I’ve always dreamt of swimming with whale sharks, and finally I got such an opportunity. In Maldives there are not so many places, where you can find these fish that are the largest in the world! I’d chosen Dhigurah for the following reasons:
- it’s relatively not far from Male, and you can travel there by speedboat;
- it’s an unknown island for me, and there is not so much information on the Internet about it;
- the southern part of Ari Atoll is famous for its diving points. I was eager to know why.
Dhigurah is located 96 km southeast of Male in southern Ari Atoll. The length of the island is approximately 4 km; its width (in its widest part) is 300 m. The island gets narrower in its southern direction and ends with a sandbank. You can walk to the neighboring LUX Maldives resort, but the things are not that easy.
After the check-in, I decided to see the surroundings. The island itself is rather big, and at that time it was getting dark, so I decided to hire a bike. But the hotel doesn’t have bikes available on hire, so manager Adam was very kind and gave me his son’s bike.
I was going to walk to the southern part of the island. Only one road leads there. I’d like to mention that the island is a bit dirty, and it refers to the whole island. There are bottles, paper, other litter… I didn’t manage to see the whole island. Firstly it’s because the main road ends almost halfway, and you’re expected to walk on a small path. And I took a decision to get back, because it was getting dark.
After dinner I took a stroll over the village. I found some groceries and 6 (or more) gift shops. To my question “What are there so many gift shops for?” they answered that there are a number of resorts nearby. And from time to time tourists are taken there. The assortment is the same in all the shops, there is absolutely no difference. They bring everything from Male, there are no handmade things. However, for example, on Rasdhoo there are local masters.
Safari with Whale Sharks
Early in the morning I and a young Romanian couple (they arrived on the same day by ferry) were taken to swimming with whale sharks. When in a dive center (there are only 2 dive centers on the island) we were given an instruction and were provided with flippers, a mask and a tube. Our boat was a dhoni, only a bit smaller. The whole trip should have taken at least 4 hours.
Nobody knows for sure where the shark is at a given moment, so some people sit on the roof and watch whether it is on the surface or not (I’ve no idea why they don’t use an echo sounder for this purpose). At that moment we were ready and were waiting until we were told to put on a mask with a tube and flippers and to dive.
Somewhere near Maamigili the first signal was given, and we immediately dived. But a shark swam to the bottom, so we had to get back to the boat and continue our way (to draw the route map). Having reached Fun Island Resort, we began swimming back. On our way back we saw other boats with tourists like us, who were looking for sharks. After 10-15 minutes I noticed that the boat following us stopped and there was some movement on board. Exactly at the same moment our captain was informed about something by radio, and we made a turnaround and were getting back. This time we were lucky.
There is a rule: if you notice a shark, warn everyone near you. In fact, there were 7 boats (apart from ours) and a safari-boat. All in all, approximately 30 people found themselves in water at the same time. Was the shark frightened by them? No. Absolutely not. The shark was middle sized, about 6 meters. Nevertheless, it looked really like a giant! The ‘swim’ itself took us 15-20 minutes, then the shark swam to the bottom, and it was difficult for us to see it in muddy water. So we made a decision to get back.
On our way back the Romanian guy decided to dive, and while he was diving, we were snorkeling. Our point was on the eastern side of Dhigurah, not far from the sandbank. There a reef is getting hidden in water. There is no cliff. The water is rather clean; visibility is up to 15 meters. We managed to see several turtles and, of course, lots of fish.
Walking In the Jungle
After lunch we decided to make our way to the sandbank. There is only one road leading there; it’s along the beach. But at that time water got rather high (probably because of a new moon). Still, I decided to have a try. Having walked some meters, I realized that I’d made a mistake when I put my phone and camera into a plain bag. But I was too lazy to get back, so I continued walking. After another 500 meters I realized that my further way would be possible only without the bag. But still I didn’t want to leave it. So I got back to the main road and continued walking on the path (that was mentioned before) into the heart of the jungle.
And almost at once I met the Romanian couple! And we went on walking together. While we were walking, our road was constantly breaking and appearing again. The farther we walked, the wilder the surroundings were getting. In the end we reached a place, where the distance between 2 coasts was about 30 meters.
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But still it was unclear, how long we were expected to walk… Moreover, the sun was to go down in an hour, and we didn’t want to stay in the jungle. So we decided to go back. It’s funny that our way back to the main road took only 15 minutes.
After a bustling Male it’s a pleasure to spend several nights in complete silence and quiet.
Next morning, as usual, I went to see the sunrise and took some photos. My boat was scheduled to depart at 7:40. On the way to Male it makes a stop on Dhangethi island. Currently Dhigurah has no its own speedboat available. Both boats are from Dhangethi, that’s why they run only 3 times a week. The situation is to be changed when new hotels are opened.
This time the trip took only 1 hour 40 minutes.
Transfer to Dhigurah
Domestic flight Male Airport (domestic terminal) – Maamigili. Costs 295$ per 2 ways per one person. 5 times per day, duration 20 mins.
Scheduled speedboat (with stop in Dhangethi)
Male – Dhigurah
Saturday, Monday, Thursday. At 16:00 from Male, costs 80$ per person per way. Duration about 2 hrs.
Dhigurah – Male
Saturday, Monday, Thursday. At 6:40 from Dhigurah, costs 80$ per person per way. Duration about 2 hrs.
Scheduled speedboat (with stop in Mahibadhoo)
Male – Dhigurah
Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday. At 16:00 from Male, costs 95$ per person per way. Duration about 2,5 hrs.
Dhigurah – Male
Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday. At 6:15 from Dhigurah, costs 95$ per person per way. Duration about 2,5 hrs.
Male – Dhigurah
Saturday, Monday, Wednesday. At 8:30 from Male, costs 8$ per way per person. Duration about 7 hrs.
Dhigurah – Male
Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday. At 8:30 from Dhigurah, costs 8$ per way per person. Duration about 7 hrs.