Exploring Maldivian marine life without diving or snorkeling

Best Dives Maldives is offering resorts the possibility of providing a new kind of experience to their guests. The company’s first semi submarine, which is in the shape of a bright red fish with a huge smile on its face, was unveiled earlier this year and according Best Dives’ General Manager Eric van Melis, three more are to arrive in the Maldives before the end of the year.

The vessel can accommodate a maximum of fourteen passengers and comes with large windows through which guests can witness marine life without having to dive or snorkel. “It’s very different to a glass bottom boat from which you can only see the bottom. In the semi submarine, we have windows at a certain angle from which you can look down but also look ahead at the reef,” says Eric while explaining the various aspects of the vessel.

According to Eric, another advantage the semi submarine offers is that unlike snorkelling or diving during which the fish are aware of the people in the water, the semi submarine can pass unnoticed, allowing passengers to view the fish and other marine animals exhibit their normal routine behaviours.

The vessel’s maximum speed is eight knots although during trips it usually maintains a speed of four knots making it very safe. According to Eric, the vessel can even accommodate infants and therefore is a great option for families. Families with children who are not yet old enough to dive or snorkel can enjoy the underwater together by simply taking a twenty to thirty minute cruise.

“It’s a very good thing to get people enthusiastic about diving and snorkelling, especially for those who are not so experienced in the water,” Eric says.

Eric has a suggestion for those who plan to enjoy the semi submarine; two trips must be made, one during the day and one during the evening. “During the evening it’s a totally different thing. You see much nicer colours and other life, the fish that sleep during the day and come out in the evening,” Eric explains.

According to Eric, the semi submarine trip can be an exciting new addition to the usual excursions that most resorts offer. “I think it’s an amazing excursion for the guests in the resorts that can be offered at the cost of nothing. We take care of all the costs, we take care of all the headaches and everything,” says Eric while explaining that Best Dives is offering such semi submarines to the resorts in the Maldives on a revenue sharing basis.

Best Dives takes care of all aspects of the vessel including operation, sales and marketing, maintenance, and even the excursion guides. “Our guides are very well trained. They can give information about what the guests are seeing. So it’s not only about sitting in the semi submarine and looking around,” Eric explains.

The current semi submarine being operated by Best Dives is an air-conditioned vessel with comfortable cushioned seating. However, one of the new vessels that are scheduled to arrive in the Maldives this year has a larger cabin making it more spacious. “We are going to put dining tables in there so that people can have a private dinner underwater. But it’s not going to be like an underwater restaurant that’s steady, you move,” Eric explains.

According to Eric, the designs of the semi submarines can be customized according to client specifications; the colours can be altered and client logos can be inserted. Eric also ensures that the interiors of these vessels are comfortable enough to meet the expectations of guests staying at the five star resorts in the Maldives.

Best Dives operates dive and water sports centres and offers excursions for various five star properties in the country. Best Dives’ sister company Best Yachts Maldives Pvt. Ltd. also provides charter luxury yachts and guest transfer services between airports and resorts.

Best Dives Private Limited was founded in 2003 under the name Bolifushi Dive Center and the company extended its activities and changed its name to Best Dives Private Limited in 2008.