Maldives - An Awesome Snorkeling Destination
(San Diego, USA)
School of Powder Blue Tang (Surgeonfish)
Our 30th Anniversary gave us a reason to splurge on this Maldives snorkeling trip. We booked three different islands at all different price points, as we knew nothing about them but what we read from you fellow posters and TripAdvisor. We chose Vakarufalhi, Vilamendhoo, and Conrad Rangali.
The islands are gorgeous, the ocean is placid and warm, the food is great, the nighttime sky is studded with stars. And truly, the snorkeling is utterly ridiculously awesome. Am I being realistic? Yes. Like any island in the world, not everywhere on each has equal reef quality, and you cannot trust the hotel staff outside the dive shop to know where the reef is good. There are large areas where the coral is bleached or trampled but even at these places, there are still fish. The wonderful news is that there are huge healthy areas of amazing coral.
The variety of fish, though varying from island to island is awesome. The sheer NUMBER of fish is mind blowing. All sizes, all sorts. We were snorkel laughing like mad so many many times. At one point 3 separate schools of fish were swarming around us in clouds all zooming different directions, and traveling among them were good sized Bluefin Trevally. Then, from the back, a HUGE jack. Wow.
One afternoon we had snorkeled around the entire island and were crossing the swimmers area when a thick school – what we’d call a bait ball - engulfed us and the swimmers. One silvery fish jumped out of the water and smacked me in the neck. A juvenile Blacktip Reef Shark was responsible for the movement of this bait ball. Earlier we’d watched the progress of these bait balls and young sharks from above. Being in the middle of one was hilarious!
Blue and yellow seemed to be the theme of the trip. Blue fish, yellow fish, blue and yellow fish, blue sky, blue water, yellow orange sun sinking into blue water.
Maldives in generalities:
1. Warm water, very
2. Lots of fish, LOTS
3. Pretty coral
4. Barefoot luxury
5. CALM waters, surprisingly little current in most places, but use caution
6. Amazing food – an unexpected surprise
7. Global travelers – so diverse, from literally EVERYWHERE
8. Fruit bats!!!! So cool!
9. Prices are often in US dollars, and US currency accepted. Odd, since we saw no other Americans!
As Californian’s, Maldives is halfway round the world. Travel time was ridiculous, and next time we will stay somewhere fun on the way to cut up the journey to arrive there fresher. We had to rent a car, drive to LAX, fly 14 hours to Istanbul, 7 hour layover, another 7+ hour flight to Male. Then a short sea-plane ride to South Ari Atoll, then a short boat ride and finally we were at the first resort.
On the way back we stayed at an air-side airport hotel in Istanbul where you walk from your gate to the hotel room, back to the gate and slept blissfully stretched out and even showered in that 7 hour layover. Book before going, or it’s full.
Our San Diego AAA travel agency had NO info on Maldives, they said it’s too far, too expensive. And yet, Maldives beckoned us... We booked on Expedia so we could buy trip insurance.
Everyone asked, was it worth the trip? Yes. With anything under 10 days to spend – maybe, maybe not. But 2 weeks, 3 islands, and a million fish later, I say YES.
The sun is STRONG. Full body lycra suits (I added a skirt for style) were worn by lots of women, and even men. They can be had for about $50. No worries about rubbed off sunscreen. Worked beautifully, dried fast.
Tips are truly appreciated and deserved. Maldivians wages are low. Also, please be mindful of dress, this is a Muslim country, not Las Vegas.
Do NOT touch anything, coral, shells, etc. Do not put your feet or hands where you can’t see. We had a Lionfish clinging to our bungalow ladder.
Don’t worry about bringing things to do. I couldn’t help but just stare at the ocean, the fish, the stars, and relax and mull over the countless numbers of incredibly diverse sea creatures we saw that day. Big and tiny, shy and bold, some with stripes, some with spots, some both spotted and striped. And I'd know in the next day's snorkeling I'd see something new, something I'd never seen before.
What a big and wonderful world.