Maldives is one of those place that I kept hearing about for scuba diving as well as nice resorts. Lots of fish, mantas, whalesharks, reef sharks, great visibility etc etc etc. After planning to go to Maldives a few times over the year unsuccessfully, I finally made it there with quite a bit of expectations, unfortunately I was rather disappointed. It was partially the sites but also I think the dive operator was also to blame. We chartered a 6 days trip on M/V Carina. We were given choices of either Ari Atoll for whale sharks or go south for mostly channel dives for sharks and eagle rays. Since some of us never saw whale sharks and a few are still relatively new at diving so we chose the easier Ari Atoll route. However, after the first day when A/C broke down, we had to head back to Male briefly to fix A/C so we had one channel dive slight south of Male with spectacularly clear water but with deep and strong current. We saw a few sharks, but nothing like say Palau. However, near the end of the dive, a pod of about 20-30 dolphins on the surface went over my head while I was looking the wrong way (obviously). Anyhow, after the A/C mishap, the trip started ok. Unfortunately things started to go down hill. Most sites around Ari Atoll had rather poor visibility, 5-10m max. We went for a whale shark site with viz around 3-5m and had absolutely nothing there except sand and one devil ray and one jellyfish. Granted other boats have seen some whale sharks around there recently but we were not so lucky. After that, we dove manta point twice and saw one manta. However beside one manta and one large Napoleon wrasse and a few white tip reef sharks, there was not much to speak of. . We went to Dhonkahlo (?sp) with high expectation for mantas there since it is a well known site where you can see lots and lots of mantas (17 when my friend was there last year). There were already 4 boats there when we arrived. Due to strong current, our main diveguide told us to do negative entry and get down as quickly as possible to the cleaning station. The first few divers who went down each had thousands of dives under their belts already, followed by the rest of us and we were all scattered within 10m of each other. The second dive guide was also with us but the main dive guide was nowhere to be found. We were also way down current from the cleaning station and it was impossible to swim there. Divers from 4 other boats were nowhere to be seen since we hit the water. We all managed to see a few mantas each as they made their way to the cleaning station. However the worse part was when we all got back to the boat, the main diveguide was already there on the boat, changed into his dry clothe and started yelling at us that we were all too slow and got drifted too far and he could not find us so he just came back to the boat. I really think that the boat dropped us off at the wrong spot personally. After that, the mood was not so good no the boat. In the afternoon, the compressor broke and we missed the afternoon dive while it was being repaired. On our 6th and last day, we supposed to do 3 dives and get back to Male in the afternoon and fly back the next day. Half of us decided to skip diving that day and catched the midnight flight out of Maldives instead.
Personally, I was rather unimpressed with the dive operator and virtually all the divesites that we went. There were very little corals and anything that was there was in rather bad shape. We only had 2 dives with great visibility. Beside chance to see whaleshark and if things go as planned, chance to see quite a bit of mantas, there was really nothing special there in my opinion. May be the trip would have been better if we chose to go south to the channels. There were some macro stuffs but again, this trip ranked very low on all the trips I did in the last 5-7 yearsl. I wonder what other people's experience have been with Maldives and how would you compare to other divesites. Next month I plan to be in Andaman Island and hope that things will be better.
Edited by ssra30, 05 March 2010 - 12:42 AM.