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Experienced Diver seeks great liveaboard option: Sept 2014

Chicago, Illinois
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Experienced Diver seeks great liveaboard option: Sept 2014

Hi all,

A good friend and fellow marine biologist/Rescue-certified diver and I are looking to visit the Maldives in September 2014. We'd like to do a liveaboard dive trip that will enable us to see the best sites, whale sharks, mantas, etc. on a comfortable boat with good people.

-Is Sept a good time? Obviously weather is unpredictable, but is this generally suitable both condition and weather-wise? For seeing large pelagics?

-Huge boat (20+ppl) not desirable. Like to maintain consistent group the whole time, i.e. no switching-out with a mother ship.

-Great reputation, great dive instructors/DMs, great value

-No need for most $$$ option. Can anyone recommend a good value operator?

-Any "must-see" sites that are not just tourist-centric??

-What about spending a few days on land. Best spots/hotels for a couple of friends to stay? We love the water and a nice beach...who doesn't??

-Any other advice/tips/recommendations are welcome!

Thanks so much for any information from those of you who have been more recently. This is a once-in-a-lifetime trip, so want to plan it well!

Cheers!

Divide, Colorado
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1. Re: Experienced Diver seeks great liveaboard option: Sept 2014

September is in the middle of the rainy season . you could experience anything from 2 weeks of brilliant sunshine to 2 weeks of storm and unbroken rain . your greatest odds are for some rain , some sun , lots of clouds . visibility is lower than in the dry season and sea a bit more rough . the liveaboards tend to keep a flexible itinerary to seek out the best conditions they can.

best chance for whale shark - find a ship that goes to the south ari atoll . you want to be in the channel south of the atoll . ask them for a site called ari beach faru . manta are not in season in south ari but some hang around year round . I have never not seen any.

consistent group ... most liveaboards rotate on a weekly schedule

we cant know your idea of $$$ and value without a numerical value given

must see sites that are not tourist centric ? if they are must see , everyone wants to see them ..

in order to recommend a hotel , we need a budget . good divers islands in ari atolls . vilamendhoo , angaga, maayafushi

Chicago, Illinois
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2. Re: Experienced Diver seeks great liveaboard option: Sept 2014

Thank you so much for the info!!

Have been trying to research what a numerical value can/should be, but would like to keep it less than $2K USD/person.

My notes about rotating group...I'm not as worried about this in the Maldives. A mistake from which I learned very quickly in another country many years ago was that I personally prefer one boat, one group for the whole trip vs. a floating mothership that brought new people in every day. Again, doesn't seem like an issue for these trips.

For value, I just mean that it isn't a total rip-off, that the boat isn't falling apart but looks splendid online- you know, the usual pitfalls of researching online. I won't be on my honeymoon and don't need a floating spa. I like to dive, dive, dive and have been on some pretty old boats many a time. Most will be a step up!

Also, my "tourist" note was again bringing up some past experiences. This part of the world (thankfully) doesn't experience some of the sheer visitor volume as others. The good spots are considered such for a reason, obviously, and I want to see them!! It won't be like the day trips on the Great Barrier Reef vs. a 10 day trip to the far reef and Coral Sea. I much prefer, for example, the latter with fewer boats, smaller groups, and basically better dive sites.

Hotel budget will depend on dive trip booked, so TBD!! :)

Thanks again!!

Divide, Colorado
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3. Re: Experienced Diver seeks great liveaboard option: Sept 2014

have you checked the FAQ liveaboards ? I have been on a few - my favorite is the dreamcatcher II .. prefer landbased dive vacation however - especially in the rainy season

Edited: 16 April 2014, 00:33
Divide, Colorado
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4. Re: Experienced Diver seeks great liveaboard option: Sept 2014

for your landbased days ... check out the islands I mentioned . you really want to be in one of the ari atolls . the difference is : south ari has more thilas . amazing sites that are on average more gentle in current . north ari is more challenging , overall . a lot more kandu and faru sites .. drift dives in heavy current and deeper but rewarding as well .

I personally prefer south ari atoll . I rather spend a long time on a thila top versus fighting current during an exhilarating yet short dive .. but that's a personal thing .

both atolls have some legendary sites and you wont regret either .. I would not stay in any other but one of the ari atolls however

Northern Ireland...
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5. Re: Experienced Diver seeks great liveaboard option: Sept 2014

except Gaafu Alif atoll Spammie?

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6. Re: Experienced Diver seeks great liveaboard option: Sept 2014

Have you considered volunteering with the Whale Shark Research Programme? I'm not sure exactly when they'll be back in south ari atoll, but if you're not insistent on needing to dive every day (they snorkel and free dive only), they could certainly do with marine biology experience.

Their website is www.mwsrp.org

Divide, Colorado
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7. Re: Experienced Diver seeks great liveaboard option: Sept 2014

no paul ... the domestic flight is still a big deal to me and really not worth it for a first visit and for someone getting off the liveaboard and looking for 'value' . besides .. I haven't dived up there yet and I believe neither have you ? so it would be highly foolish of me to recommend an atoll based solely on the word of paul - who doesn't dive :)

sorry paul ... I know you are in orgasmic love with phh . as you know I will be visiting this year but I am not nearly convinced that its the right island for me (or other religious divers with the same priorities) at all. I am also more a bit skeptical because the resort never got these over the top reviews for house reef when it was alila villas. then you returned from there and pretty much singlehandedly elevated the place to the new standard for house reef and you blast every other resort.

I am going to have to see for myself before I jump on that bus . I am very happy you had such a fantastic stay there , paul .. I totally understand how you feel .. but again , I will not recommend a not-exactly-cheap island based on hearsay. I know the north and south ari atolls well from the diver's perspective . I have logged several hundred dives there and I know that the op and friend will be beyond happy there - so that's my recommendation which I can stand behind .

Edited: 16 April 2014, 14:50
8. Re: Experienced Diver seeks great liveaboard option: Sept 2014

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