What to expect in a dive safari in the Maldives.
Planning a trip to the Maldivian Archipelago for a dive vacation can be fun. Here’s a few pointers for the newbies out there who want to experience the undersea wonderland of these coral islands.
If you’re new on the scene with dive safaris, you’re in for a few surprises. As you’ll be spending most of your time on or in the sea, you might have already got some preconceptions, from what you’ve read and heard.
Whatever you may heard about meals before diving will be debunked by your captain, chef and dive instructor, who will make sure that you’re in peak condition for your next dive. Diving requires strict focus and concentration, so you should leave the stiff drinks until after the dive, as there could be complications otherwise. Don’t sneak a drink!
Packing a few extras is probably a good idea. Invest in a pair of masks, maybe even two, that seal well around the edges and is comfortable, as it makes a world of difference having to accommodate an ill-fitting mask throughout your dives. A pair of fins that won’t chaff your feet and heels is a good find, and a snorkel that fits snugly in your mouth without biting into your gums, is all you need, as you can rent everything else from the safari.
If you’re still unsure about diving and prefer snorkeling instead, only because it sounds expensive, you need to clear up that misconception quickly. The PADI license will cost somewhere between $200 to $500, and will last your whole lifetime. You can use it to dive virtually anywhere in the world, not only the tropical seascape of the Maldives, but in caverns, lakes, quarries and so on.
But what about the Sharks?
Sharks usually don’t hunt humans, unless you venture into their hunting ground, which is something that both your captain and dive instructor will avoid. Besides, sharks wouldn’t approach what it would see as an animal that is quite out of place in the ocean, with flashing lights from cameras and the exhaust of the scuba tanks streaming out!
Your instruction in diving will include the necessary skills such as swimming, and will gently introduce you to the sea, if you’re the type of person who has a fear of the deep blue. It goes without saying that women and men are equally welcome to dive anywhere in the world, with ongoing gender equality drives in every field.
Dive for your health!
With the exception of a few rules, you’ll find that diving is quite healthy. First one is that you must not change depths too quickly, or you will suffer what diver’s call “the bends”, or decompression sickness. This usually happens if you ascend from deeper water too fast, which causes bubbles to form in your blood. Your instructor will assist you in ascending, and you must always follow his directions.
You also have to watch out for pressure equalization: always equalize your inner ear pressure when ascending or descending. It sounds complicated, but it really is quite simple. Simply pinch your nose and blow gently against your nostrils until you feel your ears pop. You might already know this if you are accustomed to travelling in airplanes, or have visited a hill resort.
If you feel that diving might be too much stress for your body, or have a medical condition, have a quick check with the Divers Alert Network. The non-profit safety organization is affiliated with the Duke University Medical Center, and will inform you of your options, and it usually is a yes, despite your doctor’s recommendations. This is because normally, doctors take a very conservative stance against any sort of exertion. Here in the Maldives, people are actually encouraged to go swimming for a variety of maladies, as the healing properties of the sea salts coupled with the gentle exertion quickly heal many an illness.
The effect is compounded when you go deeper, as the pressure and the weight of water displacement makes you gradually work harder. It’s quite like having strength training and cardio training combined, but with the exhilarating sensation of weightlessness and a thrilling marine panorama all around for you to enjoy.
Diving can be a fun experience for someone who hasn’t done it before. But it isn’t all about going on a brand new adventure. There are several careers that involve diving, like cinematographers that specialize in underwater filming, a career in marine biology which will lead to a better understanding of the Earth’s ecosystems, or even practical applications like saving someone’s life in a search and rescue mission, or becoming a diving instructor yourself, all of which are quite lucrative jobs that lets you wander freely through the world and doesn’t tie you to a desk!
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