The Maldives: One of the Most Beautiful Places on EarthThe brochure said it all: ‘For the best diving and snorkelling in the world, visit the Maldives’.
My love for an underwater adventure is boundless and has taken me to a multitude of countries and islands around the world, but the chance to go snorkelling in the self-proclaimed best location was simply too much of a temptation to resist.
The Maldives is an archipelago of islands in the Indian Ocean, north of the equator between Sri Lanka and Africa. There are 1200 islands, of which 200 are inhabited; of these over 100 have resorts on them.
Each island is surrounded by coral reefs with aquamarine water so sparkling it’s almost surreal. Add in the postcard white sandy beaches ringed with coconut palms, many with over-water bungalows, and you can see why the Maldives is often described as the most beautiful place on earth.
After flying into Maldives airport, which itself is a small island, we were transferred by speedboat for a sixty-minute journey to our island paradise.
There are only two ways to get to your resort from the airport: seaplane or cruiser.
On arrival, the pier on our island seemed to jut out forever and the ocean was alive with sea creatures. Turtles and a variety of multi-coloured fish greeted us as we made our way to our beach bungalow.
My objective was to go snorkelling every single day and the next morning I was part of a group of six who made up the day’s snorkelling team. After a safety talk and gear formalities we were soon on the dive boat heading out to our first location.
My first experience snorkelling the Maldives was akin to winning the lottery. There were about a thousand varieties of colourful tropical fish and it seemed as though every one of them was on display, along with the customary reef sharks, manta rays, corals, sponges, giant clams, sea horses, moray eels, turtles, starfish and other marine creatures, many of which I’d never seen before. The only thing missing was commentary from the legendary underwater film director and explorer Jacques Cousteau.
Visibility seemed endless and the ocean was swaying hypnotically to a rhythm you’re unlikely to experience anywhere else.
Each day we were taken to a different site. If I hadn’t been experiencing this subaquatic spectacle first hand, I wouldn’t have believed it. Every day it just got better and better.
On the seventh and final day I was wondering how best to describe to friends just how outstanding the Maldives actually is. I couldn’t. The only way was to purchase a disposable underwater camera and arrive home with proof, though I knew that even photos probably wouldn’t quite do it justice.
On my last day I entered the water for the final snorkel. Immediately I thought I had been transported into a science fiction movie. This day was off the charts; I witnessed the greatest variety of marine life I have ever seen. My little disposable camera did not stop clicking.
As with most exceptional holidays, they go way too fast and in a blink of an eye I was back home.
The first thing I did was race down to get my film developed. Waiting the couple of hours until they were ready nearly killed me, but with a bounce in my step I was eventually able to pick up my photos.
My heart was pounding and I couldn’t rip open the photos quick enough. When I did I nearly have a heart attack. I was gob-smacked.
The first photo I looked at was of my mask and snorkel with this hideous blank look coming from behind it. The next 26 photos were exactly the same. In my excited madness I had held the camera back to front and every photo was of my massive boofhead.
I felt sick and devastated. It was like my world had collapsed. How could this have happened? It was one of the best holidays I’d ever had and now I was nearly in tears.
Weeks went by and the pain slowly dissipated. I still remain hopeful that one day I will get my Maldivian underwater photographic redemption.
The week I had in the Maldives, apart from my disastrous photographic experience, rates up there with the best time I’ve ever had. The food, beaches, weather and sea life were just as the brochure said: ‘One of the most beautiful places on Earth’
TIPS FOR SNORKELLING & PHOTOGRAPHY:
Always check that your underwater camera is facing the right direction.
HOW TO GET THERE:
Vicki Gilden at Rose Bay Travel – (02) 9371 8166
HOW TO BOOK ACCOMMODATION: