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Expedition Highlights

  • Cruise through the lesser-traveled southern Maldives aboard the 20-guest Orion, to witness pristine reefs teeming with healthy populations of kaleidoscopic fish.
  • Search for a variety of large pelagic species, including whale sharks, hammerhead sharks, manta rays, turtles, Napoleon wrasses, and dolphins, as well as swirling schools of barracuda and tuna.
  • Enjoy two to three dive or snorkel excursions daily, with several opportunities to search for nocturnal species during night dives.
  • Explore the fascinating underwater topography—a dramatic landscape of thilas, pinnacles and submerged coral structures enveloped in brilliant corals and sea fans, and kandus, deep channels that run between atoll and coral-terraced reef.
  • Meet the hospitable residents of tiny, traditional fishing villages and attend a thrilling Bodu Beru drum and dance performance.

Day 1: Depart USA
Board your independent flight to the Maldives.

Days 2 & 3: Malé
Arrive in Malé on January 3, and transfer to Hulhule Island Hotel for overnight. After a morning at leisure, join a half-day tour of Malé, the Maldives’ buzzing island capital—a mélange of high-rise buildings, lively markets, and busy streets. Return to the hotel for a welcome reception and dinner.

Day 4: Malé / Laamu Atoll / Embark Orion
Our flight to Laamu Atoll leaves mid-morning; upon arrival, embark the Orion. This relatively unexplored area is characterized by deep passages and strong currents—ideal conditions for attracting sharks, rays, jacks, and tuna. Enjoy an orientation snorkel or dive before returning to the ship for dinner, and perhaps enjoy a cocktail in the dramatic observation lounge.

Day 5: Laamu Atoll
The largest atoll in the Maldives, Laamu is rimmed mostly by barrier reefs topped by islands. Enjoy a full day of snorkeling and diving—the sheer wall drop at Isdhoo is definitely worth the challenge, and schools of neon blue and yellow fusiliers are often seen during a shallow dive at Fushi Kandu. Giant barracudas, large potato groupers, and Napolean wrasses can all be found at Maabhaidhoo Kandu.

Day 6 & 7: Thaa Atoll
Expect manta ray encounters at Gorgonian Gardens and search for ghost pipefish hidden in the colorful coral during a night dive. Schooling fish and jacks attract numerous white-tip reef sharks at Olhugiri Kandu, observe loads of pelagics on a drift dive at Dhiffushi Kandu, and the wall dive at Buruni Valley features amazing bottom topography. The following morning, get up early for a sunrise dive at Hammerhead-Dhiyamighili north corner. The timid hammerheads only come near the surface when the water is still cool and, while encounters aren’t guaranteed, you’re definitely in for the experience of a lifetime. Other dives include Kalhufahala Giri—one of the best hard coral reefs in the area. This evening search for the world’s largest fish—the whale shark. These gentle giants can reach more than 20 feet in length and are thrilling to behold.

Days 8 & 9: Meemu Atoll
An atoll with little tourist activity, Meemu presents the chance to dive rarely visited, unspoiled sites. Mulaku Kandu channel is peppered with submerged pinnacles covered in soft coral. A drift dive with the incoming current at Vanhuravalhi Kandu reveals patrolling gray reefs sharks, schooling jacks, and the occasional sailfish. Expect plenty of action at Maduwari Kandu where the ocean and lagoon meet. Dolphins are often sighted along Meddhufushi Thila, which is suitable for divers of all levels. Kurali Beyru offers a pleasant drift dive, while “Mantas and More” is more than aptly named. You can also dive the Kurali Channel along a beautiful steep wall were turtles are often spotted. Land-based discoveries include the old cemetery and village on Rahmandhoo and historical mosque on Kolhufushi.

Day 10: Vaataru Atoll
With only one channel, one island and a few sandbanks, Vaataru Atoll provides a sense of utter remoteness. Relish the luxury of isolation as you dive Rakheedhoo Corner, a deep channel with caves and stunning overhangs that are swarming with sharks, Napoleon wrasses, barracudas, and, with luck, hammerhead sharks. Another great dive lies ahead this afternoon at Vaataru Kandu, noted for its soft corals, crinoidae (feather coral), and plentiful fish and rays. There is also a sand bank and small deserted island for some relaxing beach time.

Days 11 & 12: Vaavu Atoll
The smallest and one of the least commercialized atolls in the Maldives, Vaavu Atoll offers superb sites for both snorkelers and divers alike. The warms waters are teeming with fish and larger marine life, which you will discover on a number of excursions over the next two days. Explore the aptly name “Shark Channel” and Devana Kandu, which is home to squadrons of spotted eagle rays and huge marbled stingrays. Other options include a wall dive along the outer reef and a night dive in search of nurse sharks that can grow upwards of 10 feet long. A vast collection of marine life, small caves, and colorful coral make Fotteyo Kandu one of the most interesting dive sites in the Maldives. Step ashore on a deserted sand bank for beachcombing and a delicious beach barbecue under the stars.

Day 13: South Malé Atoll
South Malé Atoll is considered one of the best diving sites in the world, with vast schools of pelagic fish and plenty of soft corals. Watch gray reef and white-tip sharks as they patrol teardrop-shaped Kandooma Thila; investigate the Kandooma caves, two of the largest in the Maldives; and the topographically diverse Guraidhoo Kandu, which offers outstanding photographic opportunities. After your final dinner, attend a thrilling Bodu Beru drum and dance performance.

Days 14 & 15: Malé / Disembark / USA
Disembark this morning and check in to day rooms at Hulhle Island Resort with the afternoon at leisure to relax. Transfer to the airport this evening for your independent flight, arriving in the USA the next day.

 

Call us for latest price and availability.

Price is based on double occupancy and is subject to availability. Airfare is not included.

TOUR CODE: Z

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