Do you fancy a dance with these graceful giants? It is the time of the year again were diving and snorkelling in the Lhaviyani Atoll is special in itself, yet when manta rays start to regularly appear at the cleaning station, our happiness borders on mania!
The place to be is one of the top 5 Prodivers sites situated in the Lhaviyani Atoll. Several Mantas frequently visit the dive site to have their bodies cleaned, and the plankton-rich areas at nearby reefs provided what appeared a tasty soup that dozens of Manta Rays satiated their hunger with.
On this magnificent spot, Manta Rays can spend hours as they hover above the reef and enjoy a beauty and well-being treatment after their bowls of plankton soup. This fantastic location offers unforgettable underwater experiences to divers and snorkelers alike.
For the best viewing pleasure, you’ll have to hop on one of our diving and snorkelling manta search boats. Join us for these breath taking moments!
The next few years were spent consolidating these operations and their reputation for quality and customer service. In 2015 they opened Meradhoo at Jumeirah Dhevanafushi Resort & Spa and, to celebrate their tenth anniversary and 10 years of luxury services in the Maldives they opened their 10th Operation, Vommuli Dive & WS Centre at the ST. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort in Dhaalu Atoll in September 2016!
But they’re still not stopping! In February 2017 they will open their 11th Operation in the Maldives at Kandima Maldives.
Recently, Aquafanatics was the first PADI Freedive Center registered in the Maldives followed in July 2016 by Elements also registering as a PADI Freedive Centre. Showing that Silver Sands are constantly moving forward and embracing everything that the aquatic environment has to offer.
Silver Sands Operations currently employs over 250 employees including 65 PADI Professionals from many different parts of the world and owns over 70 vessels including several Yachts. Their reputation is built upon the core principles the company espouses:
“To be renowned as the Maldivian water sports and dive adventure company of choice amongst both local and international clients”.
“To offer our clientele the best dive and water sports experience through activities designed uniquely for each client, delivered by a core of highly qualified staff using state of the art equipment”
What amazing goals to have and they highlight exactly the qualities that make PADI proud to have them as PADI Dive Centres!
Congratulations to Silver Sands and all their staff, we’re already looking forward to celebrating your twentieth anniversary!
This month’s blog was written by PADI guest blogger Adele Verdier-Ali
There aren’t many holiday destinations that are as synonymous with luxury as the Maldives. Mention the country and you immediately evoke images of glamourous resorts on private islands catering to the world’s rich and famous. Heavenly exotic? Check. Prohibitively expensive? Double check.
For most, the Maldives is either a once-in-a-lifetime honeymoon destination or simply relegated to the bottom of an unrealistic bucket list. And although many divers drool over the diversity of the coral reefs and marine wildlife in the country’s waters, many assume that the destination is just simply out of their price range, especially those not looking to join a liveaboard.
One country, two worlds
And until 2011, that assumption would have been a fair one. Because until then, Maldivian law dictated that there be a strict divide between islands that welcomed tourists, and islands where locals lived. This set up was in large part due to the 100% Muslim country being under a mix of common and sharia law. Whereas in local islands, alcohol and pork are banned and modest clothing traditions are followed, none of these laws apply in resort islands. So until five years ago, tourists would fly into the country, be greeted at the airport and then whisked off to their private resort island. They would remain there for the entirety of their stay (bar excursions) and local Maldivians continued to live on their inhabited islands. And never the twain did meet.
A change in the law
But no longer. In 2011, the law officially changed to allow for tourist establishments in local islands, and while the same laws still apply, the increasing number of tourist arrivals to these islands each month show that visitors are happy to go without a bevvy or bacon butty for a week or two. For the past five years, these local island guesthouses have been cropping up throughout the country at an extraordinary rate. And although they’ll never be comparable to the backpacker prices of other parts of South East Asia, the rates are extremely competitive relative to the resort market, with some charging as little as 40$ per room per night. Naturally, the quality you’ll find varies from place to place but although these local islands establishments are referred to collectively as ‘guesthouses’ in the Maldivian tourism industry, some would be better described as boutique hotels, with spacious rooms, in-house restaurants serving top-notch food, and a handful even have their own pools.
So why is this relevant for divers?
Well, thanks to the influx of tourists, most of these islands are now home to a PADI dive centre, and in some cases (such as guesthouse-capital Maafushi Island) there are several. Many of the guys running these centres have had years of experience in the resort industry, meaning that the service is of a high standard. Dive rates tend to be cheaper than in the resorts too, so if you’re on a tight budget it’s a great option. Most centres dive with traditional Maldivian dhoni boats so the level of comfort is similar – and of course the dive sites are the same regardless of how much you’ve paid to get there!
Why not just join a liveaboard?
True. Before the advent of the guesthouse industry, divers looking to spend the majority of their budget on diving had to join a liveaboard cruise. Which is fantastic if you and your spouse are both divers. But a non-diver on a diving liveaboard? They’d soon understand the meaning of cabin fever. This is why a local island stay is a fantastic choice for budget-conscious divers looking to travel with a non-diver. Whilst in some resorts snorkelers and divers normally join separate excursion boats, in local islands both tend to go out together because operations are smaller. This means that you’re not away from your loved one for very long – you can enjoy the cruise there together, looking out for dolphins, enjoying the sun (bliss!) – but when you reach the dive site, you can descend for your dive whilst your non-diver companion can stay at the surface to snorkel. And if they don’t fancy the boat, they can always stay on the island and enjoy the beach with most local islands having now reserved portions of their beaches for guests, so that they can sunbathe in bikinis.
The local island experience
Staying in a local island has a lot advantages. It’s much cheaper and there are some great accommodation choices. A much larger portion of your budget can go on diving, which is always a plus. But travellers should not expect the same experience as being on a resort. On a local island, guests are expected to live amongst the islanders and respect cultural norms, covering from shoulders to knees when away from the beach. As mentioned there’s no booze – but then if you’re diving you should be restricting that anyway. Food is more limited but still delicious – think lots of fresh fish, barbecues and coconut water. So if you’re looking to experience the real Maldives, away from the glitz of the resorts, to discover the warmth of local hospitality and a way of life that has changed little for centuries, a local island is a great place to start.
About the author: Adele Verdier-Ali is a freelance travel writer and content marketer who has been living in the Maldives for over six years. She’s a certified PADI rescue diver and when she’s not underwater, she writes about Maldivian culture and tourism. You can read more of her thoughts over on www.littlebirdjournal.com
This story is so amazing that I had to write about it. On the 5th of August 2015 something really special happened in Larnaca, Cyprus.
Harry Thornton became a PADI Scuba Diver. Well – this event is nothing out of the ordinary, what is in fact extraordinary, he is born in 1931 and received his Scuba Diver Certification with the age of 83!
Marco Cucini, the PADI Instructor from Viking Divers in Larnaca, Cyprus, had the honour to teach Harry and to show him the beauty of diving.
How often do you hear, when you try to sell Scuba Diving around a pool area “Ooh – Scuba Diving? No thank you, I´m too old for this”. Harry Thornton is proofing the opposite. You are never too old to discover the beauty of the underwater world.
Harry truly enjoyed himself and wished he started diving 40 years earlier.
Now, Harry Thornton is able to dive together with his son Steve and Grandson Joe who are diving with Viking Divers in Cyprus for many years. On the 19th of October 2015 – Harry will turn 84 years old!
I´m truly inspired by Harry and I wish him all the best, good health and many years of diving!
We’re looking for a great photo to be featured as the 2015 PADI Diving Society membership card. The winner will get a certificate, a shout-out on the PADI Facebook Page and their image shared with more than 175,000 PADI Diving Society members worldwide (and over 1 million Facebook Fans).
How you can get involved:
Send us your best photos to take part, and more importantly, get your customers involved by sharing the contest details on your website, social channels and newsletters. Use this mobile-friendly URL – https://a.pgtb.me/jzHMTg
Top Tip: Why not run a special PADI Digital Underwater Photographer course to inspire divers to improve their camera skills and potentially snap the winning shot!
PADI Staff will narrow down all entries to a handful of finalists after the first stage has finished on 14th September.
PADI Facebook Fans will then be able to vote for the final winner between 17-26th September. The final winner will be announced on/around 6th October 2014.
A low-res image is fine to enter the contest, but the original must be min 300 dpi and in the proportion of 9.56 by 6.4 centimetres/3.75 by 2.5 inches. The winner must provide the original image digitally and sign a photo release.
Submissions can be marine life, divers or any aspect of scuba diving lifestyle
Ensure the image meets Project AWARE guidelines (no touching or feeding marine life, no image of a creature outside its natural environment)
Please do not add watermarks, copyright text or logos to the image
For additional details, please read the official rules on the contest page
You don’t have to be a PADI Diving Society member to enter the contest, but if you’re interested in learning more about PADI Diving Society Visit padidivingsociety.com and join today.
To get an idea of what a winning image looks like, check out last year’s PADI Diving Society membership card: