Safaris have been on offer since the beginning of tourism in the Maldives. The very first visitors, a group of Italians back in 1972, were taken on a tour of the islands. That group were all divers and dive safaris then became more or less the only sort of safaris on offer.
In addition, tourists were only allowed to visit islands where there were already tourist resorts in operation. Today you are allowed to travel anywhere in the country, visit any island and go on a whole plethora of different safaris.
The hardcore diving safari, with three dives a day for two weeks, is still hugely popular but now some boats offer a mix of diving, snorkelling, lazing and island hopping. The danger with offering a variety of options, though, is that it can get quite difficult to get the right balance of activities for the different wishes of all the guests onboard.
Cruising, fishing, surfing and yachting
Some boats don’t offer diving at all. Though they might well have some water sports equipment onboard, they are focused on the new concept of Paradise Cruises.
Other boats now concentrate just on fishing. This might be big game fishing or it might not be. I know of an American who came halfway around the world to catch a Giant Trevally, while standing in a lagoon.
Surfing safaris are becoming increasingly popular as word spreads of the quality and solitude of the sites, and as new breaks are discovered as the country gets ‘mapped’.
Yachting safaris have been tried in the Maldives but they haven’t lasted. This has a lot to do with the fact that navigation is tricky, and can be very tricky indeed. There are submerged reefs literally all over the place and even experienced Maldivian captains keep a member of the crew on the tip of the boat scanning the surface of the water for telltale signs like little colour changes and indistinct ripples.
Finally, Dr. Charles Anderson runs a whale watching safari every year. From Blue Whales (seen off Sri Lanka but not yet sighted in Maldives waters) to the many species of dolphins, this is a safari that is likely to get more popular and more important.
I am not yet covering safaris in the Maldives but hopefully it won’t be long before we can offer you some options on these holidays.