CORALREPUBLIC

 

Maldives, 2008

 

 

 

 

View also Pauls Manta Video from this trip in Vimeo

 

Trip dates:

27 July 4 August 2008

Boat / resort:

Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu, in Baa Atoll, holiday booked with Kuoni UK.

Dive centre:

Ocean Pro Maldives. They no longer operate the dive centre on Coco Palm, it is now Dive Ocean.

Photo-friendly?:

No. I had to deal with my camera including rinsing and charging in my room, which was not really close to the jetty. Hard work (mostly for Paul, who of course offered to carry the kit for me). I had to rush rush rush to change lenses between dives and on one of these, of course I made a mistake and flooded it. Dead. Fortunately, it was the last day and I did not lose much, but had to replace the camera and thoroughly repair the hugyfot housing. Not cheap. Fortunately, at that time Hugy came out with the hugycheck system and Im confident there will be no more floodings!

Number of dives:

13, over a 7-night stay.

Diving conditions:

Windy and choppy, lousy visibility. Water temperature 27C. Currents as usual in the Maldives, but we did not really experience them, see below.

Comments:

I had been hesitating about going back to the Maldives. Until 1998 (when the bleaching happened) I was going there almost every year, some years twice. Then, I saw it happening in May 98 and that broke my heart. I gave it a try a couple of years later in a liveaboard (I was not taking pictures yet) and saw there was little if no recovery of the corals. Then, in 2008 I felt like going to check out the place again.

Maldives have changed a lot, not just because of the coral bleaching, but also in terms of how tourism is run. Clearly, there is a lot more money on honeymooning and luxury, celebrity style. These are now the target buyers of holidays there, not really divers. Diving seems to be now just one of the things to do, possibly second to spa pampering. Coco Palm is a superb resort, but they do not care much about hard core divers and their requirements, even less for UW photographers.

But OK, Im used to non-photographer situations. The problem was with the diving organisation. We had only one boat going out, full of very respectable but novice divers. If there were currents in the pass, we could not dive there, with young teenagers just certified in the group. We ended up most of the time diving lagoon sites, in silty waters and lots of dead coral. It was hard to find good subjects. We were there for the Mantas, though, and those dives were very good indeed.

We dove a couple of other sites, thilas with good, relatively healthy coral coverage. Those were colourful. Too bad the weather was so windy and so much particles in the water. Of course we knew this was not the right season, with the monsoon in full-blow. Even so, we had often good sunny spells. Even if mixed with violent downpours, we enjoyed the drama.

I think its better to stay in an island more focused on the diving, even if less beautiful or luxurious.

 

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