I survived! Diving was one of my biggest fears, yet when I was approached by Rasdhoo Scuba to get my PADI open water scuba certification in the Maldives, I couldn’t say no. Before I knew it, I was booking flights from Dubai to the Maldives to tackle one of my greatest challenges — not only did diving terrify me, but I wasn’t a big fan of the open water and I’m not the strongest swimmer. But 2017 has been the year of conquering my fears, so I decided to add diving to my list.
Rasdhoo is known to be among one of the best spots in the world to scuba, and the best place in the Maldives! Pair that with Rasdhoo Scuba's Tailor-Made Dives – personalized to you – and I was instantly sold!
We met Simon, one of the founders of Rasdhoo Scuba – and also the person who would be certifying us – at Male International Airport and he personally escorted us to Rasdhoo, a little island that was an hour from Male via speedboat. From the moment we stepped out from the airport, we couldn’t believe the color of the water! He said that blue was just average — uh, excuse me?! Average, I don’t think so! Stunning is more like it!
The speedboat was as easy as could be and, upon arriving, Simon gave us a quick tour of the island and made us feel instantly at home. Rasdhoo is NOT a luxury tourist destination – yet – which makes it that much more appealing and affordable for many.
After a quick peek into the dive shop, Simon showed us Shallow Lagoon, the hotel in which we would be staying. We were greeted with fresh coconuts and taken up to our beautiful room.
The room was quite comfortable, and there was a lovely balcony and open-air bathroom. Shallow Lagoon also does a great job of trying to keep sand out of the rooms by ensuring that we take off our shoes before going upstairs. The entire reception and lounge area is open air and sandy floors, which just adds to the tropical feel. You can stay on Rasdhoo and never have to wear shoes!
Even though there were a few restaurants on the island, we had all of our meals a la carte at Shallow Lagoon — they were extremely reasonably priced, big portions, fresh, and delicious. And you better like fish!
We were up early for breakfast, as you should always eat at least two hours before diving, to meet at Rasdhoo Scuba at 10am. We learned the logistics of diving and familiarized ourselves with the gear before going to complete our Confined Water 1, the first part of our PADI training.
Although it was pouring rain, we were so excited to be getting into the water with our dive gear!
Upon completing the exercises, we did our Open Water Dive 1 at House Reef. We went up to 11 meters and… I survived! My first real dive and it went as smooth as could be. We saw many beautiful fish and, upon looking up from underwater and seeing how deep we were (all things considered), I realized that this was for real. Simon and Robbie, the two instructors that were in the water with us, made us feel comfortable and safe at all times. I mean, how could you not feel safe when your instructor had done over 6,000 dives himself?! That’s still a shocking number to me.
Despite the driving rain, we exited the water with grins on our faces having completed our first open water dive – SO psyched!
We met at the dive shop at 9am to complete our Confined Water 2&3. These exercises are a bit scarier for me, simply because you need to learn what to do if something goes wrong while underwater — of course, our instructors would never let anything bad happen to us but it’s important to be prepared for future dives! It’s during these exercises when you learn what to do if you lose your regulator or run out of air, how to clear your mask of water, and how to take off your mask under water – swim without it on – and put it back on underwater. Needless to say, I wasn’t a huge fan of these exercises, but Simon ensured that I was safe throughout the entire time and worked with me until I got it comfortably. Well, as comfortably as someone could do that haha.
We then completed our Open Water Dive 2 at the Desert Island Corner. It was our first exciting dive, as we saw an eel, eagle ray, pipe fish, lion fish, and sea turtle just a meter or two away!
Our day started bright and early at 7:30am with our Open Water Dive 3 at Madivaru Ridge — we were to be swimming with sharks! YESSS! It was absolutely stunning under there and I couldn’t believe that there were sharks just casually swimming near us. It’s funny – I was terrified of diving, but not at all of the sharks.
After a much-needed lunch, we went to the Sand Bank in the afternoon, which is just an absolutely stunning beach. White sand. Clear blue water. It was just unreal.
Firaag, the owner of Shallow Lagoon, took us out on the jet ski too, which was an absolute blast! After being accidentally thrown off the jet ski by a friend, Firaag took me around the surrounding islands while he drove.
When we got off the jet ski, we grabbed snorkels to go feed the fish. This gave a whole new meaning to “fisheye”!
Our fifth day was a quiet day – we completed Confined Water 4&5, and our Open Water Dive 4. It was pretty rough and I did some extra practice with the exercises while the guys learned how to do backflips off the dock with the locals.
We awoke early to complete our Open Water Dive 5 at the Manta Wash. While it’s only around 11 meters, I must say, it gets chilly sitting on the ocean floor for 30 minutes with minimal movement! It was a bit murky that morning, but we did see the outline of one Manta Ray!
We then snorkeled in the bluest of blue waters though at Veligendu Corner, which I absolutely loved! We practiced free diving, and saw a sea turtle and a baby white tip shark. From jumping off the boat to swimming around and just taking in the stunning blue waters, we just had a ball.
Later in the evening we went night fishing with Shallow Lagoon where we learned to fish like locals, simply with a string and bait. I caught my first two fish! After a few hours on the water, they cooked up the fish we caught for our dinner – talk about fresh seafood!
After dinner, there was a traditional dance show at Shallow Lagoon with Thaara Jehun music, which gave us insight into local music, and it was an interactive dance as they pulled all of us in. It was a great experience!
By 8am the following day I was back at Rasdhoo Scuba to go dive at the Kuramathi Crossover. I didn’t know what to expect…. and before I knew it, I was surrounded by hundreds of sharks! They were EVERYWHERE and it was spectacular! It was simply me, Simon, Firaag, and the sharks. The current was incredibly strong though, so Simon held onto me so that I could still experience the dive without worrying about being pulled into the sharks!
Afterward, we headed to Rasdhoo Scuba ready to take our PADI Open Water Scuba written course.
It is a 50-question multiple choice exam. Apparently there are five particular questions that you have to get right in order to pass, but I wouldn’t know which ones since we aced it!
It’s official – WE EARNED OUR PADI OPEN WATER SCUBA CERTIFICATIONS!
Because there needs to be 24 hours between your last dive and getting on an airplane, we just had to stay in the Maldives an extra day.
We took it easy and lounged before catching the last shuttle off Rasdhoo to Male at 1:30pm.
Getting my PADI Scuba Certification with Rasdhoo Scuba was one of the best experiences I could have asked for. Simon, Robbie, and Haape were as attentive, fun, friendly, and responsible as could be. I felt safe with them at all times and they proved over and over again that they were quite knowledgeable. They went above and beyond in every single way and I was truly impressed with the way they ran their business. I wouldn’t have wanted to get my PADI anywhere else! I can’t wait to dive again with Rasdhoo Scuba soon!
With the motto of “Celebrate Happyness in Pressure,” I can say that Rasdhoo Scuba certainly delivers on the “happy”-ness!