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Following the arrival of the group flights, we will move to a hotel for the initial briefing before transferring by dhoni to board the MV Felicity, our home for the next 6 days, arriving in time for a light lunch. Today we cruise south to Guraidhoo in South Male Atoll. During this time you are able to do as you please, relax on the sundeck, sit in the shade of the sun canopy and watch the beauty of the Maldives pass you by and maybe catch sight of dolphins. Our crew will try to find an opportunity for you to have your first snorkelling excursion this afternoon. If the islands of the Maldives are beautiful, what lies under the water is a veritable wonder of nature. The reefs that encircle the islands and the Atolls are just as abundant in their variety of coral as the marine creatures that live in and around them. This coupled with the amazingly clear water, make snorkeling and diving in the Maldives a unique experience that you will not forget. *MV Felicity*
This morning our first stop will be a reef located on the east side of the atoll which offers the strong possibility of a number of turtle sightings. The reef is shallow but dense with corals which provide turtles with an abundant food source. As with all Maldivian reefs there will also be plenty of fish to observe including Box fish, Porcupine fish and schools of Banner fish. The remainder of the day we will cross into Ari Atoll and head south towards the island of Dhangethi. Dependent on the sailing conditions if there is time there will be the opportunity this afternoon to take a further snorkel trip before making a visit to the local island of Dhangethi where we will take a traditional Maldivian afternoon tea. Dhangethi is a typical Maldivian fishing island with an interesting story to tell concerning the moon and a Maldives Sultan! *MV Felicity*
The region of South Ari Atoll is very lucky to have a unique year-round population of Whale sharks. Nowhere else in the world boasts Whale sharks every single month of the year and furthermore many of the sharks seen are the same individuals time after time. We spend time with a representative of the Maldives Whale shark Research Team or a local marine biologist to learn about these magnificent creatures and how identification can be made before heading out on our own Whale shark safari. We may see 1 or 2 Whale sharks in half an hour or given that they are wild creatures in their natural habitat we may not encounter one for the whole time we are searching. However the unpredictability all adds to the excitement! If we do spot them we will have the opportunity to snorkel alongside them, a truly magical experience. Whale sharks can, at times, swim very quickly – so you may need to work hard to keep up with them in the water! *MV Felicity*
Today we go in search of Whale sharks once more and if the time of year is right (December – March) we may also encounter Manta rays. Following lunch we will be taken to one of the best snorkelling sites in this area where we may be fortunate to encounter turtles amongst the colourful corals and fish. The water conditions and currents play an important role in the choice of snorkel sites however it is likely that fish species such as Dogtooth tuna, Trevally's, Jacks, Sweetlips, Butterfly fish, Wahoo and Fusiliers will be encountered. When not in the water the day is one for relaxation on board MV Felicity. *MV Felicity*
On departures between February and April we will cruise to Madivaru, a marine protected area with two cleaning stations where we hope to encounter Manta rays. With a radio network between dive and cruising vessels our guide and crew will do their best to encounter Manta rays but should we not be lucky enough further snorkelling opportunities to encounter sharks, turtles, eels, octopus and rays will be offered. Out of season it is still possible to encounter solitary Manta rays and we will also make the most of a final opportunity to encounter Whale sharks. Qualified divers are offered the optional opportunity to dive within this marine protected area which boasts a number of exciting dive sites (see money section for prices of the optional diving). For those who have not dived before a Discover Scuba Diving Course is offered to learn the basic safety guidelines and skills needed to dive under the direct supervision of a PADI professional. Those who choose not to dive will be able to snorkel in this protected marine area. This afternoon we start our cruise northwards. *MV Felicity*
Cruise north before we anchor in the lagoon off the island of Hulhumale in the late afternoon. This morning there will be a final chance to snorkel these tropical waters and whilst cruising we can do as we please: relax on the sundeck, sit in the shade of the sun canopy, read a book or just watch the beauty of the Maldives pass by. Once anchored in Hulhumale lagoon there will be an optional Male city walking tour available for those who would like to stretch their legs! This evening, we will be joined on board by a member of the NGO group Save the Beach who provide an overview of the Maldives marine environment. *MV Felicity*
Our adventure ends after a light breakfast. Those on the group flights will be transferred to airport for the flights back to the UK.
* 6 nights in twin cabins on board the Felicity, all en suite facilities * Full day day Whale shark safari included
Breakfast, lunch, dinner and afternoon snacks are all included whilst on board. The traditional food of the Maldivians is based around fish (tuna), chilli and coconuts. White rice and “roshi” (a flour based flat-bread) are staple items. Fish is normally smoked, fired, barbequed or roasted. Pork products are strictly prohibited. Typical ingredients used widely in dishes and served on board include onion, ginger, garlic, lemon and spices. Menus include European and Maldivian dishes, freshly prepared on board by our chefs who will do their best to cater for most specific dietary requirements. Please discuss any dietary requirements with your sales consultant at the time of booking. The indoor saloon bar offers a wide choice of soft drinks, wine, beer and spirits to purchase. Please note that there is absolutely no alcohol allowed on the local islands – it is only permitted in the resorts and on the boats.
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