Ohh Maldives! The beautiful paradise of turquoise blue waters, white gleaming beaches, secluded sand banks, and a gorgeous underwater world. I remember how much in awe I was the very first time I set foot in this country of a thousand atolls — and that was almost 20 years ago; way before I started a blog, and way before I even knew how to dive. So on my re-visit to Maldives on a work trip this time, I had to make sure that no matter how busy I got, I MUST slot in a day to dive. And slot in one I did, and had the rare chance to see one of the most graceful creatures in the sea.
Maldives, and Diving its Waters
Ever since I started diving two years ago, I’ve heard stories and stories about the underwater beauty of Maldives. Oh, how much I regret not learning how to dive when I visited all those years ago. I knew I had to return to the country again one day; and maybe spend days and days on a live-aboard and visiting all the dive sites this paradise has to offer. As of now, that still remains un-ticked in my bucket list — but at least I managed to do a day of dives on this visit!
The island country of Maldives is made up of more than 1,000 coral islands, grouped into 26 low atolls in the Indian Ocean. Many of the islands contain resorts and villages, and less than 300 of the islands are still inhabited. The 9,000 km that makes up the country is filled with excellent reefs under the waters — and you can find rock pinnacles, caverns, overhangs, and swim-throughs covered in colorful sponges, soft corals and gargonians. And not to forget, the large marine species like manta rays, whale sharks and other pelagic fish that ply its waters — and to think that they have these cleaning stations so we know exactly where to go to see them!
Diving with Kani Euro Divers at Club Med
My work trip brought me to the island of Kani in the North Male Atoll, where the world-renowned Club Med is located (will write about my time on the resort soon). My team and I spent almost 2 weeks on the island and its surrounds; and because there were so many things to be done, and so many other activities to do — we could only allocated a day to dive. I was just really thankful that I even had a day to get a little taste of the Maldivian underwater!
The dive centre serving Club Med Kani is the Kani Euro Divers — and they are located on a two-storey outpost beside the resort jetty. Most of the resort’s sea-based activities start from here; and that includes snorkeling trips and sunset cruises. A day before our dive day, we made our way to the centre to get our registrations done. Even though I had just dived a month or so before my trip to Maldives, I was required to do a refresher course before I was allowed to dive in the open waters. Honestly, I didn’t think it necessary — but when it comes to diving and my safety, I’d rather just let the professionals make the decision.
So in the morning the next day, my first dive was a refresher course; followed by a pretty basic dive at a dive site just a little further away from Club Med Kani. I would say both my morning dives were quite ordinary — a tiny fishing boat wreck just off the island, and some pretty colorful corals and small fishes. I mainly used the time to enjoy the sound of the bubbles; and to practice my buoyancy and breathing.
The Lankan Finolhu (Manta Point) Dive Site
And when afternoon came, it was time for one of the most exciting dives I’ve ever had since I started diving — I was going to see the Manta Rays! We took about a 20-minute boat ride to the Lankan Finolhu dive site, also known as Lankan Manta Point, located on the southeast outer reef of the Lankan Finolhu Island. This dive site is one of the most famous dive sites (which means it can get crowded) in Maldives. It is where the Manta Rays gather at their cleaning station to be cleaned by wrasses during the southwest monsoon season from August to November. It is suitable for beginners because the Manta Rays can be viewed from the corals at a depth of about 10 to 18 meters.
Our Divemaster for this dive was Paul (he was also my DM for my second morning dive), assisted by Oceane (who was my DM for my refresher course). We descended into the waters further away from the cleaning station — and on the way, spotted a couple of moray eels (yay!), and even saw a turtle and a blacktip shark swimming along together (which is a pretty unusual sight). I have to say the water was a little cold and I had a little panic attack from shivering (I should have known better and wore a proper wetsuit instead of just a rashguard and shorts) — but I managed to calm down, gather my composure and carry on the dive. I just had to see the Manta Rays!
My Time with the Manta Rays
The underwater current was a little strong during our dive — so we drifted a little while heading towards the cleaning station. And we didn’t need to be told once we arrived — the most majestic creatures were already dancing in front of us, waving their triangular fins as if saying hello. Our DM, Paul, lead us to a large reef right next to the where the Manta Rays were swimming around — and told us to lay low and hang on to the rocks to watch them in action. And there we stayed for the rest of the dive, just staring up in awe as they moved in front of us, on top of us, sometimes coming so close that we could see their horn-shaped mouth. I’ve really never seen something so graceful. However, the current was pretty strong where we were — so I did find it a bit hard to stay at one place and not bang into the diver beside me.
And then it was time to leave. Paul urged us on and lead us away from the cleaning station. But while we were swimming away, a huge Manta Ray decided that it’ll love to swim beside me. I was right at the back of the group, so I didn’t realise how close it was until it zoomed passed and nearly scared the shit out of me! Also, during our safety stop, another one came swimming around me — so I stayed back for awhile to watch it (with my DM’s permission, of course) until it went on its way. So exciting!!
My Experience Diving in the Maldives
I had only one day of dives in the Maldives — but that one single dive just made up for all the others dives I could have done. The Manta Rays were absolutely captivating. I’ve honestly never been so amazed at something so much that I could have happily stayed hidden under the reefs to watch these majestic creatures all day — too bad I can’t breathe underwater that long. I just want to say a big thanks to Euro Divers Kani for giving me this magical moment with the rays.
And a little update on my personal diving progress. I haven’t been diving much the past year — and I think this is one of the reasons for my panic episode underwater. It is not the first time that this has happened, so I’m a little worried as to what the problem might be. I really don’t want to get into trouble underwater. Perhaps I need to dive more? Rest more? Or perhaps I need to make sure I’m warm in a thicker wetsuit? Can’t wait to dive again soon, I need to feel comfortable underwater again.
As for Maldives, I still wish I had more time to discover more dive sites around the North Male Atoll where we were based. I guess I shall just have to leave them all for another time — and that is the best reason to come back again! Dive count now, 69.
I apologize for the quality of the underwater pictures — I was more concentrated on taking videos (and having them taken of me) instead of pictures; so all the underwater pictures on this post are screen-captures from my video footage.