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Diving During the Maldivian Monsoons

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By: Harvey Edwards

Maldives Promotion House – The seasons in the Maldives are dictated by wind direction. While we call them monsoons, to many people that also has connotations of rain and storms.

The Maldives has two main wind directions or ‘monsoons’. The Iruvai Monsoon comes from the NE, which is the direction of the Indian subcontinent and is generally dry and settled, as it passes over a large land area, and relatively small water. The Iruvai is said to start on December 10th, and runs for approximately 4 months until April 7th.

From mid-April the wind tends to come from the SW, picking up a lot of moisture as it moves over the Indian Ocean. Known as the Hulhangu monsoon, this monsoon actually started in India. As the air starts to warm up over the Indian sub-continent (North-hemisphere summer), the air mass rises sharply and there is a rush of wind to replace it, and as it is coming from the SW (moisture-laden ocean) it brings in the rain. Winds in the Maldives are generally at their strongest in May and the rain begins to fall. The Hulhangu monsoon is known as the wet monsoon because of this. This monsoon runs for approximately 6 months.

We must also take into account the changeover period between the monsoons. The wind can change frequently during this time. Just like an ‘Indian summer’ in other countries, these weather patterns change from year to year, but are fairly consistent in the long run. Four months for the Iruvai, six months for the Hulhangu and two months for the changeover period.

 

The Maldivian Nakaiy Calendar

Approximate Date Nakaiy Approximate Description
Dec. 10 – Dec. 22 MULA strong winds, rough seas
Dec. 23 – Jan. 05 FURAHALHA strong north-easterly winds, rough seas
Jan. 06 – Jan. 18 UTHURAHALHA clear blue skies, strong winds, rough seas
Jan. 19 – Jan. 31 HUVAN calm seas, blue skies
Feb. 01 – Feb. 13 DHINASHA north-easterly winds, moderate seas, plenty of sunshine
Feb. 14 – Feb. 26 HIYAVIHA seas are calm, days and and nights are hot
Feb. 27 – Mar. 11 FURABADHURUVA frequent, short, sharp bursts of thunder and lightning
Mar. 12 – Mar. 25 FUSBADHURUVA usually clear blue skies
Mar. 26 – Apr. 07 REYVA if storm occur they may be severe
Apr. 08 – Apr. 21 ASSIDHA begins with storm, then becomes hot and dry
Apr. 22 – May 05 BURUNU begins with a storm and strong winds, then becomes calm
May 06 – May 19 KETHI dark clouds, frequent rains
May 20 – Jun. 02 ROANU storms, strong winds and rough seas
Jun. 03 – Jun. 16 MIYAHELIA storms, rough seas and strong westerly winds
Jun. 17 – Jun. 30 ADHA south-westerly winds and light rain
Jul. 01 – Jul. 14 FUNOAS storms, rough seas, frequent sudden gales
Jul. 15 – Jul. 28 FUS wet and overcast
Jul. 29 – Aug. 10 AHULIA less frequent storms, calmer days
Aug. 11 – Aug. 23 MAA generally calm
Aug. 24 – Sep. 06 FURA isolated showers, usually dry with light north-westerly winds
Sep. 07 – Sep. 20 UTHURA strong north-westerly winds
Sep. 21 – Oct. 03 ATHA generally clear and calm with isolated showers
Oct. 04 – Oct. 17 HITHA light winds, isolated showers
Oct. 18 – Oct. 30 HEY strong winds from all directions
Nov. 01 – Nov. 13 VIHA calm days
Nov. 14 – Nov. 26 NORA light winds, some sun and showers
Nov. 27 – Dec. 09 DOSHA light north-easterly winds

Climate

Take this all with a grain of sand. Large weather patterns affecting the Bay of Bengal for example will have a diluted effect in the Maldives. We are generally considered to be out of the cyclone belt but there have been some nifty storms with cyclones damaging islands forcing evacuations as the islands basically disintegrated due to the persistent pounding of waves in a different direction from normal.

Diving/Staying During the Monsoon

To understand this is to understand the geography of the individual atolls. Have a look at your hotel in regards to East/West.

The Maldives is the lowest country in the world; we’re basically sand banks with a few trees. The outer reef is a barrier reef which does a lot to protect the inner reefs from being smashed to pieces. The coral is usually stunted in the shallows as it gets incredibly strong surge and periodic pounding from waves. Ocean swells of 3 to 5 metres are not uncommon. The surge often gouges out huge grooves in the reef making it look a bit like a tin roof.

If the prevailing wind is coming from the south-west, and your resort is on the south-western side of the atoll you’ll experience the worst of it, or best of it depending on what you want. Villas located over the water can actually shudder when the wind and waves are strong. So it may pay to try to get a room on the eastern side of the island, but then you give up the sunset view. Storms are not common.

For diving this is not necessarily a bad thing. While the weather can be arse, and the winds strong, the wind is also creating the current to a certain extent. While it’s impossible to dive the outside channels when the wind is very strong, the days after can be exhilarating or terrifying to some.

Diving at the western side of the atoll during the SW monsoon you will experience predominantly incoming currents. This means the water is rising from the deep ocean and flowing into the shallow atoll. Viz is generally better, water slightly cooler with better chances to see pelagic. Viz can be 50 metres on a sunny calm day with a good incoming current.

Attention: Can you imagine if it gets worse with 3 to 5 metre swells? Seriously? When good dives go bad here, they can go very very bad, very very quickly. A diver can carry 5 different coloured SMBs, air horns, and mirrors, but if you get pushed outside the atoll in to the ocean when the conditions are like that, you will potentially die simply because the traditional Dhonis (boats) are not stable enough to pick you up. Dhonis are actually very good for the local conditions but most ‘tourist’ Dhonis have a huge wooden sun deck making them very top-heavy. The boat will roll if it attempts to pick you up. Please don’t kid yourself about your abilities to handle yourselves when things go wrong. The ocean is like any dramatic outdoor environment such as a desert, mountain, jungle etc. and conditions change. But these kinds of situations are exceptionally rare and dive centres in Maldives will avoid diving in such situations. 

Diving at the eastern side of the atoll at this time you will experience predominantly outgoing current. The viz is generally worse, let’s say 12 to 15 metres. Lots of plankton, lots of fish and better chances to see mantas and whale sharks. The currents this time are going from shallow to deep water. When the currents are strong, it tends to drop at the end of the atoll and so caution must be taken here as well. Viz is poorer, you’re lower on air/deco at the end of the dive, a bad time to start equalising your ears.

Resort/Liveaboard

I have never worked on a liveaboard or safari boat. Resorts are varied in price and service. It all depends on your wants vs. your $$$. The more expensive the resort, the more service you receive in terms of equipment status (assembled/washed), free water, snacks, group size etc.

In a 5* Resort, you will pay approximately USD 100 per dive with rental equipment. Some resorts have Nitrox for free if you are certified. Resorts and diving centres are usually separate entities but they usually match each other in terms of price and service. The DC rents the location from the resort, which rents the location from the island owner. Don’t expect to pay USD 50 per dive if your room costs USD 1000 per night.

The typical schedule is 2 or 3 dives per day. Night dives are usually scheduled once a week but can be arranged depending on whether the DC has their own boats or leases from the island. In this case, the boat crew can be working nights doing supply runs. I suggest tipping boat crew USD 10 each if they change their schedule for you. Three crew per boat is USD 30. Tipping the diving staff is nice but not as important IMO.

5* is not necessarily better for diving. I’ve worked in two 5* and one 4* and dived with another 3*. The best for diving was the 3*, followed by the 4* and surprise, surprise the 5* came last. Many resorts are marketed as spas and retreats and the quality of divers can be a real mixed bag. If you’re on holiday, want to relax and maybe dive an afternoon or 2- that’s great.

If you’re a dedicated diver in a 5* resort it can be tricky as some of the best dives in the Maldives are also the most challenging, not all but some. Some 5* guests complain about having to swim (seriously), but they want the attractions that come with the current. Carrying a reef hook doesn’t mean you don’t have to swim against the current sometimes. So the 5* resort doesn’t go to these spots when the current is strong, sad but true. If you have the money, go private. It’ll cost a bundle but if you can share the costs with other like-minded divers, it’ll be worth it.

For price, you can’t beat the all-inclusive resort. Diving is probably not included, but you’ll save a ton on food and drink costs. The foreign staff will really appreciate any magazines, books etc. Anything really is OK, well maybe not a tatty newspaper, but you get my point. Doesn’t matter which language, most staff speak at least two and know other staff which speaks the language in question. They’ll be stoked and you can save your $$ tips for the Maldivian and especially Bangladeshi crews. Many boat crews are now coming from Bangladesh or Sri Lanka, the captain will be Maldivian. These guys make about USD 150 to 200 per month.

Liveaboards are for the divers who are coming to the Maldives to dive. Price will work out the same as 5* resort based diving, probably cheaper in the long run. You’ll cover more ground and dive more often and if you’re lucky to be diving with like-minded guests, you can pick and choose the sites you’re more interested in. If I was coming on a 10 to 12 day diving vacation holiday, I’d hit the safari boat first and then go to a 4* resort for a few days of R n R afterwards.

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Join Ifuru Island Maldives’ exhilarating ice, bubbles challenge

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Are You Ready? The Ice & Bubbles Challenge awaits your arrival at Ifuru Island.

Are you ready for the ultimate chill thrill of indulgence and adventure? Then put on your explorer hat and jet off to Ifuru Island for the Ice & Bubbles Challenge! Imagine: you’ll be basking in the breathtaking Maldives scenery while putting your might to the test with a 6-minute polar plunge, clutching a flute of bubbly like a boss. Once you conquer the challenge, you’ll savour the delicious bubbly and feel like a true champion!

Picture yourself lounging poolside, surrounded by swaying palm trees, white sandy beaches, and crystal-clear waters, while also pushing your endurance to the limit. And as a badge of honour, guests are gifted with a trendy Ice Bath and Bubbles Challenge t-shirt to flaunt their fearless spirit. The current record for the Ice & Bubbles Challenge is a brave 22 minutes, and we’re daring you to beat it!

Cold-water immersion can speed up your muscle recovery, reduce inflammation, and give you a boost of energy. Plus, you’ll feel like a true hero after conquering the challenge and basking under the warm Maldivian sun.

So, what are you waiting for? Rally your friends and come join us on Ifuru Island Maldives for an unforgettable adventure that’s sure to create magical memories that will last a lifetime!

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Six Senses launches Mermaid Courses in Maldives

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Six Senses Laamu and Six Senses Kanuhura in the Maldives are making waves with the launch of an enchanting underwater experience – PADI Mermaid courses.

Now, guests aged six and above can embark on a magical journey guided by certified PADI scuba dive instructors. Aspiring mermaids and mermen will be equipped with a monofin, a type of swim fin that mimics the movements of dolphins, and colorful fabric tail, mirroring the hues of the ocean. Catering to various ages, interests, and skill levels, both resorts offer a range of courses from discovery to advanced. A professional photographer is available on request to capture personal fairytale-moments.

“We’re thrilled to introduce this fun new experience to our range of underwater offerings,” says Judith Scheibelberger, PADI trainer and resident mermaid expert at Six Senses Laamu, an IHG Hotels & Resorts property. “Our mermaid courses are not only a source of fun and excitement for kids but also invite adults to tap into their imagination and reconnect with their inner child. Beyond the entertainment aspect and capturing Instagram-worthy memories, participants will also gain valuable underwater skills and learn about the awe-inspiring secrets of the sea.”

Mermaid courses join a plethora of underwater experiences available to guests at both Maldivian Six Senses resorts, including snorkeling with turtles, vibrant coral reef explorations, and exhilarating diving adventures. The resorts boasts state-of-the-art dive centers that provide comprehensive services and expert guidance.

For young adventurers, both resorts also offer the PADI Seal Team programme, catering to junior divers aged eight and above. This program allows aspiring divers to explore the underwater world safely, through the five ‘AquaMissions,’ where participants can delve down to four meters, or the introductory PADI Bubblemaker experience, tailored for children aged eight to nine, allowing them to dive down to two meters.

“These experiences not only offer a glimpse into the mesmerising underwater world but also provide an opportunity for young divers to develop their confidence and diving skills while exploring the diversity of Maldivian reefs,” says Anne Hospital, Dive Manager of both resorts.

The brand’s Grow With Six Senses programme offers all of the dimensions of wellness, providing kids with opportunities to reconnect with nature and engage with their surroundings. Through immersive experiences in local culture, wellness, sustainability and social interactions, children spark their curiosity and gain valuable life skills. At the heart of this programme are the dedicated kid’s clubs known as ‘The Den’, which serve as hubs for exploration and discovery.

At Six Senses Laamu and Six Senses Kanuhura, one standout offering is the Mermaid course, which invites children on an underwater adventure amidst stunning turquoise panoramas. On land, the activities are equally diverse, ranging from enlightening garden tours to innovative waste-to-wealth workshops and interactive junior cooking classes. These experiences are designed to provide children with valuable life skills through hands-on play, ensuring a comprehensive and enriching journey for young guests at the resorts.

Prices for the PADI Mermaid Courses start from USD 150 for a 45-minute discovery session. For bookings and further information, please visit sixsenses.com or contact reservations-maldives@sixsenses.com.

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Encounter of majesty: Whale Shark sighting at Vilamendhoo Island Resort

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Measuring an impressive 6.5 meters, a majestic whale shark was recently spotted gliding gracefully through the enthralling house reef of Vilamendhoo Island Resort & Spa, just beyond the main jetty. This awe-inspiring sight captivated guests, who were fortunate enough to snorkel alongside this magnificent creature. As the whale shark meandered through the crystal-clear waters, guests paused their activities, enchanted by the rare opportunity to witness such a spectacular marine spectacle.

Whale sharks, the gentle giants of the ocean, are renowned for their majestic presence in the azure waters of South Ari Atoll where, Vilamendhoo is located. These magnificent creatures frequent the abundant house reefs of this tropical paradise, creating a mesmerizing spectacle for visitors. Alongside them, graceful manta rays glide effortlessly through the crystal-clear waters, while vibrant coral gardens teem with life beneath the surface. Each encounter with these marine wonders offers a glimpse into the rich biodiversity surrounding the island, captivating the hearts of all who venture into its depths, adding to the allure of this tropical paradise.

“The sighting of the whale shark has evoked an overwhelming wave of positivity among our guests, who have shared their sheer delight at the rare opportunity to encounter such a magnificent creature during their stay. For many, this unexpected marvel has transformed their holiday experience at Vilamendhoo into an unforgettable journey, solidifying our resort’s standing as a premier destination for ocean enthusiasts and nature lovers,” elucidated Mohamed Zahir, General Manager of Vilamendhoo.

Located on a pristine island measuring 900 meters long by 250 meters wide, Vilamendhoo Island Resort & Spa follows the cherished ‘One Island, One Resort’ concept for which the Maldives is renowned. Surrounded by a spectacular house reef teeming with marine life, guests are invited to explore the underwater wonders just a short swim away from the expansive sandy beaches.

Whether it’s diving into the depths of the ocean or snorkeling amidst vibrant coral gardens, Vilamendhoo offers the quintessential island adventure. The resort’s 184 rooms, each adorned in natural island style, provide the perfect sanctuary for relaxation after days filled with oceanic exploration.

To reach this tropical haven, guests embark on a scenic seaplane transfer from Velana International Airport, enjoying a breathtaking 25-minute flight over the mesmerizing atolls of the Maldives.

In conclusion, the sighting of a whale shark at Vilamendhoo serves as a testament to the unparalleled beauty and biodiversity of the Maldives’ marine environment. As travelers seek meaningful encounters with nature, Vilamendhoo stands ready to welcome them into a world where every moment is filled with wonder and awe.

Discover paradise at Vilamendhoo Island Resort & Spa in the Maldives. With its pristine beaches, azure waters, and luxurious accommodations, Vilamendhoo offers the perfect retreat for relaxation and oceanic exploration. Nestled in the South Ari Atoll, this resort follows the cherished ‘One Island, One Resort’ concept, providing guests with a true tropical escape. Experience the magic of the Maldives with a scenic 25-minute seaplane transfer from Velana International Airport, and indulge in 184 rooms adorned in natural island style.

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