30 November 2005

Maldives Diving

We just returned from the best holiday ever - ten days diving in the Maldives.

The first thing we did is make major use of our recent diving qualification by spending every possible moment underwater in the Maldives. We had planned the trip to be the relaxing break for Stuart after go-live, so we chose the hotel because of its 'no news, no shoes' policy. And then we ruined it by getting totally hooked on diving so that we went on the boat every day to see more fish. In between we just had enough time to catch some rays, eat lots of great food and read a whole pile of books.

There were so many highlights on this holiday - and that's without ever leaving the island except to go diving - that it's hard to begin. Everything was taken care of, from the little things, like aloe vera after-sun lotion in the bathroom and bicycles to get around, to the big things like fresh fruit cut up to order in the morning and being able to leave our dive kit at the dive school to find on the boat whenever we went out. The rooms were ideal, large with sofas in all the right places, like next to the - outdoor - bathtub, so that I could keep Stuart company in his favourite way to relax. We had a piece of beach to ourselves and loungers, table and chairs and a hammock with our villa number on them so that they were reserved for us, and we were in the most basic accommodation there was on the island. Other villas had pools and sunken living rooms on multiple levels.

But it was the diving that really got us hooked (can you tell?). We thought we'd take it easy and not go diving every day, but after the first time over the drop-off of the house reef it was all we could do not to go out twice a day. The reef is really beyond description. There is more animal and plant life there than I have ever seen, and in such variety that we stocked up on books on fish, coral, invertebrates and every other creature to be found below the water line. I have never been so glad to have a camera! We saw every kind of fish from parrot fish to mantas, sharks and turtles, schools of bat fish and huge swarms of little silver fish so dense we couldn't make out the reef. There were corals in every colour hiding the most incredible life, poisonous stone fish and coral groupers, sea anemones housed pairs of clown fish, shrimp and lobsters hid in caves, moray eel looked more dangerous than they are, star fish and sea cucumbers, and on and on.

Lots of pictures here and here.

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