It’s been a few years since I’ve been scuba diving. So, I was excited to jump back into the water in one of the world’s most renowned diving destinations, the Maldives. We joined the live-aboard Aggressor II for a week-long trip through this country of atolls and tiny tropical islands.
A live-aboard is a great way to visit dive sites that would take you a long time to reach from land. That’s especially true of the Maldives where staying on land probably means an expensive resort. The ship captain navigates to the next underwater wonder as you sleep in your cozy cabin.
I enjoyed the spaciousness of the ship. It’s fun sharing meals with all the other passengers, everyone excited for the day’s dives to come, then recounting their favourite moments at the end of the day.
One of my favourite dives is aptly named “Fish Factory”. This is actually a fish processing plant that throws unwanted scraps of fish into the sea each afternoon. It seems like the local pelagics have figured this out. What started out as a calm, peaceful bed of coral suddenly turned to chaos as scraps of fish hit the surface of the water. Sharks darted past, bumping into me, and a sting ray bashed me with his tail (fortunately just the side of it, not actually stabbing me).
The crew was great, all very friendly. I especially liked how the young crew members helped us get suited up for each dive and hauled us back up the ladder when we re-surfaced.
Night dives are always a little spooky. While we received detailed descriptions of every other dive, this one was a bit more vague. “Just descend then kneel outside the circle” was about all the crew said. What circle? There’s no circle in the sea. But as we dropped down through the inky water we began to see a series of bright flashlights, placed – you guessed it – in a circle, all pointing up toward the surface of the water. At each beam of light, a growing swarm of plankton gathered, just like moths drawn to your porch light. Suddenly, a huge manta ray – 3 meters across – swooped down, gathering up unsuspecting plankton in its gaping mouth. It raced from one light to the next, soaring and gliding through the water. I was so close to one of the lights that I felt the manta brush against my hair as it swam by!
One day we visited a little tropical island, ringed with white sand surrounding nearly impenetrable jungle. The Maldives are composed of thousands of small islands and this one is positively tiny. It took maybe 15 minutes to walk around the entire island.
I was enjoying it so much, I decided to take the second dingy trip back to our ship. When the dingy returned and we were ready to go, the motor jammed. The driver just couldn’t restart it, no matter what he tried. Secretly, I was quite happy. An extra hour on land and the opportunity to see a fantastic sunset… before the rain started!
It’s been great to get back into diving. I’m looking forward to more underwater adventures in the near future.