Each night at 8:30 the people from Island Divers come to the retreat to organise expeditions for the next day. As no whale sharks have been seen in the area in the past couple of days, it was decided to visit the Manta Rays at Manta Point instead.
We woke up reasonably early today with our sleep patterns a little out of whack. Time for Claire to experiment with a run around the island whilst I exercised my right to walk rather than run. The weather in the morning is lovely and there are people out doing their daily business, including sweeping the sand road and making the thatch as a community on the beach.
Following the walk, a small buffet breakfast was eaten. It’s amazing what they are able to produce given the distance from this island to the rest of the world. Fried eggs, waffles, roti, donuts, sausages – a really tasty start to the day. From there it was a pick up and then down to the boat for the one hour trip to Manta Point. No need for seasickness tablets on this trip – slow and calm.
During the trip we passed a number of islands many with the typical Maldives look – houses in the water and beautiful sandy beaches. The weather was glorious and made even more enjoyable by a cool zephyr of a breeze created by the boat as it meandered its way to our destination. With also only five passengers and five workers we were guaranteed pretty exclusive service (oh Elliot Travel you’ve done it again)!
Manta Point is right on the edge of the lagoon – you can see waves from the open ocean nearby lapping at the mouth of the lagoon and looking to enter inside. There were already around twenty people in the water being a pretty good indication of where to look for these majestic oceans – called ‘sea eagles’ by the locals. Jumping in and looking into the beautiful clear water you could see an amazing spectacle below.
A giant manta ray with a wing span exceeding three metres glided on the ocean floor. It’s white patches stood out against the dark of its skin and its huge giant mouth opened wide sucking in the plankton from around it. The ‘wings’ blended up and down majestically with apparent ease. Moments like these leave you spellbound and you suck in the enormity of what you are seeing and how lucky you are to be in such an incredible environment, the home of these fabulous creatures.
We followed one ray for about an hour, Philip showing great prowess in diving down deep to almost touch the animal and use his new waterproof camera to capture some outstanding moments. Eventually the ray dove to a point that was hard to see and we resumed back to the boat for a towel off before re-entering when the Ray was once again spotted.
After a couple of hours, the boat transported us back to Dhigurah where we jumped into our own plunge pool to cool off a little. Then back on the move again to journey to the end of the island, around three kilometres where a massive sand bank, kinda like a ‘spit’ awaited. The walk was tougher than it should have been with the sun beating down and the tide out making for sand that gave way beneath your feet. We were looking for a small area that supposedly had a pool type appearance being 1.5 metres in depth. Unfortunately the area where we think this existed was filled with a large number of women all swimming in burkas and not quite ready for a few white Aussies with skin showing to join them. So onwards we went to find our own remote swim location.
The water here is amazingly clear, the colour you see in brochures. This image accentuated by white sand and the obligatory palm tree. We bobbed around in the water for a while and then made our way back down a track used by the locals. Time then for a shower, refresher, a few online checks and then dinner – another good buffet selection although this time the rolls were much smaller (not sure if it had anything to do with Claire taking the entire bread stick roll yesterday rather than breaking off a piece).
Last task for the day was the arrival of the representatives from Island Divers and teeing up tomorrow’s adventure which we think will entail searching for the elusive Whale Shark.