The house reef remains one of the top criteria in Maldive resort choice. Resorts with weaker or less accessible “house reefs” have to work harder to compensate with a more enticing overall offering. Distinguishing between the fine house reefs, though, is a very subjective exercise. Some have more coral, some have more fish, some are more accessible, some are more extensive. Except for Reefscaping, there’s not a lot that a resort can do to alter its reef endowment. But given it pre-eminence as a guest lure, I’m always surprised that resorts don’t do more to enhance the house reef experience.
One resort that has pulled out the stops to support snorkling (and diving) its own very fine house reef is appropriately named Chaaya Reef Ellaidhoo. They are blessed with a vibrant reef with curious caves and colourful soft coral. But instead of resting on their polyps (hmm…that sounds like a tired person with piles), they have invested in all sorts of infrastructure to guide and support to make the whole experience easier and more satisfying including…
- Snorkel/dive spotting white board
- Ropes to dive entry points and at entry points
- Current indicator
- Sign out board so people can go themselves on the house reef
- Wreck next to the house reef
- Snorkel board
For divers who want to dive this house reef, solo diving is permitted (as long as you follow the strict safety guidelines). I’ve not seen so many things put in place to enhance the house reef experience. A number of them are quite unique in their own right (eg. current indicator, house reef wreck). But the one that excited me the most was the “Spotting White Board”.
I have been advocating for years that resorts feature a white board where they could share their snorkel discoveries and sightings. I envisioned a map where people could highlight what they saw and where. My frustration with the lack of any logging or sharing facility is what led to me developing the Snorkel Spotter. Chaaya Reef Ellaidhoo doesn’t have anything as fancy as that, but at least it has a log board for sightings (see photo below) which is in the right spirit.
We often shared our sightings via that white board – both diving and snorkelling. It is a good idea but because animals don't necessarily hang around to be found easily at a later time it does have its limitations – we were lucky enough to see a harlequin shrimp whilst diving last October, the dive staff knew that around six harlequin shrimps inhabited the house reef but hadn't seen any them for many months, but despite going back over that area of reef we didn't see it again and nor did others who enquired abouts its exact whereabouts from us. The board is however a very good indicator of how healthy and diverse the reef life is.
I think the current stick is perhaps of more immediate use for both divers and snorkellers as Ellaidoo's position means it is subject to some strong currents across the reef and along the wall. Its something we checked daily to help plan our house reef diving.
Self diving a vibrant, interesting reef (both day and night) is what attracts us back to Ellaidhoo.
Pingback: Best of the Maldives: House Reef Wreck – Chaaya Reef Ellaidhoo - Maldives Complete Blog