What do you get an astronaut for Christmas? A space snorkel.
As Maldives Complete is sort of the hub of Maldives resort snorkelling, (the best snorkelling in the world), I do tend to venture into other extremes of the activity around the world. Or, this week, out of the world. The Maldives is renowned for its low altitude, but NASA today brings it to a record altitude. Snorkelling in Space.
It turns out that the astronauts faced a bit of a problem with leaky space suits which almost drowned one of them. The “snorkel” is an improvised fix to work around the problem.
Maldives snorkelling/diving and space walking have a bit more in common. Diving is about the closest one will get to the sensation of being in space and being in “another world”. Complete with anti-gravity as one of your first scuba skills is neutral buoyancy.
One of the things I have “now seen” is a li-lo for snorkelling. I called this out last year and now Chaaya Reef Ellaidhoo finally has one. It is called a “Microsub” and you can rent it for $20 per hour from the dive centre. It is a great device for weak swimmers who want to enjoy the spectacle of snorkelling in the Maldives. In some respects, it is better than a life jacket because it keeps the legs elevated at the top of the water. One of the problems with weaker swimmers using life jackets for snorkelling is that they let their legs dangle underwater and often kick coral inadvertently.
Just another way that the Maldives makes the undersea extravaganza accessible to just about everyone.
If you are looking for a snorkel floatation aid that is a bit sportier, consider Kurumba’s “Vu Board”. Available from their sports centre for $20/day. Kurumba is quickly becoming one of my favourite house reefs to snorkel (I’m more of a fish guy than a coral guy and Kurumba’s is more of a fish reef than a coral one), and Vu Board brings it to life to even more people.
Happy Fathers Day!
Perfect gift for Dad is a good gadget. But instead of getting another electric cheese straightener that will just end up in the garage, how about a “Coralbot”? Or at least a donation in his name to research project developing them – “Coralbots: Restoring and Conserving Coral Reefs with Robots” (thanks Eileen)
The initial trials are in Belize, which according to my research is the second best place in the world for snorkelling (similar shallow lagoon coral atoll topology to Maldives, but less extensive than Maldives). But hopefully the findings will be of benefit to all places in the world with stunning yet stressed reefs like the Maldives.
Restore-trooper, these are the droids you are looking for!
In the growing world of travel options, the holiday industry is getting more and more specialised in its offerings and positioning. This trend was one of my motivations to starting Maldives Complete in order to help people navigate the growing range of resort options and styles. Maldives has long been a destination for (a) honeymooners, and (b) divers, but in recent years, it has been also established a worldwide reputation for (c) snorkelling, and (d) surfing. It is also an outstanding destination for families which was one of my earliest inspirations for building the website.
The Maldives has been renowned for indolent seclusion and lazing about in the sunshine with the counter downside perception of there being “nothing to do”. But now many resorts offer extensive water sports centers, underwater features and a range of creative activities and events tailored for the most esoteric interests.
As a result, many of the emerging “travel buzzwords” enumerated in the Telegraph’s recent article “The most irritating travel buzzwords” are on offer in the Maldives…
- Spacation – spa trip
- Floatel – a hotel on water
- Voluntourism – combining a holiday with charity work
- Spafari – safaris combined with "wellness"
- Flightseeing – viewing an attraction, the Grand Canyon, for example, from an aircraft
- Digital detox – a holiday without your mobile, tablet or laptop
- Twixmas – a short break between Christmas and New Year
The Maldives is also a center for another term – the “Surfari” – as described in the recent Newswire piece “The Rise of the 'Surfari' Highlights the Maldives' Potential to Appeal to Active Holidaymakers”. I think that the Maldives’ biggest world-leading activity of Snorkeling also needs its own buzzword. “Reefcation”? “Snorkelooza”?
I don’t do Guest Houses, but I do do Snorkeling.
I’ve shied away from adding the new Guest Houses in the Maldives to the Maldives Complete database for a few reasons. First, I’ve neverstayed in one so I have no real first-hand experience to understand the key characteristics to profile. Second, there is less information on them on the web for me to research. They are often small mom-and-pop operations and comprehensive websites are not often provided.
But I have been a big advocate of Maldives being the best place to Snorkel in the world. And from that perspective (and in the spirit of ‘Best of the Maldives’ distinctives and uniques) I just had to add a post about the Keyodhoo guest house’s new ‘Power Snorkeling’ activity…
“Power Snorkeling – Only available at Keyodhoo. If you like snorkelling, you’ll just love Power Diving! With Power Dive’s free-floating Power Snorkel, you can dive to 6 metres with a friend for more than an hour on the 35 a/h battery. There are no tanks to carry, wear or refill and, after your dive, simply recharge or exchange the battery and do it all again! You don’t need a dive ticket to use it. View video in sidebar. $35 per couple, or $20 per person.”
World Book Day! An apropos time to showcase the top books on snorkelling (and diving) in the Maldives. There are 3 main books on snorkelling (and diving) in the Maldives…
- Dive Maldives by Tim Godfrey – The original. More focused on scuba diving, but it does highlight which sites are great for snorkelling too.
- Complete Guide to Diving and Snorkeling the Maldives by Sam Harwood and Rob Bryning – No dive charts like Godfrey features, but Harwood and Bryning do have more information specifically on snorkelling. For example, for every site they indicate not just a star-rating for diving, but also one for snorkelling.
- Diving & Snorkeling Maldives by Lonely Planet – A relatively recent find, though also out of print. Thinner and less comprehensive that the other two, but a handy guide for the most prominent sites.
All three cover the atolls with the most resorts…
- North and South Male
Lonely Planet and Harwood/Bryning also both cover…
But only Harwood/Bryning cover the following atolls…
- Gaafu (Alifu amd Dhaalu)
No election is needed to anoint wildlife presenter David Attenborough more than Commentator in Chief of all thing nature. More of an exhaulted grandmaster. His infamous series including ‘Life of Birds’, ‘Frozen Planet’ and of course, ‘The Blue Planet’.
The Blue Planet is as fine a cinematic exploration of the undersea world as you will ever watch. After 60 years of delving into every exotic nook and cranny of our vibrant planet, he shared (thanks Karla) what experience strikes him the most…
“So which spot on the planet would he recommend to give people a chance to enjoy living creatures at their best? The Galápagos with their iguanas? The Amazon rainforest? His answer comes as a surprise. “People say you cannot beat the rainforest. But that is simply not true. You go there and the first thing you think is: where the hell are the birds? Where are the animals? They are hiding in the trees, of course. No, if you want beauty and wildlife, you want a coral reef. Put on a mask and stick your head under the water. The sight is mind-blowing. ‘And that, actually, is still a mystery: why are coral reefs so beautiful and colourful? It is not immediately obvious, though the wildlife is wonderful: shell-less molluscs, crustaceans and shoals of fish that do not give a damn whether you are there or not. Your first trip to a coral reef will be one of the most transforming moments of your life.’ There is, of course, a downside. Coral reefs are now being destroyed at a staggering rate. Some estimates suggest around 600 square miles are lost every year, a rate double that of rainforest destruction. Reefs are dying because ocean waters are being acidified as carbon dioxide levels rise in the atmosphere as a result of human industrial activity.’”
So the best nature experience you can do is a snorkel on the coral reef. And the best place for snorkelling in the world is the Maldives. Simply the best experience in the world.
The votes are in! And, standing on a platform of dazzling views and enchanting creatures, the winner is ‘Snorkelling’.
In a recent “Maldives Visitor Survey 2011”, Snorkelling was listed as the ‘Activity Most Enjoyed’ by a landslide with 40% of the votes. People often think of the Maldives as a dive haven, and certainly the two are related, but Snorkeling was cited nearly twice a highly as Diving (17%…which was the #2 activity).
A landslide vote of confidence for the greatest snorkelling on Earth.
Lions and Tigers and Bears…oh my!
There are all types of ‘Big 5’ possibilities for types of ‘Snorkel Safaris’. The TripAdvisor Maldives Forum discussed this subject a while back where I proposed the following added ‘Big Five’ lists…
Rare (for snorkelling) Big 5…
- Cuttle fish
Mini Big 5
- Anemone Fish
- Christmas Tree Worm
- Sand Eels
- Cleaner Shrimp
Camouflage Big 5 (for the eagle-eyed Where’s Wally fans)
- Stone Fish
- Leaf Fish
- Scorpion Fish
- Frog Fish
One I thought of since would be a ‘Namesake Safari’. Not the biggest nor most prominent sea creatures, but the ones who by name most evoke a ‘safari’…
- Lion Fish
- Leopard Moray
- Tiger Shark
- Zebra Shark
- Elephant Ear Mushroom Coral
And in a safari, one of the most prized events you can catch is a ‘kill’. Some predator like a lion or leopard catching a gazelle or water buffalo. I would say that in Snorkel Safaris spotting such an occurrence is even rarer, but the YouTube video (see above) of ‘Scorpion Fish Eats Octopus’ is an epic example of what might be dubbed the ‘Battle of the Camouflage.’