I fell way behind on posting my travels in 2016. So now what we’ll have is a roundup of travel photos and stories that I’ve been meaning to post.
Last September I went to the The Maldives with Erika. We stayed on the island of Dharavandhoo. But our purpose was not to just relax on the beach, which we did plenty of. Our purpose was really to swim with the manta rays. For that, we went to Hanifaru Bay. And it was spectacular. We were there for about 3 days and we went twice a day to swim with them.
We stayed at the spectacular Aveyla Manta Village resort. This is a very special place. It’s right on the ocean, and has a very family feeling to it, while at the same time maintaining a very high quality accommodation. The only thing that wasn’t so great was the scuba diving. We tried a dive on our first day. It was our fault for not telling the dive master that we were a little rusty, but I think that a good dive master should ask about the skill level
of the divers. It’s kind of his job to ask us. On the form we filled out, I wrote down the truth: I haven’t done any diving in a few years, and my total dives are pretty low, making me a novice. I don’t think he even read the form.
The dive was a terrible experience. The worst diving I’ve ever done. I’ve never felt fearful when diving, but I panicked during this dive. The dive master tried to be helpful, and I was able to settle down, but it was a horrible experience. I’m not put off diving for good, but I’ll need to find a good dive master for my next dive.
Fortunately this experience did not at all cloud my overall experience. Later that day, I went out on the boat to Hanifaru Bay to try to find some mantas to snorkel with. The Aveyla staff were fantastic! They really seemed to love their jobs: helping tourists experience this amazing manta heaven.
I was blown away. There were dozens of mantas swimming around eating plankton. And they all seemed to want to play with us.
Diving with these animals was unlike any experience I’ve ever had. We were instructed not to try to touch the mantas, but they didn’t get the same instructions. They were so friendly and seemed to be truly curious about us.
They would come right up to us, and kind of skim their bodies against ours. I felt like they were truly trying to connect with us. It was magical.
We couldn’t get enough of the magic, and ended up snorkeling twice a day for 3 days. It turned out that snorkeling was a better way to access the mantas. They seem to stay away from the scuba divers, maybe on account of all the bubbles.
We wished we could be in the water with the mantas all day every day, but that wasn’t very realistic. So we lounged around at the resort, and explored the very small island.
The Maldives is a really interesting country. It consists of over 1200 islands, but only about 200 of them are inhabited by Maldivians. The rest of the islands are either resort islands or they are not inhabited at all. The Maldives is a strictly Muslim country. This means that Maldivian islands, by law, have no alcohol or pork. You are likely to see women wearing full burkas. And like other Muslim countries, friendly hospitality is the norm! People welcomed us with opened arms. It was a lovely experience!
I’d love to return to this amazing island and stay with Aveyla again. We almost didn’t make it off the island! On the day we were set to leave, our plane from the small airline called Flyme never came!! We waited all day, but it just never showed up. So the airline paid for us to stay for another night at Aveyla. The resort was very accommodating. We had to make an awkward phone call to our principal and tell him that we were indeed stuck in The Maldives, and we would have to miss a day of school. He was very understanding and we had a good laugh about it when we returned.