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Scuba diving

One of the major reasons many people come to the Maldives is to experience some of the world's best diving. Crystal clear tropical waters, colorful reefs laden with exotic fish species, and occasional wrecks all add to the allure. Most resort islands run dive courses for the uninitiated and will organize trips to nearby dive sites. The costs of these can run into the hundreds of dollars. Live-aboard boat excursions are a cheaper option to staying at luxury resorts and they also give access to more varied dive sites. These boats can go for as little as $175 per person per day, including dives, meals, and accommodations, though you will sacrifice some comfort at the lower end of the rate scale.

Maldives Scuba Tours Ltd.. There’s no doubt about it: the Maldives have the best diving in the Indian Ocean (some claim in the world) and you can dive and snorkel at most of the Maldives resorts. But if you’re a serious diver, or want to get really serious, then one of the best ways to perfect your techniques and to make the most of the magnificent underwater life is to stay on a dedicated live-aboard boat. It’s excellent value-for-money because you can get (if you want) as many as four dives a day. During monsoon season (May–September) you’re almost guaranteed manta rays and some boats offer special expeditions where you can help with manta ray research. Expect sharks, schooling game fish, turtles, and dazzling varieties of reef fish and coral gardens. Non-divers are welcome on the boats and can snorkel, or watch a surprising amount of surface sea life from the boat. Scubascuba, a highly reputable UK company has four classy boats with comfortable accommodation, good food, and excellent staff. If you wish, add a resort vacation at the end of your boat trip. Innovation House, Boldero Rd, Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk, IP327BS. www.scubascuba.com.

Snorkeling

You don't need to take a PADI dive course in order to enjoy the amazing underwater scenery of the Maldives. Most resort islands have coral reefs that are sufficiently close to the shore and shallow enough for you to paddle across them in a snorkel and mask. You may not experience swimming with Manta Rays or some of the other offshore dive wonders, but balance this with the knowledge that the shallower reefs are altogether more colorful and intense as they are flooded with more tropical sunlight.