Few divers paid much attention to the corals when they go diving in the Maldives. Fish is what they look for, particularly the big ones: whale sharks, mantas, turtles, napoleon wrasse, tunas… Then, in 1998, widespread coral bleaching occurred due to a too warm sea that move around the Indian Ocean and suddenly people noticed the broken, grey stone walls where once, they remembered, there used to be color. The fish numbers never decreased but some of the beauty of a dive had gone with the corals. Now the corals are back. And divers are not just looking at the fish but also checking out the coral regrowth. A field of young, pink soft coral swaying in the current is a new delight, so is the sight of pristine white juvenile hard corals and new coral breaking out of the cracks of an ancient brain coral. Brand new species to the Maldives are being discovered and identified.
There is a greater number of fish and a greater variety of fish in the Maldives than just about anywhere else in the world. Furthermore, there are laws and regulations in place that protect those fish and their environment. Most of other dive regions have laws and regulations too but in the Maldives they are adhered to and that is not so common. The Maldives is also fortunate in not having to cope with the livelihood demands of a large and fast – increasing population. What we have here is a true diving paradise. Please do your bit to keep it that way.
Almost every day in the Maldives is a drift dive. This is a wonderful, effortless way of watching the underwater world pass by. With the current coming into the atoll bringing fresh, clean water, the visibility might be fifty meters and the big pelagics might be queuing up to watch you pass by, but, on the other hand, there is an ever-present danger, however small, that a current will take you away from the atoll and out into the deep blue. It is the job of the instructor (often with the help of an experienced boat captain) to assess the local conditions before any diver jumps in the water. It is a tribute to the professionalism of the dive centers that accidents have been extremely rare and life enhancing dives an everyday occurrence.
Every resort has its own dive center. Almost across the board the equipment is new or nearly new, the brands are top-of-the-line and the maintenance is first class. You can be confident in hiring everything you need. If you prefer to bring your own wetsuit a half –size 3mm one is enough, unless you are going to do more than one dive a day. The water is consistently between 27 and 30 degree Celsius. Every dive center offers open water certification and some form of introductory or discovery dive.
The area where one dive center differs from another is in service. We don’t mean loading and unloading the baskets from the boats and talking to the guests in the evening but also things like information and presentation of the local habitats, the number of divers per boat/instructor, the variety of dive sites on offer each day, the type of diving on offer (multi-dives, full day, night diving, nitrox etc.) and the amount of effort put into learning and adjusting to new guests’ standard and preferences. The dive company’s web site is one place to start to find out what’s on offer, and then it’s a matter of word of mouth and reputation.