Looking at Maldives liveaboard January 2022 — any recommendations on boats/routes?

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nippurmagnum

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I’m tempted to give the Maldives a try in January, given that there are cheap flights from the US, and very reasonable offers on liveaboards (like the Carpe Diem for $1,600).

Any recommendations on boats/routes? I like big stuff, particularly hammerhead sharks, mantas, and whale sharks, as well as more macro stuff. I’ve read the reports of coral bleaching in the Maldives, and would be interested in advice on routes based on that as well. I also like night dives, though I gather those are relatively unusual in the Maldives. The closest I’ve been to the Maldives is the Red Sea. My budget is about $1,800 max for the week. Would appreciate any advice. Thanks!
 

Christian

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January is a good time. As a first timer to the Maldives you can't go wrong with a cruise in Ari and S+N Male Vavuu atolls. Hammerheads and bigger sharks not super common sights on regular diving in most of the Maldives, but there are baited dives for tiger sharks and silvertips in the far, far south. Rasdoo between Male and Ari has a hammerhead spot though, but not super reliable. But there are many manta cleaning stations and in January I think you will be able to catch some action in west Ari, in a cleaning station near Moofushi. There are whale sharks in South Ari in this period and lots of grey reef sharks in North Ari and in S Male, both a few famous Thilas and in the channel dives (s t r o n g c u r r e n t s). Mobula rays in big schools moving inside the atoll common in North Ari.
Coral damaged in most shallows due to bleaching--El Nino in 1998, 2010 and 2016/17, but fish density is incredible.
 

nippurmagnum

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January is a good time. As a first timer to the Maldives you can't go wrong with a cruise in Ari and S+N Male Vavuu atolls. Hammerheads and bigger sharks not super common sights on regular diving in most of the Maldives, but there are baited dives for tiger sharks and silvertips in the far, far south. Rasdoo between Male and Ari has a hammerhead spot though, but not super reliable. But there are many manta cleaning stations and in January I think you will be able to catch some action in west Ari, in a cleaning station near Moofushi. There are whale sharks in South Ari in this period and lots of grey reef sharks in North Ari and in S Male, both a few famous Thilas and in the channel dives (s t r o n g c u r r e n t s). Mobula rays in big schools moving inside the atoll common in North Ari.
Coral damaged in most shallows due to bleaching--El Nino in 1998, 2010 and 2016/17, but fish density is incredible.

Christian, thanks for the advice. I see that you’ve also done a lot of diving in the Red Sea — can i ask for your thoughts on how the Maldives and Red Sea compare? I’ve done the northern and southern routes in Egypt the last couple of years and enjoyed them both, but I’d like to do something new. I see a lot of mixed comments about the Maldives, both in terms of topside culture and underwater health/pelagics. Would be grateful for your thoughts.

By the way, I meant Jan 2022. If i had a time machine I’d go much farther back than last year!
 

Dan

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For < $1800 trip, central Maldive, what Emperor liveaboard fleet calls it “Best of Maldives”, is probably what you can get. However if you want to see big fish, like Tiger Sharks, Silvertip, etc., in Fuvahmulah, you need to spend a bit more and take the “Deep South”. Carpe Diem is a good liveaboard fleet. I went with Carpe Vita to the Deep South route in March 2021.




 

Dan

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For comparison, here’s a trip video of “The Best of The Maldives” around central Maldives that I spent for €1000.

 

rongoodman

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I’m tempted to give the Maldives a try in January, given that there are cheap flights from the US
Who are you flying with? I remember looking for flights with the major airlines a while back and not finding anything.
 

Dan

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Plenty of choices.

I just entered Jan 1-15, 2022, IAH-MLE for grin through Expedia and find one with Qatar Airways for $1343. :)

I have used 2 other airlines: Air Delta - Air France in 2018 & Turkish Air in 2021 also to go from Houston (IAH) to Male (MLE).
 

Christian

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Christian, thanks for the advice. I see that you’ve also done a lot of diving in the Red Sea — can i ask for your thoughts on how the Maldives and Red Sea compare? I’ve done the northern and southern routes in Egypt the last couple of years and enjoyed them both, but I’d like to do something new. I see a lot of mixed comments about the Maldives, both in terms of topside culture and underwater health/pelagics. Would be grateful for your thoughts.

By the way, I meant Jan 2022. If i had a time machine I’d go much farther back than last year!

Yes I have been there, done that in the Red Sea. I only have brief experience in the Maldives (three trips--60ish dives). I haven't been to the south or north, only the "regular" atolls and also to Nilhandoo, but a few observations: Maldives have a slightly better bio diversity, not on par with the golden triangle, but still noticable if you pay attention to details. What is very obvious is that fish density is generally higher than on most reefs in the Egyptian Red Sea. But then, the thickest fish walls aren't found in the Egyptian Red Sea (nor is the "best" Red Sea diving inmo). Small reef sharks (black and white tips) on practically every reef. Grey reef sharks on most outsides / kandus. En masse in quite a few places. Currents more predictable but generally stronger in the Maldives (the current free Thila dives in general ...not that interesting inmo). Visibility more variable in the Maldives. Particles is also what attract filter feeders ... so mantas and mobula rays more commonly spotted in the Maldives as are whale sharks (you will have to be in the right spot at the right time of course--a liveaboard will bring you there). Coral is less impressive in the Maldives and hard coral has suffered tremendously in the shallows from bleaching and silting from sand pumps in resort islands, but there are some soft coral and, on deeper parts, near inlets/kandus where water from the deep flows in, still healthy. Then again, coral has never really been the draw in the Maldives. It's the fish and the big guys. When it comes to top side, limited of course. "Paradise" islands with more or less luxorius resorts. And there are hotels in "local islands" too, where the Maldivians live. But if you go to dive, a liveaboard is definetely the easiest way to make sure you end up diving spots that are "on". If it matters, a liveaboard will also keep costs down a little per dive. Staying in a resort works out very expensive per dive and not worth it inmo, unless you also value a resort experience. You might be able to find som Covid-deals now, IDK?
 
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