Mantas Are Coming to the Maldives, and Soon
PHOTO: Experiencing manta rays in the wild is one of diving’s top thrills. (Courtesy of Thinkstock)
Manta Rays are one of the best reasons to go to the Maldives. The Baa Atoll was made a UNESCO World Biosphere in 2011. The atoll is home to nine protected areas including Hanifaru Bay and Baathala, two manta ray hotspots within easy reach of The Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru. Watching these graceful animals soar through the water with their wing spans as wide as 15 feet is one of the most breathtaking dive experiences you can have.
Manta rays and whale sharks feed on plankton at the surface of the ocean, making it possible for snorkelers as well as SCUBA divers to experience these giant and peaceful fish. It’s even suitable for families with children to have this great bonding experience in safety. Mantas are curious animals and will often get up close to divers and snorkelers.
The Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru has gone further than any other Maldivian resort to make mantas and whale sharks, accessible to their guests. The Four Seasons Explorer’s Manta Trust Expeditions will be offered on two departures this year (Aug. 27 to Sept. 3 and Sept. 10 to 17) after last year’s successful launch. Conceived in conjunction with The Manta Trust, a leading manta ray charity, and escorted by its founder, manta expert, Guy Stevens, the two all-inclusive seven-day expeditions (with the option of shorter three- and four-night cruises within the dates) will immerse participants in the trust’s research and conservation efforts. The dates of the expedition are the best for sighting mantas and whales sharks in the Baa and Ari Atolls.
PHOTO: The Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru combines high luxury and close encounters with the world’s largest fish. (Courtesy of The Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru)
Between June and October, guests of the resort can get close with mantas and whale sharks as the southwestern monsoon currents and lunar tides bring large quantities of planktonic shrimp to various sites around Landaa Giraavaru attracting large numbers of mantas. Guests who visit the resort during the months of June and November can also sign up for the “Manta on Call” service that finds guests wherever they are in the resort when mantas are spotted. They’re then whisked away in a speedboat to snorkel with the gentle giants.
Available from May 11 to Dec. 20, the Manta Watch package includes round-trip airport transfers by seaplane for two, daily buffet breakfast for two, one “Manta-on-Call” snorkeling excursion for two by speedboat, a dolphin cruise and marine biologist briefing. The four-night package starts from $4,885 and it is subject to 10 percent service charge and taxes.
Exploring with Four Seasons
The Four Seasons Explorer is a three-deck, 10 stateroom luxury live-aboard that carries 22 passengers in luxury, with its one-to-one guest to crew ratio, on three-, four- and seven-night cruises, or private, customized charters. It also has one 484-square-foot suite, an indoor and outdoor restaurant, two bars, a lounge and library plus two sun decks as well as twice daily housekeeping, free Wi-Fi and same-day laundry service. As a live-aboard, it offers three dives a day as part of all-inclusive itineraries that cruise Northward, Southward and Circuit routes between the two Four Seasons Maldivian island resorts. The company also operates the Four Seasons Maldives at Kuda Huraa.
Located 35 minutes by seaplane from Malé International Airport, the 44-acre the Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru has 103 thatched Beach and Water Villas. All feature traditional Maldivian craftsmanship and materials, including the use of recycled coral (by special government permission) and a private turquoise entry gate. The resort sits on a vast lagoon and has a PADI 5-Start IDC Dive Center and a Marine Discovery Centre among its complement of water-based facilities.
Another option for divers is the five-star Ayada Maldives Resort in Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll in the south of the country which, because of its outstanding coral reefs, is gaining a reputation as one of the best areas of the country for diving. It was voted the “Indian Ocean's Leading Luxury Resort” and the “Indian Ocean's Leading Villa Resort & Spa” at the 2014 World Travel Awards. The resort offers 112 villas and suites, all with private pools, butler service and more.
PHOTO: The Ayada Maldives is located in some of the country’s best dive spots. (Courtesy of Ayada Maldives)
Traditional thatched-roof water-villas stand on stilts over the resort’s lagoon, while beach villas offer absolute privacy amid tropical greenery. Outstanding diving and snorkeling opportunities surround the island on reefs that have barely been visited by humans, while some of the country’s best surfing breaks are a quick speedboat journey away.
The Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru is geared toward couples. Each secluded thatch-roofed villa has a private garden and plunge pool. Besides spotting mantas and whale sharks on the nearby reefs, it also offers water-skiing, canoeing and windsurfing. The Sense of Romance package at Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru starts from $1,360 per night and includes a Sandbank barbeque grill dinner, a bottle of Champagne, a couple’s spa retreat for 90 minutes and a romantic room set-up.
More by James Ruggia
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