I have just come back from a great week in the Maldives on a live onboard. Let me tell you why this way of diving and lodging is my preferred choice for diving there.
Just image, your plane have just landed and rather than the usual transfer to your hotel, (which admittedly can be a bit more exciting than usual in the Maldives, given that it often means a short hop with a seaplane).., here you just walk over to the boat, and your Maldivian adventure starts.
This time I was there for one week in October. It was 28-30 degrees in the air and 28-29 degrees in the water. And the ocean was like a mirror. No waves, nothing, just picture perfect magic.
This was my third time with Emperor Divers’s amazing liveaboard boat “Voyager”. Voyager is 30m tall and has a crew of 14 completely dedicated to taking care of us. She can have a maximum of 20 guests aboard, stay in 7 twin and 3 double cabins, each with both air conditioning and fan and bathroom with shower. There are two main decks, the main has several areas to hang in the shade and indoors. On the upper deck there is additional seating and that is also where the dinner lounge is – all with a fabulous sea view of course. There is also a further sun deck available.
I think the emperors deliver an outstanding experience overall – the food is very good – breakfast usual choice of coffee, tea, juice, fruit selection, bread, yogurt and your choice of eggs. Lunches are buffets with different types of dishes, always fish, meat, chicken and vegetables. Dinners are also varied buffets and one evening we had a grill on an island – excellent.
The crew is very helpful, always there to help you if you need something. There were three dive guides on board for our group of 15 people and they were all really great to find the dive points and show us things I would never have found without them. At the same time, their attention to security was very high all the time.
There was free Nitrox on board for those who were already Nitrox divers or if you could not take a course on board.
But of course we were there for the diving so let me tell you about the dives we did – 17 all appear between 10-30 meters.
1. Kanduoiy Giri (fish factory ) – Dive Result 7
Lots of Moray eels of different species. I think I saw seven different types just on this dive. We also saw Lionfish, Scorpionfish, Soldierfish, Mantis Shrimp, Nemo’s Clown Fish and a Great Marblend Stingray with about 1.4 meters between his wings and millions of triggers.
2. Lankan Finolhu – Dive Result 7 dived a super nice one 😊 . We also saw some angelfish, sweetnut, lobster, butterfly fish, clownfish, squirrel fish, fusiliers and lizard fish.
3. and 4. Rasdhod Madivaru – Dive Result 8
Here we saw White Tip sharks, ova, tuna, sweet lips, angelfishes, a very beautiful emperor. I really want to go back here again.
5. Bathala may Gaa Kanthila – dive point 6
Not bad – Sweet lips, more Stingrays, Clownfishes, Groupers, Snappers ..
6. Maaya Thila – Dive Points 8
Here the stream was strong (I only love streaming dives, sometime I’m just in the water as if I drove a Harley Davidson motorcycle 😊 and just move a road with today’s great fun – and the stronger the current the better). We saw lots of reefs, turtles, puffer fish, group players, longnos emperors, snappers and bat fishes.
7. Maaya Lagoon – Dive Points 10
This dive was awesome, 😊 it was dark and the crew put some lights back on the boat. Plankton goes for light and everyone knows that Mantas loves to eat Planktons. So we had to wait and see if they would show up. It took about an hour before the first Manta appeared. He walked around and wandered in the water and tried to eat plankton as the lights had attracted. After two hours watching we went to the water. So far, there were 4 mantra around and around in the lighting from the boat.
Chris, one of the dive guides, jumped into the water first. He put some dive lights in the bottom of the sand and pointed upwards to the surface to attract more plankton, and you guessed it, more Mantas understood.
We went down to the bottom of 10 meters and then we stood on our knees watching this amazing show – Wow.
We may have been there for 40 minutes, only six of us left in the water when a bigger one turns out. This was a woman with 4 meters between the wing tips. In the video you can hear my friend Patrick (I know, he’s also Patrick) and I yelled out when it just came out. Martina, another dive guide, almost got a new hairstyle when the monster Manta swam directly over her head and through her long flowing hair to my camera rig again and again – very funny.
8. Maalhoss Thila – Dive score 8/9
Great dive site with very beautiful soft corals, small shrimps, fish schools. This is a beautiful place to be, a must-go-here again website. Do not miss this dive site if you are here. Unfortunately, I had camera issues this time but one of my best friends Patrik and I had a dance instead (see video 😊 )
9. Moofushi Cleaning station – Dive score 9
Strong currents (and you know what I like currents) – another pretty big Manta 3 meter again, some Sharks, Turtles, a big school of Sweet Lips and Snappers.
10. Kalhahanmi Huraa – score points 10
Really strong current (again yippee). Lots of reefs, eagle rays, big school with almost everything and good view of maybe 30 meters or more. One of my top 10 dives ever, one must soon go again.
11. Five stones – dive results 8
This dive site is just like its name – there are five underwater stones in the bottom, we swam around them and in the small channels between them. Sometimes the currents were with you and sometimes against you – totally fab. A beautiful dive site, we had a view of about 20 meters and saw lots of big schools of fish; Snappers, Sweetlips and Reef Sharks.
12. Lux Beyru – score points 7
Nice place in total, some shrimps, turtles, sweethearts, angelfish, Jackfish, Clownfish and Unicorn fish.
13. Kudni Maa wreck – score points 5
The wreck is located outside the island of Kudni Maa (and resort) and is 30 meters deep. We saw a Nursing Shark, Stenfisk, Fantastic Shrimp just outside the wreck and some sloppy divers who should have had more experience before we deal with that type of dive. I’m not a big fan of wreck diving.
14. Kuda Ram Thila beaute – score points 9
I’m just saying – WOW – much of everything. A paradise for us photographers and others of course.
15. Mahibadhod Rock – Dive score 9/10
This is a cleaning station for Mantas, and when we were there, there were five Mantas around this time.
We were not first at the cleaning station this day, it seems to be a very popular dive site to go to but it is worth it. Perhaps there were about 20 other divers where they already use their crooks.
The men came and went in amazing formations over the cleaning station, it was just like they were dancing. An amazing dive site and that was my second time there. Last time I was here a part not so clever person decided to go really close to the Go Pro mates and swam just over the cleaning station itself. Two dive guides took him and drove him to the bottom. You must always respect the environment, we are guests here.
16. Alimatha Circus – Sunset Dive – Dive score 10
There were a lot of nurse sharks here. I estimate the number to be at least 30 maybe through 80, they seemed to be everywhere. When we got into the water it was almost as we jumped into nurses and some just stood there waiting for us at just 1 meter, very funny.
We went down to the bottom at 10-12 meters deep and waited for our knees or lay down in the bottom. Some nurse sharks start to lie down between us, just like some pets, hilarious. Some other nurse sharks swam around us all the time, or rammed the whole body into the sand to get rid of the same parasites, just like dogs do. I also saw a Blacktip shark and a big school of Jackfish (do not miss the video from this dive)
17. Last Dive – Miyaru Kandu – Dive Result 7
The power was strong at this dive (and you know what I like currents 😉 ), we saw Reef Sharks, Turtles, Clownfish, Octopus, Scorpion Fish, big schools of fish just against the currents. The visibility was good with at least 30 meters and I got some really nice pictures at the end of the dive on my dive friend who keeps the sun at the safety stop.
In my opinion, live on board is really the way to dive in the Maldives. The best. I could stay forever.