Family Magazine

Glorious Underwater Life in Maldives

By Behan Gifford @sailingtotem


Cruising in Maldives is ALL about the stunning water and marine life. Unless we’re in transit from one place to the next, we’re spending hours underwater on most days: jetting off to a reef as early as 7:30am, hauling ourselves back to the boat as late as 5pm.


scoping out new spots on the reef with Utopia

It started on arrival in Uligan, where our agent, Assad, told us to go ahead and have a swim near the boat while we waited for clearance formalities.  Normally, “right off the boat” is just OK snorkeling, and the good stuff is a dinghy ride away. Not here! Carefully anchored in a sand patch among the reef adjacent to the town harbor, we were blown away by life under the boat.


the amazing vignette under Totem at our Uligan anchorage

This was the perfect place to break out our hooka rig. A compressor pushes air to divers in the water on two “umbilical” breathing tubes. Each hose is about sixty feet, with a regulator at the end. We were only in 15’ of water which allowed the length to be used for some exploration over the reef- a great way to get the kids comfortable with assisted breathing (Niall is comfortable diving, but the girls haven’t tried yet).


a perfect place to try the hooka

Normally stowed under the nav station, we put the hooka on deck for use. It’s A/C powered, and needs too much juice, so we have to run our little Honda 2000 generator when it’s on: the rig can’t go roaming in the dinghy. That means it’s typically just useful for bottom cleaning, but in this case, a reef SO CLOSE tipped the scales towards entertainment.


Do I even need to mention that this was a massive hit with the kids?

It only got better from there. The first jaunt south was to the reef shown in the last post about navigating with Google Earth. It was a little uncomfortable anchoring in 80+ feet, even if we could see the bottom. Here was more underwater exploring accessed by jumping off the boat- but we did zip around in the dinghy to explore. Even on a single reef the mix of marine life has different profiles in different areas, and sure enough, or favorite spot was near the south end of channel: a sleeping turtle, devil ray, and many many fish.


the family that snorkels together…..?


we were clustered above to see this hawksbill Niall spotted, snoozing under the coral


really hard to get tired of the personality-packed little anemonefish


same reef, one side


same reef, different side. SO different


oh hai mr. lobster! would you like to come for dinner?


still getting back in freediving shape, but getting down


find the anemone fish playing hide and seek…

It’s been amazing. And, we’ve only gone about a third of the way south through the string of atolls that make up the Maldives. I can’t wait to see what’s ahead! Meanwhile, if you like the underwater pics, I”m posting at least one or two a day to Totem’s Facebook page.

Marine snobs know we love it when you read this on the Sailfeed website. Thanks for kicking change in our kitty!

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