Our co-founder Din set out to prove that even though the Maldives may be recognised as a world-class liveboard destination, it doesn’t mean you can’t have as much fun going the resort diving route instead.
Liveaboard diving isn’t for everyone, especially if you’re A) extremely prone to seasickness, B) not exactly a hardcore diver, or C) travelling on a budget. Thankfully, in a gorgeous place like the Maldives, you can most definitely stay at a land-based resort without missing out on all the good diving, especially around Vaavu Atoll.
I’ve visited the area twice before, but this time I stayed at Maldives Oceanic Village, a modern guesthouse that sits pretty on the island of Vaavu Thinadhoo (which is home to about 30 locals). It takes 90 minutes to reach the resort from the Male International Airport via speedboat – quite a long journey, but so, so worth it.
Affordable land-based accommodation for divers
Even though Maldives Oceanic Village label themselves as a guesthouse, it honestly feels more like a boutique hotel. Incredibly spacious room, an open-air shower, a 42-inch TV – all this coupled with the fact that arrangements can be made for other non-diving activities (snorkelling, picnicking, a romantic beachside dinner, island tours) made me realise how great a place this is, even for non-divers.
Diving in Vaavu Atoll
Under the guidance of two excellent dive guides, Manik (who’s logged over 10,000 dives!) and his protégé Fardo, our group wandered around beneath the waves of Vaavu Atoll. The dive sites here are relatively unexplored and, needless to say, teeming with life. On the surface, I didn’t spot any other dive boat so it was uncrowded waters for us (can’t complain about that). What we saw were exceptionally healthy reefs inhabited by scores of marine creatures like sharks, fusiliers, snappers, tuna, giant trevally, bumpheads, and turtles.
“When we descended, there were seven grey reef, blacktip sharks, and giant trevallies cruising and hunting right in front of us.”
One of the highlights of this trip was diving the Felidhoo Channel. When we descended, there were seven grey reef, blacktip sharks, and giant trevallies cruising and hunting right in front of us. We stayed there to watch all the action for as long as we could before drifting inside the channel, where we were greeted by schooling fusiliers and many of the colourful reef residents. Apart from this dive, the house reef and other dive sites around the island were excellent. Visibility was fantastic – about 30 metres on average throughout the trip.
If you have the chance, don’t miss the the legendary Felidhoo night dive. This is one of the the few places in the area where you can dive with hundreds of nurse sharks, black-spotted stingrays, and giant trevally. Unfortunately our visit got cancelled due to bad weather, but it didn’t really matter because I was there last October in 2015, and it was the most amazing dive ever. I was definitely looking forward to swimming with my favourite pelagics again but… oh well. Looks like I have a reason to come back to Vaavu Atoll again in the near future!
On the last evening, we had an epic tea session by the water, followed by a shisha fiesta and a sumptuous barbecue dinner (complete with a bonfire). We spent almost five hours on the beach that beautiful day. What are the chances of you having such incredible experiences both topside and underwater on a liveaboard? Not very high, if you ask me.
Plan your trip
Average cost: The Oceanic Village Combo Dive Package starts from USD1250 per pax per room based on twin sharing; package includes accommodation for seven days, six nights, 12 dives, three meals a day, and speedboat transfer
Best time to visit: January – April
Getting there: Fly to Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (aka Male International Airport); the resort is 90 minutes away via speedboat
Average visibility: 20m – 30m
Average water temperature: 28°C – 30°C throughout the year
Experience level: Intermediate – advanced
For more info, visit the official website of Maldives Oceanic Village.