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Dive Review of Maldive Scuba Tours in
Maldives/central atolls

Maldive Scuba Tours, Apr, 2011,

by Jim Garren, FL, US (Sr. Reviewer Sr. Reviewer 8 reports with 3 Helpful votes). Report 6026.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 251-500 dives
Where else diving Florida, Hawaii, Bahamas, Roatan, GBR, Red Sea.
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas calm
Water Temp 81 to 85 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 40 to 70 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Maldive law prohibits dives deeper than 90 feet, decompression diving was prohibited, divers encouraged to limit dives to 60 minutes, guides in the water on all dives and were excellent at finding special sights.
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

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

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

Subject Matter 5 stars Boat Facilities 4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 4 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments [None]rinse tanks provided on liveaboard vessel, but none on the "dhoni" from which dives were made, however most dives only required a short return trip. Charging station for batteries in main saloon. Camera storage on liveaboard vessel was limited and small for those using larger housings with strobes attached.

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

Accommodations 4 stars Food 5 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 4 stars
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling 2 stars
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 5 stars
Advanced 3 stars
Comments [None]There was some delay and confusion while waiting for representatives at the airport in Male, but it was resolved after a short wait. Our gear was loaded on a boat we came to know as a "dhoni" for transport to the main vessel. First impression of Sea Spirit was somewhat of a letdown, she was smaller than previous liveaboard boats and not the sleek sparkling white yacht we are used to seeing. We eventually learned that Sea Spirt like many liveaboard boats in the Maldives was built locally, the design reflecting elements of tradition and adaptation to local conditions.
Once onboard and briefed by husband and wife cruise director team David and Tracy we became more comfortable. Sea Spirit is well appointed and clearly maintained to a high standard. We learned that dive gear would be stored aboard a separate vessel, the "dhoni" Niumath which had transported us from the airport, all diving would be conducted from the dhoni, it was also home to the air compressors and oxygen used for mixing nitrox. (more on that subject to follow)
Niumath herself is a substantial vessel approximately 50' in length, with all gear stored aboard her we realized the smaller size of Sea Spirit, about 90' compared to previous boats of 110' to 120', would not be an issue especially with only 12 divers in our group.
We were very disappointed however to learn that due to problems obtaining O2 we would NOT be able to dive nitrox contrary to what we had been told prior to booking the trip, but since we were half way around the world and almost 30 hours travel time from home we decided to ignore any minor irritation and enjoy ourselves.
As we met our fellow divers we learned all were from the UK and all but one belonged to the same dive club, cruise directors David and Tracy were also from the UK. Accents aside at least communication for we two Yanks would not be a problem, all of our companions proved to be well trained competent divers and pleasant company for the entire week. Crew members were Maldivian locals, most spoke English well, all were helpful, courteous and pleasant.
The schedule was 3 dives per day except for one when a night dive was added. There were some strong currents depending on tide and location, but most diving was easy with good visibility. Dive sites were outstanding, highly recommended for any who can brave the long flight from the US, the Maldives are no secret to Europeans who visit here often much as North Americans do the Caribbean.
Hard and soft corals were magnificent, more colors on the reef here than any other we have visited. Nudibranchs, ghost pipefish and Leaf Fish were some of the small creatures observed. Huge schools of tropicals surrounded us on nearly every dive, many species new to us while others were familiar from previous trips to Australia and Egypt. We saw several eels including a beautiful Honeycomb Moray, divers should heed warnings to be cautious around a variety with a black eye patch called Bandit Moray. Dive guide David said they would bite and two of our group including myself confirmed the truth of that statement,I have video showing the green martian blood to verify.
Larger animals included several Grey and Whitetip reef sharks, Napoleon Wrasse and large Dogtooth tuna, unfortunately we were denied the elusive whale shark experience once again. Many turtles were sighted, one feeding on the reef was a star photo and video performer. The highlight of the trip however were the Manta Rays, more than we have ever seen and on several different dives,often only an arms length away. If you want to see Manta's you will not be disappointed.
A whale was sighted spouting during our return to Male, but the distance was too great to make positive identification.
While we did get some nice pictures, failure of the sync cord for wife Karen's strobes ruined many of her macro shots.
About midway through our dive safari, we were told they had obtained a limited supply of oxygen so we were able to use nitrox for the last dive of each day for the remainder of the trip.
Accommodations while not 5 star were clean and comfortable and it should be pointed out that rates for Sea Spirit are less than many other boats in the area. Food was plentiful and tasty, everyone seemed amazed at the creative dishes prepared by the chef in a galley that was small by any standard. Omelets or eggs to order were the rule for breakfast along with staples such as toast, cereal, coffee and of course tea, most guests are from the UK after all! Lunch was varied and often included excellent salads of amazing variety. Evening meals usually had a theme such as Italian, Mexican, seafood, local cuisine such as curries and so on. Wine was served with diner and desert followed all meals except breakfast, fresh fruit usually common following lunch.
The crew often trolled a line from the stern when the boat was moving and caught a Mahi Mahi one day while moving between atolls, it was served that evening at dinner as sashimi and was a welcome treat for all.
Only one meal was disappointing and it was kind of humorous since the chef seemed especially proud of "steak night", all I will say is that a Maldive steak and the American version are very different indeed.
Water and soft drinks were always free from a refrigerator in the main saloon, another cooler held beer and other alcoholic beverages for those who wanted them, billed on the honor system at the end of the trip.
I will mention two negatives since they are safety related. We witnessed no head count or roll call following any dive so bring a SMB and other signal devices! When I inquired about location and evacuation time to the nearest decompression chamber I was told it was located on one of the main islands. Transport would be by fast boat if necessary and could take as long as 4 hours depending on our location. This conversation was followed by the admonition to dive conservatively. Certainly all responsible divers would follow this advice, but accidents do happen during repetitive diving even when all the rules are followed.
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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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