TRAVELLING TO RASDHOO ISLAND, MALDIVES WITH BEZZ DIVING

After the hours of watching movies, listening to music and trying to get a bit of sleep, finally, I hear the announcement that we are preparing to land in Male. I quickly change into my summer clothes, ready for the tropical warmth awaiting me, and check to make sure I have everything I need to pass through immigration control: the print-outs of my return flight and voucher for my accommodation in Rasdhoo, as well as a pen to complete my arrival card. The Bezz Diving Maldives team have made sure I’m well prepared to easily enter the country.

Once I’ve collected my luggage and passed through customs, I look around, uncertain where to go next. I ask a friendly airport worker where I have to go to catch the speed boat from Male to Rasdhoo. He points me to the jetty outside the door of the airport and shows me where to wait. Right on time, the speed boat cruises up to the jetty and I’m welcomed on board. My luggage is taken from me and stowed in a compartment up the front. It’s a smooth operation and very quickly we’re beginning the rapid trip to my diving destination… Rasdhoo!!

I’m stunned by the beauty of my surroundings on the hour-long boat ride. The crystal clear water, the tiny islands, each like a mini-paradise, and the dolphins playing in the bow wave of the boat. It all seems like a magical dream, a world away from the winter I left behind a few hours ago. As the speed boat approaches the wharf at Rasdhoo, I spot a familiar face waiting for me, waving excitedly.

After finding great reviews for the Bezz Diving team on on Google and Trip Advisor, I dived with them for a week in Malta and loved the family vibe they give, as well as their attention to detail and safety in the water, so when I decided to go to the Maldives, I chose not to do a live-aboard trip, spending a week with a boat full of divers I didn’t know, but instead to go and stay with them on the local island they use as a base for Bezz Diving Maldives. A big benefit of this is how much cheaper it is, as well as getting to know the local Maldivian people and see another culture.

As well as the Bezz Diving team, there were the friendly staff from the guest house waiting for me, ready to take my luggage the short walk to the accommodation. On arrival, there was a refreshing cold drink waiting for me so I could relax while I checked in.

My first impressions of Rasdhoo are how peaceful it is, how easily the local people welcome me, and how tiny the island is – I can see the sea at the other end of the main street, a mere 500m in the distance. I take off my sandals to enjoy the feel of sand under my bare feet as we walk the few streets to the accommodation. On the way, we pass a mosque and some women wearing headscarves. I am surprised to learn that the Maldives is a Muslim country. When I ask, I learn that it is polite to wear at least a t-shirt and shorts in the streets, but out on the boat or on the tourist beach, it’s fine to wear swimwear as normal. Although no pork or alcohol products are available, the abundance of fish, chicken and buffalo meats as well as delicious natural fruit juices, meant I would soon forget that I was missing anything.

On entering my room, I am pleasantly surprised at how well-equipped and comfortable it is. I was expecting something much more basic for the price. It is very clean, and there is a TV, a small fridge, air conditioning, wifi, an ensuite bathroom, and a really comfortable looking bed… I leave my dive gear in my case, ready to take it to the dive centre, 50 metres away, if I can find it… all the sandy, tree-lined streets look very similar, and the ocean is there in every direction.

The dive centre is another surprise; it’s so big and comfortable. There are sofas for chilling out and relaxing before and after the dives, a wet area in the back to store and rinse equipment, another room for the compressor and aluminium tanks (DIN and yoke valves are both available). But my eyes are drawn to the TV screen, where movies of other days dives are playing and I feel my jaw drop looking at the sheer quantity of beautiful marine life. I drag my eyes away and get back to the business of completing the paperwork and getting kitted out with dive gear in my size. The instructor gives a thorough briefing, we assemble the equipment, and walk the few metres from the dive centre to the boat waiting for us at the beach. Wading to the boat, I notice the water is like a comfortable bath… almost 30 degrees!

 

Slipping beneath the water, it feels like I have dived into a dream. Descending slowly and drifting with the current, I am amidst all the sounds and colours and beauty that previously I’ve only seen in documentaries. The small reef fish scatter and hide amongst the coral as my shadow passes over, while the larger fish calmly watch my approach, sensing I’m no danger to them. A unicorn fish plays just out of sight in my stream of bubbles as a school of barracudas passes by. I swim beside turtles, rays, trevallys and see the faces of morays watching from their holes in the reef. And then, approaching 15 metres, the first sharks appear. They slide effortlessly towards the reef, riding the current, or with a flick of the tail, easing a path into it. The fear I thought I would feel seeing them transforms into awe and respect and their easy mastery of their environment and their indifference to my intrusion into their world.
Too soon, my pressure gauge tells me that I need to wake up from this beautiful dream. The last minutes of the dive are spent doing a drifting safety stop, with the strong currents, typical in the channels of Maldivian atolls, taking us where they will, our marker buoy letting the boat above know where to collect us. Back on the boat, we share a drink and some fruit and our incredible experiences from the dive. It’s hard to wait for the required surface interval. I just want to go back in and do it all again!

After the beautiful dives I rinse my gear and go back to my room to check out the videos I’ve made. I grab something to eat and then head down to the bikini beach to nap in the shade of the trees. When I wake, I see the Bezz Diving team are setting up the nets for a game of beach volleyball. I’m happy to see that I’m not the only one who needs a lot of practice… The game ends as the sun sets, sinking down behind the neighbouring island of Kuramathi.

After the sunset, the Bezz Diving team begin to prepare a barbeque and invite us to join. It’s the perfect end to an amazing day, relaxing with a full stomach, sharing experiences and laughter with new friends from all over the world, all united by our love of diving, travel, the environment we’re so lucky to be able to enjoy…

I have barely been here for a day, but already I feel like I have found my place, my people. I’ve left behind the hectic city life, where everyone is glued to their phones and found a place where I don’t want to miss a minute of the beauty around me. Rasdhoo really is a diver’s paradise and it is wonderful to share it with Bezz Diving Maldives!