Diving the Southern Maldives
Diving the Southern Maldives
After discussion with the group it was decided that day one would be a gentle introduction to diving in the Southern Maldives Atolls. Most Dives in Gaafu Alife and Gaafu Dhaal are well known as channel dives with strong current and big fish life! Our group however wanted a more relaxing start to the cruise so we hunted out some quiet Giris and reefs on the inside of this large atoll. These sites are rarely if ever dived and the hard corals here are pristine. With great visibility and little current Thinadhoo Giri, our first dive, was just what was ordered. Local fishermen here were netting the hugely abundant glass fish for use as bait when out tuna fishing. This ancient practice of free (and some with a more modern approach of scuba!!) diving down and scaring the fish into the waiting nets was a rare sight for tourists and fascinating to watch.
Day two started out with some channel diving before we moved onto the beautiful Mafzoo Thila. Here a school of friendly batfish began interacting with our divers, swimming in between us and following us on our dive. This interesting behaviour provided some great photo opportunities meanwhile our day ended with a birthday celebration for Gabriella. Alibe prepared a special birthday cake which we all enjoyed very much!
The first of February saw us on Vaarula Kandu and gave many sightings of the ginormous green turtles that frequent this are of the Maldives. Day three was also our chance to dive at one of our favourite sites on the East Coast; Marreha Kandu; an impressive drop off right into the deep open ocean which attracts plenty of schooling pelagics. Great barracuda, trevallys and a huge school of jacks swam by us as we were hooked in. Joining the melee were white tip and grey reef sharks. Our macro lover Sultan also got his hit of the small stuff with a rockmover wrasse thrashing in the current!
After negotiations with the resort manager by our fearless and diplomatic Captain Ahmed, arrangements were made to dive the pristine House reef at Haadahaa on Day four. It was well worth it with sightings of Black tip reef sharks, white tip reef sharks and marbled rays. Our macro lovers again filled their SD cards with shots of the beautiful long nosed file fish. Our channels here in the south are famous for strong currents and sharks. We were therefore surprised to find the amount of superb macro that we did, although you did need a strong set of legs and steady hand to get the shots off in the current! Eagle eyed instructor Megan spotted an ornate ghost pipe fish right on the lip of Funadhoo Kandu where currents are strongest on day five!
Day seven saw our party split to give the guests plenty of diving options for their needs and experience level. While I was hiding from the current inside the atoll teaching, our instructor Shafraz was riding the currents in Villingili Kandu watching over forty grey reef sharks schooling in the blue! On the way back into the channel our divers were treated to the resident schools of beautiful 4 striped snapper. Hundreds of these fish gather on the south side of the channel creating a montage of colour and movement.
Sadly being close to the end of our cruise day eight was the day to start our journey back across the atoll and away from our beloved east coast channels. One of my personal favourites in the Gaafu Alife Atol is a small, seldom dived Giri at the very top of the atoll. It turned out to be a favourite with guests also as we dived it not only once but twice! Over the two dives here, our macro sightings included leaf fish, long nosed hawk fish, ornate squat lobster, banded boxer shrimp, juvenile vermicular wrasse, blue dragon nudibranch, flatworms and long nosed file fish. Our wide angle boys were not disappointed either with the huge schools of glass fish and silver sides putting on an impressive display; a fun day to end our trip and a superb range of dives in the southern Maldives. See you all again very soon!