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1st trip to Maldives: info and advice

Discussion in 'Maldives' started by andreapedro, Feb 5, 2019.

  1. andreapedro

    andreapedro Garibaldi

    # of Dives: 0 - 24
    Location: Italy
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    Hi everybody! :)

    I'm 29 years old from Italy and I'm brand new to scuba diving; I had my first experience last summer in Egypt, where i did the PADI Open Water Diver and just 6 dives. I completely fell in love with diving, and I would like to go to Maldives (my dream since i was a child) in late February or March for a week (at least 7 nights). I'd like to make some coral dive like i did in the Red Sea, but off course I want to see some great pelagic, would be great to swim with mantas, whale sharks, grey sharks... I'd love to see a hammerhead too, they told me it's easier in south atolls. I know most of the dives are drift dives, and I never had one. So guys, do you think i need to improve my level, doing the Advance Open Water, in order to go deeper than 18 metres (59 feet)? Or is it possible to enjoy diving in Maldives without it?
    Since I don't care about luxury (I will travel alone), but i care just to be in paradise doing more dives i can, I'm between a cruise or staying on some local island. What’s the better choice? Off course with a cruise you can travel around the atolls, surely the best option for diving, but i’m worried i would miss an important part of the Maldives experience: relaxing on those fantastic white beaches! I found interesting local islands like Rasdhoo, Dhangethi, Fulidhoo, Daravandhoo; where do you think it's more possible to encounter both whale sharks and mantas? Where do you think there are less tourists/divers? I'd loved when i dived in Egypt, most of the time we were just me, my girlfriend, the guide and no one else.

    I know I asked you a lot of things, sorry for that :D

    Thanks!
     
  2. Christian

    Christian Manta Ray

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    Definetely get AOW if you intend to make diving a hobby. The better dives are not always the more diffucult ones, but generally they are. With only 6 dives and OW you won't be allowed to join the advanced (and most exciting) dives.
    I have only stayed on two islands in The Maldives: Filitheyo and Elaidhoo--enjoyed them both. Liveaboard is really the way to go if you want bang for your buck (DC on Maldives resorts charge you ...€€€€) and also the best diving experience. But I can totally get that one also like to experience the classic Maldivian resort islands. In my case those two island trips where trips with extended family and diving as a side activity. Loved the relaxed atmosphere and beatiful islands with All Inclusive Everything. Very good food... But they are both close to dive sites considered good by Maldivian standards and they were correct for the season of our visits (eastern facing), more about seasons later and about the cheaper local islands. I have no experience from staying on local islands.
    Whalesharks are seen frequently in the winter months in South Ari atoll. There are a couple of resort islands there as well as a local island -- an inhabited island who is not mainly a tourist resort, but an island where Maldivians also live. Cheaper and a more genuine experience which might or might not be to your preference. Just remember -- no beer, no bacon, no bikini.
    Mantas can be seen in quite a few places but the most famous is perhaps the Hanifaru channel in fall. But North Male, South Male and Ari Atoll all have cleaning stations. Just have to pick the right one! There are grey reef sharks, white & black tip sharks as well as eagle rays in many places. The smaller reef sharks can often be seen in shallow, calm dives. To see larger sharks you normally dive in channel entrances with sometimes roaring current=advanced diving. On Filitheyo, which had quite a few of those high voltage channel entrance dives, you had to have AOW and 40+ dives to join. Less experienced divers went to reefs inside the atoll--which was pretty ordinary inmo.
    Hammerheads are seen off some of the reefs in between North Ari/Rasdhoo and then in the far Southern Atolls. Haven't made the far south, but silvertips, tigers, threashers and other larger spieces that are very uncommon in Ari, N+S Male, Felidhoo, Nilhandoo, Lahyviani ... the normal tourist atolls. For these dives you need AOW and a few more dives under your belt.
    There are two distinct seasons. In broad strokes winter, December-April, produce great conditions on the east side of the atolls with clear water and currents and sharks. Summer months, islands on the west side of atolls has better diving conditions. A little wetter on land than winter though. But any season there are usually showers--it's tropical.
     
    andreapedro likes this.
  3. andreapedro

    andreapedro Garibaldi

    # of Dives: 0 - 24
    Location: Italy
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    Thanks Christian! You were very very helpful!

    Having asked in an italian forum too, I renounce the cruise. It's a shame 'cause I found a cruise 8D/7N around south atolls for just 1350 US dollars, departing on March... They don't ask a minimum number of dives, and it would be possible to do the AOW on the boat, but i fear that I could slow down other experienced divers, or that maybe they'll forbid me to make some tough dive due to my lack of experience, leaving me on the cruise. It would be completely unacceptable, since if there are 18 scheduled dives, i want to make 18 dives.

    But I'm not giving up with Maldives :)
    I'm not interested in resort life at this moment, there are lots of local islands where I can get AOW and make all the dives i want (maybe first days something easier, last days something more difficult). I don't care about bikini (I'm a guy and I will be alone, and usually I don't wear bikini :) ), and i hope i'll survive a week without alcohol and pork... really hope so! :D I'm just undecided which one should be the best option! If I didn't misunderstand you, in the period February/March a trip to Fulidhoo, for example, should be better than a trip in Ari atoll, if we speak about visibility; but in Ari during winter is best time for whale sharks... Hanifaru should be fantastic, but you said it's better in fall, and honestly I'd prefer to find mantas while diving rather than snorkeling. I can't decide. A cruise would give me the possibility to find quite everything, but I want to make more experience before doing it...

    I know, there are bigger problems in the world, but I really can't decide where to go!
     
  4. Christian

    Christian Manta Ray

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    Ari is excellent in March too, but pick a resort on/near the east side to get better visibility.
    And yes, Maldives is pure hell when it comes to choosing a resort. I suggest looking at the North Ari area. You’d find sharks and mantas, little bit of everything within a couple of hours by dhoni. If you really have to, all but the most Northerly situated resorts normally arrange full day excursions once a week to see whale sharks in the south Ari. Very long day.
    You could also check if there are liveaboards that cater to new divers. AOW course doesn’t blow up a vacation as it is five more or less normal dives. Good luck.
     
  5. Damselfish

    Damselfish Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Boston
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    I think you should get more experience first. You should do AOW too, but that's really not the same as more experience, doing progressively more challenging dives. I did a liveaboard there when I had plenty of experience in all sorts of conditions, and there were dives I really wished I were back on the boat.

    It's possible you can find a liveaboard/itinerary that is more suitable for beginners, or perhaps more likely a land based resort. I'm sure you'd find some enjoyable diving. But Maldives are a place where I think you're likely to see less of what is on your wishlist, on what is available for truly beginner dives. So wait, especially if you think traveling there will be a one time thing for you. And always remember - a wishlist is nice and we all have one, but wild animals don't always show up and perform, so it's best not to get to attached to seeing certain things on a trip. Enjoy what you do see.

    Something about diving - any decent dive spot will be great in the beginning. I know it's tempting to get to the places touted as the very best, as soon as possible - but if you try and start with the very best places, it becomes hard to go to the more average spots without being disappointed.
     
  6. Pelicanne

    Pelicanne Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: UK
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    Hi AndreaPedro,

    i actually learned to dive in the Maldives on a liveaboard around 10 years ago and had a fantastic experience. Yes, there were some strong currents and challenging situations, but with a good instructor/divemasters I was fine. And I was a somewhat plump 45-year-old woman!

    Saw everything from incredible macro life to pelagics including dozens of sharks, and everyone on the trip told me how lucky I was to have that as my first diving experience - and looking back, they were right!

    So don’t give up on a liveaboard if that’s where your heart’s set - just make sure you’re on a boat which can look after you properly. After all, you’ll no doubt be paying a fairly hefty price for your holiday, and the last thing you want to feel is uncomfortable.

    Unfortunately the boat I was on is no longer operating, or I would heartily recommend it. The operation I learned with was Euro-Divers, who I think may only be land-based now, but they really were absolutely fantastic.

    I hope that helps a little. I’m planning my own return to the Makdives this year, as I’ve spent the last ten years dreaming of going back!

    Have fun!
     
  7. Pelicanne

    Pelicanne Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: UK
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    By the way, if you can do the AOW on the boat that sounds like a great idea.
     
  8. Dan

    Dan Orca

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Lake Jackson, Texas
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    I enjoyed diving in Maldives. Liveaboard is the way to go, especially for the first time there. They take you to the best dive sites. AOW is needed. So, go get one on / before the trip. I highly recommend going with Maldives Aggressor II. Here is my trip report, including the map of dive sites for what you would see underwater there: Maldives 9 - 16 December 2018 TripReport

    Enjoy diving in Maldives!
     
    Inanna08 likes this.
  9. andreapedro

    andreapedro Garibaldi

    # of Dives: 0 - 24
    Location: Italy
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    Thank you all for your precious help!
     

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