While the Panda and I were care-freely enjoying the luxuries of a good life at the Maldives last month, courtesy of the Sheraton Full Moon Resort and W Retreat & Spa of course, a good friend of mine also made a trip there with her boyfriend. However, her experience was nothing like ours and it wasn’t because they didn’t choose to stay at a Starwood signature resort. They simply decided on a different kind of adventure, one that would require them to forfeit the comforts of an exotic thatched-roof resort. Instead, they chose stay on-board a boat for over a week and to explore the wonders beneath the azure Maldivian waters.
I’m pleased to share Angelfish Amanda‘s story with you and showcase the under side of the Maldives.
Heaven on Earth, the island of dreams, whaleshark and manta haven – all these words have been used countless times to describe Maldives. If you’re a realist like me about to visit for the first time, you’ll try your hardest to let all those positive comments slip past you and keep expectations low in fear that the ‘Maldives is the nearest thing to paradise‘ bubble will be burst.
I touched down in Male airport in the evening and was immediately greeted with the smell of the ocean. After waiting for the group of GOD divers in the Male Airport, we finally boarded the LOB MV Sharifa. I stared out of the boat hoping to catch a glimpse of Maldives but all I could see was the ocean’s glassy surface reflecting the moon and stars.
When I woke up the next day, I immediately drew the curtains apart and I was pleasantly greeted with sun, sand and sparkling water coloured like a jewel of azure, indigo and sapphire. I was instantly awed by Maldives and so were all the GOD divers who were eagerly waiting to plunge into the sunlit sea.
HAVEN OF THE FISH LIFE
As a first time diver in Maldives, I was overwhelmed by the number of fishes at each dive site! Everywhere, there are fishes of every colour – colour to entice, to warn, to camouflage, to deceive. Creatures such as the black spotted stingray blend in the sandy background. Others, like the pipefish are striped so that you can’t see their outlines. Some, like the stone fish resemble the rocks they lie among. And many times – yellow, black and white bannerfishes form great schools above the reef. Nonetheless, every underwater photo we took was a brilliant kaleidoscope of colour.
GIANTS OF THE MALDIVES
Not only is Maldives home to a myriad of reef fishes, this extraordinary place is also home to whale sharks and manta rays. Into the 2nd day of our trip, GOD divers were beginning to lose hope that we wouldn’t find these elusive giants. However, God and Mother nature proved to me yet again that I sometimes take them for granted. On the 3rd day, which happened to be my birthday, I prayed and ask God that all I wanted was to see these gentle giants. And he answered my prayers on the first dive. I knew the mantas were in our presence when I heard Antonio, our diver master, jingle his underwater maracas in full force. From a distance, the school of mantas looked surreal, seamlessly gliding in the blue. As each manta flew by, it caused my mind to reel in amazement. When the divers emerged from the dive, only a little imagination is needed to visualise our happiness.
After the second dive of the day, the dive masters received a call of a whale shark sighting. We scrambled into the dive boat with high spirits. Eventually, our hopes started to crumble after an hour of searching. All we could see was the still sea reflecting the pale blue sky. Suddenly, I heard the dive master Hassan shout in enthusiasm and I felt a flutter in my stomach – he spotted the whale shark. Within minutes, I could see a part of the sea blacken – there it was! As the dive boat closed in near the shark, all GOD divers were in a chaotic jumble on the dive boat wearing our snorkel and fins. The minute I jumped in and saw the whale shark, it left me in a state of delighted wonderment. I paddled swiftly to stay by its side to marvel at its beauty and did not feel tired. Its beautifully spotted back lit up like white gold in the warm waters.
On the last day of the trip, I took in one last glorious view of the ocean from the LOB MV Sharifa. Now I know why travellers who come to Maldives always vow to come back again someday. The Atolls of Maldives has a magnetic attraction and I can’t wait to go back again. It really is paradise on Earth.
Interested to dive in Maldives Live on Board? Visit us at www.greatoceandivers.com for more information
Angelfish Amanda is a self-confessed beauty junkie who layers on sunblock daily. You would never think Amanda would step out in the sun, let alone dive! But a trip to Apo Island in her teens left her amazed with the underwater world. Now, Amanda heads the Marketing & PR division for GOD and is working hard on a lust-worthy dive log.
Click here for more stories from the Maldives Monday series.