Through the years, the dispersed island country of Maldives has belonged in the bucketlist of every traveler, gained the hearts of newly weds, and became every water enthusiast’s dream destination for a great number of reasons. 🇲🇻✨
I can vividly remember the first time I saw photos of Maldives’ famous water villages, underwater restaurants, crystalline waters, and enticing sea creatures that would dance with its guests on the internet. I thought to myself, “One day, this is where I’m going to spend my honeymoon.” 👰🏼 💍
Fast forward to one crazy 2017 weekend, I found myself booking a roundtrip ticket to Malé 5 days prior to the trip. My head was abuzz. All I could think of was, “I’m going to liveaboard the Indian Ocean with my fellow divers (and I’m not on a honeymoon)!”
SCUBA STUDIO & SCUBA DIVING ⚓️
Scuba Studio is a one-stop dive shop in Manila specializing in underwater photography/ videography, and scuba diving equipment and training. They organized an 8-day liveaboard dive trip to the Maldives, taking the central route with 18 dives and free nitrox.
Diving has become a safe haven; a saving grace during all my turmoils and confusing phases. It gives me peace and enables me to meet more people who inspire me to be the best version of myself. The first time I’ve heard of the trip, I knew I had to come. How could you miss out on this once in a lifetime adventure?
MV MALDIVES PRINCESS 🛥
It was my first liveaboard trip, but I knew the first time I saw the boat that it’s going to be promising. There it was, all lit up on a Saturday night, beckoning us to take our first steps. I remember being tired upon arrival but the sight of the boat gave me energy to shoot before I rested. I couldn’t help it, she was beautiful. ✨
The MV Maldives Princess has 9 state cabins and 2 ocean view suite, on-board chef, butler, and PADI dive instructors. Their sundeck even has a freshwater jacuzzi and inflatable slide straight to the ocean!
On another story, I remember going up the top deck the same evening Coldplay was playing in the Philippines. I couldn’t sleep; I needed to clear my head. I listened to their songs all night, transported myself to thoughts I’ve banned for weeks, and allowed my heart to break and mend while watching the stars and clouds dance.
As we were in a muslim country, the kitchen didn’t serve pork. Fine with me; the contemporary flavors of the Maldives, fusion of the east and the west, delighted us the entire trip. The on-board chef surpassed all expectations! 😋 There’s breakfast, lunch, and dinner buffet, as well as a generous supply of snacks and drinks that I looked forward to for 8 amaaazing days. Needless to say, we were all taken cared of. 👌🏼
I looked forward to sunsets in Maldives every afternoon. They were daily reminders that a great day was about to come to its close, thus we immerse ourselves with a replay of what good and bad transpired. And as the sun playfully faded into the horizon, we filled ourselves with anticipation to the night dive that awaits, ready for more surprises from the world we’ve come to love. 🌅
DIVING CENTRAL MALDIVES ⚓️
Truly, they weren’t kidding when they said that it’s going to be an eat-sleep-dive (repeat) retreat! We were woken up every day by the chimes of their bells (and/or knocks on our doors if we were stubborn, which was often hehe). The chimes could also mean food’s already served or we’re being called for a dive briefing.
Our package included 2-3 dives per day, and these were the dive spots we explored when we took the central route:
- Maaya Thila
It was my first time seeing black-tip sharks up close. It was a night dive and I was only a meter away from them. My whole body seemed to have frozen from wonder, and I had to convince myself that these creatures, who are feared by most men, were swimming with me, posing for the camera. 🦈
- Bathalaa Kan Thila
- Maaya Lagoon
On this unforgettable night, we dived with manta rays while they’re feeding on planktons. I’ve never knelt that long in my life! My legs were numb and the cold water was seeping into my suit but I didn’t mind. I laughed and shouted for a solid hour, never once turning off my camera. The giant manta rays were playing with us! It’s one of those nights where you’d feel so small and unremarkable; I questioned how deserving I was of swimming with these majestic creatures.
Whale shark search!
- Kuda Rah Thila
- Miyaru Kandu Vaavu Atoll
Another favorite is this channel dive. I jumped late and the current was really strong; my buddy and I couldn’t find the group! When one of the dive masters found us, we were given a treat of watching hundreds of sharks crossing a channel, as well as eagle rays who effortlessly captivated our attention. It was my most memorable and humbling dive.
- Alimatha Vaavu Atoll
First time to see stingrays and nurse sharks in action! They were all nudging us, seemingly entertained with us as much as we were upon seeing them. We shouldn’t touch them, but what could we do? They were the ones gliding their bodies on us (not complaining)!
- Fish Tank, Hulhumale
I have never seen so much wonderful creatures in a single spot. There were school of stingrays gracefully swooping, countless moorish idols, and the most colourful fishes that capped off the trip and gave us the most astonishing finale dive.
Everytime we resurface, there’s always someone who’d shout, “Every dive is a good dive!” making me grin and look into the ocean with overflowing gratitude. There are no words to explain how amazing it is to feel at one with the underwater world and be intimate with creatures I’ve only seen in books, photos, and videos. Surreal.
- Thulusdhoo Island 🏖
We stayed at Seasons Resort and got a tour of the island for only $5 with the funniest (rapping!) Maldivian tour guides. They also have sandbars and surf spots in the island. Due to time constraints, I wasn’t able to surf. For those interested, it costs $75 per hour. Imagine riding waves on Maldives’ crystal blue waters. Not gonna miss out on this the next time!
- Rahdhigaa Island 🏖
It was one of my favorite nights, surrounded by tourists from different parts of the world, all enjoying the silent evening, the clear skies that showcased the twinkling stars, and the sumptuous seafood prepared by our respective chefs.
EXPENSES (excluding pocket money for Kuala Lumpur and Malé):
- $2,200 liveaboard dive trip package inclusive of accommodation, dives, nitrox, and food
- Php34,000 roundtrip airfare Manila – Kuala Lumpur – Male and vice versa via AirAsia with 20-kilo baggage. Some of us took Singapore Airlines. I suggest booking early/catching promo fares usually amounting to Php10-15,000
- Php1,620 airport travel tax
- $40 green tax
- $70-100 tip to the boatmen
- $21 optional sim card in Maldives with 5G data
CAMERAS USED IN THE VIDEO
- Canon G5x
- DJI Phantom 3 Advanced
- Canon 1Dx mk II (underwater)
- Go Pro Hero 4 (underwater)
My former honeymoon, now dream wedding destination (uh oh), became a timely retreat that exceeded all expectations. The Maldives has earned its reputation; it was lovely beyond words, truly a paradise, and I am thankful to have witnessed its pristine ocean and interact with its warm locals.
This definitely won’t be our last time, Maldives. Until our next dives!