Thursday, June 08, 2006

Maldives Part 3: Diving


Once we decided on the Maldives as a holiday destination, I thought it would be good to try and complete my scuba diver certification while on holiday. A few enquiries showed that I could complete my written theory tests in Singapore, and so I started my dive lessons at Kurumba from the first day.

The picture above (courtesy of Google Earth) maps out an overview of the dive sites I went to. The resort is in the middle, with Euro Divers (the company I dove with) marked out.

Southwest of Kurumba is Gundolhi, where we saw two sea turtles - one who swam away from us twice (we caught up with him: he must have thought we were stalking him or something) and one resting under a little overhang, who gazed at us with haughtily from the corner of his eye. You could almost imagine him sending thoughtwaves at us: "Go away. Go away."

Just northeast of Kurumba is Banana Reef, which was our last dive yesterday. We stepped off the boat into what I thought was black water, or a black bottom: it was a school of fish so dense that they obscured everything. At the end of the dive, we ascended through another school of fish: when they swam over us, they blotted out the sun and made us all look up and wonder what happened. While we made our 3 minute safety stop, the fish slowly got used to us and swam a bit closer, at points almost wrapping around us, like a living curtain

Coral Gardens was a lovely site for (you guessed it) corals. This was our first dive with Nitrox, which felt no different to me from normal air (but I don't exactly have a wide base of experience). K and I both took the Enriched Air Diver course at Euro Divers so we had to make two dives with Enriched Air to qualify. Close by are the Maagiri Caves - deep overhangs really, but packed full with schools of small fish, so it looked like they were spilling out like smoke. Maagiri Thila had a "family" of Lionfish, which I kept my distance from, amazingly beautiful as they were. At Back Faru, we saw 3 sea turtles, and a white-tipped reef shark lying on the bottom. I'm not even mentioning moray eels, because they were so thick on the ground at all sites that we stopped counting.

Post-script: We had our last dive yesterday, to allow for a 24 hour gap between our last dive and the flight. We almost went to Manta Point instead of Banana Reef, but didn't: the dive group that went out this afternoon did go to Manta Point in the end, and saw Manta Rays! Sigh.

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