shakky!” shouts our tiny toddler, pointing excitedly towards the shallow reef below the deck. In the crystal waters, juvenile blacktip reef sharks calmly zig-zag between rocks and corals, scouting for snacks.
We’re in Bandos, one of the oldest resorts in the Maldives (opened in 1976); it is also one of the closest to the airport at 15 minutes by speedboat, being part of North Male Atoll.
Years ago, in our child-free days, my husband and I would visit the remote southern atolls or the more famous Ari and Baa, but now easy journeys are important. I’m not going to let the small logistical issue of having a two-year-old boy in tow stop me from pursuing my passion for diving!
Bandos was an obvious choice as soon as we settled for the Maldives as our holiday destination: apart from the easy access, it also has a doctor and hyperbaric chamber on site, a kids’ club and baby-sitting, and it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg compared to some other resorts.
We booked via BA (which flies direct from the UK) and packed for 10 days’ holiday, shipping the bags using the genius service that is Airportr. It collects your bags from home the day before the flight, and you won’t see them again until you land at your destination. It was £40 incredibly well spent for three massive bags containing dive-gear and nappies.
While diving was not the sole purpose of the trip, I had every intention of making it a big part, and we did manage to do some good dives together after handing our lively toddler over to Bandos’s efficient and very friendly baby-sitters.
He enjoyed singing nursery rhymes and splashing about in the children’s pool while we went off exploring the underwater paradise of the Indian Ocean with peace of mind, knowing that he was in good hands.
We had dived in the area years before and were curious to see if anything had changed under water. As we landed at Male airport it had seemed that a lot had changed topside, with major construction going on all around the airport, and huge condos and cranes that looked as if they were suspended on water.
The check-dive on the house reef was disappointing: dead, bleached and broken corals, and not much life despite the enthusiastic claim of one of the dive-team that Bandos “has the best house-reef in the Maldives”. Thankfully, the dives over the next few days were much better.