Our family visit to Kandima in the Maldives was both action-packed and restful. During the few days we stayed at the resort, we tried out lots of activities that we’d never tried before. A favourite was most definitely snorkelling out on the reef.
When you arrive at Kandima you are told to pop along to the Aquaholics centre to collect your complimentary snorkel, mask and flippers. These are then yours until the day before you leave to go home. The first afternoon that we were there we tried out the equipment in the lagoon, just to get familiar with it all. This was a good move as the children needed smaller flippers.
The reef is a short high-speed boat ride from the resort. Before arriving at the walkway, those that need/want floatation vests are fitted with them. This was Toby out of our group. You then walk to the boat wearing your swimming gear and carrying your snorkel kit. Before boarding, you kick off your shoes into a box (you won’t need them until you get back). Oh, at this point it is important to mention that sunscreen is REALLY important on this trip, especially on the back of your legs … Our family of four made up the 12 resort guests on this excursion – and several crew.
On the ride out to the reef everyone looked a little apprehensive. We were given a safety briefing and then told to start getting ready.
My biggest fear was HOW I was going to get into the water … I’m not a jumper you see! I was looking everywhere for the steps! When we arrived at the reef and the boat engine was turned off, I realised that I was going to have to jump in. Gulp. Millie-Mae, being the competent swimmer that she is, was the first to follow our guide. She sat on the side of the boat and launched herself off. Then it was my turn. I sat down on the edge, didn’t look down, took a deep breath, closed my eyes and pushed off. To be dramatic, I thought I was going to carry on dropping down forever, but eventually I floated back to the surface!
The experience: Reef One!
Once in the water I re-positioned my mask and waited to help Toby as he was the next to enter the water. He forgot that sea water is salty and swallowed a mouthful on entry, which knocked his confidence quite a bit. But hand-in-hand we swam towards the other snorkelers. Millie-Mae and Huw took it in turns to film what we saw with our GoPro camera, but the footage doesn’t really do it justice.
The reef wasn’t as colourful as I had imagined it to be. Too many visits to the aquariums I guess. Whereas the coral looked a bit ‘bland’ in places the shoals of fish swimming through them was incredible. So colourful. All sizes. Some swimming alone, others in a shoal of 100. There was no risk of stepping on the reef as it was quite some way below us.
The ‘drop off’
The most awesome, heart-racing sight was the ‘drop off’ … where the relatively shallow reef drops down into the dark abyss of the ocean. Although a little nervous of what might swim up from those depths towards me, I was fascinated by this ‘zone’ of the reef. So much seemed to be happening right on the edge; it was like the rush hour with shoals of brightly coloured fish all seemingly desperate to get somewhere.
After a good length of time snorkelling we were called back to the boat. I was then, of course, worried about how I was going to get out of the water! Luckily there was a ladder 🙂 but before I could climb on it I had to remove my flippers without 1) sinking and 2) letting go of the flippers. It wasn’t very stylish, but I managed it and felt relieved to be wrapping myself up in my towel. It was then that I was hit with a huge sense of achievement. I’m a bit of a nervous swimmer – not keen to get my head wet, nor go out of my depth … but I didn’t want to miss out, and the snorkelling was awesome.
On the way back to the resort we stopped at a second part of the reef. Much more confidently than before, we all threw ourselves in and snorkelled over to the reef edge. The fish here were as amazing as the first swim, but there were more of them here. And the drop off zone looked more severe (it really was a sheer drop down from the reef). The hope here was to see a turtle, but alas it wasn’t to be. I stayed with Toby and we had a little swim around, looked at the fish, and then when he’d had enough we swam back to the boat.
Everyone was excited and chatty on the ride back to Kandima. Snorkelling had been a wonderful adventure. I felt that I had pushed myself beyond my usual boundaries, and I felt a deep sense of pride. I will never forget our morning snorkelling on the reef. It would have been lovely to see a turtle, but that would have been a bonus. On return to terra firma we looked up some of the fish we had spotted. We saw lots of angel fish, butterfly fish, banner fish, parrot fish and the infamous ‘Nemo’ clown fish. Of course, we saw a lot more than this, but for our first ever tropical sea reef snorkel, I think it was pretty darn good! Had we had longer at Kandima, we’d have gone out again 🙂 Great family adventure.