This year I decided not to spent Xmas in cold, snowy and cloudy Germany, but to head to a tropic destination.
So I picked Ellaidhoo in the Ari Atoll as the house reef there was described to be a good spot for large fish and there a was a properly kept diving base. Hearing of my plans my kindergarten fella and dive buddy joined the trip, so I had a perfect wing man.
I did not find any reasons to be disappointed…
The rooms and the resort generally was well kept, with the usual marks of use, and all was cozy as the staff was helpful, cordially and very friendly. The base had good facilities, I cannot really judge the gear as I had my own, but what I saw was uptodate, good in shape and I heard no complains from others. The dive guides were very sympathic and competent in their advices. So we did a jump start and had the check-in dive at the same day we arrived. And what a start! We just were welcomed by a small white tip reef shark at the reef crest after crossing the laguna enclosed by the concrete wave breakers on the reef top. The oval shaped island sports a 25 m high tabletop reef with nice steep walls and many caves bursting with marine life.
Diving the house reef of Ellaidhoo is generally a pleasure as there is always something interesting to see: I saw white tips at almost every dive, a lot of turtles, large swarms of bannerfishes, triggerfishes and fusiliers, the usual suspects as parrot fishes, napoleons (there is a family of three reeaally huge ones at the wreck of the fisher boat) and clownfishes of course.
With a little luck a sting ray or eagle rays are passing by, once we found a nurse shark snoozing in a cave.
I was lucky with the diving cruises, too as we had one fantastic dive at a manta cleaning station near Moofushi. Six or seven manta rays were cruising the cleaning station the whole dive long and while going up we could watch them feeding in the channel. The cleaning station was busy as Times Square, lots of reef fish, a turtle and an attention hungry white tip.
The whale shark cruise had a nasty catch as the boat started at 4:30, which is not my time to get up…
But all the hazzle was swiped away when we had this encounter! Though there is a downside, too: when we sighted the whale shark first already one zodiak was on him, later 3 big boats joined. What now followed was nasty and a shame for social behaviour of mankind. The most people these boats spilled out were wearing lifevests, their panicky, uncontrolled moves clearly showed they could not swim. So there was this bulk of people stirring up the sea and frantically trying to catch up whith whale shark, inside that bulk there were no rules. Masks were torn off from faces, punches were thrown, people were dragged behind or pushed under water, it was wild and messy meanwhile the zodiak was zig-zagging between the snorklers to pick up his customers again.
Luckily with fin and wetsuit one could evade this stampede easily. But I suppose this hectic bunch did not lower the stress level of the poor beleaguered whale shark, who dived off into the blue. So we got back on the diving dhoni, geared up and hab a nice and quiet encounter with (probably) the same whale shark a few minutes later.
I only can say I fully enjoyed the stay on Ellaidhoo as the underwater life was gorgeous and during the dry phases I had mellow company as the there was a bunch of sympathic peeps, whether tourists like me or the staff from the dive base.
Ellaidhoo is really worth a voyage!
You can find more images here
After having nine chillaxing days on that beautiful island with adventurous and interesting dives, I headed on via speedboat to the next stage: a eight day diving cruise on the MY Sheena!!!