Welcome to the final installment of ‘Snorkelling in the Maldives’ – at least for now! I have loved sharing my underwater Maldivian adventures with you all these past weeks, and I have saved my very favourite story for last.
Before this adventure, I had never really given much idea to the thought of night snorkelling – I thought that visibility would be too poor to enjoy it and that in the pitch black water I would get scared of what I could not see. However, the opportunity presented itself during my Maldives travels and I knew that if I skipped it I would regret it as soon as I arrived back on Australian soil.
After grabbing my mask, snorkel, fins, waterproof camera and a working torch (for all my American readers: torch = flashlight) it was time to enter the water! Though I had thought this would be a scary experience – I was surprised by how calm and relaxed I felt. With not a nerve or a sliver of anxiety in sight, it was time to plunge face first into the inky depths and see what creatures would come out of the darkness to meet me.
After my eyes adjusted to the almost complete lack of light and I established that my little Nikon was not going to be able to take any non blurry still shots, I changed to video mode and set off.
The first creature I spotted was none other than a Lionfish! Also known as a Pterois, this little fish may look harmless, but is actually quite venomous. Venom is delivered to those who endanger the lionfish through it’s many thin dorsal fins. This venom is very painful to humans and can cause various complications of varying severity, but is almost never fatal. I do not need to say that I got close enough to get a little look on video and then kept my distance – last thing I needed was another snorkelling related injury.
After checking out lots of the same fish I spotted during daylight snorkels and a couple of different types of starfish – the coolest encounter yet was upon me!
There I was, just cruising around and then out of nowhere – Steve the Stingray decided to come along and pay me a visit! Excuse the blurriness of this next video – to say I was both shocked and stoked is pretty spot on!
This next video does not show any amazing wildlife, but it does show exactly how dark it was both in and out of the water. Honestly, I am still surprised I didn’t have flashbacks to the opening scene of Jaws while I was out there – but at the time it never even crossed my mind – it was too amazing to be scared.
In this next video you can see a lobster waving at me! I had seen one of these guys during the daylight hours, but they were definitely easier to spot at night. It may have been darker, but they seemed to be much more willing to come out from within the coral beds and rocks and play in the open water.
After leaving the numerous lobsters to do whatever it is lobsters do, another stingray (or Steve returning) came by for a little swim, and I may have been just a little bit too eager to get close by. I followed this guy around for a while, not realising just how closely I was shadowing him. After a little while he got fed up with his new reflection and very obviously told me that he was ready to go his own way again – check out how cranky he looks at the end of this video!
I got the message loud and clear and left him to his own devices. After all, I never want to annoy any of these creatures, I just want to swim amongst them and soak up all the gloriousness of their amazing selves! So, to Steve the Stingray – please accept my heartfelt apology – sorry for getting too close and thank you for letting me know with your ruffle into the sand and not with a scary sting!
After my stingray encounter I honestly thought I could not see any more marine life that could make the experience even cooler and I was getting ready to glide back to shore, dry off and down a(nother) cocktail. However, it seems that whenever I think things cannot get better, they just do!
This next video is the coolest one I shot – I swum with a beautiful little sicklefin lemon shark!
Now – while this may look a little freaky – it really wasn’t. There is three things in life that this girl knows: how to catch a baby, how to have amazing adventures and how to identify just about every major breed of shark thanks to countless hours spent watching Shark Week documentaries instead of studying for her exams in high school. I knew instantly that this little shark was not a big threat to me, it was the kind of shark who would only ever bite if threatened and would rather chomp on smaller bony fish than humans.
It seemed to have no interest in me at all, which suited me just fine – especially after my encounter with Steve!
Once I was totally satisfied with what had been an incredible snorkel it was time to make my way back to shore. I had heard that bioluminescent plankton could be seen in these waters, so I decided to turn off my torch and see if I could spot any.
Sure enough, after a few moments my eyes had adjusted and I could see millions of these teeny tiny plankton surrounding me! They weren’t completely neon bright like the ones in pictures, but they were bright enough that I was able to swim back to shore without needing to use my torch.
When I pulled myself out of the water and onto the white sand beach, I could not wipe the grin from my face. Smiling ear to ear and looking up at the stars, I could not comprehend life being able to get any better. Safe to say, the Maldives will now always hold a special place in my heart.
T H E L O W D O W N
Getting to Male: There are many different routes flying into Male, flights with Air Asia from Kuala Lumpur are some of the cheapest
Trans Maldivian Airways: This is the largest seaplane company flying to destinations in the Maldives
Getting to Reethi: Access is by seaplane or domestic flight – costs for return flights are $450 USD and $330 USD respectively
Reethi Beach: One of the most affordable resorts in the Maldives, basic rooms start at $165 USD per night
Snorkelling: Snorkel gear hire at Reethi is just $12.99 per 24 hours
Camera: Nikon Coolpix S31 – cheap, cheerful, waterproof and easy to use!
Remember: To not tail the wildlife too closely
Don’t forget to add me on Snapchat and Instagram – @wwellend – for more foolishness and travel adventures!