Within minutes of spotting an incredible SCUBA liveaboard deal (50% discount on a 7 night liveaboard diving the less visited waters of Southern Maldives), we checked our calendar and quickly determined it was meant to be…sign us up! Our liveaboard was with the MY Sheena, which regularly runs the rate of 1660 Euros per week. Scoring a deal of 830 Euros was a great deal, considering we got 18 dives, free Nitrox, all meals, unlimited tea/coffee/water, and an A/C double cabin. Because the liveaboard focused on the Southern Maldives, we did have to factor in a very pricey seaplane shuttle (215 Euros) from Male to Filitheyo, not great value considering its only a 35 minute flight but we were keen on checking out the Southern Maldives, which has eluded us thus far.

The MY Sheena promised that we would be diving untouched and unexplored reefs and channels during a one week itinerary that is adapted to the prevailing conditions for the best diving in the Maldives. While a typical itinerary includes the Meemu, Laamu and Thaa Atolls (starting and ending at Filitheyo Island), our itinerary was different because of the low season’s increased plankton and poor visibility. Hence the killer price on a kickass route (starting in Filitheyo and making our way north towards Male). The downside meant limited visibility of only 10 – 15 meters, but the upside was more chances to see plankton eaters (whale sharks and mantas).

We managed to find flights from Saigon to Male and return for $425 each (including 20 KG luggage) on the low budget airlines of Air Asia and Scoot, which meant transiting in Kuala Lumpur on the way there and Singapore on the return sector.

Gorgeous view as we make our way towards Malé; Air Asia flight Grand Friday Mosque; Malé Victory Monument (3rd November Memorial); Malé Ornate coral tombstones; Old Friday Mosque in Malé Street outside the "Mulee'aage" (official residence of the President of the Maldives); Malé Best pizza in Malé at Pizza Mia! Dhoni sailboat cafe; Trans Maldivian airport Wall decor at Trans Maldivian's dedicated terminal; Malé Getting ready to board our Trans Maldivian seaplane! Aerial view of Malé, home to over 150,000 people Packed like sardines on our Trans Maldivian flight Arrival at Filitheyo international airport! Robby beside our seaplane Saying goodbye to our seaplane as we make our way to Filitheyo Island Resort Diving center; Filitheyo Island Flower decoration; Filitheyo Island Resort Empty beach; Filitheyo Island Resort Panoramic view of the pool and waterfront guest bungalows; Filitheyo Island Resort Robby enjoying our free time on Filitheyo Island Chilling on a swing while waiting for the last liveaboard passenger to arrive; Filitheyo Island Resort First meal on board the MY Sheena, our luxury SCUBA yacht MY Sheena's chef prepared tasty meals for us all week long. Dinner tonight consisted of fried rice, fish curry, fresh tuna, steak, fries, and a salad...yum! Ali introducing the MY Sheena support crew who worked hard all week long to ensure we had a great holiday Up at 6 am to be in the water before 7 am...not a bad way to start our day! Titan triggerfish; Faafu Atoll Oriental sweetlips; Faafu Atoll Sabre squirrelfish (sargocentron spiniferum); Faafu Atoll Pennant coralfish; Faafu Atoll Giant moray eel; Faafu Atoll Starfish; Faafu Atoll Relaxing in between dives; MY Sheena Ali giving us a dive briefing for "white tip station", Meemu Atoll Black spotted pufferfish; Meemu Atoll Red-toothed triggerfish; Meemu Atoll Coral; Meemu Atoll Young girls playing by the mosque; Dhiggaru Island Old election graffiti; Dhiggaru Island Friendly local on his pink bike; Dhiggaru Island Checking out the fish-net seats (surprisingly comfortable); Dhiggaru Island Two girls watching the boys play volleyball; Dhiggaru Island Ali talking about his island while Chris and Robby look on; Dhiggaru Island Fishermen slicing up tuna; Dhiggaru Island Boiling pots of tuna; Dhiggaru Island Tuna laid out to dry; Dhiggaru Island Logo celebrating 50 years of independence for the Maldives; Dhiggaru Island Ashraf serving up huge scoops of ice-cream for dessert; MY Sheena Spotfin lionfish; Meemu Atoll Imperial angelfish; Meemu Atoll Eel garden; Meemu Atoll Maldive anemonefish; Meemu Atoll Blotched porcupinefish; Meemu Atoll Hawksbill turtle; "Happy Corner", Meemu Atoll Soft coral; Meemu Atoll Blueberry cheesecake for dessert! Soaking up the sun during our after lunch siesta; MY Sheena Robby and the barracuda; MY Sheena Gillian, Yvonne and Becky wait for the afternoon dive briefing; MY Sheena Flo giving us the tawny nurse shark briefing at the world famous "Alimatha Jetty" dive site; Felidhe Atoll Our night dive with the tawny nurse sharks of Alimatha was a lot of fun, despite the crazy strong current Yellow puffer fish - a splash of color at the Alimatha dive site; Felidhe Atoll Sipping coffee and tea before our 6:30 am dive briefing; Felidhe Atoll Dhoni anchored near Alimatha Island Geared up and ready to dive “Miyaru Kanou”; Felidhe Atoll Grey reef shark; Felidhe Atoll Silhouette of a grey reef shark surrounded by red-toothed trigger fish; Felidhe Atoll Snapper; Felidhe Atoll Gorgeous red coral; Felidhe Atoll Becky and Nicole smile over chocolate cake for dessert; MY Sheena MY Sheena dive dhoni; Felidhe Atoll Resting grey reef shark seen in a cave on an exploratory dive (hence named "sleeping beauty"); Felidhe Atoll Maldive anemonefish; Felidhe Atoll Yellow boxfish (which become elongated and grey colored with age); Felidhe Atoll Clark's anemonefish hiding in a giant sea anemone; Felidhe Atoll Yellowfin surgeonfish; Felidhe Atoll Pretty soft coral; Felidhe Atoll Lobsters under an overhang; Felidhe Atoll The MY Sheena crew spared no effort to set the mood with this carved manta ray; BBQ beach dinner at Fulidhoo Island Enjoying our BBQ buffet dinner; Fulidhoo Island Delicious meal by candlelight; Fulidhoo Island Cute Maldivian girl forces everyone to dance; Fulidhoo Island Locals performing "bodu bedu", traditional Maldivian music; Fulidhoo Island Longfin batfish; Felidhe Atoll Nudibranch; Felidhe Atoll Triggerfish; Felidhe Atoll School of grey reef sharks;  “Kandoomaa Thila” dive site near Guraidhoo Island; South Male Atoll School of surgeonfish; "Kandoomaa Thila" dive site; South Male Atoll Oriental sweetlips; South Male Atoll Grey reef shark; South Male Atoll Foraging turtle; South Male Atoll Playful mantas near Guraidhoo Island; South Male Atoll Underside of manta ray; South Male Atoll Guraidhoo Island Lionfish trying to blend in with the coral; South Male Atoll Yellow margin moray eel; South Male Atoll Clown triggerfish; South Male Atoll Sea cucumber; South Male Atoll Juvenile Imperial Angelfish; South Male Atoll Octopus wedged into coral; South Male Atoll After our last dive, we heard there were mantas feeding on plankton next to the MY Sheena so we decided to hop in for a snorkel The mantas were in a playful mood so we got to snorkel with them for nearly an hour! Side shot of a manta; South Male Atoll Harish, the friendly sea captain of MY Sheena Laced moray eel with its mouth open wide; South Male Atoll Starry pufferfish; South Male Atoll Big-nose Unicornfish; South Male Atoll Maldives blenny; South Male Atoll Peacock rockcod (bluespotted grouper); South Male Atoll Breakfast after a morning dive...great way to start our day! Locals about to go fishing; North Male Atoll Soft coral; North Male Atoll Scribbled filefish; North Male Atoll Sailfin tang; North Male Atoll Hawksbill turtle; North Male Atoll Yellow boxfish; North Male Atoll Clark's anemonefish; North Male Atoll Mantis shrimp; North Male Atoll Black-spotted garden eel; “Sunlight Thila”; North Male Atoll Hermit crab; North Male Atoll Scarlet cleaner shrimp at the manta cleaning station “Sunlight Thila”; North Male Atoll Juvenile yellow box fish; North Male Atoll Coral hind grouper; North Male Atoll MY Sheena - our comfortable home for a weeklong liveaboard We miss our daily breakfast on board the MY Sheena Dive master Ali Feeling sad this is our last dive! MY Sheena's crew is the best, always smiling and helpful Pennant coralfish (longfin bannerfish) swimming in formation;  North Male Atoll Undulated moray eel; North Male Atoll Spotfin lionfish; North Male Atoll A shoal of remora (suckerfish); "fish factory" dive site; North Male Atoll Honeycomb morays (leopard morays) reach a gigantic size at the "fish factory" dive site near Furanafushi Island; North Male Atoll Smallscale scorpionfish, a master of camouflage; North Male Atoll Clouded moray eel; North Male Atoll Blotched porcupinefish; "fish factory" dive site in North Male Atoll Juvenile oriental sweetlips; North Male Atoll Banded coral shrimp; North Male Atoll Saddled sharpnose puffer; North Male Atoll A school of crescent tail bigeye fish; North Male Atoll A remora hitches a ride on a sting ray; North Male Atoll Dolphins next to our dive dhoni celebrate our last dive with MY Sheena Spoiled by lunch time desserts; MY Sheena Appetizer of mussels...last dinner on MY Sheena Chatting with Harish over breakfast Catching a ride to Hulhumale Nicole, Ali and Harish on the short ride to Hulhumale Our final goodbye to Ali...see you next time! Turtle painting; Hulhumale's UI Inn View of the beach just a few steps from our hotel room; UI Inn, Hulhumale Comfort western food (pizza and burger); Shell Bean Cafe in Hulhumale 100 Rufiyaa note foto gallery lightboxby v6.1

Our itinerary

Day 0 (28 Jul): Air Asia arrival to Male at 10 am. Free transfer from airport to Novina Hotel. Lunch at Pizza Mia in Male.

Day 1 (29 Jul): Morning flight via Trans Maldivian seaplane from Male to Filitheyo. Meet the crew and relax at Filitheyo Island Resort to await for all arriving passengers. Board the MY Sheena for a late lunch, and depart North Nilandhe Atoll towards Faafu Atoll. Check dive at “Dolphin’s Corner” (Faafu Atoll).

Day 2 (30 Jul): 6 am wake-up knock followed by 6:30 am dive briefing. Early morning dive at “Little Channel South” (Faafu Atoll) followed by breakfast and siesta. Late morning briefing on how to dive channels with strong currents followed by dive briefing for “Western Highlight” (Meemu Atoll). Lunch and siesta. Afternoon dive at “White Tip Station” (Meemu Atoll). Afternoon tea followed by an optional excursion to Dhiggaru Island. Return to MY Sheena for 8 pm dinner.

Day 3 (31 Jul): Early morning dive at “Happy Corner” (Meemu Atoll) followed by breakfast and siesta. Late morning dive briefing for “Vattaru Kandu” (Vattaru Atoll). Lunch and siesta. Sunset dive at the world famous Alimatha Jetty (Felidhe Atoll), for a chance to get up close and personal with tawny nurse sharks and sting rays. Dinner at 8 pm.

Day 4 (01 Aug): Early morning dive at “Miyaru Kanou” (Felidhe Atoll) followed by breakfast and siesta. Late morning dive briefing at a previously unexplored dive site in the Felidhe Atoll, which we nicknamed “Sleeping Beauty” because of a resting Grey Reef Shark. Lunch and siesta. Late afternoon dive at “Just Like Old Times” near Fulidhoo Island (Felidhe Atoll). BBQ beach dinner followed by Bodu Bedu (Maldives traditional music with Maldivian coconut tree trunk drum) on Fulidhoo Island. Dinner was especially romantic since it was lit by candles next to a huge sand-carved manta ray.

Day 5 (02 Aug): Early morning dive at “Fulidhoo Caves” (Felidhe Atoll) followed by breakfast and siesta. Late morning dive briefing for “Kandoomaa Thila” near Guraidhoo Island (South Male Atoll). Fantastic dive…our favorite one so far due to the many grey reef sharks and turtle. On the dhoni ride back to MY Sheena, we got to swim with mantas! Lunch and siesta. Afternoon dive at “Kandoomaa Thila” again with our fingers crossed it would be as amazing as the first dive but the current had already changed, the water was murky, and the sharks were gone. However, our spirits were soon brightened by the presence of about half a dozen mantas playing beside the MY Sheena in the late afternoon. We snorkeled with them for nearly an hour…amazing! Dinner at 8 pm.

Day 6 (03 Aug): Early morning dive at “Guraidhoo Corner” (South Male Atoll) followed by breakfast and siesta. During our siesta, the boat relocated near a fancy resort called Gili Lankanfushi, where for only $1400 USD per night, you could have your own private stilt bungalow accessible only by boat. Late morning dive briefing for “Lankan Mantap Reef” which is at Lankanfinolhu Island (North Male Atoll). Lunch and siesta. Late afternoon dive at “HP Reef” (North Male Atoll). Dinner at 8 pm.

Day 7 (04 Aug): Last day of diving today…boo! Since half of our group had a morning flight to Dubai tomorrow morning, we did two shallow dives today. The first one was a manta cleaning station at “Sunlight Thila” (North Male Atoll). Unfortunately for us, no mantas today but it was worth a shot. And last dive of the trip was “fish factory” near Furanafushi Island (North Male Atoll). This last dive was unreal due to the number of massive eels tucked into every piece of coral. Lunch and siesta while the MY Sheena relocated to Hulhumale Port. Rinse SCUBA gear in the afternoon and let sun dry. Last group dinner at 8 pm.

Day 8 (05 Aug): Early morning breakfast before most of the passengers departed for the airport by dhoni. We caught a dinghy boat ride to Hulhumale Port and bid farewell to the MY Sheena crew. Walked to our hotel, UI Inn, which was 1 KM away. They allowed early check-in which was great since we just wanted the room for the day anyway since our flight was in 10 hours. Lunch at Shell Bean, a great choice for western food. Caught 8 pm bus to the airport (20 Rufiyaa each). Scoot Air allowed passengers to board the flight an hour early and departed 20 minutes ahead of schedule, much to our surprise.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *