The world is not only made of what our eyes can readily see, but also certain marvels that escape our common gaze. The underwater world is one such aspect that needs special effort on our part to be properly explored.
Nestled in the Indian Ocean, The Maldives is an archipelago that offers some rare glimpses into marine life. While experts love their deep sea dives, a simple 3-point snorkeling tour in Maldives does a rather pleasant job of exposing us to undersea wonders hidden in this beautiful planet.
The Maldives is a group of about 1,200 little islands that are clustered together in groups called atolls. About 200 of these isles are inhabited by the local Maldivians and referred to as ‘public islands’. While a small portion of the remaining thousand odd islands are reserved for industrial and trade related activities, a large number of private isles serve luxury travellers.
The Maldives is famous for its decadent resorts, especially the private island properties which follow the ‘one island one resort’ concept to maximize privacy, exclusivity and comfort. Maldives honeymoon packages often include stays in luxurious overwater villas, alternating with beach bungalows, sometimes with a private pool and Jacuzzi.
Most tourists to these islands like to enhance their Maldives vacation packages with full day tours that allow them to explore local villages, hop across islands and enjoy gorgeous sunsets. The more adventurous ones prefer to add on Maldives snorkelling tours and diving tours to understand the underwater dimension of this country.
What is Snorkeling?
Snorkeling is a water-based activity that involves staying afloat on the surface of the ocean with your eyes glued to the scenes underwater. The younger cousin of diving, snorkelling in Maldives offers surreal views of pelagic fishes, colourful shoals, coral reefs, turtles and other marine creatures that live below the sea level.
One can snorkel even without being a swimmer. While snorkelling can easily be done in shallow waters, especially on the house reef of Maldives’ luxurious water villas, it is possible to go on Maldives day tours that focus solely on snorkelling and take you to different dive sites for better sighting of barrier reefs and underwater flora and fauna.
There is dedicated snorkelling gear that ensures a better visual experience and speed, especially where the ocean currents can be felt. Snorkeling goggles and a breathing pipe that lets you inhale through the mouthpiece, are the most basic things one needs to snorkel, especially in The Indian Ocean. However, there are full-face snorkelling masks that make it possible to breathe through the nose and not worry about water getting into your gear.
Fins are not really required for casual snorkelers, but they help you go deeper in the water and also add to your swiftness when you want to get closer shots of nudibranchs, starfishes or patterns of soft corals. Since the seabed tends to be gravely and covered with occasional thorns, having a pair of flippers makes it rather comfortable. Alternatively, wear waterproof shoes to avoid foot scratches.
3 Point Snorkeling Tour Timings & Fee
The full day 3-point snorkeling tour in Maldives runs in two slots each day that you can choose from. The morning tour starts at 9:30 AM and lasts for two and a half hours until 12 PM while the afternoon slot is from 2 PM to 4:30 PM.
The day long snorkeling trip in The Maldives costs USD 100 per person for adults (13+ years). For participants under the age of 6 years, the tour is absolutely free. USD 50 per child is charged for children between the ages of 6 and 12 years, which is half the rate for adults. This 3-point snorkelling trip fee includes all the local Maldivian taxes which are GST, levied at 16%, and a service charge of 10%.
Half Day Snorkeling Tour Experience
Snorkeling in The Maldives can be very exciting, especially if it is your very first time. Expect to have your world views permanently changed when you come dressed in your wetsuit and snorkelling kit to own the seas! The 3-point snorkelling tour pans out as per the schedule given hereunder.
Guests are advised to meet the tour guide at the Hulhumale main jetty. Located next to the ferry terminal, the meeting point is quite convenient to find. Nevertheless, if you need more assistance, you can be picked up from your hotel in Hulhumale or the nearby island of Malé, the capital of The Maldives. Cruise tender jetty pickup is also offered to participants at an additional cost on their special request.
Safety Briefing on Responsible Snorkeling
Right at the outset, after you get on the speedboat, you will get your sanitized snorkelling masks, pipes and fins. Do not be shy to ask for help if you are struggling to get your gear on. Lifejackets will be handed out, and should be worn even when cruising aboard.
The snorkelling guide will tell you about responsible snorkelling and the appropriate way to behave underwater so as to avoid causing any harm to the undersea plants and animals. The Maldives is rather keen to protect its corals as they act as barriers to strong currents and go a long way in conserving the local marine ecosystem.
Especially when you go on turtle dives, the turtles tend to get scared when touched. On your half-day trip, your spotter and guide will tell you how to swim alongside the turtle for better visibility and great photo ops while ensuring not to irritate the amphibian. In rare cases, turtles can bite any snorkeler that poses a threat to it.
Special care must also be taken when checking out vibrant nudibranchs which come in a myriad of colours. Try not to squeeze them or pluck any parts out. You will also find many schooling fishes that will glide by without hurting you. The best way to enjoy this is to stay calm and admire the rush.
Cruising to Various Snorkeling Sites
The 3-point snorkeling tour in Maldives will take you to some specially chosen dive sites which have the best concentration of diverse marine life. Depending on the weather and sea conditions, the trip will include the following 3 snorkelling sites.
#1 Coral Garden
Coral Garden is one of the most beautiful snorkelling sites in The Maldives. A protected dive site, the minimum depth of 3 metres makes it ideal for snorkelling as there is plenty to see close to the water surface. Both hard and soft corals can be found here. Coral Garden also offers a great chance to spot green turtles. Keep your eyes peeled for moray eels, stingrays and snapper schools too.
A GoPro or other underwater video recording devices will help you capture the lovely scenes on the reefs. The snorkelling guide will carry his own GoPro to take both still photos and lively videos of you while you enjoy your swim. Those who cannot swim will have the special attention of the guide who will take them around and stay connected through a safety tube. Other types of floats are also available to those who are not very comfortable in the water.
#2 Kurumba House Reef
Kurumba Maldives is the oldest resort in The Maldives that is still in business. Apart from the excellent hospitality, the resort is popular for its amazing house reef. Shielded by wave breakers, Kurumba house reef makes it quite safe for snorkelers who are just beginning. There is no need to worry about strong currents or waves.
The water level is only about 1 metre or 1.5 metres at most places, so even those who are non-swimmers can jump right in. The house reef of Kurumba Maldives has some coral outcrops which might fascinate snorkelling novices. However, if you wish to see more, venture beyond the wave breakers, but beware of the steep drop. This is where you will be delighted by stingrays, turtles, diverse corals and very many fish.
#3 StingRay City
Easily accessible from Gan, the southernmost island of Maldives’ Addu Atoll, StingRay City is a snorkeling site that is quite hot with those who wish to spot stingrays. A close relative of the shark family, stingrays are enthralling to watch. Their huge body is mostly cartilage, making them very pliable in the ocean waters and helping these creatures swim.
Sting rays are very shy, but they often become friendly and gather together for feeding. There are many other fish to spot, and the Fish ID card will only help you name your finds as you browse through it on board. If you get hungry or thirsty during the course of the snorkelling tour, you will have access to water bottles and fresh fruit.
Since all of the guides are Emergency First Response certified, you need not be concerned about your safety, whether you snorkel, dive or sign up for any of the other Maldives tour packages. While the country is delightful round the year, Maldives’ weather is ideal from November to January for underwater activities. Plan your holiday with Samudra Maldives to make the best use of your precious time in this Asian gem.