The beauty of the waters around the Maldives is inescapable. Being an island paradise with the ocean and reefs all around, every panorama is filled with the bright, sunlit water, startling in colour. Many people will opt to scuba dive during their Maldives holidays and find that the true beauty of this paradise is actually underwater.
With its gradually sloping sea beds, warm shallow waters, good visibility and reef-sheltered bays, the Maldives are a safe and easy location to be schooled in the use of Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus (SCUBA). But as well as the practical concerns, the aesthetic effect of the tropical environment makes Maldives holidays great for learning to scuba dive. The sand of the beaches and the sea bed is formed from powdered coral, so it is fine and white, which means the shallows are illuminated by the intense sunshine, which easily penetrates the clear water.
There is something comforting about the shallow nursery pools where you will get accustomed to the equipment; they offer a more natural surrounding than the enclosure of a swimming pool. The first time you rest on the seabed, at a depth of perhaps as little as five metres, it is quite a sensation being able to settle without any urgency for breath. Once you have passed the tests to ensure you know the safety drills, your dive instructor will accompany you on dives further away from the island. This is when your Maldives diving holidays get really exciting: swimming farther out to deeper reefs and taking a boat out farther still, giving you the freedom to visit any number of reefs in the local area.
For more advanced or qualified divers, the Maldives can rival the best dives sites of the Red Sea or Great Barrier Reef. As well as turtles, guitar fish, reef sharks and eels, you might witness giant glimmering shoals of silver tuna in the distance, or the graceful silhouettes of manta rays. Your hotel and dive centre will offer a variety of dive sites so you can build an exciting schedule of diving for your Maldives holidays. Your itinerary might include some wreck dives or reefs beyond the protection of the atolls where the currents are stronger, or perhaps a visit to the area where the sea shelf drops off abruptly into the darkness of the Indian Ocean, giving you the opportunity to see even larger fish.
The fish are almost unavoidable on Maldives holidays: even knee deep in the gentle breakers, small translucent fish approach with curiosity. Often hotels will put out scraps, feeding the fish from the walkways or quays so that the residents can see the variety of life in the shallows. The reefs themselves which encircle the island atolls are home to innumerable species of tropical fish of yellows, purples, reds and greens, which move and feed among the reef. As you swim among them, you can hear the parrot fish gnawing on the coral.
With luck, by the end of your Maldives holidays, you will have earned a PADI Open Water Diver certification, which will allow you to participate in scuba diving worldwide on subsequent holidays. However, you will have to choose your next destination carefully; the visually stunning underwater world of the Maldives is a hard act to follow.