When I found out that I would be returning to the Maldives, the thing that excited me most was that I would be able to once again do some truly unbelievable snorkelling.
On my previous trip to the Maldives I had been amazed and astonished by the variety and sheer abundance of ocean creatures that could be seen just a few metres from the shore. I will admit, the coral in these reefs is far from being the most colourful I have ever seen (Timor-Leste gets that trophy) but there is nowhere else in the world where I have seen sharks, stingrays and turtles – all in less than an hour!
So, it should not be surprising that once I arrived at Kandolhu, throwing on some flippers and donning a snorkel was pretty high on my list of priorities!
There are thousands and thousands of reefs in the Maldives – many of which are extremely shallow. This is great news for people who don’t scuba dive, because it means that they can still view a huge amount of wildlife using only a snorkel.
Whilst exploring the Kandolhu house reef, I spotted loads of colourful anemones swishing around with the sea currents. I love these anemones, they just look so soft and squishy!
I also saw a veritable tonne of these strange fellas!
When you look at them from the side, they appear quite skinny…
…but from above they look relatively wide!
They were also some of the most curious fish I have ever come across. They would swim right up to my hands and face to check me out, and wouldn’t flinch or swim away when I got closer to them.
If anyone knows what species of fish these guys are, please let me know in the comments!
Another thing I love about anemones – you never know what treasure is hiding inside!
Some may appear to be uninhabited…
…whilst others are home to beautiful little clownfish!
There are just so many different types of fish living amongst these reef systems, you never know what you will come across next!
Speaking of not knowing what you will come across next, there I was, enjoying my snorkel and the incredible aquamarine wonderland on offer, when all of a sudden, out of the blue, I came face to face with this stunning creature!
I had not known it, but apparently the North Ari Atoll is renowned for having a pretty substantial population of sea turtles! In fact, I later discovered that on this tiny house reef alone there are about 8 turtles who have settled in and made it their home!
I ended up floating around on the surface for quite a while watching Mister Turtle moving around amongst the coral.
At the time I wasn’t quite sure what I was waiting for, I just knew that I needed to stick around.
Then, after only a little while, Mister Turtle began to move away from the coral, and seemed to be looking towards the surface.
Then, all of a sudden, up he went!
After a few breaths, off he went back down to the safety of the coral. I have since learned that sea turtles need to feel very safe and comfortable in order to move to the surface and breathe, so it was an experience that I feel extremely privileged to have had.
Then, just as soon as I had said goodbye to Mister Turtle, another turtle appeared, seemingly out of nowhere!
This one looked a fair bit smaller and had a much cleaner shell, so I’d hazard a guess that it was a much younger one.
After a little while I found myself coming up towards a jetty, and I honestly never expected to see such a massive school of jackfish, but there they were, circling around without a care in the world.
I had only seen jackfishes once before, near El Nido in the Philippines; these ones were a bit smaller than their Filipino counterparts, but were still impressively large – much more than this next picture conveys.
After leaving the jackfishes and the shade of the jetty, this absolutely gorgeous white-tip reef shark swam right underneath me!
I absolutely adore sharks, in fact, when I was little I dreamt of growing up to become a shark specialising marine biologist!
As a result of being a shark enthusiast from early on in life, being close to sharks doesn’t scare me or frighten me in the least!
I could immediately spot that although this shark was a good 1.5m long, it was a harmless and chilled out white-tip, nothing for anybody to be scared of – just to be excited by!
Seriously, how magnificent does he/she look?!
Once I could feel my sunscreen wearing off and my pale skin starting to singe, I gently swam back to the jetty so that I could get out, dry off and seek some shade; however, just as I was going to exit the water, I spotted this little octopus curled up right next to the jetty stairs – pretty cool right?
Later that night I returned to the water to do a little bit of night snorkelling!
Now unfortunately it was so dark that my camera was unable to take any really good shots – especially of anything moving quickly – but the snorkel itself was absolutely amazing.
I spotted a stingray, a whole bunch of sharks, a sleeping turtle, a few pufferfish…
…a ridiculous amount of teeny tiny fish that were attracted to the light emanating from my torch…
…a sleeping parrotfish…
…and even a moray eel!
I had returned to the Maldives so hopeful that the snorkelling would be just as good as I remembered, and unsurprisingly, I was not disappointed.
I love the Maldives!
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