For our final southern cruise we welcomed our guests from all around the world who spent their first afternoon relaxing and getting to know each other. A few had visited us last year so it was a like reunion aboard the Maldives Siren, meeting friends again after year. Once the compulsory paperwork was completed and equipment set, Master chef Alibe prepared a delicious dinner and the inevitable swapping of dive stories commenced, over a couple of beers.
Our check dive was gentle at Vilingili Giri, and was followed by a plunge at Vilingili Kandu with a medium current so everybody got some reef hook action to enjoy the grey reef sharks playing in front of us. The weather was a little bit erratic on our first day of diving, hence we moved south of Vilingili Kandu – fantastic! A great drift dive into the atoll with 20 or so green sea turtles, reef sharks and Napoleon wrasse. Since it was remained a bit chilli in the evening everybody skipped the night dive, and instead opted for a Carlsberg or Lion.
A good night rest gained we were all ready for some more current, and shark action! We started at Vilingili Kandu to prepare ourselves for the real current at Kooddoo Kandu. Grey reef sharks in large numbers with and white tips spotted, several saw a silver tip shark. For the afternoon our skipper, Captain Ashraf moved the Maldives Siren further south, and we had a somewhat more chilled dive at Nilandhoo Giri. A few braver divers joined Cruise Director Dima on the first night dive of the trip and spotted shrimps, crabs and some very colourful nudibranch.
Day three began with two kandus and a rather strong current, but as we all know –sharks love currents and that’s the reason we go into the channels! The displays by these fascinating creatures were non-stop as we drifted inside the kandu. In the afternoon we headed down to dive Funandhoo Thila, where an amazing amount of fusiliers and surgeon fish were present.
Thomas Erbe, part of Siren Fleet’s operations team, joined with four of our guests on a night dive, where Dutchman Martijn saw his first ever leopard shark cruising directly in front them. Just a very mild current the next morning allowed us a relaxed dive at Funandhoo Kandu and Kondey Kandu, with many sightings of a silver tip shark, plus the usual grey reef sharks and tunas. As always in the afternoon, we choose some gentle sites for great corals and a large variety of reef fish.
We visited Dima’s favourite site for the beginning of dive day five – Mareha Kandu and nobody was disappointed: Eagle rays, sharks, tunas and Napoleon wrasse played in the mild current in full view of us. Since it was such a great dive, all our guests ask if we could do it again! Of course! So after a surface interval we were back under the water for another spectacular dive. The afternoon and evening were spent at Mafzoo, our southernmost point of the voyage, with very Thila dive site looking very beautiful Thila, with large schools of fusiliers and surgeon fish.
Our culinary wizard, Alibe, created a work of art in the form of a birthday cake for Andreas – naturally a few bars of ‘Happy Birthday’ accompanied the cutting.
After a pleasant morning dive at Gan Island we began our return north to revisit our season favourite dive site, Mareha Kandu. This channel has never disappointed with the resident school of eagle rays, numerous grey reef sharks and always the chance to see leopard sharks. Instead of a night dive, everybody enjoyed sangria on a little island, whilst watching another stunning Maldivian sunset. We dived at Mareha and Kondey Kandu the following morning once more, before continuing our voyage north. The school of eagle rays sending us on our way with a wave, just before a pair of mobula rays passed by.
All our guests love the Kandus, so for the last full diving day we choose only channels: Nilandhoo, Kuredhoo and to top it off, Vilingili Kandu. A large school of grey reef sharks was patrolling the entrance. Just a few of our guests dived the final day and by popular demand we went again to the Kandus in the search for more sharks! Alibe prepared a lovely BBQ in the evening, and we all watched a great video brilliantly prepared by Dima.
We said our goodbyes with another reunion in mind, aboard one of our sister ships in the Siren Fleet.
A great final adventure in the southern Maldives!