There are a select few countries in the world that offer the kind of tranquillity that The Maldives provides. Set in the centre of the Indian Ocean, this island nation is a tropical archipelago. Pristine sandy beaches and turquoise lagoons characterize this Asian vacation favourite. Hop on a snorkeling, sandbank and sunset cruise tour in Maldives to get a glimpse of its natural beauty.
Malé, the capital city of The Maldives is home to its main international airport. While this island is mostly inhabited by the local Maldivians, you can get by with some basic English. However, you also have the choice of learning Dhivehi – local language of The Maldives, if you are keen to form a deeper bond with the islanders.
Home to Velana International Airport, the public island of Malé is one of 200 local islands where the locals live and work. The most common way to get around the countless little islands of The Maldives is to take a public ferry or a speed boat or even dhonis – traditional Maldivian wooden boats. However, the quickest mode of transport is seaplane. While seaplane rides are very expensive, domestic flights across various atolls and islands are a tad bit more affordable.
Malé is the starting point of a number of exciting day tours. Sign up for a full day Malé City walking tour to discover this place better. If you wish to explore the waters, choose from an array of scuba diving, snorkeling and fishing tours offered by Samudra Maldives.
What is Snorkeling?
At the forefront of various water-based activities to do in Maldives, snorkeling introduces you to the marine biodiversity of the Indian Ocean through a peek into the surface of the waters. This water sport requires that the participant comes kitted out with appropriate snorkeling gear. A snorkel and a breathing pipe with a mouthpiece are the most basic accessories one needs.
It is not even necessary to know swimming to be able to snorkel. As long as you can walk comfortably on the seafloor and keep your snorkel-covered eyes under the water surface, you will be able to enjoy the gorgeous views of the corals and vibrant fish on the reef with our Maldives snorkeling tours.
For advanced snorkelers, fins are also recommended for swimming in the high seas where the currents can be strong. However, beginners can snorkel on the house reef of most private and public islands where wave breakers ensure safety from strong currents. Those who struggle to breathe with the mouth can use modern snorkeling masks which cover the entire face and let you breathe through the nose.
What is a Sandbank?
Unlike islands, sandbanks are not always permanent and cannot be guaranteed to have a dedicated location. Interspersed amongst 1,200 odd islands in The Maldives are stretches of sandy land which are only partially visible to the naked eye. These are called sandbanks.
Partly submerged, sandbanks set the mood for a romantic getaway from your already private island resort in the equatorial archipelago. Depending on the shape of the sandbank, they are also known as sand bars and sand strips. Generally without a name, sandbanks are nice recreational areas to relax and tune out of the city chaos while on a vacation.
Snorkeling, Sandbank and Sunset Cruise Tour Timings & Fee
The half day snorkeling, sandbank and sunset cruise tour commences at 2 PM and lasts for 4 hours, coming to a close at 6 PM, which is well after sunset for The Maldives. Since the tour is organized every day of the week, it is possible to book as per your convenience.
The snorkeling, sandbank and sunset cruise tour is priced at USD 135 per adult. Kids below the age of 6 years travel for free. However, older children between the ages of 6 years and 11 years are charged only half the rate for adults, which is USD 68 per person. The tour fee includes all local Maldivian taxes which are a 12% GST and a service charge of 10%.
Half Day Snorkeling, Sandbank and Sunset Cruise Experience
A perfect blend of the ocean, a beach and the natural sunset, this is one of the best Maldives half day tours. The excursion also allows you to learn a new skill in case you are not familiar with snorkeling. Balanced in the adventure and relaxation elements it provides, the snorkeling, sandbank and sunset cruise trip should not be missed. The tour unfolds as outlined below.
The meeting point for the half day snorkeling, sandbank and sunset cruise tour is the HulhuMalé main jetty which is close to the ferry terminal. Hotel collection can be arranged at prior notice, especially if your hotel is in Malé or HulhuMalé. In case you wish to be picked up from a different island, a cruise tender jetty pickup is available on special request.
The journey will be on a private speed boat, unless specified otherwise. The journey to the first stop, a secluded sandbank, will take approximately 40 to 45 minutes from Malé, the world’s smallest capital.
As you cruise through the Indian Ocean, with the waves frothing behind you and leaving a white trail on the water, you will be given your buoyancy aids. Life jackets are mandatory for tourists in The Maldives who whiz past in speed boats. The tour guide for the snorkeling, sandbank and sunset cruise trip will brief you on the things to take care of to ensure your safety on the waters.
Guidance on Responsible Snorkeling
The Maldives pays great care to environmental conservation, and responsible snorkeling is an important part of their eco-tourism initiatives. You will be mesmerized by the crystal clear lagoons and colourful coral columns that have made this country so popular with divers.
To maintain the serenity of the marine ecosystem and avoid stressing out the marine life, there are certain best practices which are told to every participant on the snorkeling, sandbank and sunset cruise tour. Since your first stop is a sandbank, you will have the opportunity to snorkel on its house reef. Try not to squeeze or poke any of the soft corals, starfish or other sea creatures to avoid causing them harm or stress.
Sunbathing on a Sandbank
When the boat docks some distance away from the deserted sandbank, you will get your cue to jump into the shallow water and stride over to the shimmering white sandbank. You will be provided with a sun umbrella to keep you cool in the Maldivian afternoon sun, which can be pretty strong.
You are free to sunbathe or go snorkeling near the sandbank. If you have always wanted to get a tan, bring along your tanning lotion that you can spray on to ensure a uniform bronze on your body. Those who are looking to escape the sweltering heat can carry some sunscreen lotion in gel form to keep their skin calm.
Snorkeling Site Visits
After relaxing on the sandbank, you will next be taken to a couple of snorkeling sites in Maldives. These dive sites are not always pre-decided as the final selection depends on the weather and visibility. Snorkeling is best done on a clear day when the chances of rain are slim and the winds are not too strong.
The speedboat will stay anchored in the middle of the ocean while your snorkeling guide jumps into the water and encourages you to do the same. You will be given sanitized snorkels, wind pipes and fins but you can use your own in case you are more comfortable in your personal gear.
The experienced guides are also spotters who will show you where to look and what to spot. If you are not a swimmer, the guide will give you a buoyancy aid which you can hold while he helps you navigate through the ocean waves.
There are many exciting fish, sea plants and coral reefs that you can expect to see on the two snorkeling dives. Look out for the popular clown fish, tiny schooling fish, starfish, stingrays, manta rays, and most importantly, both hard and soft corals. You might also spot some turtles if you are lucky.
Dolphin Spotting on a Sunset Cruise
After the final dive, it will be time for sunset, and also a signal for you to return to HulhuMalé Island. However, unlike the onward cruise, the return journey has a couple of special things about it. You will not only be able to relish the stunning Maldivian sunset from the ocean, but also catch some playful dolphins travelling with their pods in the horizon. It is hard to miss the rhythm and coordination of these water mammals that always leap out of the sea for oxygen.
There are several other day tours in The Maldives that let you experience something unique about this country on each trip. If you do not wish to mix things up, you can take the 3-point snorkeling tour and the 6-hour sandbank trip separately. Whatever be your preference, the country has something to suit your taste!