Sunday 9 March 2014

Maldives trip - January 2014

by Pat

We flew out of Gatwick on a grey Sunday afternoon, arriving in the bright sunshine of Male, capital of the Maldives, the next morning. There we picked up the seaplane for the 45 minute flight to Koredu where we boarded MY Monsoon, our home for the weeks diving.

On arrival, a check dive is normally done on the House reef, but unfortunately some our luggage was delayed due to the weight restrictions on the seaplane. But all was not lost as Manta Rays had been spotted nearby during the week and Chris Tricky, the Dive Guide /Manager, rustled up some snorkelling kit and we set off in the RIB to a nearby reef. Within minutes we were in the water with the Mantas – they were huge – size of a dinner table! So there we were - the first “must do” in the bag and not even unpacked yet. The luggage duly arrived a few hours later and we set of for the Northern Atolls.

The weather was kind to us – a bit windy but sunny and we dived three or four times a day, the greediest of us putting in 20 dives over the week.

With the exception of Ship Wreck Alley and Koredu House reef, the diving was all on coral walls/pinnacles that the locals call Thila or Ghiri. 

The current was very strong on occasions, and seemed to be unpredictable even for the dive guides. Once or twice reef hooks were needed to avoid being swept away. Sometimes the current was confused – changing direction or suddenly increasing locally without warning, and even the odd down draught just to keep it interesting. On one occasion I released my SMB and realised I was in a calm hollow as the SMB went up about 10 feet and then went horizontal at an alarming speed, dragging me up and over a reef where the others were shark watching!  

But the funniest thing was definitely watching two sets of divers drifting towards each other on opposing currents, with the split point somewhere between them.

Some of the dives were very challenging – and not to be recommended for a novice.

As the week went on we ticked off all the essentials of a trip to the Maldives, encountering sharks on four dives including a cleaning station, eagle rays, turtles, moray, a second snorkel with manta, tuna, jacks, octopus, barracuda and dolphins on the surface. The fish life is prolific, I can only describe it as being in the middle of a shower of confetti, although they do scatter when the sharks first arrive. There are so many parrot fish the background noise is the munching of coral of which there is an abundance of – healthy soft and hard. Visibility is generally about 30m.

One afternoon between dives we went ashore to a deserted agricultural island and went foraging with the crew who went up the trees for coconuts, took the tops off them so we could drink the fresh milk and then opened them up so we could eat the flesh. The taste was wonderful – nothing like the supermarket mutants we get at home. Wandering round the island with the crew, we were offered various wild treats to eat, not sure what they all were but an interesting visit to the island.

On another evening the crew set up a barbeque on a deserted island, eating under the stars with the crew trying to race land crabs was a memorable experience.

A few words on the boat and crew: Monsoon is a purpose built Red Sea liveaboard, spacious and comfortable, the diving is from RIBs allowing you to be picked up/dropped as near to reefs as possible. Nothing is too much trouble for the crew and Chris, the Dive Guide/Manager who has been on this boat for about 7 years, has contagious enthusiasm and is very knowledgeable. The food is excellent and plentiful, and the diving is effortless (except when swimming against the current). If you like marine life, big and small, the Maldives is a must.

But all good things must come to an end, and after 7 days of wonderful diving with a really great  international crowd we returned to Koredu to catch the sea plane back to Male and then on to the UK.

More photos are online at:

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