air, that is. Nitrox diving allows for longer dive times and faster recovery times, making it an essential skill for avid divers. This means that boats that offer nitrox also become a necessity. Emperor Atoll not only has nitrox available but offers it free as part of their dive packages. Of course, tanks, weights and the dive guide are also available as part of the package.

While underwater fun is the priority, divers do have to come up for air sometime. Trips to deserted islands and tours around Male as well as cozy facilities on the ship are extras that make the Maldives experience more real and more exciting.


No.3 Ideal for individuals
It’s not always possible to find someone that can go on holiday at the same time or that shares the same borderline obsession with scuba. On Emperor Atoll, not a problem! They offer a single traveler’s guarantee to ensure same sex cabin sharing when booking a bed in shared accommodation. In the case that they don’t have a person to share the room that meets the same gender criteria, you will not share the room and not have to pay the single room supplement required for booking a single bed cabin. Have a blast with like-minded divers and don’t worry about traveling alone.


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No.4 Taster size
There are many expressions about size: “bigger is better”, “good things come in small packages”. Which one holds true will depend on your needs and preference. The 6 cabins of Emperor Atoll’s ship hold 12 passengers, making this a smaller size liveaboard. The petit size is great for many reasons. Liveaboard novices can get experience on this smaller vessel as a “taster”. Also, it can be hired out as a private charter for dive groups.


No. 5 Introductory offer!
Price is a mega motivator to book a dive trip. If you like getting good deals, and are looking for a trip in the next couple months, now is the time to book Emperor Atoll. Get a big discount on the regular rate of 177 euros per night with the Maldives Dive Travel introductory offer; it’s a really sweet deal. Save about 250 euros on a 7-night package by scooping up the limited time discount rate of just 994 euros per person per week for tours October to December.

This package offers great value with a fully packed week. All the meals, transfers, 17 dives per week, dive tanks, weights and nitrox, unlimited water, tea and coffee, a BBQ night, city tour of Male. For all of the package details see the full introductory offer here.

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Maldives Photographer of the Month – Nattu Adnan

September 18th, 2014 Comments off

A Maldives’ native with a great perspective on his homeland. This month you will meet photographer, Nattu Adnan, who captures unique scenes around the islands. You’ll see how he dazzles you with simplicity in his stunning photos that make for amazing screensavers!

Get some tips from our photographer of the month, Nattu, and read about his experience being a photographer in the Maldives, here in our exclusive interview with him:


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Enchanting sunsets captured by Nattu


Q1. What made you get into Maldives photography and photography in general?
Nattu: Since I come from a very remote island in the Maldives, my surroundings were extremely beautiful and unique. You can see the incredible beach and the waves and it gives you a sense of creativity of its own. I think that is how I got into photography in general, I wanted to capture the beauty of my surroundings and show it to the whole world.


Q2. How would you describe your style of photography and what you want to “say” with your photographs?
Nattu: I try to express the lifestyle and the natural beauty of these islands in a vivid and simplistic way. Simplicity is the key note in my photographs.


Q3. What are some of the challenges of Maldives photography? 
Nattu: The country itself is like pearls scattered into the Indian Ocean in the most random yet beautiful way, crossing one island to the other is definitely a challenge. The other problem is getting the right equipment, like cameras and lenses, here in Male’ the capital of Maldives.


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Sunset silouettes by Nattu


Q4. Where are your favourite spots, above and below the surface, to take photographs in the Maldives? What makes them ideal?
Nattu: That would have to be silhouette photographs of any beach with coconut palm trees ( which you would find in almost all the beaches here) at sunset and sunrise time. It is a truly breath taking scene.


Q5. What is it like to live in the Maldives? Tell us about your average day when you’re there.
Nattu: Life in Maldives is very predictable. Work, eat, sleep, cycle repeating on. But of course with the occasional trips to the islands where I just relax and experiment with my camera.


Q6. 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?
Nattu:  It was hard to find good inspirations and the critiques to them, since we were not that open to the world. But as times have changed, you can see photographers everywhere. Thus Maldives has a very active photographer community and tons of photos pop up on online social medias everyday. Try looking for inspirations before you come here, that way you can see familiar scenes and how people capture them.


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Male Maldives by Nattu


Q7. What technology/software/camera gear do you use to capture and process your stunning tropical & underwater scenes?
Nattu: I usually use my Gopro these days but I am a very old school Nikon fan. since I have started experimenting with aerial photography now, I use a DJI Phanthom Vision. And one must not forget the mainstream Apple iPhone. For processing I use Adobe LIghtroom.


Q8. If your camera was to get stuck in one mode or setting, what one would you hope it would be?  Why?

Nattu: P as in programmed. Because I love to point and shoot, the moment what ever it takes. I don’t want to loose the moment by trying to figure out the exposure. But if I have time, I would use the Manual.


Q9. What projects do you have in the pipeline that we can look forward to seeing?
Nattu: Aerial photography! I want to capture these tiny islands from up above that would show all its glory in a new perspective.

Nattu bio photo 150x150 Maldives Photographer of the Month   Nattu Adnan
Nattu Adnan (pictured, left) is a traveller, photographer, mobile and web app developer from the very beautiful islands of the Maldives. See more from Nattu on Instagram, Twitter, and Flickr.


Bring these amazing scenes to life by taking a trip to the Maldives.  The MV Emperor Atoll is new to the Maldives Dive Travel group and you’ll love their introductory offer!  Click here for more info.


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