Desi Girl Traveler: Ramona Arena Goes Scuba Diving in the Maldives

Ramona Arena
This is where nature is most inviting, all you need to do is surrender, let the pristine, clear waters carry you and your load as you get kissed by the Maldivean sun

The beach, the sea, sunshine, scuba diving, friends, good food and a yacht. Add the Republic of the Maldives to it and voilà – life doesn’t get better than this. But sadly it’s not life, just a tiny little slice of it, which I refer to as my holiday, my escape, my time out.

All thanks to Shaff, a friend who is among many things, a scuba diving instructor, I got an invitation to hop aboard Anastasia as she made her first dive safari of the season. Eight days of living on a boat, diving three times a day, meeting different people from all parts of the world, everything taken care of, all I had to do was buy that ticket – and so I did.

Me being a mermaid indulging in a little bit of free diving

Scuba diving to me is so therapeutic. First of all, when you travel alone, you have a lot of time to yourself. When you’re surrounded by nothing but the ocean for miles on end, it puts life, problems and everything into perspective. You realize how tiny and relatively insignificant you are in front of the vast and mighty ocean. You reconnect with nature, yourself and get back to your roots. Its so easy to just shed – let go of all worries, fears, doubts and negativity. You remember what life is about, what truly matters at the end of the day.

Striking a Titanic pose on a ship wreck, all by myself…oh Leo, oh Leo where for art Thou?

What further enhances this experience is when you’re down under. Looking up at the rays of sun light breaking through the surface of the water above you, you’re floating, feeling weightless, breathing slow, deep breaths, in and out, in and out. You’re in a whole new world. Sometimes you cannot believe this is a part of the very planet you live on – the colors, the shapes, the life, the beauty, the perfection. All so spectacular, you can’t help but marvel.

This is me at my happiest - nothing more than a lone speck of dust in the mighty ocean

This to me is the best kind of meditation. Also the easiest three hours of silence, three hours of magic. Every day. This trip in particular was extra special for me. I have always wanted to see manta rays and whale sharks. This trip, after nine years, I finally saw them both. I was also literally nose to nose with a beautiful turtle, had a batfish play with me and on our last day, as we were out swimming , out of nowhere a school of around 100 dolphins passed by us. We jumped in to the little boat and followed them as they kept surrounding us from every direction playing and showing off by spinning, flipping and literally screaming, “Look at me, no look at me, no me…”

One of the most beautiful experiences you can ever have in your life is to look into the eyes of a turtle. They are so mesmerising, so old, wise, gentle, understanding, omniscient - almost God like - you'll know what I mean when you experience it

The staff aboard the Anastasia were so efficient, friendly and helpful, the food delicious and great rooms with en suite bathrooms. Shaff who is also a professional underwater photographer captured tons of pictures of me, so I came home with memories, a few new friends, revitalized, refreshed and obviously very tanned.

This has to be my most favourite picture of the entire trip. I was surrounded by schools of fish everywhere and then seconds later some Batfish decided to join in the fun.

If you’ve never been diving before, this would be a divine place to start. Call Atoll Scuba and they will sort everything out for you. Just buy that ticket and surrender, there’s a whole ocean out there for you. There is nothing to fear, you just have to stay alert, keep your hands to yourself and remember to breathe! You’ll thank me for introducing you to the best therapy in the world!! ;)

We must take care of our oceans & be more responsible. Its so sad to see rubbish and litter in the midst of such beauty. Please stop throwing chip packets, drink cans and bottles into the ocean. We sadly found them all on corals.

Pix: Shaff

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