Diving in the Maldives
All resorts at the Maldives have a dive centre which use boats to reach the dive sites. Usually the dive centre organizes two exit per day: one in the morning (with 2 dives) and the other in the afternoon. Usually the time necessary to go from the island to the dive site depends on the resort distance and ranges from 10 to 90 minutes. In this way tourists can be back to the resort for lunch or before darkening.
In case of a particularly distant dive sites, daily trips with two dives are organized. Lunch is served on the dhoni. Every evening the dive centre hangs outside its office the cards regarding the two or three dives for the day after. For each trip the starting point and the duration is indicated, sometimes also the dhoni name and the dive features.
Another type of dive is on live-aboard. Live-aboard is no doubt the best way to know the underwater world.
Usually two or three dives per day are organized. A two or three weeks cruise allows you to see different places in different zones, that cannot be reached if you are in a resort.
Live-aboard are always attended by a support boat, equipped with compressors, tanks and weights for a safer dive. There are cruising vessels of all types and sizes, offering different types of comfort.
Dive and cruising vessels offer services to certificated divers, courses for beginners and for advanced.
The PADI is the most common certificate, but in some resorts you can also find CMAS or Ssi courses.
The “open water” PADI certificate allows you to dive up to 18 meters, but if you want to dive deeper you need the “advanced” PADI certificate or other equivalent international certificates.
A certification of physical fitness is required by many resorts. If you do not have it, you must be visited by a doctor or sign an auto-certification.
Each diver must do a “check-dive” to allow the dive master to evaluate his experience and his familiarity with this sport.
In all resorts you can do, sometimes free of charge, a guided dive-test with a dive master, called “Discovery”. This is a test to get acquainted with the underwater world.
Children can start diving when they are 10.
At the Maldives there are two types of dive:
- from the shore on the island reef, if present
- from the boat, in channels or passes or on reef, located inside or outside the atoll, and on the wrecks.
Many dives at the Maldives are organized in waters with currents. Currents often change direction and intensity, according to the wind, to the tide or to the waves. Therefore the dive master must plan the dive at his best: he must enter the water first and evaluate the current direction and intensity to let the tourists have a pleasant dive.
At the Maldives you cannot go deeper than 30 meters.
Standard equipment for diving, further to mask and fins, includes:
- BCD (Buoyancy Control Device)
- Scuba Unit (first stage, octopus main regulator, spare regulator, pressure gauge, hose)
- Diving suits. Temperature is constant between 28/29° the whole year and often a 3 mm neoprene suit is sufficient.
- Weights and weight belts (provided by the diving centers or by the live-aboard)
- Cylinders usually in aluminium with INT or DIN valves. The most equipped dive centers have 11,5 and 15 lt. cylinders. Sometimes the Nitrox refill is supplied.
- Computer. The use of the underwater computer is usually mandatory and advisable at the Maldives.
Many resorts do not allow you to dive without a computer as the ocean bottom topography is not homogeneous and the so-called “multilevel” diving is necessary.
At the Maldives you cannot dive outside the no-decompression limit. Before emerging, it is necessary to stop at a depth of 5 meters for 3 minutes.
Often gloves are not allowed, as they could damage rocks or corals.
The torch is optional during the day, but mandatory in the night.
If necessary, it is possible to rent a part or the whole equipment at the dive centre or on the live-aboard. In case of “open water” course, the equipment rental is included in the price. If you need to rent the equipment on the live-aboard, it is better to ask in advance if it is available.