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Finding Holidays to Fit Your Budget in the Maldives

March 4th, 2014 Comments off

Let’s face it, very few of us have unlimited holiday budgets. When we travel we’re looking for the sweet spot between what we can afford and what we see as the ideal vacation. Not only that, but we want value within our budget limitations. Sound tricky? It doesn’t have to be when it comes to the Maldives.

The first step is, knowing what we’re looking for, since each of us is looking for something slightly different in a holiday. Then, it’s finding a value-packed holiday with those elements that matches our cash in hand. Are you looking to go all out and spend tens of thousands on a Maldives getaway, or will your spending be reined in somewhat to a couple thousand or even less?

 

reethi one and only Sarah Ackerman Finding Holidays to Fit Your Budget in the Maldives

The One & Only Resort Reethi Rah, Maldives


 

Here’s what various budgets will get you:
 

Splash Out on Luxury

 
It’s easy to spend hundreds or even thousands per night on Maldives accommodation. The Maldivian resort industry is still going strong as the original form of tourism in this secluded and exclusive region. When budget is less of a concern or maybe for a special occasion, there are luxury dive cruises and resorts to get that feel of ultimate comfort and luxury. On the other hand, the two can’t really be compared, resorts and cruises, since dive cruises come with excursions and let guests see many islands as they cruise through the palm-fringed islands.

Maldives Resorts start from $275 per night without activities or excursions, at the low end. If you’re looking to splurge but diving is your dream then options like Ocean Divine and Scuba Spa Ying will be a great fit. Get your spa treatments with a different view each day! There’s also Dhoni Stella where diving or just cruising the islands is up to you with the ability to create your own itinerary on your private charter boat.

 

Reign In the Spending

 
When your pocketbook isn’t as expansive at the islands of the Maldives archipelago and you are looking for something outside the resort islands, look to guest houses and dive safaris for a mid-range choice. Dive liveaboard packages have a wide price range with mid-range being $150-200 per night with much more than just a room qith the same view day after day, like you would have in a resort.

Guesthouses on the other hand also offer packages with daily excursions from 90 per person per night, transportation costs are a major consideration in price so if not included be sure to ask about transfers to the accommodation.

Dive packages with the ultimate value for keen divers are on MV Leo, MV Virgo and MV Orion, with free nitrox included in the packages. Theia’s expert dive crew combined with the private yacht luxury feel also places it straddling the mid- to high-end categories.

Guesthouses often include daily excursions or offer dive-specific packages and hover around or under US $1000 per person for a whole week. These guest houses are high value holiday packages that provide full board options and that have an extra element of interest since they are located on local islands of the Maldives. There’s Casa Mia, Happy Life, Villa Stella, Assyeri Inn, Kuri Inn and Reveries Diving Village to look into for a guest house stay.
 


 

Tight on cash, big on value

 
You want to fit in that annual vacation but this year’s budget isn’t as free flowing as you’d like. You thought the Maldives would be out of the question but it turns out there are some affordable options, not to mention great deals to scoop up and save.

The Maldives definitely isn’t a backpacker budget destination comparable to Southeast Asia, but there is now a wider range of vacation package options than ever before. Since the guesthouse market opened up in 2009 there are more options to choose from accommodation-wise.

Liveaboards with this fantastic value are Nautilus One & Two, Stingray and Maldivian Dream. The dependable dive crew won’t let you down, nor will the comfy facilities or high safety standards. Depending on dates and itineraries, prices range from $1200-1500 per person for a 7-night dive safari package.

Guesthouses on the popular island of Maafushi, just 30 minutes from Male, are ideal for a budget-friendly trip to the Maldives. One well-known place, called Arena Lodge, offers a full-board package with daily excursions from just $87 per person per night, which is made even more affordable by arriving by public ferry, 1.5 hours to the island, at a real bargain of just $3 per person (included in the package, of course).
 
 
If you’re travelling last minute there’s almost always a deal to be found through Maldives Dive Travel that can slash your holiday costs and offer big value. Make sure you’re signed up to the weekly newsletter so you’re the first to know and can take advantage of the limited offers. Check out a new guest house that bridges the gap between guesthouses and resorts, here.

Categories: Maldives Tags:

Still Unsure About Which Dive Certifications You Should Have in the Maldives? Your Questions Answered…

February 26th, 2014 Comments off

A trip to the Maldives would be incomplete without a look into the underwater world that lies just below the surface. From 5 meters to 30 plus meters, the reefs, channels and sea bottom are open to exploration by surface divers and certified scuba divers; it’s the certification that will determine just how deep they can go. Which certifications are absolutely necessary, and which recommended courses will be the most advantageous?

For more than snorkelling and surface diving the PADI Open Water Diver certification is the minimum requirement for scuba diving in the Maldives. For non-divers that want to explore without breathing equipment and stay just near the surface, they may want to consider the Skin Diver course to fully take advantage of snorkelling and surface diving; the course is not required however and the appropriate skills could be learned from an experienced diver.

There are some additional qualifications that PADI recommends for diving in the Maldives. These additional courses can up your game as a Maldives diver but not all are of equal importance according to divers in-the-know. Get the inside scoop on the certifications that can really make your Maldives diving holiday one to remember.

 

Become a Drift Diver

 
The Indian Ocean current and its movements carry divers and fish-attracting nutrients along the island chain, making the diving a treat for drift divers. The idea of drift diving is to go with the flow but control is of the upmost importance. A drift diver course teaches the technique, planning and organisation required for effortless dives. When you are confident in your dive abilities you can focus your attention on what matters most – the Maldives underwater sights. To get that feeling of flying while underwater and to cover a longer distance than when there is little to no current, advanced diving skills are required which can be obtained in the Advanced Water Diver course or in the specialty Drift Diver certification.

The Maldives currents are known for their strength, even when the tides change and other regions would have a period of “slack tide”, the Maldives can experience an increase in current strength. These secluded islands fall in the middle of ocean interplay between monsoon, ocean and tidal flow. For safety reasons, constant communication with the surface of the diver location is essential when drift diving.

For drift diving in the Maldives there are dive sites such as Embudhu Express for advanced divers and Kandooma Thila for prolific fish life, a teardrop-shaped thila with outcrops and overhangs. Guridhoo, Fish Head and many dives in the deep south will also satisfy divers dreaming of drifting.
 
 

Open Water Diver to the Next Level – Advanced

 
While the Maldives has diving for all levels, the strong currents make a number of the sites accessible to advanced divers only. That being said, as long as you don’t go below 20m, it’s the experience that counts rather than the certification. The AOW (Advanced Open Water Diver) is only required for diving between 20-30m whereas 10-20m is a very good depth to see the sea life that the Maldives is known for. Also, it’s recommended not to do the OW (Open Water Diver) and the AOW back to back without getting a few OW dives in between.

AOW allows you to go past 20m up to 30m in the Maldives, where 30m is the max. Many say that taking it deeper just isn’t worth it unless you’ve already got tons of dives under your belt and you’re looking for a new experience, a new challenge. Deeper dives are shorter dives as the air consumption goes up drastically. For a short trip to the Maldives you may want to maximize dive time by staying above 20m.

Don’t be tempted to rush through the certifications, unless a really great package deal is being offered. While a certification can make divers feel well-qualified, in actual fact it’s experience that will make for an advanced diver in practice. Be careful not to let that piece of paper misinterpret your true ability.

What divers DO recommend in terms of best value certification is nitrox…
 
 

Enriched Air Nitrox

 
Recreational diving with enriched air nitrox is now common as it reduces sickness, increases safety margins and allows longer dive times. Many report 20% more bottom time and the ability to do more dives in a day without feeling exhausted – also an important factor when you want to enjoy your holiday out of the water. This one element will help scuba divers take advantage of every moment of their stay in the islands. Some dive-dedicated liveaboards are now offering Nitrox free, as standard, included in their packages. This includes the Constellation fleet bookable through Maldives Dive Travel.

Training is required to dive with Nitrox since there are different principles to diving with it. Using the equipment properly is a big consideration, as well as knowing what’s in the scuba tank and setting the dive computer. The PADI Enriched Air Nitrox course will prepare you for these needed skills and comes as a highly recommended course by divers that have been to the Maldives.
 

nitrox diver Neville Wootton Photography Still Unsure About Which Dive Certifications You Should Have in the Maldives? Your Questions Answered...

Drifting diver on nitrox. Photo: Neville Wootton Photography


 

Spot It and Shoot It (with a Camera)

 
The other courses PADI suggests for diving in the Maldives include AWARE – Fish Identification, so you can really feel at home on the reef, and the Digital Underwater Photographer. With dive sites like Kudarah Thila, a protected marine area bursting with life, these courses offer supplementary wisdom that will not go to waste. And the two skills – identification and photography – go hand in hand. If there was just one more course that could enhance your Maldives dive experience it’s the all-important buoyancy control with the Peak Performance Buoyancy course.
 
With the tens of courses being offered it can be tricky to know which ones are really necessary and which ones best suit the Maldives diving environment. Nitrox comes out on top by far; it’s recommended by scuba divers who have been to the Maldives and have experienced the advantages of enriched air diving. You can get certified on board a liveaboard or at a guest house with a dive school, such as Casa Mia. Read more about Casa Mia’s dive packages and certifications, here.

Categories: Maldives Tags:

Take a Deep Breath – Surface Diving in the Maldives

February 18th, 2014 Comments off

At a glance, the blue-green waters of the ocean and lagoons seem calm and composed. However, once in the water, with just a mask and a tilt of the head, another view appears like being transported into another world. It is astounding what is there, not evident when looking from outside, just below the water surface.

Entering this world doesn’t require any high tech machine or magic portal. To observe the delights taking place below the Maldives Islands, all that is needed is an ABC set – a mask, snorkel and fins. Sure, scuba diving will get you deeper but surface diving is an essential skill to learn, especially in the Maldives when the big pelagic species come out to play.
 

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Free Diving with Whale Sharks


 

What is Surface Diving?

 
If you were to strip a scuba diver down to just the mask, snorkel and fins (and bathing attire of course) he would be ready for surface diving. Its other names give clues to what it involves, labelled as skin diving, free diving, recreational apnea diving, and breath-hold diving, with a close relation to snorkelling.

“Apnea” is a suspension from breathing, where the volume of the lungs stays the same. Essentially, surface diving involves a voluntary apnea as divers hold their breath to reach sights at deeper depths before returning to the surface. Surface diving is not to be confused with basic snorkelling, which doesn’t entail much depth below floating on the surface, nor with the extreme free diving sport which involves competitively staying under water and going to intense depths with on just one breath of air.

Despite the varied nuances of all of these terms, which all essentially involve being in the water without a breathing apparatus, the terms are used somewhat interchangeably in the Maldives; free diving, surface diving and snorkelling are the most popular terms.
 

turtle near surface FamilyRalph Take a Deep Breath   Surface Diving in the Maldives

Sights near the surface in the Maldives


 

Surface Diving Master

 
While it may not sound like a highly complicated process to make short breath-hold dives down to check out the Maldives exquisite flora and fauna, interacting with the marine environment does require some skill and knowledge. Even floating around on the surface without submerging the snorkel tube has its risks for snorkelers, like the currents and this archipelago’s hot tropical sun.

To take it that next step further, to get up close and personal with the reef and its inhabitants, surface divers should be competent in buoyancy control, equipment usage and the aquatic environment. The better practiced, the more a diver can experience while underwater and the more enjoyable it will be. Getting some surface dives under the belt before arriving in the Maldives will prove extremely beneficial.

Certification is not required for snorkelling and surface diving, or skin diving as PADI refers to it. It is, however, in the person’s best interest to learn some tip and techniques, if not only for personal safety. Certainly, having a dive buddy is imperative; this should not be a solo sport. The course offered by PADI offers participants training on entering the water, checking buoyancy, snorkel clearing, and adjusting equipment – all skills scuba divers will likely be familiar with. Where scuba divers may gain experience is in the act of breath hold skin diving and effortless surface diving; without all the equipment to support them, diving “naked” may be a bit intimidating.

Many snorkel without prior training, however a trip to the Maldives is limited in time. There will only be limited opportunities to snorkel and dive each day; the best way to get the most out of the experience is by staying under longer and being able to adjust the equipment without issue. Dealing with small issues, like clearing the mask and snorkel effectively, are important since the reefs are not clearly visible with bare eyes.
If not from an official dive course, the dive science and breath-hold techniques should be learned from an experienced diver. Find a friend, an instructor or a dive buddy that fits the bill, then practice, practice, practice.
 


 

Maldives Surface Diving

 
Manta rays and whale sharks are two of the top reasons that divers come to the Maldives. Since many encounters take place close to the surface, swimming alongside them will likely involve surface diving. It’s an opportunity not to be missed which makes mastering those breath-hold dive skills all the more essential.

The great thing about the Maldives is that even when there are not any mantas or whale sharks around, surface divers still have so much to explore. Reefs with life swarming around the coral gardens are accessible from the water surface. Schools of fish, turtles, anemones and abundant life can be seen without all the scuba gear on house reefs, while others are accessible by dive dhoni, out in the ocean seemingly in the middle of nowhere. Almost every island has snorkelling spots within the shallow lagoons hiding treasures within.

 
Don’t forget to master your surface diving before coming to the Maldives. It’s an invaluable skill that will push the levels of enjoyment to their ultimate maximum. Take day trips surface diving from a guest house such as Casa Mia, where they also have a dive school with instructors that know the best spots for diving in the atoll. Click here for more info.

Categories: Maldives Tags:

Shoot the Ultimate Underwater Video in Movie-Worthy Maldives

February 11th, 2014 Comments off

The Maldives experience. The actual feeling of diving in the atolls is no comparison to any video or photography. Yet we want to be able to share the experience, relive it, and have it on record for years to come. That’s where the camera comes in and where you’ll want to learn a few tricks of the trade so that your recording doesn’t turn out flat.

One way to capture your experience of Maldives diving is by video. This allows you to really give viewers an insight into the environment and feel the excitement of movement all around. Seeing something living, breathing, and moving about the screen has a totally different effect than looking at photos of static moments in time – though both methods have their advantages. Read about how to take quality videos as well as how to make your photo collection in to a movie montage.

 


 

Getting Equipped for Great Video

 
The first step to great video is great footage. Recording underwater videos is no longer as cumbersome or as expensive as is used to be. Tiny like the islands of the Maldives, compact underwater cameras can get footage at certain depths and the lightweight action cameras that have recently come on the market can reach depths of 40 to 60 meters. Models like Go Pro Hero and the Sony AS100V are made to capture fun and adventure on the go, but their HD quality recording and rugged, sport-specific design are no joke. For underwater filming the flat lens housing is best for avoiding a blurry result.

Sure, having a decent camera with the right accessories will provide quality footage of what you’re shooting; especially in the Maldives where photographic moments are everywhere. However, even the best HD video is ultimately a flop if all you see are the tail ends of fish. Worse, the video can become unwatchable when the scenes are dominated by shaky movement and too quickly panning from fish to fish. This video has some great tips for filming underwater scenes, including varying the types of shots:
 


 
Now that you know what to focus your lens on, the next most important skill is your diving. Buoyancy control is crucial to steady shots. So get out there and practice you diving as well as your filming. If possible, don’t make your Maldives dive trip the only thing you film underwater this year. Practice getting the right angles and timings on other dives prior to your trip so that you’re not spending your limited time in the islands brushing up your skills.

 

From Footage to Film

 
After you’ve got all that great still or motion footage it will need to be compiled into something watchable. Don’t worry, basic movie making is now accessible to anyone that can open a computer programme, then drag and drop some files. On the other hand, if you want to produce something on the professional end there’s software for that to. One question to ask yourself before getting started is, who will your audience be? Then, keep this in mind when you’re selecting the scenes and theme.
 


 
Windows Movie Maker and Mac’s iMovie are easy programmes to use for video and photo compilation; they come standard on most computers nowadays. To step it up a notch, Adobe Premiere Pro is highly rated for quality video editing.

Finally, any great film tells a story. You may want to include shots (photos or video) of the out-of-water experience to put your dive into context. Don’t forget shots on arrival including the first time you see the dhoni, your room and the sea. This will bring back the emotions you felt at those moments when looking back. Also, if you get some of the initial snapshotting out of the way in the beginning, you can relax and enjoy the scenery hands-free later on.

 

From Snapshot to Picture Show

 
Don’t let Facebook have all the fun! Make your own montage of your Maldives trip. As Facebook recently proved with their “Look back” personalized videos for their users, a selective montage can be a great video keepsake. If you’ve seen the videos released of people’s Facebook journeys you can notice that they’re essentially made of a few photos with some animations and a bit of music. Yet they made for short, sometimes emotional, viewing. You can do this easily with your Maldives photos to add to your movie scrapbook. The easiest way: pop them into Movie Maker or iMovie, add an audio file of a fitting song, select a transition to introduce each new photo, and write some fun captions. Then, enjoy and share!

Get some great footage while diving with Theia with the great deals on now, click here.

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Dream in Colour in the Maldives

February 3rd, 2014 Comments off

Above water in the Maldives the spectacular views encompass an ocean-infused colour scheme of blue skies, blue-green lagoons and white sandy beaches.  It’s not hard on the eyes by any means, yet not the most diverse of colour schemes.  On the other hand, below the water surface is where more diverse shades stand out.  What gives the underwater world its vibrancy is the colourful kick from the flamboyant flora that grace the scene.

Diving into the blue won’t be a monochromatic experience in the Maldives with fish species named after clowns, parrots and butterflies – and those are only a few of the colourful characters on the scene.  Discover some of the fish with starring roles in the Maldives scuba dive show.
 

Maldives Underwater Soft Coral Pink 580x435 Dream in Colour in the Maldives

Pink soft coral in the Maldives


 

Shades of Red and Orange

 
A few that stand out with their reddish tones are the velvety, pink soft coral, the spiky Lionfish and the cute clownfish.  The Squirrelfish family are a colourful bunch as well.  Squirrelfish come in various sizes from the tiny crown squirrelfish that swims in schools to the larger Blackfin and Sabre varieties that swim alone or in pairs.  Their size is from 17-45cm, they’re nocturnal, and the spines of the Sabre known to be venomous.  Colour differs within the family, but they generally show reddish hues with a gradient of other colours from orange to yellow.
 

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Sabre squirrel fish


 

Shades of Yellow

 
Popular fish with colourful flair are the butterflyfish & angelfish.  From the yellow long-nose and yellow-head butterflyfish to the yellow mask angelfish, they are part of a family known for their special teeth that are fine and hair-like.  This affords these members of the so-called, bristletooth, family an advantage over other fish.  Elusive coral polyps are part of their diet, as are the Christmas-tree worms.  These hard to reach organisms are no match for the butterflyfish which can move swiftly using pectoral fins for precise, purposeful movement – to reverse, spin, break and sprint.

Other flashes of yellow come from bluestripe snapper, blackeye rabbit fish and the yellowmargin moray eel.
 

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Blue stripe snapper. Photo: nicoboxethai, Flickr


 

Patterns & Multicolour

 
That old song, “Polkadots, check and stripes” could have easily have been written about the Maldives reef inhabitants.  What an impact on the underwater scenery it has when the colours are arranged into eye-catching patterns.

Nudibranchs, aka Sea Slugs, like the Alyta Nudibranch, are small but powerful in colour.  Macro photography reveals how this small, spine-less creature, from 6mm to 31cm long, stands out from the rocky coral surroundings.  They are shell-less molluscs that use muscular contractions or their “hairy feet” to move along the uneven surfaces.  Even the eggs of this creature stand out in different colours depending on the species.  To top of the interesting facts about them, they are carniverous, simultaneous hermaphrodites that not only mate with any member of the species but can make them their meal as well.
 

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Nudibranch. Photo: Dominic Scaglioni, Flickr


 
The striped oriental sweet lips, regal angelfish and moorish idol all flash their stripes while the yellow boxfish can be “spotted” on the reef – its square, yellow body with black spots are highly recognizable.

The intricately designed parrotfish, blue-barred parrotfish and bridled parrotfish for example, are identifiable by their toothed beaks. Their colours morph into intricate designs in adulthood and they generally live in harems with a dominant male, though territory is not aggressively sought out.

The colourful light of bioluminescent plankton is an astonishing sight. Lighting up the night, these plankton are known to light up beaches and waters of the Maldives, like Mudhdhoo Island.  The effect borders on magical and has been featured in movies as well as captured by tourists in the Maldives.
 

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Bridled parrotfish. Photo: edwardcallaghan73


 

Shades of Blue and Violet

 
Despite the blue backdrop, there are blue species that stand out, stretching the spectrum of tones on display.  The blue damsel has a neon hue of bright blue and is changeable in colour.  During mating the males are said to turn a shade or two darker accompanied by the active mating dance with females.  Also, the powderblue surgeonfish is a common sight that stands out with its solid blue-violet colour covering most of its body. They are stunning when photographed in schools.

 

Colourful fauna designs not only make diving in the Maldives an attraction, but they also help identify the thousands of different species.  Sometimes the name gives a clue to the appearance but other times it keeps us guessing.  Sites like whatsthatfish.com are helpful in identifying fish that were spotted during a trip or can be a tool to learn more about what is to come when diving in a certain region.

While free diving or snorkelling can reveal part of the colour palate of the underwater world in the Maldives, scuba diving is the best way to see the broad spectrum.  The Maldives reef – taste the rainbow!  Last minute offers on now, more info here.

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Stay Current with Ocean Currents in the Maldives

January 28th, 2014 Comments off

Safety is a top concern for Maldives Dive Travel and their dive cruise partners.  Part of safety is knowledgeable and experienced instructors as well as quality equipment, another is knowledgeable divers.  Take responsibility for your safety by understanding the challenges of Maldives diving, including water currents.

 

Understanding Island Formations

 

Like icebergs, what you seen on top, as the actual island, is just a small portion of the whole formation which also consists of the surrounding submerged reefs and lagoons, seen more clearly as a whole from above.  Underwater intuition and knowledge of the site at hand are essential to a safe dive.

When it comes to dive instruction you can hear everything and its opposite around the Maldives because each atoll varies depending on its configuration and each dive site has different characteristics. Getting to know the location of the atoll and the peculiarities of the sites you’ll visit upon booking a dive trip is a good idea.  It’s also important to listen to the advice of instructors on each visit to the Maldives because conditions differ widely from atoll to atoll and from season to season.
 


 

Calculating Currents

 

It’s the currents that can make for unique diving in particular atolls like Ari and many others in the Maldives.  This element is a determining factor of not only the direction, depth and length of the dives but also the fauna that are apparent at any one time.  This phenomenon of horizontal movement of water is generally influenced by temperature, salinity, tides and agitation from wind. In the Maldives the monsoon winds will also be a factor.

The strength of the current may be surprising, like strong wind during a storm but without the gravity and the solid ground to keep you steady. To understand the currents before entering into their realm, it’s important to collect all the relevant information.  Evaluating the current can be done by watching the movement of schools of fish that swim into the current and by taking a light free dive at just a few metres to verify, then the topography of the site can be considered.  The current hitting the reef splits and is directed according to the shape of the site, which means the starting point should be carefully considered to ensure access the targeted parts of the site.  What will be considered upstream and downstream around the reef is determined by the current.  It’s possible and somewhat common to miss the site and have to try again.  The force of current should not be underestimated but cannot always be so accurately predicted.

Negative buoyancy is often used to avoid stopping during the descent and divers need to follow the guide’s direction.  The ability to use various states of buoyancy and, especially, maintain neutral buoyancy is an important scuba diving skill. It requires mastering breathing rates and weighting as well as use of the buoyancy compensator, all through a process of continuous correction.

 

divers watching tobze Stay Current with Ocean Currents in the Maldives

Effortlessly watching the close up shark action in the Maldives’ current while hooked in. Photo: tobze, Flickr


 

Battle of the diver versus the current

 

The diver’s aim is to access the dive site; the current makes no accommodations.  Divers must learn to manipulate conditions to their benefit or risk challenging dive conditions that threaten their safety.  Stubbornness of the diver and an unwillingness to concede in the face of extreme conditions could mean a messy defeat on the part of the current.

Let intuition guide the way – if the current is strong, stop touring the site.  It may be more enjoyable and safe to simply reach the front of thila, where the reef faces into the current, to watch the show; it is where pelagic performances can be witnessed. 

When it’s time to hit the road back to the surface, some communication is necessary to coordinate the ascent as well as some anticipation of where to leave the parachute, so as to ensure it drifts in open water within sight of the boat. Monitoring the dive computer should help avoid the vertical currents known as the washing machine effect. It’s possible in the combined wrong location, at the wrong time of day and in the wrong currents for surface drift to take divers several miles before the boat can find them, which gets difficult as night falls.

This is why channel sites with outgoing current on the west of atolls such as Ari are avoided in the afternoon because the current then pushes divers out towards the ocean, which would means the diver search would take place at a less than ideal time – at sunset.

 

 
Safety comes first for the companies specializing in scuba dive provision in the Maldives.  The liveaboards offered by Maldives dive travel are carefully selected to ensure that that the levels of service and safety exceed customer expectations.  An obligatory check dive is held at the beginning of every tour and experienced guides lead the dives.  Dive dhonis are also equipped with DAN emergency cases, GPS and oxygen.  As additional measures, the Constellation Fleet boats offer safe air analyzers and lost diver tracking systems on their “free nitrox” packages. 

From February through to March 14-night cruises on Theia are at a great discounted rate, click here. Dive safe with Maldives Dive Travel. 

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New Ways to Dive the Maldives – Island Living

January 22nd, 2014 Comments off

Diving the Maldives is an experience like no other, we need not argue with our fellow divers about that.  Within the country there are diverse dive spots and now there are even more ways to visit them.
 
While liveaboards are a classic way to pack in lots of great diving around the atolls and dive with professionals that know the Maldives like the back of their hand, what other dive package options are there? What about those divers who prefer to have a steady home base or those that have already experienced liveaboards and want to try something different?

 

 

Guesthouse Diving
Guesthouses with dive centres are popping up around the Maldives. From a tropical island base divers can take daily excursions to nearby reefs, channels and wrecks, as well as take advantage of other activities and facilities that the property offers.

Since guesthouses are relatively new in the Maldives many facilities are clean, modern and tailored to guest needs, like Casa Mia in Ari Atoll. From their base on Mathiveri Island, the most famous dive spots of the atoll can be explored, including Fish Head, Maaya Thila and Rasdhoo Madivaru.  This guesthouse’s dive centre is of international standard and the dive package includes 2 or more dives per day along with meals, transfers and accommodation.  There are equipment rentals as well as discounted SSI dive courses for those on a package.
 

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Pool facility at Casa Mia


 
Upon return from diving there’s a swimming pool and a private beach for some relaxation at Casa Mia, as well as a restaurant where you can socialise and chat about the day’s highlights.  The other activities on the menu include fishing, kayaking, SUP (stand up paddle boarding), wind surfing and snorkelling, as well as spa treatments and resort outings.

Benefits of a guesthouse stay go far beyond the value offered in their prices to the unique experience they provide.  Located on local islands and usually made up of a small number of rooms, guesthouses allow a more authentic experience of this island nation.  Spend time in the small villages and witness the lifestyle of a people living on tiny islands in the middle of the Indian Ocean.  The islands are so spread out that at times it feels you’re the only foreigner, which is a stark contrast to tourist-packed resorts.  Learn to relax Maldivian style.

 

Location, Location, Location
Staying at a guest house in the outer atolls has an extra element of excitement for divers.  Liveaboards, while their courses extend wide and far during the trip itinerary, only stretch so far into the scattered islands at the fringes of the country.  A stay at Assyeri Inn in one of the northernmost atolls, for example, makes dive spots accessible that liveaboards rarely or never touch.  Grab a Maldivian Air domestic flight to Hanimaadhoo Island up north to reach it, which has the added benefit of fantastic aerial views of the islands and lagoons among the blue green ocean backdrop.  A great option for those divers that feel they’ve already “been there, done that” in other areas of the Maldives.
 

asseyri inn room New Ways to Dive the Maldives   Island Living

Asseyri Inn Eco-Room


 
Also outside the reach of many boat tours is Laamu Atoll, where Reveries Diving Village is located.  The domestic flight to Kaddhoo Airport is part of the experience of traveling to a more isolated atoll.  Then, with a dive dhoni, there is awesome diving within reach, as many as eleven dive sites at depths 5-30 metres and visibility of 20-30 meters.

However, for those who prefer to be in the centre of the action and not so far from Male there is great diving to be had from local islands in the central atolls.  Maafushi is one of the busier local islands with guesthouse accommodation, if you’re looking for a buzz and more socializing.  For a quieter refuge there are several locations to indulge a sense of repose.  Happy Life lodge is located on Dhiffushi island, in North Male atoll, and Kuri Inn’s base is in South Ari Atoll, both with delectable diving on offer.  At a bit of a distance, with transfer by seaplane and boat, Villa Stella also offers diving excursions in their less-frequented Dhaalu Atoll.

 

Dive the Maldives’ islands in a new way and from a different kind of dive base.  In many tropical destinations accommodation is limited to large resort compounds and the Maldives was no different until just five years ago. The massive resort facilities are costly to maintain so their prices are high and activities are often paid separately, as pricey extras. Now, privately owned properties on local islands specialize in diving the reefs within a radius around them, often with diving included in the packages or as more reasonably priced excursions.

If a week on the ocean swells seems out of your comfort zone or if you want to reach the dive spots of the outer atolls, then guest house diving could be the experience you’ve been missing.  Guest houses make the Maldives accessible to more people with a lower price range than resorts and a new dive experience in the islands. Check out our guest house page for more information or read about our latest liveaboard deal if you’re set on sailing the seas.

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Drum Roll Please…The Winners of the Magic Memories Contest are…

January 15th, 2014 Comments off

In October we kicked off the ultimate contest for any Maldives enthusiast, a chance to relive the experience of visiting the Maldives by sharing their memories, through an article and photos or video. The response has been fantastic and we’ve truly enjoyed reading about the different perspectives and experiences you’ve had in the destination closest to our hearts.

Now, it’s the moment of truth, when we reveal who most strongly captured our attention and showed the most energy, individuality and originality.

 

And the winners are…

1st Prize 

Dominique, Netherlands

Diving week for one person on any of our boats*

Dominique hooked us with his recounts of his trip highlights in exciting detail, comparing the experience to the exhilaration of a roller coaster.  A bit from his story:

“For an hour we witnessed the acrobatic somersaulting and waving of the Manta Rays with open mouths. (not literally of course) Cruising at just 10 centimetre over our heads with mouths wide open so you could see the beautiful black and white striping on the inside of the Manta Ray’s mouth. Such amazingly gentle and beautiful creatures they are…you can never get tired of watching them.”

Read more and check out Dominique’s great photos as well as his video of a night dive with nurse sharks, here.

 

baby whale shark dominique 600x450 Drum Roll Please...The Winners of the Magic Memories Contest are...

Baby whale shark smiling for the camera. Photo: Dominique, Netherlands


 

2nd Prize

Peter, Norway

Guest house one-week stay for one person in any of our guest houses

Peter reminded us of how the social element of travel and, particularly, liveaboards can be part of the lasting memories of a trip.  He described:

“Like magicians, the guides seem to “pull everything out of thin air”. Seeing far beyond mortals, they point out sharks at 30 meters distance when you could swear the viz is 25 meters! And, using what must be superhuman x-ray vision, here’s a leaf fish, frog fish and 6 more weird nudibranches for you macro-maniacs!

Check out the photos and video, and read on here.

 

3rd Prize

Andrew, Australia

50% Voucher for a one-week liveaboard for one person

What was most impressive about Andrew’s story was his knack for detail.  Names of reefs, marine life and wrecks are all mentioned – we could tell he knows his Maldives diving!  He describes:

“Day 4 commenced with the Fesdu wreckand reef again in beautiful visibility, dives on Dega Thila and Radhdhigga Thila completed the day with more beautiful sharks, turtles, rays, tuna, and nudibranchs, flat worms, crustaceans and schools of fish. A beach BBQ on an uninhabited Island rounded off another perfect day in the MALDIVES!”

Get the rest of the trip report here. And check out his video below.
 

 

4th Prize

Brice, France

Diving computer

We enjoyed the romantic story of Brice and his wife, who experienced the shiny new ScubaSpa Ying boat for their honeymoon.  Like the boat, they celebrated their new life ahead among the islands of the Maldives.  His experience is depicted in his article:

“Colors everywhere, a density and a variety of life forms we’ve never experienced before; I was not swimming next to the fishes I was swimming together with them as part of the group…”

Read more here.

 

5th Prize

Anjum, UK

ABC set

Anjum’s story showed us that even while on the same trip, visitors can have a very different experience.  Also, he proved how strong the pull can be to come back to the Maldives.  He tells in his story:

“I did a different resort everyday while my brother did dives in different areas to see different kinds of fish.  Every evening we would meet and tell each other about our adventures.  My brother’s stories were even more exciting so I decided to go for a dive. Wow!  What an experience it was.”

Read more here.

 
magic memories manta ray 550 Drum Roll Please...The Winners of the Magic Memories Contest are...
 
Congratulations!  We will be in contact to congratulate the winners by email and award your prizes.  We’d like to extend a huge thank you to all who participated and shared past experiences with Maldives Dive Travel and our readers. Contest rules and regulations posted here.

One thing mentioned by many of the entrants was their love of our deals and specials.  Well, here comes another one for 14-night cruises in February and March, more details here.

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Magic Memories of 2013 at Maldives Dive Travel

January 5th, 2014 Comments off

We hope you had a fantastic time ringing in the New Year!  It’s about that time when we look back at 2013 to see where we’ve been and get excited about where we’re going in the new year.  Let’s take a look back at the highlights of 2013 both in the water and on our blog.


Year 2013 in review at Maldives Dive Travel

This has been an exciting year for Maldives diving.  In the spring, ScubaSpa Ying was added to the dive boat experiences offered by Maldives Dive Travel. Determined to dive but want to be pampered too?  The combined onboard spa and dive facility make this the ultimate luxury diving experience or holiday for diver/non-diver couples.

Later in the year, MV Leo appeared on the scene, adding an element of luxury and comfort to the dive experience with an onboard jacuzzi.   Tours designed for the best marine life sightings and Nitrox included in the package provide the ultimate all-round Maldives dive experience.

In the last part of the year we launched the Maldives story contest, which conjured up some great memories of Maldives experiences past.  We accepted writing and photo/video submissions from past visitors to the Maldives in our “Magic Memories” competition.  Prizes include a one week liveaboard package, a dive computer, a week stay in a guest house and an ABC set, offered to the top entries that are selected as winners.  Speaking of winners, they will be announced very soon so watch this space! 

 


On the blog

This year our blog has touched on many themes surrounding our favorite topic – the Maldives!  In case you missed any of them on the blog this year, here are the tantalizing topics of 2013 with links to 3 specially selected posts for each theme:

Flora & fauna

We can’t talk about the Maldives without mentioning the marine life.  It’s what many people come here for and what gives the country that extra dimension of tropical wonder.  Don’t miss reading about hammerhead sharks and other elusive species that do a good job at staying hidden from plain sight.  Whether it’s the depths, the sand or their own camouflage abilities that hide them away, divers will have to be very observant and patient to see them.  There are also the weird and wonderful creatures to discover – the fish that seem alien and that we don’t learn about in any school classroom.  So many sights to see under the water.

paper scorpionfish Neville Wootton Paper Scorpionfish resting on a coral formation at Bula Lohi Corner Magic Memories of 2013 at Maldives Dive Travel

A paper scorpionfish doing what it does best – look weirdly like its surroundings in the Maldives. Resting on a coral formation at Bula Lohi Corner. Photo Neville Wootton, Flickr


 

Marine environment

Interdependence and interconnectedness can describe the environment of these isolated islands.  People depend on the sea and the sea depends on them.  Visitors also depend on their hosts for safety and for a great holiday.  Read about reef building and the ways that liveaboards are taking responsibility for safety and their environmental impact. Within the marine environment bonds for survival are also strong.  See just how close marine relationships can get.

 

Strictly diving

Of course it wouldn’t be a dive company blog without posts about diving!  There are many to browse through including a spotlight on night diving and a comparison of liveaboards – helping make the best liveboard choice.  So many choices of liveaboards but also so many choices of dive spots; see what diver style suits which spots.

Peter and shark 2 Magic Memories of 2013 at Maldives Dive Travel

Diver meets whale shark. Peter, Norway, Contest entry

Complementary to diving

Divers can’t stay under water indefinitely, though many might wish they could.  When coming up for air there are many other activities to do in the Maldives.  There are also many regions to explore, like the outer atolls, where the crowds dissipate and visitors are surrounded by just the sea, sand, sun and a few local villages.  Finally, while photo taking is a top activity for everyone, divers should concentrate on their underwater photography skills. 

 

Each week we bring you to the Maldives through articles, photos and videos, not to mention some great deals including this one for Theia 14-night cruises.  So, keep reading and stay in touch!

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It’s the Relationships that Stick – Magic Memories Contest Entry

December 31st, 2013 Comments off

As we get ready to ring in the new year, many people are planning to spend time with friends, family and loved ones.  During the holidays these relationships are cherished and memories are made during annual celebrations. 

In the spirit of memories and relationships, here’s our final entry for the Magic Memories contest.  Peter of Norway describes the friendships he has made as one of the enduringly memorable parts of his several trips to the Maldives.  Here’s his story:

 

It’s the Relationships that Stick

By Peter from Norway

Right now, it’s about 3 degrees, windy, raining and dark (as usual this time of year) in Stavanger, Norway. Although life is good, and I have nothing to complain about, it’s the “bleak reality” of my everyday existence. It is an existence which is in sharp contrast to the “magic memories” of my visits to the Maldives.

The memories are magical, in part, because they are so strong. You close your eyes, or simply stare out the window, and suddenly you are transported to a “place” where everything is warm, colorful, peaceful, and special. The memories are strong and magical because the first impressions are strong and magical.

 

Whale after Miyaru Faru Its the Relationships that Stick   Magic Memories Contest Entry

Whale after Miyaru Faru. Photo: Peter, Norway

 

The magic began when I looked out the window of the BA flight as we approached Male. The atolls and the colors of the surrounding water are so vivid and so different from any other destination I’ve been to that I knew already this would be a very special place. The final approach and landing over the water, with the strong colors of the buildings on Male was also unique.

While at most destinations you head over to the taxi queue after picking up your luggage, here I was ushered on to the dhony, delivered my shoes (which I did not see again for a week), and the “chill was on”!

When I arrived on Theia (after the welcome drink and cold towel, of course!), I was shown to my stateroom. It was as large as my bedroom at home, and as nice, if not nicer than any I’ve been in. I dumped my stuff and headed right back out to the 2nd deck and the most comfortable outdoor sofa I ever put my behind into! The captain had thoughtfully parked the vessel outside the harbor, outside the flight path, allowing the daydreaming to begin.

Over the course of the week, the diving was, well, I hate to repeat myself, but “magical”. Like magicians, the guides seem to “pull everything out of thin air”. Seeing far beyond mortals, they point out sharks at 30 meters distance when you could swear the viz is 25 meters! And, using what must be superhuman x-ray vision, here’s a leaf fish, frog fish and 6 more weird nudibranches for you macro-maniacs!

 

Peter and shark 2 Its the Relationships that Stick   Magic Memories Contest Entry

Peter and shark.

 

Of course there are always the mantas at Lankan and, if you’re lucky, the whale sharks at Maamigilli. There are hyperactive sharks and jacks at Maya Thilla, and nurse sharks and jacks seemingly on steroids at Alimatha. And, if you’re incredibly lucky a sailfish, a hammerhead, or even a whale surfacing while heading back to Male. What makes the diving in the Maldives so special to me, is that I believe that every dive in the Maldives might be my best dive ever. So far I’ve been right many times!

But, even though these incredible experiences are saved on your internal memory or computer hard drive, they are moments in time. What has become the greatest magic of the Maldives are the relationships I’ve formed, both with the crew and the guests. The Maldivian people are truly special and, in my opinion, unique. They are true islanders, living in a country consisting 99% of water. They are at home on the ocean and welcome all those who want to experience them. They have a respect for their visitor and a hospitality that is so special, it has brought me back 5 times in the past 3 years.
 


 
Two years ago, during my second of three visits to Theia, I noticed that almost all the crew had nicknames. I jokingly said that now, after 2 visits, I should have a nickname as well (and not a “stupid” one!). The next day, on the dhony, they told me they had decided on one: “Khateeb”. I was afraid to ask, but had to: “Ok, what does Khateeb mean?” Their answer: “Island chief”. Ok! Not bad! I can live with that!

Now, when I return to the Maldives, I “causally” mention that I too, have a Maldivian nickname. “Khateeb” always brings a smile to their face, breaks the ice, and from then on, they seem to treat me as one of their own.

Over the past years I have also met several guests on my trips, from all over the world, with whom I still have special relationships These relationships are a source of continuing magical moments and I cherish them all.
 

Peter Mark and Rob Its the Relationships that Stick   Magic Memories Contest Entry

Peter Mark and Rob


 
I have been very lucky and have had the opportunity to travel and visit some of the best dive and tourist destinations on the planet. I can say, hand on heart, that the Maldives are truly unique. If you want to dive and have an opportunity to “do it all”, see incredible scenery as you travel from one atoll to another, meet wonderful people, and feel truly blessed, make your way to the Maldives! You’ll never be the same!

Sincerely!

Peter ,“Khateeb”
 

The Maldives Memories Contest is now closed to new entries. Thanks to all who participated. We’ll be posting the winners later this month so stay tuned to the blog!

In the meantime, we wish you and yours a very Happy New Year! See you in the Maldives in 2014!

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