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Snorkeling in the Maldives
Fast Facts




Family Travel Tips
Snorkeling in the Maldives

Coral Reef, Maldives


Photo by Kurt Amstler, courtesy of MTPB

It is impossible to travel to the Maldives - a nation of 1,192 coral islands dotting the Indian Ocean - without putting your face in the water. At least once. Warm water, an extraordinary diversity of marine life, and exceptional visibility make the Maldives a top snorkeling destination. Even with kids. Watch angelfish wiggle in and out of coral. Observe anemone as it dances in the waves. Spot manta rays as they casually glide by. A snorkeling vacation in the Maldives is all about introducing children to the wonders of the underwater world.

The Maldives offers something for beginners and advanced snorkelers alike. The house reef - the coral reef surrounding each island - is in many cases just a few strokes or steps from shore. And it is teeming with marine life. Snorkeling along the inner house reef affords the tranquility of the shallow lagoon and ensures junior can stand up rather than attempt the dog paddle when clearing his mask. Advanced snorkelers in search of action will want to head to the channels and discover the underwater equivalent of village life.

Snorkeling in the Maldives is enjoyable at anytime of the year. On average, the water temperature is 25°C (77°F). Visibility, exceptional at any time, is best in March and April just prior to the onset of the wet monsoon. And notwithstanding the December 2004 tsunami and coral bleaching in 1998, the diversity of the marine life remains beyond compare. What lies below the surface of the water is a true wonder of nature. Its no wonder the Maldives is one of the best snorkeling spots.
Getting Started
Research the atolls and house reefs before you book your luxury hotel or all-inclusive resort in the Maldives as the distance from the shore to the reef and the quality of the snorkeling and swimming varies greatly from lagoon to lagoon.
The Right Trip
Ok conditions for scuba divers may not be ideal for snorkelers. Many day trips and most dive safaris put snorkelers and divers on the same boat.
Plotting your Route
While great snorkeling may be no further than a short swim from shore, the best snorkeling is to be had on islands with narrow reef flats and numerous channels that make their way to the outer slope. Ask your resort's dive shop personnel to point out the best snorkeling sites along the house reef as well as provide tips for entering and exiting the channels.
Travel Gear
Snorkel gear is available for use at most resorts, oftentimes free of charge. Make sure the snorkeling equipment fits properly and that your child is comfortable with the gear before you head out to sea.
Packing Tips
Don't focus only on the gear. Sunscreen and a t-shirt will protect your child's skin from the tropical sun. A laminated card with local fish and an underwater camera - many single use models are appropriate for underwater usage -- will make a snorkel trip fun. Pack each child's snorkeling gear in a mesh bag that is light and fun to carry. And enjoy your Maldives vacation.
Health & Safety
Don't underestimate the risk of seasickness on a boat-based snorkeling trip; an ocean that appears calm from shore can actually be rough at sea. Potentially queasy kids should sit in the center of the boat, keep their eyes on the horizon and limit their snacks on board to dry crackers and carbonated drinks.
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Travel Trivia
Cinque Terre is Italian for: