After only two weeks home in Far North Queensland, I was off, back on the road again. This time I headed for the middle of the Indian Ocean to Malé, the capital of the Maldives. This city is no more than a few square miles and looks like a mini New York from the sky with skyscrapers seemingly popping up from the ocean.
I have been lucky enough to travel to many new places and have seen a lot of amazing things, but this arrival was definitely up there with the most bizarre! Crossing thousands of miles of ocean only to arrive in this bustling city in the middle of nowhere really emphasises how strange we humans are to mother earth.
Before heading out to the liveaboard I had a few days at one of the local resorts and so, on my arrival to Malé, was greeted by my transfer, a boat. That was a first and just shows how close the ocean is to everything here! After a few days rest, it was time to jump back on a boat and start the liveaboard that would take me around the upper chain of islands looking for mantas, whale sharks and every other incredible thing that lives there.
Our very first dive took us to Lankanfinolhu Island and to Lankan Manta Point, where, as you have probably guessed, is a great place to spot manta rays. This cleaning station for giants lived up to its reputation and I was lucky enough to see six mantees cruising around a huge mountain of coral, all taking turns to get cleaned. Next on the list was a trip to Alimatha Jetty to visit the huge nurse sharks that could be seen resting on the bottom and huge schools of yellow snapper. The day after was set for drift diving so we dropped to 34m, hooked onto the reef and just watched the sharks cruise by, totally unaffected by the currents.
The nights were no less exciting. On the first night, a group of giant nurse sharks came to visit and stayed with us for hours. The second night saw whale sharks coming in to feed, drawn by the lights of our boat and stayed all night. The third night we were visited by four manta rays and as the boat was only in 8m deep water that night, we jumped in to watch them from below. Sitting on the sandy bottom in the dark and watching these giants soar over me was a highlight of the trip, one got so close that it almost touched my head.
One of the last dives was also one of the most spectacular. Rasdhoo Madivaru is a shallow site so we dropped to around 10m and hooked in once more. For a magical 70mins, it was like being in a nature documentary with a multitude of sharks swimming through the corals.
All in all, after 17 dives, I had seen more beautiful soft corals than I could count, swum with the biggest nurse sharks I have ever experienced, soared with manta rays and drifted through stunning reefs. And this is just the beginning of the Maldives, I will be back to explore the southern islands and reefs as there is still so much I have yet to see.
Happy Christmas everyone, stay safe and have fun diving. Watch out for more in the New Year.