Special occasions call for exotic destinations and the Indian ocean never fails you…
Heading to the tropical paradise where the turquoise waters of the Maldivian lagoon offer a welcome retreat from the chilly winters of the Swiss alps, we start our snorkelling adventure. Known for its unique geography and topography, the Maldivian archipelago comprises of twenty-six natural atolls where crystal clear waters are home to a spectacular and vibrant marine life and the locals and fish swim with equal ease.
The irresistible hues of blues beckon us to plunge in and we set off with a personal guide wading through the lagoon and slowly swimming into the reefs as we are magically transported into this serene underwater paradise and enjoy the most exhilarating experience, a first of many to come. Teaming with life and a world not seen by many, the oceans are adorned with a variety of fish effortlessly gliding in their tranquil abode. Snorkelling in the tropical blues we celebrate life once again, a feeling so sublime that we lose all sense of time and as we proceed further and beyond until we reach the point where the lagoon meets the ocean, the dreadful drop off where the depths of the oceans are unknown and the ocean bed not visible. A moment of realisation and reassured after a quick glance at the guide we learn to relax to witness the most breathtaking living planet.
At times the currents are strong and swimming against the currents can be a challenge and at such times we were glad to have the guide with us. We also learnt that high tides were the best times to snorkel as fish come in large numbers along with the tide.
The warm waters of the tropics are home not just to the most delightful fish but also a variety of colourful corals without which sea life is not possible. The corals provide a foundation under which the entire reef survives and act as a fortress for small fish. The soaring temperatures in recent years and the El Nino effect has caused the bleaching of corals, a form of stress response that has affected 85 percentage of the world’s corals.
With some more practise we dare to hire a boat and crew and sail further away from the safe lagoons and into the deep. A true Piscean jumping from the boat right into the Indian ocean, surrounded by water, no land in sight, no ships, no boats…just miles and miles of cascading waves and a faint horizon at a distance, the vastness of the mighty oceans reminding us how very tiny we are. Head under the water and snorkelling, we are once again welcomed by a variety of fish, octopus, starfish and ecstatic to spot the little ‘Nemos’ (clown fish) and ‘Dorys’ (blue tang fish) and even experience our first jelly fish stings.
Somethings in life cannot be rated and this was one such experience. Many thanks to the Dive centre, Como Hotels & Resorts at Cocoa and Maalifushi, Maldives and the very friendly snorkelling guides Zippe, Ibrahim, Abbas and marine biologist Lisa for the experience of a lifetime.
Recharged and rejuvenated by the experience, the irresistible blues beckoned us back and we returned to the Indian Ocean once again, this time visiting sunny Seychelles. Belonging to the African nations, Seychelles has some of the world’s most pristine beaches, spectacular flora and a diverse fauna. A landscape contrastingly unique with its tall trees, granite rocks, sandy white beaches and aqua blues.
Once under the water the fish lure you to swim further and beyond and this time swimming with turtles and a family of eagle rays was magical beyond words. The rays gracefully gliding close to the sea beds jet off at the slightest of movements whereas the hawksbill sea turtle are small, curious and equally graceful. The fish here are much bigger in size and we are glad to spot some corals not affected by the rising temperatures and what a difference they make to the backdrop. Besides the usual and more common fish we are lucky to spot a tiger fish with its zebra striped fins, a slight to behold. The octopus is very shy and looks best when swimming but retreats into safety at the slightest threat coiling into an unsightly brown mass. The strong jawed parrot fish constantly pecking into the corals with their beaks produce huge amounts of soft sands that we see in the worlds beaches. A yellow trumpet fish, moorish idols with their aesthetic yellow and black stripes, butterfly fish, a puffer fish, a harmonious colour palette painting the perfect picture of peace.
Totally in awe of the experience we realise with each journey that life is not about the wealth we amass but real joy is in the adventures we take and the memories we make.
Huge thanks to the staff at the Boat house, Constance Hotels & Resorts, Seychelles.
Au revoir until next time…
Copy right & Photo Courtesy ~ Thomas Udhayasingh