Thursday, February 22, 2007

Dive into the tropical Maldives

Travel Editor

Oliver Deubel, 38, is dive center manager at the One&Only Maldives at Reethi Rah, a resort in the Maldives. A native of Germany, he has spent six years in the Maldives, a nation-archipelago in the Indian Ocean southwest of India and east of Somalia.

Q. I read that the Maldives is the flattest country in the world. Is that true -- and what happened when the tsunami tore through the Indian Ocean in 2004?

It's true about the flatness. Most of the islands have a maximum height of 2 or 2.5 meters (6.5 or 8.2 feet) above sea level.

We didn't get any wave-breaking from the tsunami, like in Thailand or Sri Lanka. It was more like a high tide, where the water went up 2 or 3 meters (6.5 to 9.8 feet) over half an hour, then disappeared, then came back a half-hour later.

Q. Does the flat topography extend to under water there? It is said that some of the best diving in the world can be found in the Maldives.

It's one of the world's best diving destinations because of the beautiful reef systems and the variety of reef systems. You have straight-line formations where you can drift along. There are pinnacles with overhangs like gates that you can swim through. All of this is in quite shallow water -- from 10 feet to 80 or 90 feet maximum. You don't have to go deep to see the best diving spots; most are around 50 or 60 feet under.

Q. And the water?

Nice and warm: about 29 Celsius (84 Fahrenheit), depending on the season. There are two seasons, rainy and dry. The water is clear, too: You can get up to 100 to 120 feet visibility underwater, depending on where you are.

Q. Ancient people from India visited there; over many centuries, traders from China, the Middle East and Africa stopped there. Are there dive wrecks to explore?

Some from the Second World War are in the southern Maldives, like a cargo ship from England that was attached by Japanese subs.

A few wrecks are Portuguese traders; there are a few from Greece, Egypt or China. Basically, everything from East and West passed by the Maldives. [Read More]

No comments: