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Old 09-17-2011, 12:14 AM
terryphing terryphing is offline
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MV Princess Lara - A Journey to Visit the Vortex of Mantas

Just want to share the experience on this particular LOB called Princess Lara as we move along. Looking forward to an adventurous trip with 14 other divers for the next 8 days in Maldives.

Day 1 - Arrival
Got a good deal from Air Lanka from Matta Fair @ only RM1365 return.
Good lunch and dinner considering we have to spend almost 9 hours from KL to Male after having to transit in Singapore & Colombo. Arrived in Male just before 7.30pm Maldivian time

Day 2 - Transfer to Princess Lara
Managed to go to the fish market at the capital and took some shots of the Tuna getting distributed.
Was later escorted to the Princess Lara, our boat for this trip. Our group was really impressed and personally, I am really impressed with the cleanliness of the dive boat.
Great lunch and our check out dive was at a nearby Kurumba House Reef. Visibility was ok but the corals and life around this site is pretty much destroyed by the bleaching.

Day 3
Woke up this morning at 6am and started our day’s diving at Barracuda Giri and Banana Reef. Interesting corals in most part with Napolean Wrasse as the highlight.
Had a pretty heavy lunch and have to admit that it is pretty hard to resist the good food served on Princess Lara. Even one of the diver who earns a very good living as a food caterer in KL declared that the food is indeed one of the best and most generous.
As we move towards Baa Atoll, we stopped at Finger’s Point for our 3rd dive of the day. Visibility was at least 30metres. Mobula and Manta Rays was sighted and every one had smiles on their faces after this dive. We can see that this trip is beginning to be more and more interesting. Pray that the trip to Hanifaru Bay tomorrow would be filled with Mantas and Whale Sharks!

Day 4 - Hanifaru

Princess Lara journeyed herself for 5 hours to Baa Atoll and we woke up at Hanifaru Bay. After the quick briefing at about 8am, we headed into the bay and yes! the mantas were there by the dozens! All the divers had a fantastic time and we could also observe divers from other boats were there to join in the big party of man and mantas! We were told by our dive guide that it was the best that he had seen for this year!

We tried going back there for our second dive to check out whether there are any whale sharks but unfortunately, there ain't any for today. Looking forward for another good start tomorrow!

Day 5 – More of Hanifaru

We were told that there are days where only divers from liveaboards are allowed to be in this dive site and another day for divers from resorts. Today happens to be the day for the resort divers. We were also told that we can sneak in to this site cos our dive boat can always drop us outside the site and we can slowly sneak in. This sounds like trespassing actually. We did not make it into the bay because as we were sneaking in from outside the bay, we were greeted by 3 giant mantas in the cleaning station. The divers automatically grabbed a nice spot beside the coral the witness the spectacular. These giants were at least 3 to 3.5 meters. After spending almost an hour, none of us had enough air to go into the bay but no one is complaining.

Our second and third dive was to locate a Whale Shark but ended up just taking some macro shots around the coral. We still managed to see a few Eagle Ray, a pod of Dolphins and a few Napoleans. On the way back to Princess Lara, a few of us saw a big splash from what appears to be a tail of a Whale Sharki! Have the Whales finally arrived at the bay to join the Mantas? Let’s see what tomorrow holds…

Day 6 - Inner Baa Atoll

We repeated the same routine and we saw basically the same thing. Some of the new divers in our group have started to complain about seeing Mantas all the time. Strange how some divers can take things for granted. At times I wonder how appreciative a new diver can be if they were to see so many pelagic in their first 10 dives. It took me more than 150 dives before I could see my first Manta. I am still pressing on as I am still looking for a good shot of a Manta with the sunburst in the right direction.
Sensing that most of us all were bored of the Mantas, we moved further north into Baa Atoll to check out whether there are any possibilities of whale sharks in that area. Unfortunately after more than 3 hours of searching, we failed to see any. I have to admire the patience of the boatman and the dive guide in the attempt.
We finally managed to locate our “whale shark” during dinner time on the beach! The crew did a great job by organizing a private island beach dinner party with a sand motive of a whale shark. Hats off to the crew of Princess Lara as their service could kick some if not most of the 5 star hotel service. They make up our room more than 3 times a day and each time with a different design. The Open Deck party that they arranged the night before with some disco lights definitely worth commenting as well. At this moment, most of the divers wanted to book the time for next year.

Day 7

We were told that a pretty sizeable Whale Shark was spotted at the tip of an island not far from where we anchored for the night. With this piece of good news, we spent our first two dives of the day trying to locate it but unfortunately for us again, only Mantas were spotted almost everywhere above and below the water.

Most of us have logged up to 16 dives at the end of today. Time really flies! We spent close to a week of diving and coming towards the end of our trip soon. Tomorrow will be our last day of diving at Finger’s Point which is back at Male Atoll. There should be Eagle Rays and sharks especially White Tip and Grey Reef Sharks in this site. Let’s see what happens.

Day 8 - Heading Back to Male

This would be the last diving day of our trip and we managed only one dive for today. We chose Finger's Point and the seas were in favor of us when there was this inward current. Ali, our dive master and also the owner of Princess Lara told us that we will see schools of Eagle Ray and other pelagics if this was the case. True enough, we were greeted by tons of white tips and a dozen of eagle rays flying in a formation which reminds me of some air show. I fought very hard against the current to get a better shot of the eagle rays but think my wife got a better shot of the rays than I did [-(

As we finished the dive and also the dive of this trip, we were told to leave everything on the dive boat and the crew will clean everything for us and to my amazement, they cleaned really everything from our BCs to even our dive skin. Seriously the best service I received from any dive centers

I couldn't believe how lazy I started to become we came back for breakfast and I slept for almost 2 hours just to enjoy my lunch This trip was all about eating, sleeping diving, eating, sleeping and diving!! The crew really spoilt us. We will definitely be back next year as we have yet to see our whale shark . Spent the remaining of today exchanging photos and enjoying the facilities on Princess Lara which includes a very good massage from the in house spa and also the jacuzzi on the upper deck B-)


Day 9 - Goodbye!

Its definitely hard to say goodbye when you have so much fun and food Not to mention that our bodies have adapted to the movement of our boat and the sea.

Loads of Mantas and no whale sharks for us this trip but I guess it gives us a good reason to come back again. However, as for Hanifaru Bay, this will be the last year that the government of Maldives would allow us to dive there. Good news is that we are still allowed to snorkel in that area.

Michael Aw mentioned that this is the best time of the year to check out the Mantas in Hanifaru Bay. For some of us who are still wondering when and why the mantas come and go in Hanifaru, my personal opinion is that you remember the Mooncake or Lantern Festival. The chinese believe that the full moon on the 8th month of the lunar calendar is the best for the whole year and I guess this is the closest month where the earth is nearest to the moon with the gravitational pull being the strongest. This gravitational pull will indeed cause the plankton to bloom and thus attracting the mantas and whale sharks. This may be the science to it but as all divers know, it still depends on our luck. We got lucky with the mantas this round







*above article written by gerald my diving partner for life

Last edited by terryphing; 09-17-2011 at 12:17 AM..
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diver999 (11-24-2011)
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Old 11-24-2011, 01:17 AM
diver999 diver999 is offline
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Hi terry, thanks for your wonderful comments... do you mind to email me some of the info of your trip. I'm looking for one like this. things that i wish to know are :-
- How much you pay for your trip?
- Which month of the year you made the trip (September??)
- Is the air fair takes longer hour to reach there?
Kindly email me and appreciated your help.
My email - diver999@yahoo.com
Thanks A Lot.
Regards
Patrick Ong from PJ
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