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March 10, 2014

Maldives

Diving the Maldives had been on my wish list for a number of years, so in January I decided to go for it and booked a 12 night liveaboard trip with Scuba Tours aboard the Sea Queen.

The trip started very badly with a 5 hour delay at take off due to fog in Dubai and then a missed connecting flight and utter confusion at Dubai airport and when I finally got to Malé my luggage didn’t turn up until the next day. As you can imagine I was somewhat “peeved” by this, but it got sorted and we sailed off to do some diving.

The route took us from Malé down and round the South Malé atolls across to the South Ari atoll, up and round the North Ari atoll and back to Malé (see map). The Sea Queen is an older boat but comfortable and very well crewed, food was excellent and plentiful, the cabins were small but adequate and the en-suite showers were hot!!

The diving!! Which after all is what I went there for, was excellent and, though the coral is not as pretty as in the Red Sea, the diversity of marine life is great. It ranged from tiny Cleaner Shrimps to very large Mantas and included various sharks and very large shoals of Fusiliers, Yellow Snappers and huge numbers of Blue Trigger Fish.

I also saw Mantis Shrimp, Octopi, Eagle Rays, nudibranches and a lot more; we also dived 2 wrecks just to keep us from getting home sick, but the reason I wanted to go to the Maldives was to see “Mantas” and because this was a live-aboard trip we went to where they were, at the cleaning stations.

Our dives were normally limited to 1 hour but when we were with Mantas this altered to as long as your air allowed, so I got in a couple of 80 min. dives, I also got a 40 min. night dive with them which was out of this world and made me realise just how big Manta’s mouths were.

The trip was all and much more than I had hoped for and if I had to pick one best dive from all the dives I have done it would have to be the night dive with 7-8 mantas flying and feeding within 1to 2 feet of my face.

Stan Day