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

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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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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

Help support Maldives local conservation projects

Secret Paradise Maldives has joined forces with NGO Save the Beach to promote local conservation projects and responsible tourism.

We are delighted to share that Secret Paradise Maldives has partnered Villingili based NGO Save the Beach in order to support local conservation projects within the capital area of the Maldives.

Secret Paradise have added two daily tours to their excursion offer both of which provide an insight into the conservation challenges that face an island during development. A presentation shows how Villimale’ has transformed from an island with a rich biodiversity on land and in the sea, to one that is struggling to maintain its natural ecosystems.  Guests as well as spending time with Save the Beach and the local community also have the opportunity to witness these impacts first hand by snorkeling or diving with the local conservationists on their coral nursery maintenance trips.

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Coral Nursery

Secret Paradise specializes in cultural & adventurous, private and small group Local Island daily and multi day tours. Accompanied by experienced local guides they combine activities and relaxation with culture and tradition offering travelers the Maldives experience of a lifetime.

Ruth Franklin, Co-Founder and Sales Director comments ‘we are delighted that our team and our guests can become actively involved in local conservation efforts. It is a great way to give back to the community in which we live and operate. As a business we are committed to following social and environmental best practices ensuring that there is limited or no negative impact on the community or the environment within which we operate’’

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Learning about conservation over afternoon tea

Save the Beach started in 2008 as a youth movement in Vilingili to conserve the beaches on this particular local capital island. Save the Beach aims to conserve and maintain the beaches and reefs of Villingili. Since natural processes of environmental growth take time, their Conservation and Beautification Project is proposed for a period of ten years.

Hassan Ahmed, President of the group comments ‘Thanks to Secret Paradise Maldives we’re able to share our messages with visitors to our country on how they too can be responsible during their stay’

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Supporting responsible tourism

Both excursions are offered daily. Guests are met at their guesthouse or hotel in Male Hulhumale or Villingili and are accompanied by a Secret Paradise representative to meet with the Save the Beach team.

Enjoy a tour of the island of Villingili and observe local island life as well as sharing traditional Maldives afternoon tea ‘hedika’ at a local tea shop with the Save the Beach reef conservation group

Contact sales@secretparadise for more information or bookings.

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Exploring Villingili

 

 

 

 

 

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.