Disclosure: I was invited for a stay and diving with Six Senses Laamu!
Scuba diving in Maldives is one of the country’s main attractions. Once you cast a glance under the surface, you will quickly see why. Still colorful corals, a myriad of marine creatures big and small, and a fascinating underwater topography.
In the Maldives, you can either dive with a liveaboard, find a dive center on a local island or dive at a resort. Chances are if you are on your honeymoon or want the ultimate luxury above and below the surface you will opt for the latter.
I was lucky enough to go diving with Six Senses Laamu and think you should put this one on your bucket list!
Staying & Diving at Six Senses
The Laamu Atoll is somewhat smack bang in the middle of the Maldives home to 82 islands. Only a few are inhabited, and even fewer as exclusive resort islands.
From Male, you will fly to Kadhdhoo International Airport and from there get a transfer to your resort. Six Senses is an international hotel chain (though I hate the word) with ultra-chic, ultra-sustainable resorts around the world. They are really showing how it’s done when it comes to combining luxury and sustainability and are probably the ones who coined the term ‘barefoot luxury’.
You will look in vain for marble floors and all that glitters, instead a very cool version of Neverlands awaits when you arrive at Six Senses Laamu. Wood, natural fabrics, greenery – nature is left to its own devices as much as possible. This includes seagrass meadows all around, something that has become rare in the fancy Maldives resorts as it is seen as ugly. Guests at Six Senses can enjoy the view (not sure why anyone wouldn’t like it!) and even better – go for a seagrass snorkel directly from their overwater bungalows. The seagrass in Laamu is home to countless fish, turtles as well as rays that like to sleep in the meadows.
In the rooms, divers will rejoice to realize that there is a glass bottom in the toilet so you can watch your friend while taking care of business and find nudibranch handles instead of golden door knobs.
Deep Blue Divers at Six Senses Laamu
But chances are you will spend most of your time outdoors because watersports are at the core of what Six Senses Laamu offers.
On your way from the airport, you may already see some incredible waves – Laamu is well known as one of the best surf spots in the Maldives. Six Senses has its own boat that will take surfers to the dedicated waves, obviously depending on your skill level.
For me, the magic is next door at the dive center, Deep Blue Divers. A big wooden manta on the wall gives it away – diving in Laamu Atoll means you are in for a treat. Deep Blue Divers is not only a PADI 5* dive center but when you dive with Six Senses you are also going to be spoilt when it comes to service. Truly 5 stars above and below the surface.
You can choose to do various PADI courses though I honestly wouldn’t recommend doing your Open Water in the Maldives – you will be spoilt for life! A very unique course however is the PADI Maldivian Manta Ray Specialty, something you can also do as part of your AOW.
If you have gotten all the PADI certifications you need you can of course simple book fun dives at Six Senses. Though to be honest, simple they ain’t…
They have three boats going out daily with two dives at 9 am, one dive at 10.30 am, and one dive at 3 pm. They also offer a very early morning dive, a night dive, and even a blackwater dive. For more experienced divers they do a 2-dives trip to the channels in Laamu, an exciting chance to see some bigger pelagics who like to hang out there.
So how much does it cost to go diving with Six Senses? There is no denying that diving at a 5-star resort in the Maldives comes with a bigger price tag than diving somewhere else in Southeast Asia. Deep Blue Divers charges $120 excl. tax and service charge. However, they also offer some great packages so if you are staying longer, it gets cheaper the more you dive. What’s included? All equipment, the boat, the dive guide, Nitrox for certified divers, and even DAN insurance if you need it!
And of course, that 5-star service I have mentioned. What does this mean for you as a diver? First, your very own ‘guest experience maker’ aka butler will fetch you from your villa and take you to the dive center. Paperwork is swiftly done electronically before you get to try on gear. I have rarely seen equipment in such good shape and needless to say you won’t have to set up yourself. All you have to do is analyze your tank when diving Nitrox, set your computer, and giant stride into the ocean.
Diving with mantas in Laamu
During my stay, I got to do a dedicated manta dive with them. Six Senses Laamu is home to SHELL, Sea Hub for Environmental Learning in Laamu, where specialists from Manta Trust work amongst other NGOs, dedicated to ocean conservation. A few minutes from the resort you will find Hithadhoo Corner, the preferred hangout of the Laamu manta rays. The cleaning station offers 5 little pinnacles where they like to get a scrub and best of all for divers, they can come all year long.
Manta Trust takes pictures and identifies all the mantas in the area thanks to their unique spots on the belly. If you take a picture of an unidentified manta you even get to name it! They have also done some truly unique research like taking ultrasounds as several of the rays in the area are pregnant at the moment.
Deep Blue Divers has a beautiful dhoni that takes divers out with plenty of space for the equipment but also to chill during the boat ride. We get our briefing from one of the Manta Trustees before we are off. While mantas are in the area all year long, you still only have a 50:50 chance of seeing them unlike at places like Manta Point in Nusa Pendia where you are almost guaranteed to see one. So we have our fingers tightly crossed when we jump in.
Once we are at the bottom it is hard to see much because it is snowing underwater and a strong surge is rolling around. We manage to spot one lone turtle and some reef fish all braving the surge. I don’t envy the little turtle that looks like she is being thrown around…
After diving for 30 minutes our efforts get rewarded – we finally see a manta gliding by, circling around us once before disappearing seemingly unaffected by the snowstorm. While not great I do get to take a few pictures for identification but learn later at SHELL that this one is well known. Her name is Dumela.
Back on the dhoni we rinse and eat some snacks. Of course, when diving with Six Senses you don’t need to worry about your equipment as their team takes care of everything. All you have to do is shower and get a big post-dive serving from their complimentary ice cream bar.
More underwater love
Whether you are a diver or simply an ocean lover, SHELL is a great example of what a marine conservation center should look like. The ocean flora and fauna in the Laamu Atoll is explained through beautiful displays and one of their marine biologists is always available to answer questions. They also have a special interactive room for kids and even offer a junior marine biologist program for little mermaids.
A few times a week the resident marine specialists will give talks on various topics like the importance of seagrass conservation, coral restoration, and yes, pregnant mantas.
If you want to see for yourself you can always grab snorkeling gear and check the reefs and seagrass meadows around the resort. Six Senses also offers multiple complimentary guided snorkels with a marine biologist a week. Perfect if you want to learn more about the fascinating creatures you see underwater and the world they live in.
They also do offer specialized manta snorkeling trips for guests who cannot dive. While snorkeling with mantas is amazing in places like Hanifaru Bay, in the Laamu Atoll encounters with mantas closer to the surface are quite rare. If you are keen, sign up with the dive center as they will usually happen on short notice when mantas are sighted in the area.