Best of the Maldives Online: Interactive Weather Map – Dark Sky

Interactive Weather Map – Dark Sky

National Geologic Map day is just the time to share one of my new favourite sites. – Dark Sky. I’m a lover of visual representation of data (bit of an Edward Tufte groupie). Dark Sky brings together two of my favourite tools – maps and interactivity. To help share updates on everyone’s favourite topic (and often top reason for going to the Maldives) – the weather. In fact, all of my interactive graphical features on Maldives Complete are map based – Snorkel Spotter, British Admiralty Maps DeepZoom (needs IE unfortunately), and Dive Maps. The Dark Sky site is very high quality and aesthetically well done with lots of weather data.

In honour of Geologic Map Day, I have added the “Maps” tag to the blog.

Happy exploring!

‘Tis the Season

Maldives season graphic 1

Whale Shark season, Manta season, Whale Shark season, Manta season…

When (and where) to see Whale Sharks and Mantas are right up there in the Top 10 List of Frequently Asked Questions about the Maldives. A number of answers abound on the web especially in the TripAdvisor Maldives Forum, but none so illustrative as Moosa Fulhu’s 3 slides posted on the “Marine Biology in the Maldives” Facebook page.

May all your seasons bring tidings of majestic pelagics.

Maldives season graphic 2

Best of the Maldives Online: Weather Broadcast – Kurumba

Kurumba - weather video

What a weekend! We have sun, earth, and atmosphere, so we have weather! Not weather, sun, sun, sun, sun, sun!” – Harris K. Telemacher, “LA Story”

In the spirit of Harris K. Telemacher and Brick Tamland, a new addition to one of the great weather comedic broadcasters.

One of the most frequently asked questions by prospective visitors to the Maldives is, “When/where is the best weather?” I’ve post about periodically myself. The TripAdvisor Maldives Forum has a special FAQ thread about it. But Kurumba decided to really tackle the subject in a fun and informative way on its blockbuster YouTube channel.

High Pressure systems!… High pressure systems!…” – Brick Tamland, “Anchorman”

Best of the Maldives: Equatorial – Ayada

equator

What gives the Maldives its distinctive sunny disposition is its equatorial location.

I remember a story from my junior high geography class where the captain of a cruise liner was being harassed by an obnoxious passenger who insisted on being shown the Equator when they crossed it. So when the ship was approaching the 0 degrees mark, the captain called the passenger up the bridge. The passenger was upset because “on the maps, it is clearly a line across the ocean”. So the quick thinking captain, pulled a long hair from his head, stretched it across the lens of his looking glass and said, “Here have a look…” The passenger saw the thin line of the hair superimposed on the vast expanse of blue and was duly satisfied that he had now seen the Equator.

And if you want the most equatorial adventure that the Maldives has to offer, then you need to go to Ayada. As the southernmost resort in the Gaafu Dhaalu atoll (the resort atoll closest to the Equator) it is your closest opportunity to crossing hemispheres.

This equator-centric location also bodes well for the Maldives weather. While “tropical” storms tend to start near the equator (with its sunny warm heating the ocean and the air), they rarely end up there. Once they gather a bit of power, then they veer north or south away from the Equator (as the picture below describes) – and away from the Maldives!

 

Tropical storm formation

Best of the Maldives: Weather Site – www.Windyty.com

Windyty weather

The second most frequently asked question about the Maldives is “When is the best time to go?” And this question is basically asking “When is the weather the best?” Not a surprising FAQ since one of the top draws to the destination is its tropical sunshine. The tourist board’s promotional slogan is “The Sunny Side of Life”. So if this is the allure, people are always wanting to do everything they can to optimise every ounce of sunshine during their stay.

My post on weather norms is one of my most popular over the years, and the subject is one of the most frequently raised on the Maldives TripAdvisor Forum. I’ve posted a number of superb weather resources that I’ve found and used and today’s feature is one of my favourites – Windyty.com.

The creator is a kindred spirit of Internet sharing. This remarkable resource provides a colourful and comprehensive interactive resource and is completely non-commercial. Ivo developed and maintained it as an outlet for his passion and his technical prowess.

It is such a useful resource that I have exploited his “embed” capability and added it to the bottom of the Maldives Complete home page.

May the winds of the Maldives always blow gently in your favour.

Maldives Kurumba Visit – Day 8: Maldives Departure

Maldives departure November 2009

As we transferred to the Male airport for our departure, the Maldives hit us with everything it had left in its rain/wind/storm system as a final inclement send off. While it certainly made saying good-bye easier, we reflected (as noted in my ‘Stormy Weather’ post) how little it had ruined the vacation.

We had just about come to terms with these plusses and minuses until our final day when we woke up to what seemed to be National Monsoon Day. Scores of splashy downpours paraded by one after the other each one trying to outdo the previous one. The umbrella was pretty useless because the rain hit the ground so hard that it bounced up and attacked you from underneath. Still, when the weather broke a little we still went out for a family snorkel. The weather acted up a bit and it was a bit funny snorkelling in a monsoon but ‘under the sea’ everything was calm and we saw this giant stingray digging for food in the lagoon.

I think there were several keys to enjoying the holiday despite such a string of bad weather days (which all the veterans noted was uncharacteristically poor…statistically November is the 6th driest month) which are hints for the many travellers I meet who fret about the sunshine…

  • Enjoy each other’s company – The trip for us was a long overdue family get together and being together, playing board games, joking around, was half the fun that the weather didn’t touch. I think if your fellow travellers were not your favourite people, the time in the confined space would be a bit less fun.
  • Not sunbathers – Many people do come to the tropics for lounging in the sun and working on that tan. If that is a key objective to the holiday, then there is not much solace to be had in missing sun (no pun intended…oh well, maybe a bit).
  • Undaunted – Many would have hunkered down with even just the regular threat of wind and rain, but we boldly went out on activities like snorkelling and visiting Male and they all worked out fine if not as spectacular as a sun-drenched day would have been.
  • Upbeat Attitude – Every one was pretty upbeat constantly. Appreciating the many upsides and savouring the delightful experiences and striking beauty that takes more than a little rain to dissolve.

The forecast early in the week was right and we had rain every day. While the rain came down in torrents, it only lasted 20 minutes or so. The downer was not the rain but the clouds. As stated previously, the lack of sun seemed to mute the Maldives experience and take away its sparkle. It was a lovely holiday, but not idyllic. It had its silver linings (easier reading, more mild temperatures), but more downsides (no sunbathing, less dazzling, less visibility and warmth snorkelling). It just goes to show you that even in ugly weather, the Maldives is beautiful. The major impact of unkind weather is that instead of the Maldives being ‘wow’, they were only ‘wonderful’, instead of being ‘exhilarating’, they are only ‘excellent’.

Male airport November 2009

Maldives Kurumba Visit – Day 3: Stormy weather

Male weather forecast

One of my greatest fears when visiting the Maldives in past years was not sharks in the ocean, or travel complications, but the weather going sour. It was all so perfect that you just wondered whether it just might turn some day. We have generally visited in February which is the absolute best/dryest month for ensuring the best whether, but we have also visited in June and October. Out of 6 weeks of visits, we have encountered only a single afternoon rain shower that lasted about 20 minutes. In fact, it was so unusual, and we were already wet from snorkelling, that the rain was somewhat of a curious novelty that didn’t hurt the holiday one bit.

Still, each day when we woke up, the room was always dark from the shades being pulled and being so dark I wondered if when I pulled the shades, I would reveal a dreary, grey day for once. Well, every single time, I opened the windows to a sparkling sunny morning with bright blue skies. It seemed just uncanny how regularly bright and sunny the days were.

So you can imagine my trepidation when I looked at the weather for this weeks stay and every single day of the week forecast “Scattered T-Storms” (see graphic above with its ominous dark cloud and lightning bolt!). We are officially at the end of the May to November ‘monsoon’ or ‘rainy’ season. But having visited during this period before without seeing a drop of rain, I wasn’t overly apprehensive. Plus, it was ‘at the end’ so statistically any raininess would in my logical mind be tapering off if anything.

Well, we arrived to scattered clouds some of which turned into a torrential downpour for about half an hour. That was interesting, but then it stopped and the rest of the day was cloudy, but very warm (30 degree Fahrenheit) and it was thoroughly pleasant. In fact, the rain seemed to perk up the many flowers and soften the landscape. Then yesterday started with a mostly cloudy skies, but plenty of inspiring blue and all and all a very pleasant weather. As it happens, another 30 minute downpour came down in the late afternoon, but it was while we were napping after our afternoon dive and we didn’t even know it had rained until we emerged for Pina Colada time by which time things had settled nicely.

Today should have been my worst fear. I woke up early, pulled the curtains back and there was a steady rain outside. Mind you, it’s not as nice as waking up to sparkling sunshine, but it was not as bad as it could be. Somehow the day is brighter than when it rains in England. The sky is white with cloud, not grey. The rain is warm, not chilling. Not bad for a periodic change of pace, but if a lot of the week was going to be like this, then I would start to miss the dazzling sunshine certainly.

There certainly are downsides to the clouds and rain. Less eating outside (more windy and wet), less lovely ocean sunsets (though a little bit of cloud is ideal to create the best sunsets), less sunbathing (not my thing).

Actually, when it stopped, it made you appreciate the good weather more (‘yay, the rain stopped’). Another bonus of the still cloudy skies was the perfect temperature, perfect lighting for reading outside. Interesting that the rain and cloudy days haven’t ‘ruined’ the Maldives, but just sort of muted it. Sort of like a delicious meal that needs salt and pepper. Maldives without sunshine is like a savory stew of paradisiacal delights that just needs that dash of spice for perfection. Maldives without the sparkle, but still the glow.

Nonetheless, despite being the absolutely worst day of weather we had ever experienced, it turned out to be one of the best days I had spent here (great dive in morning, perfect outdoor reading conditions midday, superb snorkel with the family around the house reef in the afternoon). There is an old bumper sticker which says ‘A bad day sailing/golfing/etc. is better than a good day at the office.’ It just goes to show you that ‘A bad day in Maldives is still better than a good day just about anywhere else.’

Pricing Seasonality

 

A trip to the Maldives is often one planned months in advance and as one starts to investigate you quickly note that the prices vary dramatically according to the time of year. This pricing seasonality is fairly typical in the travel business with high seasons and off seasons and airline prices varying by all sorts of considerations. While there is officially a ‘rainy’ season between May and October, as you can see from our post on climate, the average hours of daily sunshine varies little and the Maldives have lots of if not predominantly glorious weather even at this time of year.

Maldives Complete has gathered up all of the published rates for the UK tour operators serving the Maldives (Kuoni, Hayes and Jarvis, Thomas Cook, Thompson, Seasons in Style and Cosmos) and averaged up their prices for each month which is shown in the above graph. Note that these are published ‘rack rates’ and often deals and promotions can be found which will be discounted off these. The basic analysis shows February, June and November to be the least expensive times to visit and January, March and July the priciest.

Satellite Views

Virtual Earth and Google Earth provide useful and sometimes stunning images from above of the Maldives to provide a sense of where you are heading to.  But often the images are months if not years old.  If you want the uber-birds-eye view, especially to see what the weather is looking like, check out Eumetsat hourly satellite photography online for a peek at the (usually) blue skies awaiting you.  The ‘Southern Asia’ (which covers the Maldives) colour photos are found here.  If you select the ‘Play’ option, then the site goes through the pictures in sequence to provide an animation of the weather movements.

Air and Water Temperature

  Air and Water Temperature in Maldives

People often ask when the best time of year to go to the Maldives is for the best weather.  As you can see from the chart above, provided courtesy of Hayes & Jarvis Maldives catalogue, there really is no bad time of year.  January through April is the sunniest and driest, but we have visited all year round and have always found the weather consistently brilliant.  As you can see from the temperature chart (orange bars), the air temperature average varies a total of 4 degrees between 84 and 88 degree Fahrenheit (29 to 31 degree Celsuis).

One of the luxuries of the distinctive Maldive turquoise lagoons and colourful reefs is the very comfortable water temperature.  It makes snorkelling and swimming especially comfortable and reduces the equipment fuss for diving as often one can dive in just a swimsuit and no wetsuit.  However, the water temperature does vary a bit more from a low of 75 to a high of 81 Fahrenheit (24 to 27 degrees Celsuis).