Diving with… Anke Westerlaken, Maldives, Indian Ocean
In this new ongoing series, we speak with the people who run dive centres, resorts and liveaboards from around the world about their businesses and the diving they have to offer
What is your name?
What is the name of your business?
I work for blue o two, we specialise in luxury liveaboards. We manage our own award winning fleet in the Egyptian Red Sea and the Maldives. In addition, we offer a wide range of scuba diving holidays, from diving liveaboards to resort-based resort diving holidays across the globe.
What is your role within the business?
My roles within blue o two are Cruise Director, Dive Guide and Dive Instructor.
How long has the business operated for?
blue o two began in 2001 and has expanded greatly within the 19 years of operation. We hope to continue to grow and provide divers with the amazing blue o two experience. Over the period of 19 years, we have gained trust in loyal customers by providing them with amazing luxury liveaboard holidays and diving adventures.
How long have you dived for, and what qualification are you?
I have dived for 21 years. I commenced my diving career in 1999 and have been diving ever since! So far I am a qualified NOB Instructor Trainer (National Governing Body for recreational diving and underwater sports in the Netherlands), PADI OWSI (Open Water Scuba Instructor) and an SSI Instructor (Scuba Schools International).
What is your favorite type of diving?
I believe all aspects of diving and marine life are incredible, however if I had to say a personal favourite, it would be deep drifts, cave diving and wreck diving.
If you could tell people one thing about your business (or maybe more!) to make them want to visit you what would it be?
Diving is adventurous and can be quite challenging at times, however it is a great way to explore the wonders of nature. The oceans contain 99% of the living space on the planet and there’s so much under the sea to explore; diving is one of the best ways to do this! Our liveaboards are carefully placed to cover areas of oceans that are rich with some of the best marine life in the world, all for you to explore at the kick of your fins.
What is your favourite dive in your location and why?
Rasdhoo. This dive site always brings something special. Sometimes a grey reef cleaning station is active, but you always get to see some of them. Next to grey reefs the following animals are commonly seen: manta, mobula, blotched stingray, whitetip sharks, blacktip sharks, 3 species of moray and leaf fish. The reef itself is stunning and provides a couple of ledges to dive upon. In any current, strong or mild, in or outgoing, this dive site is an adventure.
What types of diving are available in your location?
Drifting, night, wreck and cavern.
What do you find most rewarding about your current role?
The variety of the job because no single day is the same as the next!
What is your favourite underwater creature?
Among the incredible diversity of the Maldives, the porcupine puffer would have to be my favourite underwater creature which has the ability, when threatened or scared, to inflate its body to almost twice its normal size. They usually learn to interact with their human caregivers in odd and engaging ways; some even respond to eye contact by swimming up and begging for food! Their engaging personalities combined with big eyes, chubby cheeks, and silly grins make them adorable pets.
Are there any exciting changes / developments coming up in the near future?
We have recently added a few new itineraries onto our Maldives trips. These include Project Shark: Southern Maldives, our New Year Special which showcases the Central Atolls and Best of the Northern Atolls (10 Nights) which explores further north than we have sailed previously. Last but not least we are introducing Huvadhoo and Gan Addu for 14 nights, which provides divers with amazing marine lie, exploring everything from schooling sharks to vivid corals!
What would you say to our visitors to promote the diving you have to offer?
As we make deep drifts, we get to meet great wildlife. From manta rays and whale sharks, mobula to grey reef sharks, moray eels to nudibranchs and many turtles in between, the marine biodiversity is superb. Diving in the Maldives is challenging and brings great opportunities to meet pelagic life, to enjoy and to take great shots of.
Where can our visitors find out more about your business?
To book any one of our outstanding trips call our Plymouth office on 01752 480808 or visit our website: www.blueotwo.com for further information. Alternatively, please send an email through to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Diverse Travel expand Maldives programme with Boutique Beach
Dive holiday experts Diverse Travel have added Boutique Beach to their Maldives programme.
Designed specifically with divers in mind, Boutique Beach is a charming boutique hotel, perfect for those who want a taste of the real Maldives without compromising on incredible diving. This award-winning hotel is situated just steps away from a spectacular 2.5km stretch of white sandy beach on the ‘local’ island of Dhigurah in the famous Whale Shark area of South Ari atoll.
The waters surrounding South Ari atoll are renowned in the Maldives for their unique, year-round sightings of Whale Sharks, and the area attracts many divers and snorkellers involved in Whale Shark conservation and research. There are over 50 dive sites within close reach of the island of Dhigurah including many of the most famous and exciting thilas – deep channel reefs full of marine life – in the Maldives. Spectacular sites such as the marine protected reef of Kudarah Thila are just minutes by boat from the island. Mantas regularly feed in the lagoon directly in front of Boutique Beach, as well as at the cleaning station at Rangali, which is within easy reach of the hotel.
With six large double / twin guest rooms, each with balcony or private garden, Boutique Beach is the perfect base for a small group of divers or snorkellers. In-room camera workstations also make this hotel an ideal choice for underwater photographers. The PADI 5* dive centre specialises in guiding in small groups with an emphasis on safety, personal service and maximising marine life encounters.
As well as boasting excellent diving and snorkelling, Boutique Beach’s location on Dhigurah adds another interesting dimension for visitors. One of the longest islands in the Maldives, Dhigurah is home to a population of around 600 Maldivians who are happy to share their way of life with international guests. Boutique Beach supports many community initiatives on the island, and visitors staying at Boutique Beach are able to partake in local activities such as cooking, crafting and sports, allowing for a unique travel experience.
Diverse Travel Product Manager Phillip Connor says:
“Adding Boutique Beach to our programme is an exciting move for Diverse Travel. The Maldives is one of our top destinations, and it’s great to be able to offer our guests truly spectacular diving, alongside the chance to experience a little of real island life, at an excellent price. We’re confident that this unique, British diver designed and managed hotel will become one of our most popular holidays, and look forward to hearing about all the tremendous marine encounters from our guests.”
Introductory Special Offer
Diverse Travel are currently offering an introductory saving of up to 25% on holiday packages to the Maldives staying at Boutique Beach. Dive holiday packages start from just £2575pp (based on November 2022) and include return flights London to Male with 30kgs baggage + extra 15kgs for dive baggage, 7 nights at Boutique Beach in a double / twin room with a ‘soft’ all-inclusive meal plan, up to three dives per day with boat trips, tanks and weights, return speedboat from Male (sea plane at an additional charge), local taxes and green tax, plus ATOL and full financial protection as standard.
Discover more about Boutique Beach on the Diverse Travel website at www.diversetravel.co.uk/dive-resorts/maldives/boutique-beach
Euro-Divers celebrates 50 years! (Watch Video)
Euro-Divers is celebrating its 50th anniversary! October 1972 marked the beginning of the Maldives’ tourism industry and the opening of the country’s first resort, with the first Euro-Divers dive centre providing scuba diving activities. A great passion for diving brought the right people together in the right place, which has developed over the years.
Euro-Divers would like to say a big THANK YOU to all their clients to all their partners who gave them the trust and opportunity to provide diving services throughout all those years.
The Euro-Divers team look forward to continuing to provide world-class diving, watersports, and excursions, giving clients access to the best locations in the world in a safe, friendly, and professional manner.
Congratulations Euro-Divers on five decades of incredible diving with friends!
Find out more at www.euro-divers.com