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These 7000 low-lying coral islands in a 1200-mile chain southeast
of India will be the first to disappear if global warming raises sea levels
significantly. About 200 of the islands are inhabited (although visitors have
very little interaction with the 175,000 predominantly-Muslim residents), and
several are devoted entirely to small resorts that offer average to excellent
tropical reef diving with big fish action if the resort has a knowledgeable
staff that knows where and when to find it. However, the Maldives are best dived
from live-aboards.... Given its large influx of European divers, this could
be one of the most dived regions of the world.... Dive rules are strict for
this part of the world.... Expect year-round daily temperatures of roughly 85
degrees and abundant rainfall, which is distributed evenly from May through
For full reviews of the following Maldives live-aboards, see:
These 7000 low-lying coral islands in a 1200-mile chain southeast of India will be the first to disappear if global warming raises sea levels significantly. About 200 of the islands are inhabited (although visitors have very little interaction with the 175,000 predominantly-Muslim residents), and several are devoted entirely to small resorts that offer average to excellent tropical reef diving with big fish action if the resort has a knowledgeable staff that knows where and when to find it. However, the Maldives are best dived from live-aboards.... Given its large influx of European divers, this could be one of the most dived regions of the world.... Dive rules are strict for this part of the world.... Expect year-round daily temperatures of roughly 85 degrees and abundant rainfall, which is distributed evenly from May through December....
For full reviews of the following Maldives live-aboards, see:
Keema, November 1997, Paul and Phyllis Becker, Santa Clara, CA. Third trip on Keema. Consistently great diving, (sharks, rays, turtles, morays, octopus, scorpionfish, spawning convict tangs, nudibranchs, giant clams and other mollusks, all the tropical fish, coral, sponges). Schedules kept, food tasty and plentiful. Divemasters Carl and Nazarro very good and helpful. Good dive briefings. Divers picked up wherever they surface, so free to explore! Three dives per day, a night dive now and then. Dive equipment kept on separate smaller boat, out of the way. . . . Depending on time of year, can be hot and humid. (No A/C on boat.) November not too bad, but March four years ago uncomfortable. Some trouble with cockroaches. Food healthy and plentiful in Continental and Asian style, but some people may want less fresh fish! Staff tries to please. . . . No junk food available. Bring your own in tupperware containers. Previously, no alcohol allowed on live-aboards, but laws may change. (Alcohol can t be brought into country, either.) Drift diving in strong currents and a lot of freedom may not be suitable for beginners. Vis: 60-100 ft. Water: 80 degrees. No dive restrictions enforced. (Ph: 011-44-1449-780220,
Madivaru 7, February 1998, Sunny Morrison, Littleton, CO. Great diving but strong currents/updrafts/downdrafts almost every dive. Not for the beginner! Madivaru 7 is a beautiful boat, but dive program somewhat disorganized. Embarkation was to be at 9 a.m., but boat not ready until noon. Even then rooms were not ready. Crew speaks no English so communication is difficult. Dive briefings were sketches, dive times changed from day to day, not set schedule. Meal times changed daily. Boat ran out of water three times during our 10-day trip! Menu is limited, a lot of fish, canned fruit/vegetables. No ice, no cold drinks except pop and bottled water for which there was extra change. Bring your own soap! Vis: 40-100 ft. Water: 82-84 degrees. Dive restrictions enforced: max 40 minutes, no depth limit. (Ph: 011-39-39-329338,
Fax: 011-39-39-328946, e-mail: email@example.com, Website: divetravel.net/seafari-adventures)
Madivaru VII, April, 1998, Herb Diff and Susie Kowtishaw, Phoenix, AZ. Long way to go but well worth it. Deep current diving yielded good photos of grey sharks, marble rays and Napoleon wrasses. Vis: 40-70 ft., water: 83-86. Food less than optimal but made up for by excellent trip, crew and accommodations.
Manthiri, December 1997, Ivan Seligman, Naples, FL. 10 days cruising the Maldivian atolls, 300 miles south of Southern India, 32 dives! 1200 jewel-like tropical islands, with only 200 or so inhabited. Seventy-four are strictly resort islands. . . . Beamy, air-conditioned 85 foot Manthiri had 9 passengers (12 possible) in six large cabins, and 11 crew (we were spoiled rotten!). Dived from a separate 35-foot dhoni, steel 90 cubic foot tanks, with 3 day dives and usually a night dive! Only improvement would be for the BCs and regulators to remain attached to our 90s, instead of having to have the crew pick up a fresh tank, and we'd then put on the equipment. Crew was gentle with our photo equipment; some people carrying 2 cameras on each dive, and shooting all 72 exposures! Water (82-85 F); lush gardens of soft corals, large schools of varied fish, seasonal manta rays, stingrays, turtles, oriental sweetlips, smaller reef sharks and occasional leopards. Scallops 14 inches in diameter, with blue eyes! Lionfish common, and can be gingerly picked up for better photos, while being careful of their 6 inch highly poisonous spines. Giant clams occasionally. Various curious morays, brown, leopard-like yellow, green abound! Macro heaven with nudibranchs, tiny shrimp and crabs on crinoids and gorgonian fans, banded pipefish, long nosed hawkfish posing, and numerous inverts not in the books! The 4-5 foot Napoleon wrasses came within inches of us seeking handouts of hard-boiled eggs! Numerous anemones-red, orange, turquoise, with short, long, bulbs tipped, tentacles were frequent, each with feisty clownfish (7- 10 different types of clowns!) Malik and Musa expertly guided us from atoll to atoll; calm seas, 50-90 foot visibility. For intermediate to experienced divers, as depths are 80-120+ feet, and currents can be fast! . . . Ambit express, a narrow channel whose mouth had various reef sharks, beautiful eagle rays, and large turtles, with fast incoming currents that whip you between two reefs at 6-7 knots, before slowing to one knot a mile away! At Fotheyo, we swam with a pod of 70 dolphins! Many dives were like drifting slowly through a lush aquarium! The best night dive was in 45 feet of water, just below the lights of the Fun City Resort. The water was turbid with plankton and krill that attracted a 10-foot and a 12-foot manta ray turning countless forward and backward somersaults with within 3 to 20 feet for an hour! We saw but one 10-foot hammerhead. Generally fish are tame, allowing photographers within 1-3 feet. Turtles numerous, and one 2.5-foot hawksbill turtle sat in my lap and looked eye-to-eye with me Other turtles gnawed contentedly on sponges, while we peered over their shoulders! One evening went to an atoll where we walked along the streets, and were serenaded by 6 native drummers playing the bodaberu drums, singing traditional fisherman-type songs, and 15 local men danced with the music (the women don't socialize with men). Food is plentiful, and tasty-beer is $3 a cold can! Ate fresh caught tuna; sashimi, curries, various Indian and Asian styles, etc. and had Wahoo several nights! Vegetables were fresh, and desserts were tropical fruits or incredible ice creams. No E-6 processing on board, as promised. Diving best January to April, good for mantas Aug-Nov, and worst May-July with the rainy season. (Ph: 011-960-325634 or 011-960-320323, Fax: 011-960-325633,
e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, Website: manthiri.com)
Manthiri, December 1997, Jim Parkhill, McAllen, TX. Nothing but superlatives for the Manthiri, its crew and the quality of diving in the Maldives! Spacious with comfortable cabins, lounge and deck. Dive from dhony that follows the live-aboard so the Manthiri is free of deck clutter and compressor noise. Crew of 12 spoil divers rotten. Dive gear thoroughly washed and packed at end of trip. Have rarely seen divemasters (Manik and Moosa) go to such efforts to meet divers' requests and make every dive a feature dive. Virtually no restrictions on profiles. Large tanks, full 60' bottom time. Itinerary: Atolls of North Male, South Male, Felichoo and Mulokh. 4 to 5 star dives: Mulokh Rock, MathiMuli, Kahambu Tila, Miyadu Kandu and Embudo Express (the 3 latter sites reminiscent of Palau's Blue Corner), night dive at Boda Finolhu of over an hour. Amount and variety of small reef fish is incredible and soft coral at some sites stunning. Common sightings: sharks, rays, garden eels, sweetlips, scorpion fish. Less common sightings: pipefish, sea horses, long nose hawkfish, stonefish, octopus. Great multi level diving. Current inside atolls. Expensive travel, but once there, an excellent value. Vis: 60-120 ft., water: 78-84 degrees.
Manthiri, March 1998, Jan Morin, Mammoth Lakes, CA. You need to be in good physical condition for the strong currents. Diving was electrifying! Squadrons of spotted eagle rays, 7 Napoleons swimming together, turtles every dive, thousands of fusiliers, multitudes of tropicals, eels. Trip of a lifetime and worth the expense and time to get there. Manik the dive master was prepared, safety conscious and enthusiastic. His dive plans and illustrations were very detailed. He was my buddy for the 10 days, since my buddy had a sinus infection and could not dive. Manthiri not exceptionally clean and it was difficult to get a cold drink because they had a small refrigerator mostly for food. Two Germans drank all the beer on board (8 cases)in 4 days. They refused to follow the no drinking during the dive day rules. They were reckless divers under the influence and could have caused an emergency.
Manthiri, April, 1998, Edward and Debra Suityl, Abu Dhabi, UAE. Great boat! Crew extremely helpful; no request too difficult, lots of hot water and fluffy towels after dives. Never waited in the water more than 5 minutes to be picked up; dive shuttle boat captain had a sixth sense, no small task considering the currents and different dive styles. Did laundry at no cost. Gear set up before each dive, wetsuits and regs rinsed. Compressors and gear kept on dive shuttle boat, usually 10-15 minutes to each site. Food good and complimentary wine with dinner. Individual a/c worked great. Bathrooms and showers in each room immaculate. Snacks OK between dives, bottled water. Written plan before every dive. Treated as adults and could dive own profile and on your own as long as you kept within time limits (say 50-60 minutes). Marine life fantastic! Schools and schools of fish, barracudas, sharks, eagle rays, manta rays, turtles, morays, whale shark! Reefs damaged from locals using coral for building materials, but under government protection (and subsidy of concrete blocks) are making a comeback. Vis: 50-100 feet, water: 85-88 degrees. Soft corals not on scale with Palau and vis not as good as PNG, but still very good. Bad: divemaster could be moody and didn't appreciate suggestions and questions on his routine or scheduling. Until arrival mid-week of new divers, he and his assistant worked on their own video, many times dropping immediately to 150+ and turning his dives into deco dives or getting back to the boat well in advance of the rest of us. . . . Male can be seen in 15 minutes if you take your time.
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