Sun Island Resort and SPA - Maldives is located in the South Ari Atoll - the most popular region for diving in the Maldives well renown worldwide, and has a lovely thriving house reef. A 5 star PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) Dive center – DiveOceanus arranges the Snorkeling excursions for the guests apart from providing the guests an opportunity to learn to dive and experience the true beauty of nature – The Underwater World of Maldives, through the Discover Scuba Diving program.
DiveOceanus dive center is one of the largest in the Maldives with multiple boats and almost 100 full equipment sets for rental. 2 tank dive trips are arranged every morning and additional 1 tank dive in the afternoon. 3 boat night dives are arranged per week, house reef night dives can be arranged on request at any day. House reef is easily accessible at any time and is a great place for fun dives, beginner courses or just a swim around if you would like to go for snorkelling. Full range of PADI scuba diving courses are available starting from Discover Scuba Diving up to Dive master.
Traveling – It leaves you speechless and then turns you into a storyteller, similarly Diving – it transports you into a different world all together and everyone swimmer or non-swimmer should learn to dive and the Discover Scuba diving course does just that.
The Discover Scuba Diving program consists of some basic lessons about the equipment’s and how to communicate underwater through hand signals followed by a dive up to a depth of 12 m with an instructor.
Having previously done try dive once one way back in 2010 in Havelock, Andaman Islands, India, the urge to explore the underwater life and in a different location had always been there. Little did I know that I would get a chance to dive again and even get the PADI Open Water Diver certification. However, in order to start the Open Water Diving course, one should have successfully completed the Discover Scuba Diving program. A short discussion with the manager of diveOceanus and the timing for my Discover Scuba Diving program was finalized.
After having a sumptuous meal at The Maniyaa restaurant in Sun Island Resort and SPA - Maldives, I headed to the dive center to meet Ms Alexandra Tombarel (Lexie) my diving instructor for the Discover Scuba Diving program.
A wardrobe change to a wetsuit and a quick shower later, I got briefed about the equipment and their use such as the Regulator (delivers air), Buoyancy Control Device (BCD – helps to float at the surface), Air Gauge (tells about how much air is left), Weights belt (helps to go underwater), Alternate Air Source (used to supply air to another diver), Cylinder (holds air), Mask and Fins.
As the pressure increases when you go deeper in the water, it is very important to equalize the ear and sinus by gently blowing again pinched nostrils, every few meters. Lexie also briefed about some other techniques to equalize like swallowing own saliva or moving your jaw bone, which helped a lot during the dive to equalize when I figured that at times blowing against pinched nostrils did not fully do the job.
As we cannot talk underwater, I was acquainted with few hand signals to be used for communicating underwater and we were ready to go, my instructor helped to strap all my gear and we proceeded towards the lagoon. Lexie had already briefed me beforehand about few basic exercises, reminding me that each one of them will be demonstrated underwater and only then i have to repeat them.
In a matter of 10 minutes we were done with all exercises which included clearing water from the regulator, recovering the regulator underwater and clearing water from the mask. In the beginning of dive, the air gauge showed a reading of 200+ BAR and I was to indicate Lexie when the gauge was nearing 50 as it meant, it was the time to head back.
Instead of coming out of the water after the exercises and then heading out to a Dive site via boat, from the lagoon we swam directly to the house reef surrounding Sun Island Resort and SPA - Maldives. In a matter of minutes we started descending and the pressure started increasing as I kept equalizing pressure in my ears every few meters, I did not feel any discomfort during the dive.
In a matter of minutes we were surrounded by schools of fishes all over. With the corals below and fishes in bright vibrant colors swimming around, it was a sight which will be there in my memory forever. In a span of 50 minutes, apart from seeing schools of fishes, we even got to see a friendly hawksbill sea turtle chilling at the house reef of Sun Island Resort.
South Ari Atoll has something to offer for every diver no matter of how experienced they are. Starting from completely protected reefs with no current at all up to thrilling drift dives with extremely strong currents. Unique reef formations and wide range of marine life biodiversity lets you embark on unending series of adventures to more than 50 different dive sites. There are multiple options for Discover Scuba Diving programs depending if you would like to do it at the housereef or join a boat trip. During some of the boat trips its even possible to see whale sharks and manta rays.
Ari Atoll is renowned for its pelagic life – whale sharks and manta rays. A common misconception is that whale sharks can be found in almost any region, which is very far from the truth. There are very few places where whale sharks can be found consistently and one of them is the southernmost outside reef of Ari Atoll. Sun Island Resort and SPA - Maldives is the closest resort to the most popular whale shark point in the Maldives. Whale sharks can grow up to 18 meters in length and feed on plankton, they are completely harmless to humans.
Seeing schools of clown fishes and oriental sweetlips along with few glimpses of Lion fish, star fish, feather star, moray eel and the red snapper was a true delight during the first dive. Owing to the clear water near the reef area and good visibility, the experience was that much more special.
Just when my air gauge started nearing 50, I signaled Lexie and we returned to the starting point. Once we were out of the water, she told me the duration of the dive as 50 minutes after checking her dive computer. An afternoon well spent in the company of some gorgeous looking fishes in bright vibrant colors.
I was congratulated for successful completion of the PADI Discover Scuba Diving program and the amazing experience further motivated me to do the Open Water Diver course with diveOceanus in order to become eligible to dive anywhere in the world.
Diving is the only adventure sport where you are able to feel weightlessness and the feeling is truly overwhelming and exhilarating. A Discover Scuba Diving programme is highly recommended to enjoy weightlessness apart from the underwater world.
First published on Eat, Travel, Live and REPEAT.