For our tenth wedding anniversary, my lovely wife and I decided to do something just that bit extra special. Being a fan of ocean-set movies like ‘The Big Blue’, ‘The Deep’ and a Bollywood flick called ‘Zindagi na Milegi Dobara’ (colloquially translated as ‘You only Live Once’), she had developed a yearning to experience the underwater marvels that exist out there.
As per her logic it naturally followed that our second honeymoon should be to venture forth on an exotic learn to dive holiday. I on the other hand was a little apprehensive. Call me a freak but I was just a tad disturbed by the thought of being underwater and having to breathe from a can a la Darth Vader style in order to stay alive. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m certainly up for experiencing Mother Nature and snorkeling in crystal clear tropical waters sounds just dandy…but going the whole hog as a scuba diver…where I’m actually playing with my life? I had to think twice about that.
Nonetheless, she wasn’t having it any other way, and before I could say ‘I am your Father’ in my best scuba diving Darth Vader voice, we were looking up possible diving holiday options on the net and as you can guess, to cut a long search short, we settled on the Maldives.
Now the Maldives is one of those places that everyone knows about as a honeymooners’ paradise so we were both well up for it as a destination. What everyone does not necessarily know is that it’s darn expensive! No…not just expensive, darn expensive!
Anyway, after a lot of searching we discovered the Medhufushi resort. It is affordable as per Maldives standards, has good reviews, and has a fully-fledged diving school where one can learn to dive in 3 days and get 30m certified with Scuba Schools International (SSI) a well-known organization on par with PADI.
So we booked up and waited until the departure day. Flying out to the Maldives was pleasant enough. We flew via Sri Lanka’s Colombo airport where we crashed out in the airport hotel that was very comfortable and affordable, before taking our connecting flight out to Male, the capital of the Maldives.
Now the Maldives is quite an incredible little place. It is made up of hundreds of tiny islands. If you consider Great Britain to be an island (which of course it is)….the Maldivian islands are truly tiiiiiny. I’m not joking, as I soon learned when I noticed from 5000ft up that Male is one island and its airport is on another island! So you land at the airport and have to take a ferry across to the capital city. Now that’s if you’re a local or a real adventurer type. The vast majority of tourists are being picked up by resort reps in the arrivals lounge and whisked on their way to their respective resort islands. It reminded me of ‘Fantasy Island’ and how the guests were received by the charming Ricardo Montalban and his height-challenged counterpart ‘Tattoo’.
This is where the second part of the adventure started and I haven’t even got onto the diving as yet. I don’t know how many of you have traveled by sea-plane but I certainly have not and boy was it a fun experience. Shunted into a cabin that feels like the size of the kitchen gallery in a regular 747, the sea-plane roars into action as it skids down the ocean bumping and grinding like it’s about to fall apart at any moment before it lifts off and soars upwards to reveal the pearly blue and turquoise seas below. From this height you can see the vast Indian Ocean that surrounds the Maldivian islands as they string downwards in a garland type pattern. 45 minutes later and we were at Medhufushi and a day later we were learning to dive at the Medhufushi Dive Center.