Dates: November 23-December 1, 2019
Price: 2,395.00. Please see PRICE AND PAYMENT TERMS for additional details
Group Leader: Eduardo
Number of Spots: 20.
For the non-diving package, CLICK HERE
Keeping up with our tradition of amazing tropical dive trips on Thanksgiving, this year we are going to arguably the most beautiful tropical place in the world: Maldives.
The Republic of Maldives is a chain of almost 1200 islands most of which are uninhabited. Only about 200 islands are inhabited by the local people. The highest point in the Maldives is just 8 feet above sea level! The weather and conditions are just about as perfect as they can get: sunny days, breezy nights, average temperatures in the mid 80's, breathtaking sunrises and sunsets, water temperature between 80 and 84 year round, white sandy beaches with calm clear water and friendly people. The Maldives is home to possibly the best 26 atolls in the world for diving. For divers seeking extraordinarily clear waters, coral reefs teeming with life, sunken ship wrecks, and abundant varieties of marine species, the atolls of the Maldives have it all.
Maldives dive trips are often done via liveaboards. However, the country is so beautiful and unique that we decided we would still have out-of-this-world dives if we stayed on one of the islands, but would also have an out-of-this world time enjoying the island itself. I mean, look at this!
We found an amazing boutique hotel on the Island of Dhigurah, at South Ari Atoll and we can't imagine anything being better than that. Boutique Beach Club is a beachfront hotel DESIGNED BY DIVERS FOR DIVERS and features amenities such as a camera workstation in every room! For a lot less than a liveaboard, we will have the comfort of a nice hotel and will also be able to enjoy the island life that we wouldn't be able to experience from liveaboard. Oh, Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included!
We have an all-inclusive package with 13 guided boat dives, including a full day outing, one night dive, one sandbank lunch on the beach, one sunset dinner on the beach and a sunset cruise to see dolphins.
Now let's talk a little bit about our dives. Here is what PADI's website has to say about Ari Atoll:
The Ari Atoll is famous among divers for its volume of pelagic species. It is not uncommon to see manta rays, whale sharks, hammerheads, guitar sharks, turtles, grey reef sharks and eagle rays all within a week’s diving. While the Ari Atoll may be heaven for big species, it features a good deal of macro life as well. Frogfish, zebra morays, nudibranchs, blueline snappers and hundreds of other colorful fish species reside here. Wherever you dive in the Ari Atoll, you are sure to be slack-jawed at least once a day by the sheer number of pelagic species you will encounter.
It looks like nowadays Whale Sharks can be found at South Ari year round, and November is Manta Ray season, so we're all but guaranteed to see both! In addition there are 26 different types of sharks and 1,100 different types of fish found in the Maldives. The visibility is between 45 and 100 feet year round!
We won't have a set schedule of what day we will be going to each location, since it will depend on the conditions each day. Instead, every evening, the dive team will meet with the group and determine the dives for the following day. Here are some of the dive sites we will be planning on hitting:
Maamigili Beru, AKA Whale Shark Point
This will also be the perfect trip to bring our non-diving friends and loved ones. We actually will have a non-diving group with activities scheduled every day. Yup! This is going to be the ultimate tropical diving and non-diving trip!
OPTIONAL RESORT ISLAND WATER VILLA AND SEAPLANE EXTENSION!
For those of us who want to take things to the next level and experience one of Maldives' unique attractions, we will have the opportunity to spend two days and one night on an exclusive resort island in a water villa and fly out on a seaplane!
Resort islands are those small private islands, where the island itself is the whole resort and your room is a villa over the water (yes, the ones where you can jump in the water right from your room!).
This is going to be a super, super cool and unique experience, and because we will be spending just two nights, it will actually be pretty inexpensive.
We will be staying a Vakarufalhi Island Resort and Spa, an award-winning resort, and one of the nicest at South Ari Atoll.
We will head up to Vakarufalhi in the morning of December 1 (the last day of the regular trip) on a short boat ride spend the next three days and two nights at the resort, and leave on a seaplane (yes!) to Malé on December 3.
PRICE and PAYMENT TERMS
- This price is for cash, check, bank transfer, or any direct form of payment. We can take the deposit via credit card, but if you want to pay for the remaining balance with a credit card, we'll have to pass the 5% credit card processing fee (for this trip, 125.00) along to you.
- A deposit of 500.00 (non-refundable) starts your reservation. Once we receive your deposit, we'll send you a questionnaire and a contract that will need to be returned to us in 72 hours to guarantee your spot. Once we have the questionnaire and contract, we also will send you an invoice for the remaining amount. You will have until August 23 (three months before departure) to finish making your payment.
- When you make your deposit, you will be asked for your email. MAKE SURE YOU LIST AN EMAIL YOU CHECK DAILY WHEN YOU MAKE YOUR PAYMENT. THAT'S WHERE YOU'LL RECEIVE YOUR QUESTIONNAIRE, INVOICE, AND ALL THE EMAILS IN REGARDS TO THE TRIP.
- Full payment is only due on August 23, 2019, three months before the trip. So you have a lot of time to pay. You can make payments in any way you prefer so long as you are fully paid by the due date.
- The cost for the optional resort island villa extension will be 895.00 and will include transportation in and out of Vilamendhoo (including the seaplane) and all you the meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner). Because the seaplane is included, you won't need to buy a return FlyMe flight out of Dhigurah, which will save you 150.00.
- If you make payments or pay in full before the due date, your payments (minus the deposit) are refundable before the due date ( August 23, 2019). After that, all payments are entirely non-refundable. We STRONGLY suggest that you get travel insurance to cover you in case you need to cancel your trip for any reason.
- All the hotel stays at double occupancy (please see ABOUT OCCUPANCY below). At Boutique Beach Club or one of their adjacent hotels. Depending on the size of our group, they might have to put some of us (or all of us in order to keep us together) in one of their adjacent hotels of the same caliber.
- Transportation to and from the dock at Dhigurah to the hotel if you arrange your internal flight or speedboat ride with our hotel. If you arrange your own internal flight or speedboat, you’ll also have to arrange your own transportation inside Dhigurah or pay extra for our operator to transport you. See FLIGHT below for more details.
- A six-day, 13 dives dive package. If we want to do more dives in addition to the scheduled ones, the cost will be 66.00 per dive.
-Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily at the hotel. Depending on what time we arrive, we might not get breakfast on the first day.
- Flights (see FLIGHT below).
- Optional activities (jet ski, water ski, paddle boarding, fun tubbing, etc.).
- Equipment other than tank, weights, mask, snorkel and fins. You can rent equipment from the shop when you arrive.
- Meals other than breakfast, lunch and dinner at the hotel.
- Travel insurance (highly recommended). We do offer Travel Guard travel insurance and will send you a link to purchase it once you pay your deposit. You can also get insurance with any company you would like.
- Tips to guides, drivers, staff, etc.
- Souvenirs or anything extra you would like to get.
- Any activity not described in the itinerary.
- Double occupancy: you will be paired up with someone of the same gender as a roommate. Unless you have someone that you are already coming with, of course.
- Single supplement (if you want a room for yourself): 995.00
- The last people to RSVP and pay the deposit MAY have to be put in triple occupancy rooms (if we end up with an odd number of men or women).
Flights are NOT included. Flights are very easy to book nowadays on your own and some people want to do side trips, so it gets really unpractical to include flight. Besides many of you can use miles or other ways of making your flight free or saving money if you book it by yourself. So instead of including air, we will give you guidelines so you can go to Kayak.com, Cheapoaire.com, Expedia.com, Orbitz.com, or any booking website and book your own. The best time to book a flight is usually 2-3 months before departure (the best day is Tuesday and the best time is between 12:00 and 3:00 PM). We will book ours at that point and e mail the group telling you what we got. If you do book the same flight, we’ll meet at LAX. If not, we’ll just meet you there.
Flights from the U.S. arrive at Malé International Airport. From there you have two options to get to Dhigurah:
FLYME: A 20 minute flight to Maamigili Island and then a 10 minute speedboat to Dhigurah. Round trip cost : 300.00. Both flight and the speedboat are included on the 300.00 and they are coordinated together so as soon as one arrives, the other one departs. They have several departures daily.
SPEEDBOAT: A 2 hours speedboat ride. Round trip cost: 140.00. The boat is a clean, comfortable boat with bottled water and a bathroom. They have one departure daily each way: at 4:00 PM from Malé to Dhigurah, and at 6:30 AM from Dhigurah to Malé.
Our hotel can arrange the Maldives part for you (NOT the international flights into Maldives) for either one of the above options and you pay the hotel when you arrive. Just forward us your international flight information at least 60 days before your arrival, and they will coordinate your flight or speedboat ride.
IF YOU CHOOSE FLYME:
- Arrives in Malé (MLE) no later than 8:00 PM on November 23. The last Flyme flight out of Malé leaves at 11:00 PM.
- Leaves Malé (MLE) on December 1 no earlier than 10:00 AM and no later than 11:00 PM. The first Flyme flight to Malé leaves at 6:00 AM and arrives in Malé at 6:30 AM. The last Flyme flight to Malé leaves at 8:00 PM and arrives in Malé at 8:30 PM.
IF YOU CHOOSE SPEEDBOAT:
- Arrives in Malé (MLE) no later than 2:00 PM on November 23. There is only one speedboat from Malé to Dhigura, and it leaves daily at 4:00 PM. Keep that in mind if you find a flight that will arrive too early, as you will have to wait until 4:00 PM to take the boat.
- Leaves Malé (MLE) no earlier than 12:00 PM on December 1. There is only one boat from Dhigura to Malé, and it leaves daily at 6:30 AM, arriving at Malé at 8:30 AM. Keep that in mind if you find a flight that leaves late, as you have to wait since 8:30 AM for you flight.
IF YOU ARE DOING THE RESORT ISLAND EXTENSION:
- Leaves Malé (MLE) on December 3, no earlier than 3:00 PM.
SOME OTHER IMPORTANT THINGS TO KNOW
- Is seems like there are lots of taxes in the Maldives. We strove to figure out all the taxes so we could include them in the price and we think we did. However, we might be surprised with some additional taxes that we did now know of that were not include in the price. If that’s the case, they will be charged directly to you, but they won't be much. Again, most likely there won't be anything , but we just like to mention every possibility so there are no surprises.
- Maldives is a Muslim country. As almost every single Muslim person, or as almost every single person of any religion for that matter, they are peaceful, loving and welcoming. However, they observe Muslim laws, which include alcohol abstinence. In other words: they don't serve alcohol in the inhabited islands such as Dhigurah. They do serve alcohol, however, at the island-resorts such as the ones we can visit as daily excursions. What does that mean for us? It means that while we are at our hotel or anywhere on Dhigurah, we cannot drink or have any alcoholic beverages with us. We can drink as much as we want every time we go to any of the island resorts but can't bring any alcohol back with us. Please keep that in mind and please be respectful of the country we are visiting.
- Because of the adventurous nature of our trips, our itinerary and some locations are subject to change due of weather, tides, road conditions, logistics and other unforeseen circumstances. It’s not likely, but it could happen. Whenever we make a change in the itinerary, we will do our best to keep the integrity of the trip.
- Passport is required, of course, as in all international travel. Your passport must be valid for 6 months after our return date of December 1, 2019; therefore it must be valid until at least June 1, 2020. If you don't have a valid passport or if you passport expires before June 1, 2020, make sure to get started on a new one ASAP. Here's the link for the Department of State Passport section: http://travel.state.gov//content/travel/en.html
- As of the time of this posting American Citizens don’t need a visa for Maldives. We can't guarantee that this won't change, but that's the case right now. Now, if you have a foreign passport, you may need a visa. Here's the Maldivian Embassy website so you can look into that: http://maldivesmission.com/
If you need to take care of any those issues, make sure to get on them ASAP so you don't get held up because of some unexpected delay. We've had people missing trips and losing their money because they waited too long, had unexpected issues come up, and couldn't take care of them before the trip started.
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