Snorkelling in Vilamendhoo, Maldives

We approached our island in the Maldives with a soft landing by seaplane, gliding on the water - all around us, reaching out to the furthest horizons, was the sea, smooth and level in the sunlight.

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We spent our first sunset in Vilamendhoo swimming in the sea among the many fish. The following day, we set off into the deep blue on an ocean discovery boat excursion to see whale sharks and manta rays. After an hour or so, the big moment came. A blue, spotted shape swam under our boat. The skipper cried out: “Quick, jump, jump in!” Almost instantly, I was in the water swimming towards the whale shark. We had to keep our eyes peeled and not lose sight of this magnificent creature. Emotions were running riot in my head. I was less than two metres from this gentle giant. The shark then headed downwards into the ocean depths. It was time to board the boat again and motor towards the turtle reef, where we had more time to swim and take good footage of the green turtle and the hawksbill turtle. I experimented with the underwater camera, trying to capture different angles of the turtles.  

The stretch of beach in front of our chalet was perfect. The gentle wind whipped the water into foam-edged wavelets, inviting us in to go snorkelling. Some fish species were happy to have their photos taken, and others were timid. I managed to winkle some of the more reserved fish out of their hiding holes for a better visual of them. I had to be quick with the camera as they would swim out for a few seconds and retreat into a crawl space. Although most fish species preferred to keep their distance from us, the long slender flute mouth fish gaily accompanied us. They swam beneath us without worry and patiently waited when we paused for breaks. We were happy to find both the white tip and blacktip reef sharks while snorkelling. We had sightings of eagle rays, and the feather tailed ray.   

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Our second boat excursion was superb. The first whale shark sighting was clear and close to the surface. We had ample time to record the shark in good sunlight and visibility before the lunch bell rang. Halfway through lunch, the yacht came to a halt. Another whale shark sighting all to ourselves!  

We were out snorkelling the next morning. This was our exercise for the best part of the eight nights stay. One just could not get enough of the beautiful tropical fish and the chance of seeing the local turtle up close. Baby reef sharks fed continuously on the large schools of fish in the shallows. The reef’s edge was always awe-inspiring. Brilliant beams of sunlight brought the coral to life.    

On our last morning at Vilamendhoo, I walked around the resort, taking photographs, swimming in the infinity pool and relaxing on the beach. One last snorkel and we were rewarded by sightings of an octopus, eagle ray and turtle. When the time came for us to leave our paradise island, we boarded the seaplane for our return trip, knowing how blessed we had been to experience such an unforgettable Maldives holiday.

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Written by Wendy Howard. 

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