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Dive Review of Manthiri in
Maldives

Manthiri, Apr, 2006,

by Beth Bruton, CA, USA . Report 2434.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience Over 1000 dives
Where else diving Indonesia (Sulawesi, Biak, Komodo), Malaysia, Palau, Solomon Islands, Fiji, Andaman Sea, Red Sea, Galapagos, Cocos, Sea of Cortez, Caribbean
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, cloudy Seas calm, currents
Water Temp 82 to 86 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 10 to 80 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions 60 minute time limit. Depth limits suggested for each dive, but not enforced.
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

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

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

Subject Matter 3 stars Boat Facilities 3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 2 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments Dedicated camera area on main boat could accommodate 4 photographers comfortably, not more. Good charging facilities. On 2-3 dives out of 54 total (two cruises) dive guides pointed out small critters. Wall dives not designed for photographers--just swim fast to cover a lot of territory. I dropped back from group to photograph and frequently surfaced half a mile or so from the others. Dhoni crew rinses cameras when they come out of water and again on dive boat.

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

Accommodations 3 stars Food 3 stars
Service and Attitude 4 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 3 stars Shore Diving 1 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 2 stars
Advanced 3 stars
Comments We booked two back-to-back 9-day cruises on Manthiri, starting April 2. Based on reports from friends and others, we expected an outstanding experience. We were disappointed, primarily in the diving.

The crew is very good, very helpful when asked. I prefer to remove my bc/tank in the water, and they accommodated my request; however, I was told this was an extra service. It is common practice on other boats. The dhoni crew washes the dive gear nightly. Dive master Manik repaired my high pressure hose connection to pressure guage, which developed a small leak. The cruise when Manik was in charge was much better managed than the second one, when the owner's nephew (also a dive guide) was aboard and took over. Unfortunately, I understand Manik is leaving the boat after this season.

Staterooms were large enough with adequate storage. The boat is showing some age. Cock roaches abound--I removed them from my camera housing twice. A/C in the staterooms has two settings--really cold or off. We generally turned it off or on 2-3 times each night. Smoking is permitted in all outside areas. The entire crew smokes, as did some guests. Sitting outside in the shade subjected you to constant second hand smoke.

Service was generally very good. Linens changed each three days, crew will wash your clothes. I liked having the first dive before breakfast. But breakfast was on the table when the dhoni returned and by the time we changed to dry clothes it was cold. Most days 3 or 4 dives offered. Dive briefings very good, but if conditions changed at site, we were not always advised. Communication between crew and guests could improve, especially as to time of next dive and on-site conditions.

Our primary disappointment was condition of the reefs and dive sites. Some reefs have beautiful healthy hard coral growth; some of the walls excellent colorful soft corals. Other sites are mostly sand and rubble, and not from the tsunami. Dredging at Holiday Island in South Ari Atoll has silted up a large area. Because this is the area where whale sharks are sometimes found, we had at least one day each trip here with poor diving (visibility 10-30 feet), and optional snorkeling for whale sharks. When they issue their whale shark count, it is snorkeling, not diving. On one dive, the dhoni went off looking for whale sharks before picking me up from the dive, even though my husband was aboard and reminded them I was still in the water. I was left bobbing in moderate boat traffic for about half an hour. No apology was ever offered.

Some of the problems may be seasonal. An outflowing current carries a lot of silt and particulate matter from inside the atoll. But most inflowing currents were equally dirty--as if bringing the same matter back in. It was not plankton.

The only schooling fish we saw were fusiliers and blue-striped yellow snappers, and glass fish in a couple of caves. Occasional large tuna zipped through a few sites, but no schools of jacks or large snapper. Very few large cod. Our impression was the reefs suffer from over fishing and over diving. There are more than 200 live-aboards in the Maldives, plus countless resorts with day boats. Everyone dives the same sites. Halfway through a dive on Kudarah Tila, a lovely small pinnacle, seven boats dumped more than 50 divers on top of us. The site could accommodate 12-15 divers at most. The crew fished daily for our lunch and dinner. On one day, the captain and a guest caught 13 wahoo. Protected dive sites is a myth.

Yes, you will see large napoleon wrasses at two sites and turtles and octopi at one or two others. We had one day with excellent manta ray action. I was far from the group as usual and had playful interaction with two very large mantas all to myself for 20 minutes. I even had the wide angle lens! But mostly you will see small, colorful reef fish, with little variation from one site to the next. One 9-day cruise would have been plenty.

Privately, the dive guides admit the reefs are not what they were 3-5 years ago. Too many tourists. But tourism is the lifeblood of the Maldivian economy, and nobody seems to think anything can be done but to watch the situation continue to deteriorate. I hope they are wrong.
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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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