Sailing a Yacht around the Ari Atoll

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Our trip had just the perfect ending with a sail trip to Ari Atoll, a trip arranged by Rasdhoo Dive Center. Ari is one of the biggests of the twenty Maldivian atolls, laying just a couple og hours South West of Rasdhoo. Sailing from the Northern part of the atoll to the Southern part of the atoll with the boat we were on would take ten hours, which is quite a lot more than each of the legs that we covered last week on the Dhoni cruise.

The first place visited was a coral reef where we saw sharks and rays at just a five to fifteen meters depth. Afterwards we sailed over to a beutiful spot in the middle of the ocean where it was a really shallow sandy bottom, so that we would have the light turquise color all around us while eating lunch.

The rest of the day was spent snorkelling around and visiting one of the other local islands called Ukulhas. While the crew prepared a barbeque meal on the boat we were let off to have an hour of exploring and watching the sunset from the tourist beach on the island.

On the way back we were just laying silently on deck watching the stars brightly lit up on the sky above us. Looking down at the side of the boat we could also see the bioluminecent plankton sparking up around the boat as the water splashed off the boat, also leaving a trail of light behind us. The sound of the water splashing and the pitch dark, with only some light of the stars and the plankton made it feel like we could easily have fallen to sleep. At the same time it felt like we were already in a dream. A dream that we would first really wake up from when getting on the plane home.

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Diving around the Rasdhoo Atoll, Maldives

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I have always thought that Maldives was a country that had to be travelled on a huge budget, but the country has more to offer than five star all inclusive resorts! guest houses are popping up and scheduled ferries are making most of the inhabitant islands connected.

After our Dhoni cruise we had a few days off and decided to spend these at Rasdhoo, the smallest of the Maldivian atolls, known for having the countrys best diving spots. We stayed at Rasdhoo Dive Lodge, being the first guests to stay in the rooms where we slept, as the lodge was just starting up.

Being an islamic state there are regulations to where it is allowed to go swimming in bikinis, but the diving lodge was situated right on the islands main streets and was within short distance of both the bikini beach and the harbour where all boat excursions took off from. One of the days we borrowed the kayaks of the dive center and paddled out to the picknick islands and the sand bank right next by. The picknick island had a table, umbrellas for shade and restrooms and was a place people went to have lunch, relax or just do some snorkelling at the reef right by. The sand bank was just a white and smooth pile of sand surrounded by beautiful turquise water, which was the perfect place to take photos that all looked like they could have been on the cover of a travel magazine.

While being on the island I also got to do two afternoon dives and one morning dive. For the morning dive we got into the water before 6am, in the beginning it was pitch dark and then gradually it started getting brighter throughout the dive. What totally blew me off about this dive and almost took my breath away at nearly thirty meters was a blanket of “bioluminecent plankton” glowing up like starts underneath us. Apparantly that was not even a seasonal thing and was something that could be seen on almost all morning and night dives.

The morning dive we did at Hammerhead Point, known for having hammerhead sharks, but unfortunately I did not see any on my dive. However we saw bubblefish that came to play with our bubbles, we saw a manta ray and a marble ray, we saw white tip, black tip reef shark and a leopard shark and a few giant moray eels. Although a bit bummed about not seeing hammerheads I was quite lucky and satisfied with the dives I got to do. The only problem is that I from now on will compare my dives with the Maldives, which will be quite hard to beat. I guess I will have to be back for a longer diving holiday sometime.

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On a Dhoni Cruise around the Vaavu Atoll

On day two of our boat trip started with a two and a half hour drive from Bodu Veli (Veli meaning sand) to Kudi Boli (Boli meaning shell). This was the first time I got to join the crew for spear fishing. Together we caught lots of fish, all making fine dinners for us in the evenings. We also caught a big octopus that was used in a delicious curry dish prepared for us at Bongo Beli, where we spent the night by the sand bank.

The crew had prepared a surprise for us at the next stop at Bodumohoraa just an hours drive away. While we had been relaxing on the boat, the crew had dug out a seating section in the sand, laid a table cloth woven out of palm leaves in the middle and put up lots of lanterns made out of coconuts around. With some romantic music in the background and a good meal on our sand table it was quite a good athmostphere.

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The next morning we had just another drive to Hulidhoo reef, right next to the atoll capital, Felidhoo Island. Spending the night there was quite a different experience than the night before. The plan was to see what the local life was like on the island with 615 inhabitants. At first we were shown the school, mosque, police station and hospital by our guide Nanuu. People passing by greeted us friendly and one old random guy also invited us in for coffee and crackers in his home. He explained that since he had worked all his life as a teacher, the government provided him with 5000 Rufiyah, roughly 350USD a month. Even though The Maldives was a bit expensive for us as tourists, he seemed to get along fine with that money. After all, there was not much for the locals to do on the islands.

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One thing the locals do to pass time in the evening was to put up a traditional party called “Boduberu” (meaning big drum) where there were five people were playing drums and around ten people standing behind and singing. The rest of the people were dancing some of the weirdest dances I have ever seen; some people did Gollum-like dancemoves, where others were doing monkey moves and when we joined in with Macarena moves and disco moves it was all quite suitable as everyone were dancing differently to the drum beats. It was all quite interesting to be part of.

On the way back towards Malé we also passed by some resort offering activities for those interested in that. Alimatha Resort had a daily launch for diving, but I found the price of 120USD for a single dive way too expensive. I had been more looking forward to going surfing, but when we header over to Kommando the waves were much too small to do so.

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On a Dhoni Cruise around the Kaafu Atoll

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For the first leg of our journey, the crew had prepared some coconuts and snacks for us, so that we could sit and get to know each other on our two hour journey from Malé to “Bodu Veli”, the first of many sand bank islands we would visit on our trip.

When getting there we jumped straight into the water, and were surprised to see that everything was just as beautiful underwater as it was above. When swimming in deep waters, the blue color was just so consistent all around us and the water so “unpolluted” by algea an other organic micro things that otherwise would have made their water more unclear.

Like most of the other sand banks visited on the trip we had them all to ourselves and with delicious food taken care of by our chef, VJ, we could spend the whole day snorkelling around coral reefs, relaxing on the beach or doing “wake surfing”- wakeboarding with a regular surfboard dragged by the “Dinghy”.

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