Updated: Apr 28, 2020
If we had to spin a giant globe and put a pin on a random spot somewhere around the water area, we could end up placing it right on these coordinates: 3.2028° N, 73.2207° E. Looking closer we would find a dream destination for divers: the Maldives, known among the diving community for great visibility dives, amazing possible encounters such as manta rays and whale sharks and for drift dives with very strong currents.
I guess we would need some luck as well to get to the exact point but did you know that the Maldives is made up of more than a thousand coral islands? It is quite a number! Reunited in 26 atolls, Maldives is the smallest Asian country by area and population. The Maldivian capital is Malé and is by far the most populated island among all; some islands are uninhabited, some of them are populated by locals, while some of them host holiday resorts.
I have been in the Maldives for the first time about 9 years ago, where I had the chance to stroll around the capital for a day and then to end up on of the beautiful resorts in South Ari atoll. I had one of my first diving experiences there and yet, I preferred the white sandy beach and the palm trees over what lies beneath the surface. In 2012 I had the lucky chance to visit the Maldives again and this time I fell in love with the whole package and happily became an advanced open water diver. At the time I didn’t know one day I would have come back and closed an open circle: teaching scuba diving where I first was taught.
In the Maldives, the water conditions are good year-round. With water temperatures between
28°C (82°F) to 30°C (86°F) on average. I currently wear Aurora Wetsuits Divine collection dive leggings which are made for women by a woman. Due to the conditions these are by far sufficient to dive comfortably and stay warm enough to manage my longer dive with the amazing marine life found here in the Maldives. Super comfortable, warm and also making me feel confident as my students and customers can always identify me with the beautiful design.
Visibility is generally great too with views from 15m to 40m, during the rainy season this can be on the lower side more often and from time to time even lower than stated though.
If this beautiful group of magical islands is on your bucket list to visit and live in, I am happy to share with you some hints!
VISA AND WORK PERMIT
The Maldives has strict rules about foreigners’ employment, therefore you can only work here with an approved work permit, you will need to open your local bank account and pass a basic medical check.
All this process is organized by the company that hires you as it’s in their best interest to make sure they don’t break the law. I must say, I can’t speak for every single one of them, but generally, this is how it works.
Flight tickets, food, and accommodation usually come as part of the employment conditions, as well as salary and commissions. I’d say that the Maldives is a great destination if you are trying to save as much as possible of your salary because most of the time you can while enjoying top-class diving!
MUST BE AN INSTRUCTOR
Although, during these few years I could see already some changes. The Maldivian law doesn’t allow hiring a foreign divemaster to work as such, therefore (usually) dive masters are local, which I find great and absolutely fair for the Maldivian community. You will get a safer and higher chance to be hired in the Maldives as an instructor, sometimes working as well as snorkel or watersport guide. The number of local diving professionals increased considerably during the past ten years, the first large instructor courses took part and what once was seen more as an elite opportunity is becoming more accessible.
Local islands started to open up more to tourists and while back then dive centers could be found only on resort islands, now they are widely spread around the whole area; as in most places around the world, languages would boost your opportunity to be hired.
Taking a step back, what you probably should know is that resort islands can be considered like hotels in any other city in the world: as a guest, you can go luxury in 5* properties or you can choose 3* in eco-friendly resorts; as an employee, this would impact your island life and it can change drastically from one place to another. Some resorts will ask you to wear a uniform 24/7 while some others will happily see you walking around barefoot. Some will give you the chance to have all your meals at the guests’ restaurant; some others will only allow you at the staff canteen. On local islands, girls will have to be careful about wearing certain clothes; as a Muslim country, showing shoulders and knees is not allowed. To make a long story a short story, your life in the Maldives depends on which island you land.
Last but probably the most important thing to know about this incredible place is that you could find yourself living in a golden prison. Some islands are crazy small (if I walk around the one I work in, it will take me 10 minutes to get back to the starting point), therefore you might want to check the size of the place where you’d like to work if you need space.
I have met diving professionals who couldn’t bear the sensation of not being able to ‘escape” and left soon after their arrival and then I met others who have been around for over 10 years.
But let me tell you something, there is not a single sunset like another one, here in this paradise called the Maldives…