Snorkelling vs Diving at Banyan Tree Vabinfaru and Ihuru atoll

When:  December 2015               Weather: Hot 30C

Leica M240,  GoPro Hero4 Silver


We flew back to Male after 4 nights in Velavaru and we were taken by speedboat to the Banyan Tree Resort at Vabinfaru in 25min.  We stayed in the beach villas which was a nice change to the in-ocean villas in Velavaru and we were literally 50m from the sea….the welcome was warm and we headed straight off to Ihuru island 15min away by boat where another Angsana property was to dive and snorkel…


Our beach villas…

At Ihuru, the children wanted to dive the wreck there but I chose to snorkel instead as the sea was a bit rough and visibility not great….from the dive centre it is literally just 10-20m to the reef and there is a channel leading to the far side of the reef and swimming clockwise brings you round to two other channels, either of which can be used to return to shore.  I was very glad that I chose to snorkel this section and take pictures using the GoPro….the sun was shining and the reef was shallow which allowed reasonable pix…


powder blue surgeon fish


black spotted puffer


Meyer’s Butterfly Fish


Smooth Flutefish


Naso tang


black tipped reef sharks were common and swam pretty near


Convict Tang

L1005714Ihuru island as seen from Vabinfaru….after the afternoon’s diving and snorkelling. The turtle pens can be seen in the foreground…

L1005748As in Velavaru, the moon at 4am was just spectacular

L1005786and as the sun came out behind me the moon still shone brightly on the azure sea..


it was christmas day the next morning and we were given a complimentary dive by the resort….and we actually found Santa Claus on the ocean floor!


we even got christmas presents!!

And on Christmas afternoon, my son and I were accompanied by resident marine biologist Steve as we did a 2 hour snorkel adventure around half of vabinfaru island.  Accessing the outer reef via an access channel on the far side of the island, we swam towards the headland, buffeted by strong current and it was a bit of a challenge until we got round it and could see the pier that the current abated and we were able to drift with it…..then we started seeing more fish than can be imagined!  Numerous sharks…a magnificent flight of 15 eagle rays….etc etc.  We ended by swimming through the planted coral gardens to reach the larger turtle pens…

IMGP0076the conservation efforts of the Banyan tree group are aimed at hatching green turtle eggs, then growing the baby turtles till 30cm when they are released back to the ocean…


our final morning we set off again to snorkel and see the outer reef….


Trigger fish


Paradise rock cod


Pin striped butterfly fish


parrot fish


monocled bream

IMGP0084Banyan Tree Vabinfaru…another spectacular location


where the baby black tip reef sharks were ever present in the shallows


and some birding was also possible….I recently seem to have had lots of encounters with the grey heron…here taking a stroll on the beach


before taking flight


After a week in the Maldives and having both dived and snorkelled, I would say that I probably saw more and took better pictures whilst snorkelling than when diving….With snorkelling, I can probably see 80% of what a diver sees…but the light is better, you can get quite close to the coral reefs and it is much less technical, less stressful and with fewer restrictions!

As for the two resorts, I think the proximity and quality of the reef gardens in Vabin are probably some of the best snorkelling views I’ve had anywhere in the world!






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