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I plan to go the Maldives at the beginning of July for a week of dive. dive. dive.
I read up that there will be someking of monsoon but you can still dive at certain places that gets sheltered from the monsoon. I need to know where.
I also want to know, the cheapest and best places to stay, I'm not a fussy traveller and would like to make my dollar last.
And lastly, what are the rates for diving? I will be bringing my own equipment, so that will cut down some. Perhaps you can recommend some travel agents in Male, I'm going solo and would only plan my itinerary in Male itself.
And when I come back, I promise to share my experiences here to help other people.
I went last year to the Maldives with a Tour Operator call http://www.oceanes.com and everything was great. their web site is already full of information and they will give you good advise where to go.
Hello & Greetings:
I frequently visit Maldives and it does offer some splendid diving. Matter of fact I was there in July this year just as I will be visiting it in December as well as around July the next year too.
To begin with let me tell you that Maldives does not adhere very much to the general preceptions of convetional travel. What I mean is one cant expect to go there and then plan ones trip or plan it along as one goes by. Even te visa permits are not issuied unless one has confirmed reservations with any of the several resorts besides meeting up with some other comparitively insiginifant criteria.
Yes most places in Maldives can be dived all through the year. However July is amidst the rainy season and also one of the best periods to visit the place if one is more keen to dive and sight the phelagic marine life.
About the choice of accmodation options there a plenty and mostly every resort has well equiped dive bases. The rates though can be vastly varying and it is easy for one to make the wrong choice with a lot of regret and no escape but an individually unsatisfactory trip.
The expenditure over diving although does not vary much though it is around $ 25 per dive (if one plans to do more than 20 dives)and can go up to about $ 35 each (if one plans to do less than 10 dives) besides about 10 /12 $ extra per dive for other spurious kinds of taxes. The charges I mention are exclusive of equipment rentals which do workout to be exhorbitant, therfore if you have your own it is always a good idea to carry it (as I do). If nothing else it will save you a lot of wastefull expenditure over rentals.
The choice of accmodation facility is what one has to be cautious about cause most times there are too many things between lines which one is not informed about and goes there expecting things entirely different.
However as I said I will also be traveling there during those time, so if you like and we are both comfortable with the idea and each other, we can do so jointly. I often travel there along with someone or the other I get to meet over the net and decide to sponcor as well. Expenditure may not be a primary criteria of consideration for me in that case.
Well if there is more youd like information about do feel free to email me and I'd be glad to furnish you with the facts that I may be aware of.
Until then ....
Ps. In case we dont keep in touch I hope you have an enjoyable vacation.
First let's address the monsoon season, this just means that the prevailing winds and current change around May time. In July the current will be from the South East as opposed to North West During the dry season. It does not mean it will bucket down every day. There can be some short but hard duldrum storm's in April/May but you are likely to have hot dry weather every day. It is adviseable to pick a resort with access to dive sites on the western side of the atoll as these will get current form the open ocean and you will have better vis.
What to see - July is a great time for pelagic's the water temp is a little cooler (26 degrees) Grey reef and (possibly schooling) Hammerhead are likely to be in shallower water at the channel point's in current. The southwest season is the best time to see Whale sharks and Manta's, they are more likely found on the eastern side in less currrent as they feed. The vis is not so good (still 40/60 feet) but an encounter with these is surely not to be missed. Reef fish life is abundant, many turtles, daily white tips, although the coral bleaching suffered by the atolls is noticeable however it is starting to come back. If you want to see pristine coral gardens on every dive (there are some sheltered Thilla's that are fine) you might be a little dissapointed but if your going for fish life and big encounters buy that ticket now, it's fantastic.
Where to stay in a lot dependant on your budget. The tourist board has set up their industry, in my opinion, superbly. In order to insulate the native population from the cultural pressures of mass tourism they have designated resort islands and islands just for local people. To travel to a locals only island you need to be invited and have a permit from the Ministry of the interior. So to the resort islands. They will be a one hotel island in varying price ranges so budget dictates which island you will be on.
Travel within the islands is difficult so I advise that you at least pick a resort and book your accomodation before you get there, it is not a backpackers kind of destination with little else to do than superb diving.
The DO will also be specific to the island your on likwise price of the diving according to the class of island. Euro-divers operate out of 9 of the resort islands.
Heres a run down of my last trip in late May this year.
Stayed on Ari Beach - This is in the south of the Ari Atoll, I travelled by sea plane form Mali, it was in my package but I think costs $40 each way. The sea transfer is 4 hours each way. It is very much a no shoes resort with two type of accomodation standard on island and higher class water bungalows. The standard accom is single story air con with shower, comfortable bed, small oustide patio and little else. The water bunglows have Sat TV and all mod cons. The manager of the hotel did offer to upgrade me for $15 a night as the resort was only 19% full. I stayed half board and I recommend you do the same, you will not eating anywhere other than the hotel The food is really good, continental/full english breakfasts. Delicious local curries along with generally themed alternatives e.g Italian night, Barbacue night etc.. Evening entertainment centres around the bar (funny that for divers) beers are reasonable, my weeks bill was $150 which includes buying the dive instructors the odd beer by way of a tip. Local people are kind friendly and helpful. Small gratuity is appreciated at the end of the week, say $15 each waiter,barman, house boy.
The DO is Euro Divers, a swiss run operator. They were excellent. Dives are by local Dhoni boat (usual for 90% of the resorts), which is a slow local wooden boat. My experience was that they were prepard split into 2 boats the more experienced and the students even if that meant 6 divers on 1 boat and 4 or 5 on another. A lot of the time the instructors allow divers to decide between locations. Whether it would be a dive in a more likely location for Whale Sharks or maybe an exhillerating current over a better reef. They supply 10l air tanks but also do 12l Nitrox. I did a Nitrox course whilst there.
Breifing at 8.30am. Usually 25m-30m morning dive (30m max allowed in Maldives). Back for midday, a couple of hours to your self and back for afternoon dive at 2pm. The DO ran night dives every day even if that was for 1 person. cost for 6 day conseuctive is $245 but you must add $10 per dive for the boat.
I never saw another boat all week, had a fantastic time, met people from all over the world, Florence , Bologna, Dusselldorf Frankfurt, Geneva, Zurich, Hollywood CA, Tokyo and of course various regions of my own native UK.
I have posted this before and realise it sounds a little incredible but I did see five, yes FIVE !!! Whale Sharks in one morning. The plankton must have been absolutely right as in the same vicinity at least 4 manta's were also feeding. There were only 3 guests and 3 form the DO on that boat. We snorkelled with them for an hour and could have carried on without tiredness setting in. If you decide on Ari and Werner is still there no doubt he will confirm. I now have a camera and I'm going back to Ari next May, this time for 2 weeks. Hopefully I'll get some shots of these magnificent creatures.