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Manta rays in the Maldives


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#1 anthp

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Posted 12 November 2007 - 08:00 PM

Thank you to all of you who have provided extremely valuable help to my Honeymoon thread. :guiness:

We have probably narrowed down the choices to the Maldives, Fiji, Vanuatu and possibly the Phillipines. :(

I've started this thread to ask for some more specific Maldives advice.

Serge, who is fortunate enough to live in the Maldives, has suggested that manta encournters in January/February are most likely on the western side of islands, particularly off Ari Atoll.

He wisely nominated the following atolls as good locations: madoogali, meerofenfushi, athuruga, Moofushi, Thundufushi, Mirihi, Hilton, Angaga, Nika. Only trouble is, I can't find resorts on some of these islands, and others are just beyond budget.

I realise accomodation in the Maldives isn't cheap, particularly if you are after water villas like we are. But I've searched for resorts with a westerly aspect and I think I've narrowed it down to some islands we might be able to afford - at least for a week. They also seem to be at least close to those Serge nominated as good for mantas and diving at that time of year.

I would appreciate comments from folks who have visited any of the following locations, especially if you went in Jan/Feb. I've broken them into two groups. First group could be good, but I can't find enough reports from divers who have been there. Group 2, I'm pretty sure are in a good location, but either we can't afford them or they don't look nearly as nice as the others in Group 1 for the same amount of money.

Group 1: could be good?
  • Filitheyo - on North Nilandhoo. Can't find a website, but it looks pretty nice.
  • Komandoo - water villas look superb. But perhaps too far east for mantas?
  • Kuramathi Cottage - water villas look nice, but again - may not be in the best location?
  • Velidhu - near Nika which Serge nominated but on the east of the atoll.

Group 2: Good location, but either don't look that nice or too $$$.
  • Angaga - water villas don't really look like they are worth the money, but it appears to be ain a good manta location.
  • Kuredu - water villas look a bit drab on the website.
  • Kandholudoo - looks like it has a superb house reef, but I can't find anywhere to book it for less than $900 per night.
  • Hilton - could only really afford 3-4 nights here and not in a water villa. Might not be worth it flying all the way from Aus :blush:
  • Mirihi - bit like the Hilton - probably can't afford this. :)
If you've stayed in either Angaga or Kuredu as well as perhaps some of the others on my list and can provide a comparison, I'd be delighted to hear that they are nice too. Just remember that my fiance has an eye for beauty and I'd really like to make this special being a honeymoon and all. ;)

I've attached some basic maps I found in case people need a reminder of locations. The north_ari.gif shows Velidhu and Kuramathi. The komandoo.gif shows Komandoo and Kuredu on Lhaviyani atoll which is north east of Ari.

If I had to pick without any assistance - I'd probably go for Kuramathi Cottage and Spa Resort. It also sounds like it fits one of our other peculiarities - good vegetarian food! ;)

OK - let it rip folks!

Thanks.



I should also say to those of you who replied to the honeymoon thread that the list has certainly been voraciously devoured by Michaela who is busy making plans for future years based on all the wonderful suggestions we received.

Thanks to all of you we won't be without ideas for great romantic getaways for some time to come!! :guiness:

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  • north_ari.gif
  • komandoo_map.gif

Anthony Plummer
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#2 pakman

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Posted 12 November 2007 - 08:19 PM

Anthony,

try this site to get an idea of which resorts are on which atoll...

http://www.vermillio...com/resorts.htm

Edited by pakman, 12 November 2007 - 08:21 PM.

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#3 Scuba_SI

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Posted 12 November 2007 - 09:30 PM

From memory Kuredu has 3 different restaurants, so there will be lots of variety of food for you, but in two of the restaurants it's a bit basic, buffet and Pizza. It's a big island, Tennis courts, 8 hole golf course, football pitch so there is lots to do and lots of space.

The above water bungalows are the only ones that will afford you decent privacy though as everyone walks along the front of the beach side ones when going for food (or at least they did 6 years ago).

It's a nice place but for your honeymoon but i'd go to a smaller island, maybe Komandoo? It's dive center is partnered with kuredu so should be top notch, plus they used to offer a free trip to kuredu once a week if you're getting bored and feel like an evening 'out'. www.prodivers.com for their website

A note to be aware of though, as diving is so important to you maybe check with the divecenters for who will allow you to go off on your 'own' on the house reef. Also some islands in the Maldives have a distinct nationality for their clientèle, i know Kuredu is one of the few that usually has a mix.

Some of the Diveshops may also insist you follow in a line with 'German efficiency' from start to finish, on the boat at 45mins 00 seconds. Which is great from a safety aspect, but not my thing. Worth looking into as the diveshop 'next door' might be 100 miles away.

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#4 anthp

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Posted 12 November 2007 - 09:52 PM

Thanks for the tips Simon. I was thinking Komandoo, but wondering whether it might be too far east for mantas?
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#5 Scuba_SI

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Posted 12 November 2007 - 09:59 PM

I think they have an archive of their online diary/blog - maybe check back a year on there.

They get mantas up there, and lots of them... Check their newsletters for seasonality: http://www.prodivers.../newsletter.htm

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#6 pakman

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Posted 13 November 2007 - 12:28 AM

Anthony, here's a pretty extensive map of the Maldives with markers for most of the resorts to give you an idea where everything is...

http://www.mal-dives...ls/res_map.html

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#7 serge

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Posted 13 November 2007 - 12:52 AM

i think you should also write some emails to the diveshops there ... velidu for exemple is not really on the west, but quite in the middle and on the tip of the atoll ... so not toooo far to the west ...

so just ask the centers, how regularly they go to the spots, you wanna see. i think velidu is not too bad. neither is kandholudu ... my sister wanted to come here in summer and had a offer for 2200 euro for two weeks ... ok, that was low season ... but still ... 900 a night sounds quite expensive ... thats almost like here in W Retreat ... i think you can get it cheaper.

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#8 Lasse

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Posted 13 November 2007 - 08:56 AM

http://www.aaaresort...eyo/default.htm

#9 pakman

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Posted 14 November 2007 - 08:52 AM

Question to Serge and others familiar with diving in Maldives (sorry for the slight hijack Anthony)...

What are chances of seeing Mantas on the west side of Male Atoll in late Dec? Good chance I will be in the Banyan Tree resort this holiday season as my travel agent dropped the ball and couldn't find rooms on the Ari resorts and so I'm left with mainly resorts on Male Atoll that have reasonable package deals that won't break the bank (the few that have any vacancy left for xmas week that is).

Edited by pakman, 14 November 2007 - 08:53 AM.

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#10 anthp

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Posted 14 November 2007 - 01:41 PM

Thanks again for all the replies folks and no probs about the supplementary question pakman :wacko:

You've all been incredibly helpful.

Will let you know how we go with bookings etc.
Anthony Plummer
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#11 serge

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Posted 14 November 2007 - 11:31 PM

west of north male has manta as well. in the boduhithi region there is a mantapoint in just 3 meters depth with lots of rays ... they do also snorkeling and discover dives there ... i dove it already ... not bad. also i saw them in december on boduhithi thila ... thats about 45 mins to 1 hour from banyan tree by dhoni and even faster by speedboat ... so should be alright pakman ...

have fun there.

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#12 PRC

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Posted 15 November 2007 - 12:45 AM

Hi Anthony,

I was in Filitheyo December last year.

From a picture taking point of view I was not inspired, just looked and none of the pics made it onto my website - go figure. A lot of the sites that we were taken to had suffered badly and the coral was bleached.

Some of the dives were in the channels and the current was awesome - too much to try taking pictures in. Having said that these venues were pretty clearly signposted as being a bit tough - it did sort out the experienced divers from the rest.

The resort is good, the food excellent, staff are also great.

From a photography point of view I had a few issues with the dive operation - it was very German and I got slapped a couple of times for various offences.

My partner does not dive so that meant that I got 'lucky dip' and had to buddy with some poor other sod who had little interest in what I was doing. A couple of my fine new buddies seemed to be able to consume a 12L tank in 15 minutes - I got beat up again after escorting them to the surface and returning to finish my dive.

To be honest this is similar to all of the land based Maldives trips that I have taken - have you considered a week on a livaboard and a week on land with no or minimal diving?

By the way - dont believe when a tour operator tells you there is 'no space' at these resorts - contact the resort directly and you will often get a different story, and price.

Good luck - enjoy...

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#13 diggy

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Posted 15 November 2007 - 03:28 AM

Hi,

Just returned last week from the Maldives. Stayed at Bandos which is just 20 minutes by boat from the Airport. From the resort there are at least 3 dive sites where you regularly encounter Mantas. Lankan reef whcich is just 20 minutes by dive boat is a Manta Cleaning Station. Starting at 12 mtrs it goes down to 20-25 mtrs. Currents are variable here but of the 3 dives only one had really strong currents and on this dive there was just one sole tiny Manta. On both the other dives there were over 10 Mantas. It seems they can be here even as late as January/February.
They have only two water Villas on Bandos. And for the price i am sure you could get better Villas. But i had a look at one of them and it was not bad. Two toilets. Nice Shower. Sun Deck. Large 42" flat television etc. etc.

Check out these pics.

Hope this was of some help.

Cheers ,
Diggy

Thank you to all of you who have provided extremely valuable help to my Honeymoon thread. :)

We have probably narrowed down the choices to the Maldives, Fiji, Vanuatu and possibly the Phillipines. :)

I've started this thread to ask for some more specific Maldives advice.

Serge, who is fortunate enough to live in the Maldives, has suggested that manta encournters in January/February are most likely on the western side of islands, particularly off Ari Atoll.

He wisely nominated the following atolls as good locations: madoogali, meerofenfushi, athuruga, Moofushi, Thundufushi, Mirihi, Hilton, Angaga, Nika. Only trouble is, I can't find resorts on some of these islands, and others are just beyond budget.

I realise accomodation in the Maldives isn't cheap, particularly if you are after water villas like we are. But I've searched for resorts with a westerly aspect and I think I've narrowed it down to some islands we might be able to afford - at least for a week. They also seem to be at least close to those Serge nominated as good for mantas and diving at that time of year.

I would appreciate comments from folks who have visited any of the following locations, especially if you went in Jan/Feb. I've broken them into two groups. First group could be good, but I can't find enough reports from divers who have been there. Group 2, I'm pretty sure are in a good location, but either we can't afford them or they don't look nearly as nice as the others in Group 1 for the same amount of money.

Group 1: could be good?

  • Filitheyo - on North Nilandhoo. Can't find a website, but it looks pretty nice.
  • Komandoo - water villas look superb. But perhaps too far east for mantas?
  • Kuramathi Cottage - water villas look nice, but again - may not be in the best location?
  • Velidhu - near Nika which Serge nominated but on the east of the atoll.
Group 2: Good location, but either don't look that nice or too $$$.
  • Angaga - water villas don't really look like they are worth the money, but it appears to be ain a good manta location.
  • Kuredu - water villas look a bit drab on the website.
  • Kandholudoo - looks like it has a superb house reef, but I can't find anywhere to book it for less than $900 per night.
  • Hilton - could only really afford 3-4 nights here and not in a water villa. Might not be worth it flying all the way from Aus :(
  • Mirihi - bit like the Hilton - probably can't afford this. :wacko:
If you've stayed in either Angaga or Kuredu as well as perhaps some of the others on my list and can provide a comparison, I'd be delighted to hear that they are nice too. Just remember that my fiance has an eye for beauty and I'd really like to make this special being a honeymoon and all. :)

I've attached some basic maps I found in case people need a reminder of locations. The north_ari.gif shows Velidhu and Kuramathi. The komandoo.gif shows Komandoo and Kuredu on Lhaviyani atoll which is north east of Ari.

If I had to pick without any assistance - I'd probably go for Kuramathi Cottage and Spa Resort. It also sounds like it fits one of our other peculiarities - good vegetarian food! :)

OK - let it rip folks!

Thanks.
I should also say to those of you who replied to the honeymoon thread that the list has certainly been voraciously devoured by Michaela who is busy making plans for future years based on all the wonderful suggestions we received.

Thanks to all of you we won't be without ideas for great romantic getaways for some time to come!! :(

Attached Images

  • IMG_2220xmdv.jpg
  • IMG_2214xmdv.jpg
  • IMG_2196xmdv.jpg
  • IMG_2845xmdv.jpg

SERENE I FOLD MY HANDS AND WAIT,    FOR WHAT IS MINE WILL KNOW MY FACE

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#14 pakman

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Posted 15 November 2007 - 07:15 AM

excellent diggy! How did you like the Bandos resort and how was their dive op?

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#15 anthp

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Posted 16 November 2007 - 03:40 PM

Thanks Serge, Diggy and Paul - all that information is very handy and the kind of stuff you can't get without people like you posting on here.

I think Michaela is having second thoughts about the Maldives. Our dollar just won't take us very far there, particularly when we factor in the price of the airfare from Australia. There are obviously some spectacular locations and places to stay and Diggy has shown some great pics. But I'm afraid it might be something we have to put off for future trip when we strike it rich.

We haven't discounted it entirely yet...

Thanks again for all your help everyone.
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#16 diggy

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Posted 16 November 2007 - 11:51 PM

The resort is very nice....it has many options (if these are options at all :) ) like tennis, badminton, fully equipped gym,spa etc. etc. The rooms are really nice and almost all of them except for the garden villas are a few meters from the beach. The food spread is quite large and has choices for all. I was on half board which works perfectly as post the morning dives you can relax at either of the two lovely restaurants over the sea and grab a small bite.

Their diving operation is totally professional to the point of clinical :wacko: So no complains there at all. But Alex my dive buddy and I made up for the missing jokes fun and laughter. Bandos has access to some of the best dive sites this side of Maldives. Their house reef is absolutely stunning and a few meters walk from the dive op center. Eagle rays, schools of fusielliers and bat fish, black tip and white tips, turtles etc. etc. are part of the house reef and they make you do a check or orientation dive here irrespective of your qualification. So overall i would rate their dive op to 8.5++ on a scale to 10.

Cheers,

Diggy

excellent diggy! How did you like the Bandos resort and how was their dive op?


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#17 Mak_Jing

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Posted 17 November 2007 - 03:25 AM

Anthony

Maldives have been my favourite dive destination for the last 8 years and I have been there over a dozen times, sometimes on islands, other times on safari boats, but mostly on Baa Atoll in summer time for the mantas and often as many as 50-60 at the same time.

Manta encounters around Jan/Feb are more likely on the western side of the atolls, I was there in Jan this year and every dive at the known manta cleaning stations on the west side we encountered mantas. You need not be too concerned whether a resort is in the middle of the atoll. The distance between west to east normally is around 1 hour by dhoni or less by faster boats. And if the resort is in the middle, they would no doubt go to the atoll edge for the kandu (channel) dives.

You probably don't want to go on a safari boat for honeymoon, but it definitely works out cheaper and should be considered for future trips.

There is a very good book called "Dive Maldives" by Tim Godfrey which to my mind has the best dive site maps for all the different atolls, and the latest edition has all the resort names.

Just from memory on a couple of the location of the places you are looking at:
Filitheyo is east side of North Nilandhe Atoll
Velidhu is in north Ari Atoll and the boat ride to the west side is at most 40mins

Jing

#18 anthp

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Posted 20 November 2007 - 04:15 PM

Thanks Jing, diggy, serge, pakman and Lasse for your most recent posts - all very helpful.

Thank you so much also to EVERYONE who has helped us out in this thread! There is a wealth of information here.

As it happens, a fantastic airfare sale on flights to Fiji last night was too good to pass up. Given that airfares to the Maldives from Australia were looking like eating half our budget, the Fiji sale fares (which were around a quarter of those for the Maldives) were very hard to ignore.

As I mentioned earlier in the thread, we were looking for luxury accommodation combined with diving. The Maldives certainly fulfils both these criteria beautifully. Unfortunately, the prices of food, water, accom and diving, combined with the relatively very pricey airfare from Australia, really made the Maldives an expensive proposition for us. In the end, the choice was to spend all our money on 5 days in the Maldives or go to Fiji for 3 WEEKS for less money.

We are still very keen to visit the Maldives on a future vacation and now have a very good idea of where to go - thanks to all of you. I'm sure other readers of this thread will also find a ton of useful information here as well. In future trips we will be more flexible with accommodation (we really want luxury for our honeymoon, but were struggling to afford what we wanted in the Maldives). So that flexibility, combined with some long-term $ saving, should see us visiting the Mantas in the Maldives some time in the future.

Michaela and I genuinely appreciate the time you have all spent answering our many questions and hope you all have a wonderful dive next time you head out.

You never know, we might meet up with you in the Maldives shooting a manta school (50-60 together?? - crikey Jing!) some time soon.

Now if everyone could cross their fingers for us, for some good weather and diving in Fiji... :-)

Thanks again folks.
Anthony Plummer
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#19 oneyellowtang

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Posted 25 November 2007 - 10:03 PM

I understand you've chosen Fiji - I hope you're going to the North... (not staying around Nadi or the Yasawas...)

For next time - you can find cheaper flights between Singapore and Male by booking through a local (Singapore) travel agent. They have access to excursion fares (earn no miles) that they can put together in packages w/resorts. I've paid as little as $290 Sing $ for one of these fares (return).

#20 anthp

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Posted 26 November 2007 - 01:49 PM

Wow! Thanks yellowtang! That is really handy advice. That way, we can pick up a cheap fare to Singapore on Tiger which is offering some great deals and then hang out there for a couple of days while we book a flight to Male. Do you know how heavily booked they are and which airlines we should target? How realistic is it to book with such short notice. Is there an agent you can PM me the details for? Thanks again.
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