Buddying Up in the Maldives
Buddying Up in the Maldives
We were joined this trip by a group of “Single Divers”! Not their marital status however but a specially organised liveaboard cruise for divers who signed up to find a dive buddy. As it turned out many of these buddy-less divers had dived together before and the first evening was spent chatting over trips gone by.
Our first diving day on this Central- Southern itinerary started out on Feydhoo Wall. A great check out dive with little current and some interesting nooks and crannies in the sheer wall hiding cleaner pipe fish, peacock mantis shrimps, banded boxer shrimps and lots more. Our group are a charitable bunch and had brought with them bags full of school supplies for orphans. After a bit of research WWDAS found the ideal recipients for all the colouring books, pens, coloured paper etc at Vilingili Orphanage in North Male. After our good deed was done for the day there was nothing more to do than to crack on with three more fantastic dives including Embudhoo Canyon and Matu Giri wreck.
Day three began with an early morning dive at Guraidhoo Corner. Little current was to be had but even still we spotted a lone grey reef shark getting cleaned amongst the schools of midnight snapper and jacks. Traveling back into the channel we were greeted by eagle rays swimming past. The night dive on day two is one of our favourites. ‘The Jetty’ at Alimanta resort is famous among safari boats as one of the best night dives in the Maldives. After some not so gentle persuasion we agreed to let our divers stay a little longer than usual on this fabulous dive where giant nurse sharks, sting rays, giant trevally’s and black tips glide in and out of your torch light.
Day four of our central and southern itinerary presents some of the best dives in the whole itinerary in my opinion and our guests certainly weren’t disappointed! Miyaru and Devanna Kandu were right on form with schooling grey reef sharks and eagle rays drifting in the current. The next stop was Golden Wall where the fast flowing current whisked us past the incredible yellow soft corals colouring the entire side of this impressive channel. At one point in mid-flight I turned round to see something that set off a melody of tank tapping and horn blowing to getting everyone’s attention. A 2.5 meter sail fish was gliding out of the channel less than 10 meters away! This impressive fish posed for long enough for us all to have a good gawp before accelerating away at a speed that really made it apparent who was in their natural environment! With the quality of the diving we decided to squeeze in four day dives to dive at the famous Fotteyo Kandu! The early evening sun was the perfect light to illuminate the fabulous soft corals that choke the over hangs and swim throughs on the front of the wall.
After another dive at Fotteyo to watch grey reefs, eagle rays, midnight snappers and giant trvally’s we moved southwards to dive Fahumi Giri. Previously unexplored by the Siren this small Giri presented a great swim through and beautiful overhangs filled with white bush corals. Our third and last day dive before the crossing to Meemu was at Rakkedu Faru. The next morning at was spent diving Gaaruha Kandu, another one of the famous channels, with great overhangs and coral bommies. Today ‘s dive provided an extra surprise for our divers. Peering past schooling grey reef sharks some of our guests were lucky enough to see a Mola Mola! These fish are hardly ever seen here making a sighting even more special. Two more relaxing thilla dives at Birthday Thila and Hakuar Thilla were great for our macro lovers, watching all sorts of reef fish in amongst the pristine hard corals. With our group being such a well organised and efficient team at prepping for dives we easily had time to slip in an island excursion before our night dive!
We dived at Kurali Corner on day 7. This site has been nicknamed ‘Valley of the Ray’ for good reason. Not 5 minutes from dropping into this narrow channel we were being eyed by nosey manta rays going to and from their cleaning stations. Joining them and taking particular interest in us was a baby eagle ray drifting to and fro within feet of our divers. Eagle eyed guide Heiko also spotted 2 brilliantly disguised ghost pipe fish!
Our diving on day 8 took us across two atolls, Thaa and Laamu and then a 10 hour night crossing to Gaafu Alife. The highlight for many being the ornate ghost pipe fish we saw on the night dive at Gaadhoo Reef. The highlight for me however was watching one of our guests Steve trying to put his fins on and tumbling straight out of the Dinghy!! Thankfully we we’re still tied to the platform and not moving. Steve was completely unharmed but the incident almost split our sides from laughing so hard! Steve took it on the chin though and joined in! Hilarious.
The last day and a half of our safari we try to spend in Gaafu Alife. This quiet atoll gets less divers than many here in the Maldives but the Siren visits the best of what it has to offer! Diving Matu Giri which is, great for macro and Vilingili Kandu, great for sharks! Grey reef sharks, white tips and eagle rays were all out in force! Our last two dives in the Atoll turned out to be very special. A second dive at Vilingili provided sightings of stone fish, pipe fish and incredibly a guitar shark! This is the first one I’ve seen this far south and I was thrilled to see this fascinating creature. The second dive was a special combo. Island excursion for the more relaxed crowd and dive for the hardcore group who’d pushed for every dive the whole trip! Diving wise Dhevamagala Reef provided sightings of hawksbill turtles, porcupine rays and devil rays! The island itself like many in the area was straight from a Maldives picture postcard, lush green foliage, crystal waters and white sand (plus a few San Miguel!) kept our beach goers happy for a couple of hours.
All in all this was a great trip! Thanks to all the fun guests and hardworking crew of the Maldives Siren who made this another fantastic cruise!! Tom