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Dive Review of Bandos Island Resort in
Maldives

Bandos Island Resort, Dec, 2008,

by Sherri Dullingham, TX, USA (Reviewer Reviewer 3 reports). Report 4585.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 101-250 dives
Where else diving Grand Cayman, Little Cayman, Cozumel, Hawaii, Florida Keys, Fiji
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas calm
Water Temp 82 to 84 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 30 to 70 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions No decompression, 20 meters for Open Water, 30 meters for Advanced Open Water, strictly enforced.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas 1 or 2
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 3 stars Tropical Fish 5 stars
Small Critters 4 stars Large Fish 4 stars
Large Pelagics 3 stars

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter 4 stars Boat Facilities 1 stars
Overall rating for UWP's N/A Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments I don't have a camera (yet), but I did notice there was no fresh water rinse tank on the boat for cameras.

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations 3 stars Food 2 stars
Service and Attitude 3 stars Environmental Sensitivity 3 stars
Dive Operation 3 stars Shore Diving 5 stars
Snorkeling 5 stars
Value for $$ 3 stars
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments We chose Bandos Island Resort because were were looking for a Maldives resort for a Christmas trip with both a good house reef and child care facilities, and Bandos seemed to fit the bill for our needs. Bandos gets a 4 star rating, sometimes a 4+, from most rating agencies. In our opinion, it's not a 4 star, *maybe* a 3 star. We rented a Jacuzzi Beach Villa for $520 a night, including breakfast, and we were given the first JBV on the beach, #101, which was just next door to the reception area, the boat jetty, and the bar. We were subjected to thumping disco music from the bar most nights until 2 a.m. There was no beach to speak of in front of our "villa", the villa furniture was ratty and tired, and the interior was dark. I did notice that villas from about 118 to 124 were nicely located, and I would ask for those if you are headed to Bandos. There are three restaurants at Bandos, for all intents and purposes. One is a buffet style for all the Europeans that are there on package deals that include meals. We didn't eat there. There is also a 24 cafe, where we ate most nights, and a "fine dining" option we ate at a few times. The food in both was OK, with the fine dining option the better choice, if only because the service was better. The food and the service in the 24 cafe was mediocre. The pizzas were OK, the burger was terrible. They also had pasta, Indian food, and Maldivian food, which is very similar to Indian. Most stuff was edible, but beyond that...no. Every single thing we ordered took at least 30 minutes to come out, they never checked on us after delivering the food and some things we flagged someone down to ask for never arrived.
Now, the diving: Bandos has a reputation for being a top-notch dive operation, and, in some ways, it is, but I don't think it's a good option for a serious diver. Dive sites were repeated often. They list about 45 sites on their web site, but only go to about 10. We were told the others were "too far", even though they are on the web site. After much pressing by a Dutch couple, they did get up a Manta expedition to a site about an hour away from the resort, but it took a lot of pushing and complaining. They routinely cancel boat dives if they don't have at least 4 divers, which happened to us once during the week. The dives are very expensive--$49 for *each* dive, plus $15 for the boat ride, so $113 for a two tank morning dive. Any rental equipment is rented on a per dive basis, so, if you need a computer, it's $6 *per dive*. Worst of all, they charge $49 for each shore dive! A small discount is given for repeat dives during the week, but it's not much. Some of the dive sites were outstanding (Banana Reef, Paradise Reef) and some were duds (Maagiri). We did see lots of sharks, 2 mantas, huge stingrays, spotted eagle rays, huge Napolean Wrasse, huge bumphead parrotfish, two kinds of morays, tons of lionfish, banner fish, moorish idols, a 1000 strong school of jacks, etc. etc. The fish life really is outstanding. And they are deservedly proud of their house reef--it's also outstanding. We saw blacktips on every snorkel there, another couple saw a spotted eagle ray there, and again, tons of lionfish, morays, HUGE lobsters, small shrimp, nudibranchs--everything you can imagine, we saw. Just about. Dolphins on the surface a few times but never under the water.
In sum, we loved the Maldives but would not go back to Bandos.
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Note: The information here was reported by the author above, but has NOT been reviewed nor edited by Undercurrent prior to posting on our website. Please report any major problems by writing to us and referencing the report number above.

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