Have You Tried a Discover Scuba Dive in the Maldives?

I am sure if you are a SCUBA diver you will recall where and when you had your first underwater experience. It’s a magical moment of in-trepidation, discovery and wonder.  A moment that for many leads to new opportunities as well as new holiday destinations. The Maldives with year round warm waters and good visibility is perfect for your first SCUBA diving experience as our guide Maahee discovered recently.

 

“DSD or Discover Scuba Diving is as program from PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors), the world’s leading scuba diving training organization. A quick and easy introduction into what it takes to explore the underwater world. Although this is not a scuba certification course, you’ll learn all the steps it takes to be a PADI certified diver.” https://www.padi.com/courses/discover-scuba-diving

Sports Camera

When I first joined the team at Secret Paradise Maldives as a tour guide, one of the tours I found myself leading regularly for our guests were the morning or afternoon snorkeling tours.

I love taking guests into the crystal clear blue waters in the Indian Ocean and exploring the coral reefs. I always make extra time during my tours to take our guests to the edge of the coral reef to see the beautiful deep blue sea and reef wall that is known as the terrace.

We always see many different types of fish and colourful coral whilst snorkeling on top of the reef but I always wondered what it would be like to dive deep down to the bottom of the ocean, was it really so different than this? What more could I really see?

I have seen many of our guests join a scuba dive day trip but had never had any experience of scuba diving myself.  I always dreamed of one day making a dive and I was so happy when my boss, Ruth the founder of Secret Paradise Maldives suggested I tried a Discover Scuba Dive (DSD).

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I was lucky enough to join a trip to Maafushi with the Secret Paradise team in September 2018. Secret Paradise runs regular team training trips staying at our partnering guest houses so that we can all experience where our guests are may stay and be able to talk knowledgeably about a location. We combined the trip with an opportunity to do a DSD dive so that I could finally experience what some of my colleagues have been doing for years.

In the afternoon we all went to the Eco Dive Club, Maafushi for registration and when we reached there I went in to the dive center to request an enrolment for the DSD dive. The dive instructor gave me a form to read carefully and fill in and then he asked me” Is this your first time?”

I said YES! The registration was easier than I thought.

After I registered my dive instructor gave me theory instruction on how to use the equipment. There was information about:

  • How to use the regulator
  • How to breath
  • How to inflate the jacket
  • Remind me not to hold my breath
  • How to clear water from the mouth by sharply breathing out from the regulator or I can press the mouth piece rubber of the regulator
  • How to clear water from the face mask
  • Plus much more

I then was fitted for the right size jacket, face mask and fins. My dive instructor ensured me he would stay close by to help me descend into the water.

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We then went down to the jetty at Maafushi harbour where we were met by the boat crew and captain. The crew were really friendly and reassuring. The boat captain explained we would be traveling about 20 minutes to get to our dive location.  The dive location was called ‘Sexy reef’! It’s a house reef of a sand bank.

When we arrived we were told to get ready with our dive gear. I was assisted to put my equipment together, about how to adjust the oxygen tank to the buoyancy control device (BCD)so that I wouldn’t bang my head on the tank and how to inflate air into the BCD. Finally we checked the regulator to make sure it was properly working and we were ready to dive.

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Whilst the rest of the experienced team got in to the water, I held back with my dive instructor so he could guide me into the water to do a practical test in the lagoon in about 5 meters depth. When we had completed this successfully my guide asked me “Are you ready?” I strapped on my face mask and said “YES!”

As you can’t talk when diving, there is special sign language to use so divers can communicate at all times. Once we touched down on the seabed we practiced this, how to breathe, how to clear water from the mask and how to equalize the pressure. At this stage we were 5 metres deep and when I said I was ready to go my guide slowly took me down to 12 metres into the deep sea I had longed to visit for so long. He helped me inflate air in to the jacket and balance my body using extra weight hanging on a belt on my waist.

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I was thrilled and excited to see the colorful coral, amazing fish swimming in the ocean and huge caves! I felt confident enough to try swimming in one of the overhangs to explore more and we both went through and out the other side, it was an amazing experience. The reef terrace was very rich in life even more than I could have imagined. There were sea anemones, different types of clown fish, lionfish and Giant grouper and these were just some of the exciting marine life I saw.

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I was so busy enjoying this dive experience I almost forgot about my oxygen tank, until my dive instructor told me in sign language that it was running low and it was time to slowly ascend to the surface. We made a 3 minute safety stop during the accent to equalize the pressure and then in a short time we both came up to the surface.

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This is a life time achievement for me to try and I am so pleased Ruth provided me the opportunity to try such great experience!

I can personally recommend trying a Discover Scuba Dive if you are visiting the Maldives, it will really open up a whole new world for you.I can’t wait to get back in the water and explore more of my underwater paradise home!

For more details about dive holidays for beginner and experiences divers contact our sales team sales@secretparadise.mv

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Facebook Live Chat – Secret Paradise Interview with Go to the Maldives

Heidi from Go to the Maldives recently interviewed Ruth from Secret Paradise Maldives via Live Facebook chat. Heidi wants to dispel the myth about the Maldives being an expensive holiday destination, so she asked Ruth if she could run a live interview and ask her the pressing questions on everyone’s lips about visiting the Maldives.

 

 

Many people still consider the Maldives a holiday destination for a once in a life time trip or if they win the lotto. How has that now changed?

Indeed that still remains the perception for many. However, since local island tourism and guesthouses were introduced in 2011 the Maldives has become a far more affordable destination. There are now opportunities to island hop and discover history and culture as well as the beautiful beaches and amazing marine life that it is already known for.

Why was Secret Paradise introduced?

In a nutshell I was in the right place at the right time!  I had visited the Maldives on over 30 occasion after being introduced to the country by my dive buddy, Romney, who you will know from Boutique Beach! Following a stay of almost three months to complete a diving course I was provided the opportunity to start a travel agency with a local business man,  but being me I said let’s not do resorts let’s do something different!

Our tours are designed to allow guests to engage with local people and experience the best from a paradise that as we said a moment ago is generally known as a luxury resort destination. As well as at the time providing the platform to market and promote the newly formed guesthouse industry.

What kind of customers do you get?

We are fortunate to welcome guests from all over the world, of all ages and from all walks of life. We have even welcomed a celebrity or two! Guests may be travelling solo or with family or friends. They may be on a tight budget or have no restraints. However, the one thing they have in common is that they are looking for a memorable experience.

Many people tell me that if they are only paying $100 a night for bed and breakfast in the Maldives the accommodation must be terrible. What do you say to those people?

Accommodation certainly isn’t terrible and as local tourism has developed so has the range of guesthouses and hotels on offer. For under $50 a night you can generally expect a basic standard room with ensuite shower room, AC and access to Wifi. I believe the saying you get what you pay for is quite apt. Expect to pay between $90-$140 for an ocean view room with modern décor and facilities.  At the other end of the scale there are some fabulous boutique style properties where the level of service equals or surpasses that of some resorts.

My advice – Check out online reviews or for real peace of mind book with a company like us who audit their hotel and guesthouse partners on an annual basis.

What will people experience in the local islands?

Local islands certainly offer the opportunity to see the real Maldives and observe Maldivians go about their daily life. But like resorts every local island is slightly different and with a little bit of research or advice from Secret Paradise you can find one that meets your holiday needs be that surfing, diving, relaxing or discovery!

One thing every island though has in common is the warmth and hospitality of the locals who will take great delight in welcoming you to their island home.

What tips would you give someone visiting the Maldives for the first time?

Read the small print when making a booking or payment – is all local tax included GST, service charge and green tax for accommodation.

If you are booking independently understand the cost of transfers to the island you have selected. You may have got a real bargain for accommodation only to find you need to take a $400 domestic flight to reach your holiday home.

Don’t over pack, you need very little in the way of clothes and shoes! Sun screen, mozzie repellent and a rash guard if snorkelling are essential.

You offer tour guides on your trips, surely that is only for the wealthy how can I afford a private tour guide in the Maldives?

Certainly you don’t need to break the bank to have a tour guide, although expect to pay more for a tour including their services than if you were just to book accommodation online.

However, travelling with a local guide not only provides an opportunity to learn about the country and culture it allows you access to experiences or places that many tourists may not encounter. Plus it’s safe and convenient and ensures a hassle free holiday experience.

Where can people find more information about your trips and tours?

Take a look at our website www.secretparadise.mv. Plenty of information regarding our day tour sand multi days tours as well as travel advice. Follow the link to our blog which has loads more travel advice and information on what to expect when travelling in the Maldives.

We are hearing a lot in the news about plastic pollution what are the challenges the Maldives are facing with this?

Sadly, plastic pollution has become a key environmental issue in the Maldives as well as Worldwide. We see evidence of plastic bottles, straws, carrier bags and other plastic waste scattered on our islands and washed up regularly on our beautiful beaches and of course this waste has a negative impact on our environment, our marine life and the impression we give visitors.

The positive news is that local NGOs, island communities and environmental groups are working hard to deal with plastic issue with initiatives including beach clean ups, reduction of plastic bag use and environmental awareness campaigns.

But we also need effective policies to be implemented for meaningful long termchange.

Why did you introduce the #strawwar initiative?

There was so much international coverage regarding single use plastic that I felt Secret Paradise was in a position to influence and encourage our partners to lead a change in the Maldives.

We have had a terrific response from our partners as well as guests. Currently we are in the process of obtaining EPA approval which will hopefully assist us in taking #strawwar to the next level.

Surely banning single use straws is a small feat for such a large problem, wouldn’t it be better to ban plastic bottles?

In the ideal world yes and I would love to think that this could be achieved in the future, but unfortunately for the time being both locals and tourists have become reliant on bottled water as tap water is not promotedas being perfectly okay to drink.

This together with the fact that a new water bottling plant that will produce 10,000 plastic bottles every hour, is being opened makes single use plastic bottles a real challenge.

What are local business do to work with you on the strawwar?

It’s easy, contact Secret Paradise and pledge to stop using plastic straws!

How can tourists get involved?

Take a photos and tag @Secretparadisemaldives and use #strawwarmv when they refuse a straw or find a property or café who do not use plastic straws.

Kamey’s Top 5 Tips on Visiting the Indian Ocean in the Maldives

At Secret Paradise we hand pick only the best tour guides to give our guests the most authentic experience of the local islands in the Maldives. All our tour guides are given specialist training to ensure they have in-depth knowledge of the local islands and their people, to give you, our guests the best experience. However many of them already have extensive knowledge of the islands and surrounding ocean as they have grown up here. All our tour guides have areas they are especially passionate about. Here one of our guides gives you his top 5 tips when visiting the Indian Ocean in the Maldives.

Kamey

Meet Kamey who has been with us at Secret Paradise from the beginning. Kamey has been working as a tour guide in the Maldives for almost 8 years, where he started on the safari cruises and then moved to us. He has an innate love for the ocean, diving and snorkeling and we wanted to know a little more about why he is drawn to the big blue.

The ocean has been my backyard since I was born so it came as no surprise that it would become my office and place of work and has been for more than 10 years. I am so fortunate to work in my favorite place on earth – the ocean, where I get the opportunity to learn more about the wonders of this amazing place. I love meeting people on my tours and teaching them about the ocean, sharing my knowledge and life experiences of the sea.

  1. The Maldives Marine Wildlife Tour is particularly special as we come across the most amazing places for snorkelers. We choose places that will give you the most memorable experience and you don’t have to dive to encounter the amazing marine life that the Maldives has to offer. The best part about this tour for me is that the ocean is my home for the week; it’s an amazing adventure for everyone.

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2. I’m sure you have heard the expression ‘white sandy beaches’ when people are describing the beaches in the Maldives. But have you ever wondered why they are so beautifully bright or how they even came to appear on our small islands? Well first and foremost we need to thank Mr. Parrot fish for their hard work and generous kindness to their surroundings. Parrot fish are beautifully bright and colourful they live anywhere from 1 – 20 metres depth in the water, and are a common finding in the Maldives. Adult parrot fish are busy fish creating a ton of sand each year; it’s crazy to think that something so small can create such a massive amount of sand, Mother Nature truly is amazing. Some say having parrot fish close by is a sign of a healthy reef. But parrot fish aren’t the only hard workers in the ocean, Surgeon fish also help keep the reef clean and tidy by feeding on the algae that grows around the coral. It’s common to see herbivores(eating plants) fish that are common on the top reef and few carnivores(eating animal) fish that live among other and studies show more omnivores (eat plant and animal) are getting more on the slope of the reef.

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3. The Maldives is famous for its colorful underwater beauty. The pictures that people take under water have high exposed light and maybe a little touch of Photoshop magic. However before we had such complex technology in the earlier days their techniques were much simpler. They would physically filter the colors by brightening the colors of the coral with artificial light, that’s reality and we are thankful it doesn’t happen today. Coral carries photosynthesis cells that create these beautiful, bright colors, so they need proper sun light not above or below their suitable temperature. When the temperature is too high or too low the coral starts getting stressed and starts losing color. Sad but true. The good thing is some new generation of coral are resilient to its surrounding temperature and they have more adaptation and mutation methods although they are a little dull in color. There are so many colorful coral in the reef depending on the sun light and even though some light may not reach [parts of the reef the coral is still beautiful but fragile. It’s common to find dusty brown, dark brown, light faded green and dark green that looks almost black in the day time and it can be hard to tell its original color especially when at depth which changes the color.

4. If anybody asks, what the biggest fish in the world is, you can tell them it is the Rhincodontypus or we fondly know them as the whale shark, one of the most magnificent fish on earth. The largest confirmed size was 14.3m (47.2 ft.) weight of 22.8 t (20683.8 kg). The most amazing part is they eat the smallest living plant in the world. They eat a lot more then even I expected a massive 30,000 calories a day to service their large body. That’s a lot for the big guy. Lots of research is going on but we still have a million questions we want answered, like how they breed and how many times they deliver their eggs. It’s still a mystery. Funnily enough they are amazing deep divers. They can dive up to 2km and even deeper. They come up to surface to heat their body because the big guy doesn’t have much oil stored in its body so they need to recharge before deep dives. We are so lucky they do this because while they are filling up their tanks with warm temperature blood, that’s the time, we can swim with them. Isn’t this an amazing creature?

5. Next on my list are giant slow moving butterflies. What a breathtaking movement that’s gonna be – Manta rays. The way they move and communicate is amazing it’s unbelievable how a creature can do that. Their feeding patterns and how they move while they feed is orchestrated by so brilliantly that you can’t find a flow. From November to April a higher number of manta can be encountered from the Western side of Maldives. Unlike in May to October they change to be on the Eastern side of Maldives due to high presence of plankton in the area.

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Even now, the ocean still amazes and surprises me with its beauty. I never get used it, I’m always excited to be in the water you never know what next will surprise you, turtle sharks, mobiles’, moray ells,Gianttrevallies, I can go on with a long list. The ocean holds so many secrets and stories I been learning about them for long time. I’d love to tell you stories about our ocean and its great adventures so why not join me on your next adventure to the Maldives and #letusguideyou.

For more details about our trips and tours <<click here>> or contact our sales team direct sales@secretparadise.mv

Which Local Island to visit in the Maldives Part 1

Want to know why the local islands of the Maldives remain our best kept secret? This breathtaking destination is perfect for all types of travellers. Whether you’re a solo backpacker on a budget, an adventure-seeking couple, or a group of eco tourists, you’ll definitely find something that suits your needs. That’s the wonderful thing about the Maldives – it has so much to offer for everyone.

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White sandy beaches, sparkling tropical lagoons, tall palm trees. Sounds like the perfect getaway, doesn’t it? And here’s an added bonus – the rich and vibrant culture of this beautiful destination.

Our guiding team share their personal recommendations in order that you can find a local island to suit your needs.

Looking for a social vibe with plenty to do? Head to Maafushi Island

Many people dream of visiting the Maldives but simply cannot afford luxury resort prices. But here’s the good news – you can go on holiday in the Maldives on a budget.

Maafushi

Maafushi is an ideal destination for travellers on a budget. This was the first island in the Maldives to introduce guesthouses and promote local tourism. Enjoy a mix of beach relaxationon the island’s tourist bikini beach and ocean-based activities on this fun, lively island. Try exciting water sports like parasailing, Jet Ski or diving. Want to experience a more relaxed activity? Then join a dolphin cruise that everyone can enjoy. There are also plenty of restaurants and local cafes to choose from and even a small spa.

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With ease of accessibility to the international airport by ferry or speedboat the island of Maafushi is the busiest of all local islands and with over 50 guesthouses and hotels you will be sure to find plenty of like-minded tourists to make new friends as well as a hotel or guesthouse to suit your budget. Certainly in Maafushi you won’t run out of things to do on this budget-friendly island.

Zaff’sTOP TIP: For a quieter stay select a property located on the southern part of the island.

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Catch the Waves from Thulusdhoo Island

Located in the North Male Atoll Thulusdhoo is a popular destination for surfers. Spend your holiday in this surfers’ paradise and be captivated by the island’s relaxed vibe, white sandy beaches, turquoise lagoons and fantastic surf breaks.

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Both experienced and intermediate surfers will enjoy catching a wave since Thulusdhoo offers a variety of reef breaks of which Cokes can be accessed directly from the island, no need to get a boat! Not into surfing? Don’t worry, you can just kick back and relax on one of the day beds or hammocks scattered along the shoreline. Or Thulusdhoo offers a wide range of activities such as diving including free diving, snorkeling and kayaking to keep you active.

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The island has a long stretch of tourist beach with a small sand-spit allowing you to walk as far as the eyes can see in the sparkling crystal clear waters. The sandy beaches are the perfect spot for sunbathing and relaxing so whether you want to surf, enjoy the underwater world of the Maldives, or just chill, you’ll definitely have a blast on Thulusdhoo.

UB’s TOP TIP: Surfing solo or on a tight budget check out one of Thulusdhoo’s surf camps.

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Experience a great value Resort-Style Holiday on Hanimaadhoo

Hanimaadhoo Island is one the biggest islands in Maldives and is geographically located in the far north of the Maldives. This Maldivian paradise is quite a distance to Male approximately 300 km, so the only type of transfer available is a domestic flight. This island’s remoteness promotes pure nature, true solitude, and magnificent views. With lush vegetation, long beaches and a turquoise lagoon it opens the door for an adventure and genuine gateway from day to day life.

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Hannimaadhoo itself is a quiet village with lots of tree-shade and swings, fishing and agriculture is the main source of income. Take the opportunity to walk the plantations and discover a host of tropical fruits including coconut, bananas and papaya

On the west side of this island is a long white sandy beach and a lagoon with a stunning house reef, however, it does involves a good swim to reach but the abundance of marine life makes this worthwhile.On the eastern side it is possible to catch a few waves with the locals.

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At the Northern end of the island is a climate observatory. The data retrieved here is not only monitoring the weather but also climate changes in the region.

Whilst there are a few guesthouses available for the budget conscious, Hanimaadhoois home to The Barefoot Eco Hotel bridging the gap between guesthouses and luxury island resorts. The property is focused on sustainability and conservation soyou are sure to learn plenty about eco tourism and environmental initiatives during your visit.

Ruth’s TOP TIP: Take a day tour to the local island of Utheemu which is of great cultural and historical significance.

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Still not sure which island is for you? Contact the Secret Paradise team who will help you to select an island or even islands that are right for you and your holiday budget.

MALDIVES DIVING HOLIDAYS

Life beneath the surface in the Maldives is an underwater Disneyland, perfect for dive enthusiasts. The Maldives is renowned as one of the very best diving locations in the world. There’s not only an abundance of reef life here but also spectacular coloured coral and crystal clear water.

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WHY CHOOSE THE MALDIVES FOR YOUR DIVING HOLIDAY?

The Maldives ticks all of the boxes when it comes to diving holidays. This tropical location boasts visibility levels of up to 40 metres, making it a great destination for advanced divers. However diving in the Maldives is not just for the experienced. The shallow lagoons and channels make it the perfect location to try diving for the very first time. Plus what better destination in the world is there to gain your scuba-diving certifications?

The Maldives is also home to protected UNESCO Biosphere Reserves. The presence of currents in this island nation means that open water channels are perfect for drift diving and it’s also possible to swim with gentle ocean giants like manta rays and whale sharks. Don’t forget the Maldives has year round water temperatures of 26 – 29 degrees Celsius!

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THE BEST TIME OF YEAR FOR DIVING IN THE MALDIVES

Fortunately, the diving season in the Maldives is open all year round with the calmest conditions from December through to June. As the Maldives is located in the tropics, it is susceptible to both wet and dry seasons. June to November is the south-west monsoon season, bringing with it with overcast and wet conditions, especially in June and July. During these months expect slightly less visibility and different currents, although there is still plenty of marine life on offer, as well as sunny spells. Generally reef life is more varied and visibility is better on the western side of any atoll from May to November and on the eastern side from December to April. Reef sharks, hammerheads and whale sharks are found in the Maldives year round, along with manta rays and sea turtles, you just need to know where to head at the time of year you plan to dive!

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DIVING OPTIONS

There are a number of diving options when it comes to Maldives. Here at Secret Paradise, we offer value for money diving holidays and tours that you will remember for a lifetime. Enjoy an all-inclusive guesthouse stay and be transferred by boat to incredible nearby dive sites, the same sites that you would dive from a resort but at half the cost! Our diving holidays are an affordable alternative to a resort stay and also allow you the flexibility of island hopping or if your budget is larger, atoll hopping to benefit from the best dive locations during your time of travel.

Liveaboards are a popular dive holiday option, allowing you to scour the waters for the ultimate dive spot each day. These days most Liveaboards operate a year round schedule offering 7 night, 10 night and 14 night cruises not only in the central atolls but to the deep south and deep north offering opportunities to discover less dived sites and pristine coral.

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OUR SECRET PARADISE DIVING HOLIDAYS

 Here at Secret Paradise, we offer six diverse one island based diving packages, all in different atolls allowing you access to what are some of the best dive sites in the world. Our packages include Dharavandhoo, perfect if you want to encounter 100s of manta rays in Baa Atoll, Hulhumale if you need to stay close to the capital, Maafushi, South Male Atoll, Dhigurah home of the whaleshark in Ari Atoll, Rasdhoo, the ideal location to spot a hammerhead and Gan in Laamu atoll.

Our island hopping itineraries in Male Atoll and Ari Atoll allow you to discover a range of dive sites and marine life whilst at the same time experiencing Maldives local life, tradition and culture, with or without a private dive guide.

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DIVE TEAMS

All our partners are PADI affiliated dive centres and are operated by both local and European dive professionals. A personal interest is taken in promoting scuba diving in the Maldives, through education and awareness about the underwater environment here. Their objective is to encourage underwater conservation and safe diving practices.

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Dives are generally conducted from the beach within an island’s inner reef for beginners or from a local dive boat, a dhoni, for certified divers. Dive sites are chosen daily based on both the weather and current conditions as well as diver ability.

The teams will take you to the best dive spots and willingly introduce you to the characteristics of the underwater world of the Maldives. All offer boat dives, NITROX, night dives and a full range of PADI courses and will always ensure you get the best out of your dive. If you are learning to dive, you can do anything from completing a try dive or just the open water dive section of your PADI Open Water certification to completing the full PADI Open Water certification. Whatever you choose to do you can be assured of fun and safe diving with us and our partners.

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Secret Paradise Co-Founder, Ruth Franklin a diver herself with over 1500 dives in the Maldives is always happy to share her own diving experiences and is on hand for honest dive advice.

Explore our range of magical Diving Holidays in the Maldives today!

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Dive Local in the Maldives

When it comes to diving, the Maldives is in a class of its own, but the best dive spots do not have to cost a fortune. Secret Paradise has teamed up with local guesthouses and PADI dive centres to offer great diving at affordable prices.Staying at guesthouses on local islands allows you to dive the same sites for less, whilst experiencing the local life of the Maldives, adding a new dimension to your holiday.

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Island Divers Dive Base

Professional, experienced dive instructors lead the dive teams based at each local dive centre. They will take you to the best dive spots and introduce you to the characteristics of the underwater world of the Maldives. All dive centres offer boat dives, equipment hire and a full range of PADI courses. The teams will always ensure you get the best out of your dive. If you are learning to dive, you can do anything from completing the open water section of your PADI certification to completing the full PADI Open Water course. Whatever you choose to do you can be assured of fun and safe diving.

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Dive briefing with Maldives Passions

Diving in the Maldives is a unique experience for both experienced divers and beginners. Once you have discovered the underwater world here, it will be difficult to find others of its kind. The water is azure blue, warm, and the varieties of dive spots are stunning. You can enjoy drift dives, discover wrecks, caves, overhangs, and beautiful reefs. Renowned for the abundance of big aquatic animals including Whale Sharks and Manta Rays, together with the diversity of corals, sharks and fish of all sizes, the Maldives sets itself apart from other worldwide dive locations.

Dive sites in Maldives are broadly divided into ‘Thilas’ – an underwater pinnacle; ‘Kandus’ – a corridor or passage in the atoll between two reefs. The ’Kandu’ and the ‘Thila’ are commonly affected by strong currents, whilst the reefs  inside the lagoons are more protected areas. A ‘Faru’ is a reef partially exposed at low tide, whilst a ‘Falhu’ is a reef that encircles a lagoon. All diving is dependent on the prevailing weather and current conditions. You will however be in the hands of experts who will choose the most suitable dive site for the conditions and level of diver experience.

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Whale shark spotting on board Boutique Beach Dive Dhoni

Divers are transported to dive spots by a traditional local boat known as a dhoni. The dhoni is equipped with everything required for diving – tanks, weights, emergency equipment, life vests, First Aid & emergency oxygen. Between dives, there is the opportunity to relax on deck, snorkel or swim and sometimes dependent on location visit a local island.

Secret Paradise offers dive local packages in 6 atolls providing a wide range of both dive experiences and local island life.

The presence of deep, clear waters all around North Male Atoll means excellent visibility, especially with incoming currents. Pelagics such as barracuda, trevally and tuna and big schools of fusilier, snapper and sharks all congregate at the entrance to the channels. Most of the diving in North Male Atoll is in channels and drift diving is the most common method. Popular dive sites include HP Reef, Okobe Thila, Nassimo Thila, Lankan Caves, Maagiri Caves, Banana Reef and Maldives Victory.

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South Male Atoll offers many dive sites with spectacular drop offs and caves along both sides of the channel that separates North Male and South Male Atoll, as well as a further 18 channels located along the eastern and western sides of the atoll. Predictably currents at the channel entrances attract barracudas, grey reef sharks, white tip sharks, groupers, jacks, trevally, napoleon wrasse and eagle rays.  Popular dive sites include the protected marine area of Embudhoo Kandu, Embudhoo Express, Kandooma Thila, Guraidhoo Corner, Kandooma Caves.

Stunning coral formations, incredible colours and a huge variety of fish life have made Ari Atoll one of the top diving destinations around the world. Add into the mix regular Manta Ray and Whale Shark sightings, and it’s clear why people keep coming back for more. From January till end of March visits to manta dive sites are made several times a week and in April, May and then again September through to November there is a good chance of seeing whale sharks in the area. In fact currently whale shark sightings are common almost all year round. Popular dive sites include Broken Rock, Protected Marine Area Kudarah Thila, Panettone and Angaga Thila.

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Baa Atoll  is blessed with a varied selection of diving sites: thilas, channels and coral reefs. The tranquil atmosphere, warm crystal clear water, rich coral gardens and colorful reef fishes make the atoll one of the top diving choices in Maldives. Maaddoo Giri, Dhonfan thila, Horubadhoo thila and Baiypolhi Mas are some of the diving sites with flourishing aquatic life. Among all these sites, Baiypolhi Mas is the most exciting and challenging dive spot with several batfish, here you can also spot sharks throughout the year. The famous Hanifaru Bay, a unesco protected zone, regularly sees some of the largest gatherings of Manta rays worldwide with up to one hundred individuals in the small inlet when the tide pushes plankton into the bay usually between July – September.

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Laamu Atoll is an untouched paradise for snorkelers and divers. With relatively few channels, great visibility, beautiful hard coral formations and weak currents, this area is perfect for photographers and inexperienced divers. Inner reefs are home to both small macro and larger animals such as turtles. The channels to the north provide adrenalin-charged current diving for the more experienced and are packed with fish, sharks and eagle rays while on the outer reef; you may encounter mantas and whale sharks.

As with Laamu in Haa Alif in the deep north you are unlikely to see many other divers or boat traffic. Because of this the marine life seems to revel in the minimal interference from humans with flourishing coral growth. Fish life thrives in the nutrient-rich waters bringing in the reef predators: white and black tip reef sharks and large numbers of manta rays. The area offers drift dives, cave diving and even the Maadhoo wreck. Wall dives are among some of the best you will find and clear waters make for great visibility.

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Diving is good all year-round, although a basic rule is that reef life is more varied and visibility is better on the western side of any atoll from May to November and on the eastern side from December to April.
Dive Local packages are suitable for families, groups, couples or just diving buddies. Itineraries  can be customised to suit your needs and length of stay and can even be combined with a more traditional resort or liveaboard stay.

Look But Don’t Touch

As a Responsibletravel.com member and with a team who have a passion for our marine environment, we get angry  and upset when we see images taken in the Maldives where marine life is being held, poked and prodded for no other reason than to create a ‘selfie’. We do not condone this irresponsible behaviour and we hope that by educating our guests on how to snorkel and dive responsibly good behaviour will breed good behaviour.

There are many reasons as to why divers and snorkelers should only LOOK BUT DON’T TOUCH. In the case of this turtle it would not know what a scuba diver is and probably assumed it was a shark attempting to eat it. The turtle would be doing everything possible to escape and hide. Turtles breathe air, they swim to the surface of the ocean to breathe and use a breath-hold technique to eat and also to escape from danger. Holding a turtle that has been underwater holding it’s breath is highly likely to give it a heart attack and it’s chances of drowning are increased.

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The preferred method of defense for most marine life being touched or attacked is to swim away, however, if an aggressor is persistent marine life will retaliate. Some will bite, some will sting and some will segrate a poison. Hence the easy phrase to remember LOOK BUT DON’T TOUCH.

Contrary to popular belief, marine life doesn’t go about looking for swimmers, surfers, snorkelers and divers to attack. Generally theses creatures are looking for food and if they do bite it’s because it has either mistaken you for a tasty meal or you have put your finger or hand somewhere it shouldn’t be, most probably in the entrance to it’s home!

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Without defense mechanisms marine life would end up being dinner for a larger marine creature. It is not always apparent what the defense mechanism may be and that is another reason why you should LOOK BUT DON’T TOUCH.

Sea Urchins have spines which are pretty obvious but there are many fish who have them too. Most spines are found on a fish’s fins where they are erected when necessary. They are sharp, hard and will not be nice to hold and could potentially bring your underwater encounter to a painful end.

Not only do the Stonefish and Scorpionfish possess poison loaded fin spines which can result in fatal injuries on anything attempting to touch or eat them, they are also the masters of disguise keeping themselves well camouflaged within their environment.

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A further reason to LOOK BUT DO DON’T TOUCH is that by touching coral and marine life it is very likely that YOU will pass on germs and bacteria. At the very least you will remove the anti bacterial mucous skin cover that fights infections, keeps out parasites and keeps marine life fit and healthy. What may seem like a small insignificant action can ultimately result in the suffering of a creature and ultimately death as it’s system is weakened by disease.

LOOK BUT DON’T TOUCH applies regardless of the size of creature, even if marine life appears inquisitive. For example in the Maldives manta rays may approach seemingly enjoying the tactile stimulation provided by human contact as well as the bubbles from divers breathing apparatus. Touching a manta ray, even if they present their bellies for a rub, will remove some of the mucus described above. Our advice, keep low to the reef or as a snorkeler remain on the surface and just watch these beautiful creatures as they perform a graceful underwater ballet.

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It’s not just the marine life that has fins and tails where the LOOK BUT DON’T TOUCH rule applies. Coral is actually a fragile living animal and when you touch it with your fins or hands you kill it. Not only can you break it or crush it, you can poison it. The results of touching may not appear for weeks to months but are evident for years and years to come.

If you are planning a trip to the Maldives make the commitment to observe responsible snorkeling and diving practises http://www.projectaware.org/zh-hant/project/10Tips

LOOK BUT DON’T TOUCH, ask for photos that include marine life without touching. If you work in the Maldives avoid feeding, touching, or handling marine life. You may think guests will be impressed by you handling a sea creature but they will admire you more if you show our marine life and environment the respect it deserves.

Still not convinced about the LOOK BUT DON’T TOUCH approach? Well how about one of the team drop by your home uninvited, maul and grope you, stress you out and then drop you far from home??

When you travel on a Secret Paradise snorkeling or diving tour our guides will always act responsibly, offer advice and guidance and ensure that your experience is one to remember for the right reasons.