Maldives - Diving in the rough season
The wind is blowing, a pale sun cheers a shy “good morning” among the clouds and the choppy Sea hasn’t the usual shade of blue that everyone expects to see..
Nothing to be surprised of, though: it’s the end of May, already, and it’s time for the Southwestern Monsoon to show up down here in the Maldivian Archipelago !
Despite the global weather changed a lot lately, making fun of the forecasts that struggle to guess what will happen ouside there, it’s still pretty true that if you land in Male from June to October you might get few showers during your holiday!
It’s actually kind of disappointing if you are an honeymooner willing to take some brochure-style pics with your beloved newlywed while laying on the white sand, sunkissed near the turquoise water, but if you rather enjoy breathing some bubbles underwater than flying back home totally sunburned, visiting the Maldives during the rainy season could be a successful bet :
The rain very rarely drops constantly for one entire week, and the dive sites are usually less crowded than in the high season. Furthermore, there is usually an explosion in fishlife, due to the slightly cooler and nutrient-richer southwestern corrents.
Of course, the best choice as a diver is to book a liveaboard dive trip: cruising around onboard a cozy and comfortable boat offers the chance to escape the worst weather and allows the divers to experience the most diverse underwater scenarios: with more than 1200 islands to choose from, it’s almost a pity being stucked full-time on a single one !
But let’s talk about something interesting, let’s talk about DIVING !
How is diving during the so called "wet season" in the Maldives ???
What is famous in the diving community about the Maldives, is the abundance of channels
(KANDU in local language) :
After a quick descent, the divers hook themselves on the edge of the atoll facing the strong incoming current, which attracts a huge display of pelagic fish in search of a snack.
Some of the best of these channels ( Guraidhoo Kandu, Emboodhoo Kandu, Myiaru Kandu to name just a few) lay on the east side of the Archipelago, and if current blows from the west these sites are definitely less enjoyable and sometimes they do not even worth to have a look.
Does it mean that in our trip we won’t see any big stuff, then? No, NOT AT ALL !
Have you ever heard about "THILAS" ?
"Thila", is the maldivian word for a sea mountain. A place where the bottom rises up to there shallows and the Ocean concentrates his creatures for the joy of the divers’ eyes!
Thilas are magnets for fishes : Once you jumped into the water, and suddenly you will find yourself surrounded by clouds of banner fish and yellow snappers, fusiliers and silver newborns tiny fish swim quicky from here to there in compact formations, trying to escape hungry jackfish and tunas in feeding frenzy. There are usually small families of white tip and gray sharks living around most of the thilas, and when the west current drops the visibility down, they come crazy close to the divers!
If you are a macro lover you won’t be disappointed aswell : usually on the thilas' colorful soft corals grow and glow in the current, hiding well camouflaged leaf fishes, nudibranchs and also ghostpipefishes for those of you with the sharpest eyes.
One of the best dive site in Maldives is Kandooma Thila, in South Male :
It lies in the middle of a channel , and hosts a huge community of gray sharks that gather here in a cleaning station, waiting for the current to change providing their breakfast! It’s not an easy place for beginners, though, end requires some experience to be totally enjoyable.
Ari atoll is also famous for his thilas:
Fish Head , Maalhos Thila, Maaya Thila ( One of the most famous and exciting night dives ever)... But also other atolls hide these underwater treasures ! Lhaviani Thila, for instance: my favorite spots here are both around Kuredhoo island :
“Kuredhoo Express” - can you guess the reason for this name?? It is a north-to-south wide channel, diveable with both incoming and outgoing current.
“Kuredhoo Caves” - an outside reef where in a series of small caves and cracks displayed between 5 and 30 mt, you may spot an incredible number of green turtles: some of those guys are old gigantic dinosaurs , really impressive!
And now I would like to spend some words about Baa Atoll:
This medium sized atoll, on the north west side, is not usually crowded with safari boats due to the lack in channel dives, which makes it less appealing in the common mind.
But it offers very colorful and rich divesiets, it is usually veeeeeeery good in macro life and ( take a seat and a deep breath ) >>> Baa Atoll is also home of the biggest and most incredible Manta Ray feast you will ever dream about !
"Hanifaru Lagoon" , which is now a Marine Protected Area and National Park, is a small and shallow lagoon where , due to the southwestern water movements, an enormous amount of plancton get stucked in, attracting almost the entire Maldivan manta ray population! Which is A LOT OF ANIMALS!!
Diving it’s not allowed here anymore, in order to protect these gentle giants ( Divers’ bubbles can diluite the plancton pushing mantas to move somewhere else) but I can ensure to all of you that snorkeling in these green waters with more than hundred flying starship-stye mantas looping below your belly is an experience you won’t easily forget!!!
Of course not everyday is a big party, but it’s anyway pretty common during the rough season: one of the most memorable day, last year, saw more than TWO HUNDREDS different mantas joining, attracted by the food galore!
You can support some rain, if you are rewarded with such a kind of price, don’t you?
@ This article is written by Olga Martinelli (PADI Instructor #961509), please give respect to her copyright!
This article & photos are not to be reproduced or distributed without written permission of Olga Martinelli.
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