The Maldives. Paradise right? I mean look at it, it’s PERFECT! But is it really? Don’t get me wrong, the view from the plane window when you descend into Male Airport is like nothing else, hundreds of mini islands dotted randomly about, surrounded by bright blue sea. The islands themselves are like mini tropical jungles with spotless beaches. Staying in a Maldivian Water Bungalow with a ladder directly into the ocean, had been on my bucket list for years, it was almost the ultimate travel goal of mine, it didn’t disappoint, although take a look UNDER the sea and it’s a completely different story. It’s far from paradise.
As soon as I arrived, I couldn’t wait to just run down my ladder and explore the coral reefs with my snorkel! The Water Bungalows on my resort weren’t located in deep water, it was a lot shallower than I expected it to be, somewhere around chest deep. I couldn’t find the reefs anywhere. I was shocked, the entire sea bed for a good 25 metre radius around the whole Water Bungalow area was just dead loose chunks of coral. I struggled to picture what it would have looked like even maybe 10 years ago when the area wasn’t just a huge coral grave yard.
I guess it’s one of the sacrifices to give travellers their little slice of paradise. While there, the Bungalow next to mine was having maintenance work done to it, the builders were just walking around in the sea, setting up scaffold frames etc. I’m sure when it was originally built they had no problem in just digging up coral to set the foundations. It takes 1000s of years to form so once it’s gone, it’s something that we’ll never see in our lifetime again. I’m sure hundreds of tourists haven’t even thought about what their own actions are having on this delicate marine life.
For example when I was in Jamaica, a couple of years back, I saw a guy standing up in the ocean, sorting out his snorkel mask. I didn’t think much of it, thought he may have found a sand bank or something to sort himself out. Nope, he was standing directly on top of the coral in his water shoes, without a care in the world. I wanted to swim over to him and push him off it.
It wasn’t all terrible though, on the edge of the 20 metre radius, the sea floor dropped to a depth of 8 metres. This is where the coral was still perfectly intact, too deep for anyone to stand on it or kick in. It was full of life. We saw all different kinds of fish swimming around the coral, eating from it, hiding in it. In the deep there were even turtles and sharks. It was pretty amazing.
A Tip for Protecting Reef When Snorkelling
Especially at my resort, they provided every guest with a life vest (mainly because of the strong currents), however, if you’re not a strong swimmer and think you may get tired, grab a vest or use a float. That way, if you need a break or to sort a leaky mask out, simply just flip onto your back and float! Saves standing up and destroying something forever!
I found myself feeling sorry for the staff, they live in such a beautiful place, but when you looked into their eyes, they just looked dead inside. Think about it, to walk a complete loop around the island literally took 10 minutes. These workers literally live and work on this island 24/7 for days at a time, on a wage that’s next to nothing. It must honestly feel like they are in a cage and can’t escape. I stayed there for 4 nights but I had exhausted snorkelling and reading and was ready to move on (I’m not really one for sitting still!). I hate the way that some tourists will treat resort workers like they are slaves, almost like their mind set is that they are on holiday, they’ve paid for the service so they are just going to milk it. I try to keep my room tidy, if I go up to the bar I’ll take my empty glasses back with me, I ALWAYS throw my rubbish in the bin, I tip and I always treat staff like humans. If I see the cleaner, I will greet them, smile, ask them how they are and say thank you.
Manners don’t cost a thing and you can see they appreciate it. It doesn’t take a lot to be a responsible, caring person.