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Dive Review of Manthiri in

January, 2008, an Instant Reader Report by Jeanne & Bill Downey, PA, USA
Top Contributor   (39 reports, with 5 Helpful votes)
Report Number 3879
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
Over 1000 dives
Where else diving
Caribbean, Bahamas, Australia, Indonesia, Micronesia, Bikini, Galapagos,
Cocos, etc.
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

sunny, dry  
calm, currents  
Water Temp
83   to 84    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
50   to 100    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
100' max depth by law, 60 min. bottom time  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
1 or 2 
1 or 2 
Whale Sharks
> 2 
> 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  1 stars
Tropical Fish
5 stars  
Small Critters
  4 stars
Large Fish
3 stars  
Large Pelagics
  5 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
5 stars  
Boat Facilities
4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
4 stars  
Shore Facilities  
Small rinse bucket on Dhoni, another on main boat. Camera table in main
salon, with charging station. Cameras put on deck of dhoni.
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
5 stars
5 stars
Service and Attitude
5 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
Dive Operation
4 stars  
Shore Diving  
1 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
3 stars   
5 stars    
Whale sharks! Dolphins! Mantas! Mating octopus! Plus more slithering eels
than weve encountered anywhere else, chomping turtles not caring how close
we came, perky anemonefish flitting about the tops of pinnacles, and
unfamiliar fish and critters that sent us to the fish ID books while barely
dry after the dives.

After enduring long flights and layovers, we began the serious business of
body-clock readjustment while strolling around sunny 2-square mile Male,
exploring the local streets. Although primarily a Muslim country and we
certainly were dressed differently, no one paid too much attention to us
and we enjoyed our walk-about there. 

We boarded the Manthiri, our home for the next 9 nights, signed waivers,
sat through a short briefing, unpacked, transferred our gear to the dhoni,
the 55 dive boat, and managed to get in two dives. Twelve passengers make
a full complement; there are 12 crew members, most of whom we never saw
except when they were smoking on the stern of the boat; personal
introductions were not made other than the three divemasters, probaly due
to the language barrier. The Manthiri is an older, well-kept boat, with six
guest cabins below the main deck, all decent sized with adequate storage.
Half of the teak-paneled salon served as the hang-out area; the other half
had two tables for dining. A smaller salon was used mostly by the crew.
There werent enough beds for the crew in the crew quarters, so several of
them slept on the salon couches or up on the sundeck,  roomy enough for sun
and shade worshipers. The clotheslines, the first we ever encountered, were
glorious, and included clothespins! Hot water in the Manthiris heads and
the two showers on the dhoni was truly unlimitedanother first.

All the diving was done from the roomy dhoni. Baskets were under each seat;
BCs remained on the tanks, wet suits were rinsed and hung in the center
section, and everything was rinsed at days end. Drift diving was the norm
and we never had to wait more than a few minutes for pick-up. Sometimes the
group was pretty spread out at the end of the dime, but we felt the need to
raise a flag only once. There was always a current but only provided a wild
ride once or twice. The quickly familiar routine consisted of a wake-up
call at 6:00am, light breakfast, dive, full breakfast, dive, snack or
lunch, dive, snack, sometimes a fourth dive, then supper around 7:00pm. We
did three to four dives each day, but no night dives. All three divemasters
usually went in the water with us, one usually hanging back with us photo
slackers; we tried to keep up since they knew where to look for the really
cool stuff, but invariably would fall behind composing photos. Between
dives the dhoni scooted off for tank refilling, leaving the Manthiri
extremely quiet except for the low hum of the generator; no white noise to
cover the sound of snoring on this boat! When the dhoni began motoring
closer, we knew it would soon be time to dive again. Nitrox was available
at an extra charge.

The diving varied nicely from walls to pinnacles to channels to ridges to
one small wreck. Most briefings were very thorough, with an occasional get
on the dhoni briefing. Water temperature averaged 82-84 degrees and
visibility ranged from 50-100 feet, depending on the site. By law, 100 feet
was the maximum allowed depth, but we weren't chastised if seen dropping a
little deeper; there also was no rigid buddy system. When the divemasters
made an unusual discovery, they would look around to see who was close-by
and wave them over; a couple times they came looking for me. One dive I saw
all three divemasters disappear under a ledge; I zipped over to see what
had gotten all three so excitedit was an orgy of three thecacera picta
nudibranchs! Another time one divemaster was showing another a tiny red
cowry, almost invisible on a sea fan; their enthusiasm was impressive.

My favorite dive site was Fish Head, starting off with the very friendly
Napoleon wrasse, continuing on to the mating octopi, scurrying mantis
shrimp, super photogenic turtles, and dozens of anemonefish. But after
requesting two extra dives on this site, we had to move on. Ranfaru was the
least favorite, where the ripping current made it impossible to slow down
unless we aimed towards an upcoming overhang!

Meals were varied with lots of choices, ranging from the familiar to the
what is this?  Pre-breakfast was coffee, cereal, and toast while
breakfast might consist of eggs, fruit, beans, juice, French toast, and
sausage (hot dogs). Several courses, such as fish, pasta, and salad were
offered at lunch, along with ice cream, and dinner was also several courses
with fruit for dessert. Wine was served at dinner at no charge, and beer,
alcohol and pop were in each cabins refrigerator, with a price list on the
wall.  The crew often fished while we were diving, making for some
super-fresh meals. Hot water for tea and coffee were always available;
biscuits, the closest thing to cookies in that part of the world, were
not sitting out 24/7, but could always be asked for. One evening a barbecue
was arranged on a private beach, with tablecloth, candles, and all the
fixings, including hundreds of crabs scurrying along the beach.

Although the hard corals were not impressive, the soft corals were colorful
and the wide variety of fish, invertebrates, and pelagics was exceptional.
The quality of the boat, crew, food, and diving made us happy wed done an
extended tripwed have no problem doing it again. 
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