It is safe to snorkel on Maldives reefs? Not always!
As you know Maldives is world famous for amazing beach holidays and scuba diving. Resorts such as Bathala Island are sell known for scuba diving. Because the house reef is one of the best in Maldives. But, there are many non-divers visiting Maldives and the only way they experience beauty of the underwater world is by snorkeling. Now there is one more way and that is semi-submarines available in few resorts, a big tourist submarine is located off Male’ if groups want to do tour.
If you are on honeymoon or family holiday with kids the underwater world is still a great attraction that is most recommended to experience. But, remember it has some risks and you have to take safety measures. Gaining some knowledge about snorkeling, reef and sea could be a good start, if are you reading this you are on the right place.
Clear lagoons are beautiful to see, the view is often breath-taking. It could be awesome to swim or snorkel, it could as well be dangerous. If you walk down to lagoon you may find it is shallow water, at some distance there may be a steeply deep area. So, you must be confident enough to be able to swim if it is gets deep all of a sudden, otherwise wear life jacket. Do not get in to sea alone, always accompany a partner and it would even better if you are in sight of other people such as staff working in bar or restaurant, or other guests. Water currents is something many people underestimate. When you get in the sea you may find there is no current but when you swim a little aside you could be caught in a stream of current that makes swimming against impossible. Current changes often and there is no fixed behavior in any particular area of the sea. But, there are specific points that are known for having strong current such as access channels. For an experienced eye the current may be visible, tourists it may be impossible to distinguish flow of sea currents. In most snorkeling accidents guests attempt to swim against the current and get exhausted without being able to move forward. In such cases it will be better to swim aside instead of swimming straight against the current. Swimming aside means you may able to get to shallow area or reef to get hold, or even get off the stream of current.
If you are totally new for sea life it would be a good idea to join a snorkeling trip in which a local guide is present to take you around. Usually it is a group of guests who follow the guide who leads the way at the reef. If you can’t swim you could wear lifejacket and Snorkeling Guide may take few guests with him at a time. If you book a private snorkeling trip, then you have a dedicated Snorkeling Guide with you.
Usually fish are not dangerous if you do not pose a threat to them. Scary shark movies make people afraid of them but the sharks in seas of Maldives are not dangerous at all. There should not be any presence of blood, otherwise it may be risky. Sharks do not even come near you when you do snorkeling, they keep distance.
Do not step on coral, they are very fragile and take years to grow. Stepping on it or touching could damage the coral while it is also not good for you. Tips of coral are often sharp and could cut your skin easily. If it happens you will need to apply a disinfectant as soon as possible, otherwise it could be infected. Wounds made by coral are different from usual wounds that you get on land which often heals itself. Vinegar is a natural disinfectant if you do not want to visit a hospital or clinic.
Moray Eels, stingrays, lionfish and stonefish are dangerous if you get too close. Keep at least 3 feet distance, 5 is better if you want to ensure full safety. These fish are not dangerous but if you get too close they might see posing a threat to them and might attack to protect themselves from harm.
If you want to enjoy snorkeling, you should check the direction of current before starting. If you stay still in the sea the current will push you and that is how you check current. Best way is snorkeling towards the direction of current, rather than against. If you let the current to take you around the reef you could enjoy watching fish and coral without spending too much energy. Otherwise you will get tired quickly. Remember, the current often changes every few hours. So, every time you go snorkeling you have to check current.
Maldives is not the only country where people love to swim and snorkel. Zanzibar, Fiji, Cambodia, Australia and many countries have beautiful beaches but snorkeling is not so convenient as in Maldives, not even near. For example Australia is well known for its beaches and sea life but every year there are incidents involving great white sharks that swim along the Australian coat. In Maldives there are no great white sharks. The most common shark species found in the Maldives are Black Tip Reef Shark, White Tip Reef Shark, Nurse Shark, Hammerhead, Guitar Shark of Guitar Fish. All these are not aggressive, unless you touch it.