Vacationing in Maldives is incomplete without snorkeling leisurely in the house reefs of the islands. You’d need a well-fitting mask (defogged) with snorkels along with a pair of snug fins before you set out. You’d also need to keep in mind some simple rules, a silent covenant between you and nature, which ensure that you are safe from the very few things that may go wrong.
Reefs are home to tiny creatures called polyps that deposit their exoskeletons as they grow and breed, which harden over time and form the structures we call corals – a centuries long process. Yet corals are fragile, easily breaking off underfoot. The jagged ends of broken coral can injure snorkelers. Both reef and snorkeler carries grievances from careless contact.
It is wise to be wary of this mutual danger as you survey the vista of the reef, taking care to paddle gently with your feet, keeping to the surface and avoiding stepping on the corals as much as possible.
Touching each and every little thing is also not a very bright idea unless you are well read on the details of underwater flora and fauna. A beautiful jellyfish resembling a translucent amethyst may leave you with a nasty skin rash if you poke it. There are very few fatally venomous or poisonous marine fauna in the Maldives, but reactions may be worsened by unexpected allergies. The ecosystem is a delight to the sight and should remain that way. Collection of shells and the treasures of the ocean is best reserved for evening strolls on the pearly Maldivian beaches.
One must also be wary of rip currents. While on land the sea may look exceedingly calm, a riptide may be flowing unseen through breaks in the reef or sandbar. A wary snorkeler will notice the tugging and shoving of these eddying forces, and must keep away from areas where they are strong.
Another matter of importance is avoiding submerging the snorkel; if by mistake this happens, you can get rid of the water that rushes into the snorkel by exhaling forcefully.
Pertaining to these simple rules improve the snorkeling experience. It requires patience and acknowledgement of subtle details. Snorkeling promises a surreal experience as long as there are no mishaps that drive home the jarring reality that nature,with all of her beauty, is still capable of a nasty sting to the heedless.
Speaking of stings… make sure your skin is protected from the equatorial sun beating down on your floating form! Many snorkelers have had their backs thoroughly fried because they forgot this simple rule.
After taking precautionary measures, a tour of the reef must be completed as a visitor skimming the surface of a dream, peering into the other worldly riot of colors that carry majesty and magic as much as enigma and unknown dangers. Your respect to nature will be repaid in full, as the residue of that magical land leaves every nerve revitalized and your mind in nirvana.