Maldives Diving And Snorkelling Holiday – 2014
The 11 intrepid travellers and myself arranged to meet at Gatwick at a very reasonable 10.30am. Needlessly to say that Maddy did his usual trick of being late and uncontactable. So like true mates we checked in without him and headed to the No. 1 Lounge. On arrival in the lounge we all soon became well acquainted with each other as the free booze and sandwiches started to flow. Maddy eventually made it and as his penalty had to go and order a further 1/2 dozen beers.
With duty in free in hand we made our way to the Emirates flight for our first leg to Dubai. I ended up sitting next to John and Lee who decided that we should make very good use of the kind staff who were happy to oblige in plying us with an array of spirits including rum & coke, whiskey & ginger ale and vodka martini to name but a few.
On arrival in Dubai 8 hours later the group split in to several fractions depending on what their requirements were; more duty free, steak and chicken wings, or in my case I found myself in a champagne bar with john, lee and Maddy. After trying to barter the price of their pink Moët down by a few dollars into a more palatable figure we ordered a cheeky bottle. Ian and Fiona joined for a few sips before making their way to the plane. Nearing the end of our 2nd bottle we realised that none of our watches were set to the correct time and our flight to the Maldives was on final call.
When we made it to the plane we were met by our fellow tutting passengers who had eyes that like to roll in their heads. By the time we took off I was in the land of Zzzz’s for some much needed rest.
On arrival in to The Maldives we made our way through customs where John and Lee both had their contraband confiscated and met our guide for the week, Lisa.escorted us on a short walk to our boat when I discovered that I’d left my hand luggage in the customs hall. A kind member of staff accompanied me back to immigration where I was reunited with my expensive new speakers, ipad and underwater photography equipment.
When we left the jetty John announced that he too had also left his brand new Bose speakers in security. We hope that they enjoy their find.
Our dive Dhoni made the short crossing to the ‘mothership’, Sea Queen that is our home for the week. The boat met with approval of Jackie and Melvin’s key criteria. – decent toilet, sun deck and a well stocked fridge. While enjoying some refreshments Lisa gave us a boat briefing and showed us to our cabins to unpack. Maddy now nicknamed ‘the cat’ went for another 2 hour snooze.
Lunch was served alfresco at the front of the boat. The creamy Maldivian curry was wolfed down by everyone and Trey was thrilled that they had an assortment of chilli based products to add a further kick.
In the afternoon the divers made their way to the Dhoni to set up their kit and check their weighting. ‘The ladies that leisure’ meanwhile went for a dip off the back of the boat in to the azure blue water that was comfortable 29 degrees.
Our first dive of the day was a check dive on one of the North Ari Atolls next up to the very impressive Soneva Gili resort. Maddy had a few problems with his ears so like good buddies do we pressed on without him.
Apart from Maddy with his dodgy ears, everyone was looking very comfortable in the water and went for a nice gentle potter along the reef wall. A few good initial sittings were made such as a couple of white tip reef sharks, a large sleeping stingray and some morish idols. (Of Finding Nemo fame). But alas we have yet to encounter our first Manta Ray.
The evening was a very chilled out affair with a scrumptious array of currys and Dhalls to choose from followed by star gazing in to the night sky on the top deck. After our long journey we all headed to bed around 9pm.
Awoken with the sound of Maddy’s snoring at 3am I decided to start to write this blog. It will be a relief when the sun rises and I can make my way to deck above for the first briefing planned for 7am.
After a quick cuppa we donned our dive equipment and made our way to an area well known as a cleaning station for manta rays. As per the brief we made our way to the sandy area and lay still on the bottom waiting for the mantas to make an appearance for their morning clean. 10 minutes, 20 minutes still nothing….60 minutes later and we reached our no deco limits so we had to leave the bottom and made our way back to the surface. 2nd dive of the day was a repeat of the same site. Fingers crossed we made our way down again and this time….still nothing. The dive was made more interesting with a few pranks. Maddy (now called Garfield), lee and john decided to pinch my camera – so not funny. I filled johns BCD with stones and lee and myself exchanged messages on his dive slate, the content of which cannot be repeated but let’s just say it caused us to fill our masks with water a few times!
On our way back to the mothership we noticed the ‘ladies that leisure’ being dragged back with a piece of rope along by our speedboat. Their respective husbands leaped for their cameras to take photos – no sympathy on this trip.
We motored for a couple of ours to our 3rd dive site, Lankan Findhu. After our negative entry we were soon being whisked along the reef wall on an exhilarating drift dive. Some us managed to lose our buddies (me) in all of the excitement. Myself, lee and john teamed up and soon were spotting white tip reef sharks, honeycombe eels, tuna, jacks and millions of small blue trigger fish.
On returning to the boat it appeared Maddy got separated from his standing buddies and was stranded on the surface before being picked up by a passing speedboat – refer to the oyster facebook page to see his displeasure.
During dinner trey and Jess decided to take up fishing. Jess was catching small bait fish while trey was placing them on the hook of his fishing line. First up was a decent sized squid which soon made its way to the kitchen. John joined the murderers and the fish soon started to rain in. By the final count we had 32 Jack Fish much to the delight of our crew. Jess and trey enjoyed their fresh fish and calamari with the usual dose of chilli.
After dinner people kicked back with a few beers while Garfield made his way to bed.
No mantas were seen today but we had a brilliant time in and out of the water. Lee just said that he’s the most chilled he’s ever been.