Safari Trip 2019MV Eco Blue
So for the 3rd time we set off on our Maldives dive safari, taking 17 guests with us to the “divers paradise” of the Maldives.
Made up of 10,000 islands, the Maldives is about 400 miles due south of the tip of India and nestles in the warm clear waters of the Indian Ocean. Diving there offers the chance to see an amazing variety of marine life, both large and small, from Whale sharks right down to Nudibranchs and everything in between. Huge volumnes of fish life, wonderful coral formations, deep dives in channels, shallow dives with no current, spectacular night dives etc etc.. It's hard to explain just how special the Maldives are as a dive location until you've been there and seen it for yourself. Hence our trip, which we run every 2 years is always fully booked well in advance so if you're interested in joining us for the next trip in 2021 don't wait too long before you drop us an email!.
Some people are “put off” considering the trip as the flights are quite long and they also, mistakenly, think that they will be very expensive. Wrong, typically from USA/Canada return flights run around $1500 p.p..
OK so lets look at the 2019 trip, Kathrin and I set off from Cancun and had a quick “hop” over to Fort Lauderdale to join the Emirates flight to Dubai (15 hours). Then after a short layover in Dubai we were on the “short” flight down to Maldives (4 hours). We like to arrive a couple of days early so we can unwind before our guests start to arrive the day before joining the boat and getting under way. And lets face it, after what amounts to 36 hours travel (with time zone changes), you need a days' rest. This also allows us to monitor the inbound flights from USA, Canada and Europe that our guests are flying on, as I spent the day at the airport on “meet 'n' greet” duty whilst Kathrin stayed at the hotel helping with the check in process as they arrived.
After a group meal in a local restaurant it was early to bed for everyone for much needed R & R. The next morning everyone was up early and after a leasurly breakfast we all piled back into taxis and headed back to the airport to meet up with the last guests and to join the boat at last!. So after all the formalities of paperwork, unpacking dive gear, etc we had the rest of the day to relax on board before setting off early the following morning for our first dives. A “check dive” on Fish Factory was a great way to start with so many Morays that it was hard to decide which ones to take photos of. Several species to see, and often 3 or more to a single resting place.
Onwards and upwards (or should that be down?) to our first wreck dive on Kuda Giri, which was full of life and has always been one of our favourite sites. Heading south towards Vaavu atoll we were all looking forward to the first night dive on day 2. Alimatha has become one of those “must do” dives and this year once again, did not disappoint. Unlike previous trips the guides did not “feed” at all and we actually jumped late afternoon rather than at night. We were graced by the presence of many large Nurse sharks very close up for the whole dive as well as a couple of big sting rays drifting around at times. The next morning we started early with an ocean side dive and as we dropped in got a very friendly Eagle ray drifting along right below us. So why is one of the guides banging away on his tank so furiously?. Err, simple really, looking down to where Amir was frantically pointing we saw a 4m+(13ft) Tiger Shark drifting along!!. Now we were on Nitrox (Dam), so had to refrain from going too deep to get a good video of it, but still, who cares, it was our first ever Tiger Shark!.
The next couple of days were spent slowly heading south and into Meemu Atoll where we had our first Manta dive and had a single Manta playing over the cleaning station just a short distance in front of us all. Everyone got to get all the pics they could ever want as we were the only divers there.
Thaa Atoll gave us a few nice dives and chance to get off the boat late one afternoon to do a bit of a beach “clean-up”, colleting 5 bin bags full in just a short time. Almost all plastic bottles, that had washed up onto the beach of an uninhabited island. (Eco Blue try to do at least one of these on each trip). Unfortunately we did not get any “late night visitors” at the back of the boat this time. Generally here you have a better than 50/50 chance of Whale Sharks late on and have a chance to get in and snorkel with these magnificent fish. Never mind, we can't control nature. Now we turned north and headed towards the southern tip of Ari Atoll which is famous as a “hot spot” for Whale Sharks and finally we got to see one. We also had an evening presentation from one of the staff of the Maldives Whale Shark Conservation Group, who gave us a great insight into the lifecycle these magnificent fish. Another couple of days diving and we ended up anchored in Fesdu Lagoon for our second night dive. Once again we were not to be disapointed as we spent the whole dive in the company of 4 Manta rays. Fish Head, Maaya Thila and Bathala Kan Thila all produced the expected sightings of Grey reef sharks, before we set off east back to Male to anchor for the last night of the trip.
All in all once again we saw plenty of sharks, rays, a great variety of fish life and of course octopus and nudibrnchs along the way.
MV Eco Blue and their highly professional crew gave us a great 2 weeks diving and we'll be back with them again in 2021.
Only about 685 days to go!! Not that I'm counting.