The Maldives is a country famous for its paradise beaches, white sand but also for its sea life. There are plenty of animals in the sea but there is no need to dive if you don't want to, snorkelling is more than enough to see whale sharks, sea turtles, manta rays, parrot fishes and much more.
Maldives is the paradise for diving lovers, but it is not the easiest place to dive in, so double check with the center you will do the dives with to what would be the best for your abilities and level.
In Maldives although you can see the sea normally very quiet near the shore, don't get tricked by it, there are currents under the water and in the open sea it can be challenging to swim to your destination. In the first days in the country, you will probably be warned that although you can see an island very near, just metres away from you due to the currents, the boat and the seaplane are the means of transport, you mustn't swim from one island to the other.
Snorkelling for first timers
It was y first time snorkelling ever and I did it in the Maldives, a very good starting point since the animal life here is incredible. We worked with Prodivers in Kuredu, the company who supplies the island about dives and snorkelling activities for their guests. Our instructor, John took us around the house reef and the lagoon to discover the animal life in the surface.
Since it was my first time, there were a lot of things I didn't know, first of all you need to spit in your eye mask so you can clearly see during your snorkelling session, that was a surprise when everyone started spitting in their masks... I thought at first they were all crazy but then it made a lot of sense.
It is important to be very respectful with the animals and vegetation, so you are not supposed to touch anything, but you can take plenty of pictures and enjoy the experience with eyes only. As mentioned, there are currents and they are unpredictable, they can be strong so it is recommended to snorkel with a buddy or go in groups. In the Prodivers HQ they have a list every day so whoever goes snorkelling lists their name in there, having control of who is out there helps prevent accidents and there is a much more control of who is in the water at any time.
It is a must that you protect yourself from the sun before snorkelling, apply sunblock and if you can wear an UV protection shirt and trousers, otherwise you have a lot of chances to end up like a grilled prawn.
After my experience as a first timer, if I would do it again I wouldn't go around the reef that is very near the surface, I scratched my knees since I don't control yet the fins and the mask, and not only can you hurt yourself but also the coral reef. This happened to me in Vilamendhoo island, that is surrounded by an amazing coral reef but you need to know your way around otherwise you might end up surrounded by corals.
My advice is to start your snorkelling in easy places, in the diving centre they can guide you on where is the best to go if you are starting. There are also some tricks on how and where to put your fins on, if you put them on the water it would be easier for you.
Coral reefs in the Maldives
The Maldives is known to be the best diving year-round destination in the Indian Ocean, no wonder why the Maldives is in the bucket list of many. The country has one of the world's most diverse marine ecosystems that is the consequence of being a famous diving destination.
Something that I was wondering is how the coral reefs are formed and it is interesting that there are so many in the Maldives. I discovered that it is believed that the atolls began as fringing reefs tht surrounded volcanic islands. The global warming effect and the consequence of glacials melting, the sea level gradually increased, the coral reef can't grow with insufficient sunlight so as a protective measure the same coral grew and begin constructing a protective barrier of calcium carbonate skeletons one on top of the other. The coral could keep growing to match up the rate of rising of the sea level.
The Maldives has an impressive mountain range underwater surrounded by vivid corals around those volcanoes we talked about it. The corals are invertebrate animals that have a soft body organism, close to anemones and jellyfish. The Maldives are the paradise for corals since they need crystal clear water that let sunlights get into the water, water currents also help plankton and food in the water to change every moment, since coral reefs cannot move this supplies them constantly of their needed food supply.
Corals are not only beautiful and adored by divers and snorkellers, they do an incredible task in the overall marine life, coral reefs are nursery ground of 25% of marine species. They are barriers, so they protect islands and coastal towns from storms and well as wave damage and erosion.
There is no doubt that coral reefs attract tourism, mainly diving lovers and snorkelers but also a big chunk of first timers. Tourism is one of the pillars of the local economy in the Maldives apat from fishing.
House reef in Kuredu
Kuredu has its own house reef, although some of it was damaged years ago due to the niño effect that dries up the coral, the reef is still nice to see and a must see if you are staying in the island.
The house reef has different parts, the lagoon is where the water is at its highest in the turquoise colour and is where you will find sea turtles, they love to eat sea grass so they are near the floor where it grows. They also like caves, so you will find them around rocks as well where they can lie down and sleep.
We went walking all the wooden walkway until the end and got into the water, you can see the ship wreck, quite impressive since you see them from the top but you can also go down to see it closer. This is where the reef is and there are plenty of fish of different kinds.
I also snorkelled in the island of Vilmendhoo through their house reef and it was impressive since they have a very well preserved coral and most of it, still alive and of different colours.
House reef in Vilamendhoo
From the three islands we visited, Vilamendhoo was with no doubt the best for snorkelling, the island is located between two channels, making the house reef spectacular and versatile, this one ranks among the best for diving and snorkelling in the Maldives and Euro-divers is the company who runs the activities in Vilamendhoo.
Vilamendhoo is located in the eastern reef of South Ari Atoll, guarantees that there is fresh water, and good conditions for the coral to grow and plenty of fish to be around it. There are more than 50 dive sites, and 10 entries in the same house reef, is the perfect spot to snorkel and dive regardless if you are a beginner or an experienced person.
Mantas and whale shark sightings all year possible on the different trips or on the house reef, we went to see them and we were lucky, we talked with some guests who went on the excursion but couldn't see them, since it is wildlife it is not guaranteed that you will be able to see whale sharks, turtles or mantas. We were very lucky in all our excursions since we saw all the animals we were supposed to see.
There are different kind of reef sharks (white tips, black tips, greys, silver tips, leopard and nurse sharks) and rays, there is also a wide variety of them (black spotted, eagle rays, torpedo rays, feather tail, mantas and guitar rays), you will see them around the island and during the dives.
Animals you can see in the Maldives
The truth is that I was not sure what to expect when snorkelling since it was my first time ever, Maldives is a good destination for divers and sea lovers, of course, there are plenty of different animals to see and there is no need to go very far from the shore.
Kuredu is home to a large community of sea turtles and we were lucky enough to see a big one of 1.5m long. Our snorkel guide, John, knew exactly where they were, they eat the sea grass in the lagoon so is the perfect place to catch one on their lunch time.
Rays are also a popular animal to see, we actually had a family of rays right in front of our beach villa, every morning having our swim we would have them around, those were not very big, they were around 30 to 50cm long. I even saw a cute little black tip reef shark very near the shore, right in front of our beach villa.
You can see in the Maldives waters: Napoleon wrasse, Black tip reef shark, Oriental sweetlips, Parrot fish, Titan trigger fish, Blue stripped snapper and one of the biggest animals is the Whaleshark that can get to 15 metres long.
Snorkelling and diving in the Maldives is a one time only experience so you can't miss it, even if you are a first timer as I was there are plenty of options for all and you can enjoy seeing the animal sea life.