Malé, The Maldives
The Maldives is renowned as big fish country. With more than 26 atolls and approximately 1,190 islands to choose from, most divers start off in the capital Malé before exploring the countless dive sites via numerous liveaboard options. The ideal time to visit is between December and May.
This is the best place in the world to fin alongside the underwater big boys like manta rays, reef sharks (blacktips and whitetips), stingrays, whale sharks, huge groupers, humphead wrasses, barracudas, and hawksbill and leatherback turtles.
Lankan Manta Point in north Malé has three “cleaning stations”, where nurse sharks and stingrays gather to get their gills, skin and teeth cleaned by smaller critters. Alternatively, try Kudhimaa Wreck in South Ari, which was intentionally sunk in 1998. Batfish, lionfish and moray eels can be found living in and around the wreck.
The MV Adora is a 37m-long, four-tier luxury yacht. It offers 11 spacious air-conditioned and ensuite cabins, and comes equipped with nitrox – enriched air that lets you stay at the same depth for longer – on board. maldivesboatclub.com
Experienced divers who enjoy the liveaboard experience and are looking for bigger fish to fry.
Two hours from Manado lies Lembeh. The strait separating it from the mainland is known as the world muck diving capital. Avoid the rainy season between November through February and you’ll find a host of tiny marine critters camouflaged in a seabed of fine black volcanic sand.
A dizzying array of weird and wonderful creatures, including frogfish, pygmy seahorses, ghost pipefish, shrimps, nudibranchs and scorpions. At night, a different cast – bobbit worms, stargazers, octopi and crabs – takes to the stage.
The aforementioned tiny critters, which are perfect for macro photography, are the star of the show, and are best spotted around reef sites like Teluk Kembahu and Aw Shucks. If you need a break from sifting through the sand, other sites like Pulau Putus and Angel’s Window offer underwater features like sponges and sea fans.
Dive into Lembeh, otherwise known as Hairball Resort, offers nine private seaview bungalows, each with its own outdoor onsen. Plus, the resort offers two famous dive sites, Hairball and Aw Shucks, as easy-access house reefs. diveintolembeh.com
Muck diving fans looking to hone their macro photography skills, and who like their home comforts.
This article originally appeared in the February 2017 issue of Silkwinds magazine.