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Diving with… Anke Westerlaken, Maldives, Indian Ocean

Maldives DTA Team



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?

Anke Westerlaken

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: for further information. Alternatively, please send an email through to


Time for a Great Escape! Don’t miss out on these last minute spaces…

Maldives DTA Team



Great Escapes Diving Holidays have just a few spaces left on their 14 night Central Atolls charter aboard Carpe Diemfrom 23 Oct – 06 Nov 2021.

Hosted by Matt & Anne-Marie Kitchen-Wheeler, the trip will take in their favourite manta and shark points around the Maldives focusing on the Central Atolls.

The trip includes transfers from Male airport to liveaboard, 14nts accommodation in cabin as stated (standard or deluxe available) on a twin/double share basis, all meals, teas, coffees, drinking water, all diving with tanks and weights and free Nitrox for certified divers.

International flights from UK to the Maldives are not included, but these can be booked through Great Escapes.

Please contact Great Escapes for last minute prices on 01473 921888 or email them at

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There’s nothing quite like a Snorkeling holiday in the Maldives!

Ruth Franklin



1200 islands of 26 different atolls make up the island paradise of the Maldives. Once prehistoric underwater volcanoes, the coral reefs and ecosystems that surround these picture perfect islands offer some of the world’s very best snorkeling locations. There’s no better destination than the pristine tropical waters of the Maldives for first time snorkelers or veteran underwater lovers. With an average of 200+ sunny days per year, the Maldives really is second to none when it comes to choosing an idyllic snorkeling escape.

What is Snorkeling in the Maldives Like?

You’ve probably seen the picture perfect images of the Maldives floating around the internet, popping up on your Instagram feed or plastered across what it seems like, pages of every other travel magazine. Thoughts of ‘there’s no way that ocean water can be real’ or something along the lines of ‘that’s definitely photo shopped’ may have crossed your mind more than once. Take our word for it from us here at Secret Paradise, as we can assure you that yes – the water is really the colour depicted by the magazines. In fact, the island waters here reflect a spectrum of blue tones that seem to change façade with every spec of light. This island paradise is just waiting for you to dive beneath the surface to discover its abundance of incredible reef life and the spectacular coloured corals.

If you’re privileged enough to delved into the underwater world of the Maldives, you can expect nothing but excellent clarity and visibility, combined with blissful year round ocean temperatures of 26 – 29 degrees Celsius. You may also be thinking that a snorkeling holiday in the Maldives is probably out of your budget … Again, let us reassure you that there has never been a more affordable time to travel to the Maldives. A snorkeling vacation is very reasonable and can begin from as little as USD$50 per night … let us show you how.

What Are the Options for Maldives Snorkeling Holidays?

Here at Secret Paradise, we offer quality and value for money snorkeling day trips and bespoke Multi-day Island hopping itineraries. On our tours, expect to explore the uncharted local islands of the Maldives, an alternative to an expensive resort style vacation.

Staying on a local island in a guesthouse allows for exploration of some of the Maldives’ very best snorkeling sites and marine life, whilst experiencing the local tradition and culture of the Maldives. Think palm trees, white sandy beaches, sun bathing and of course snorkeling, all combined with wandering locally inhabited islands, tasting Maldivian foods and seeing local traditions first hand. Enjoy being transferred from your local island via a traditional wooden dhoani boat, to stunning nearby snorkeling sites – the very same sites that resort guests snorkel at, all for a fraction of the cost! Our affordable snorkeling holidays and day trips will leave you with long lasting Maldives memories.

Is The Maldives Best For First Time or Experienced Snorkelers?

The answer to this question is both. The Maldives is spread across a thousand small islands scattered throughout the Indian Ocean, meaning it offers vast ocean environments, perfect for both beginner and experienced snorkelers and everyone in between.

The islands here in the Maldives consist of both shallow and deep-water lagoons. Beginners can simply choose to snorkel the reefs adjacent to the shoreline, in the safety of still water. Intermediate snorkelers can explore reefs a little further off shore whilst advanced snorkelers who are more daring have opportunities to try the local ‘drift-snorkeling’ method, using the aide of the ocean currents to explore the underwater terrain. As the ocean currents here in the Maldives are extremely tidal, our local guides will accompany you to ensure that you experience a safe yet ‘bucket-list’ type of underwater snorkeling experience.

What Is The Best Time of Year For Snorkeling In The Maldives?

The snorkeling season of the Maldives runs yearlong. As the Maldives is located near the equator, it is susceptible to two monsoon seasons, better known as the wet and dry seasons. From May to November (the wet season), the abundance of reef life is more varied and the visibility levels are better on the western side of each island. December to April is generally known as the ‘dry’ period, where the eastern side of each atoll is best for snorkeling.

Buy or Rent Snorkeling Equipment?

When it comes to packing for your Maldives snorkeling vacation, deciding upon whether to buy or rent your snorkeling gear is certainly a great question and one that needs to be given substantial consideration, as everyone’s snorkeling needs are different.

Firstly, decide how often you think you may snorkel on your Maldives trip. Do you think that number is worthy of purchasing your very own snorkeling gear? Let us help you make a wise travel decision.

Let’s face it, there’s nothing quite like owning your own snorkeling equipment – being assured that your own mask, fins and snorkel fit your face and body perfectly, not to mention they haven’t been worn by the many tourists before you. It’s a great little luxury if you believe you will be snorkeling frequently throughout your Maldives stay. It will also save you the hassle of searching for the snorkeling equipment that is right for you.

However, remember transporting and carrying your own snorkeling gear can often be bulky and heavy, and the last thing you want is for your equipment to be damaged in transit. Renting your snorkeling equipment is essentially easier, as your gear you won’t need to be transported from place to place. Fins especially take up a substantial amount of room in your luggage.

Another alternative is to purchase your own face mask and snorkel before your trip and hire your fins whilst on holidays. A mask and snorkel combination is small and lightweight – it takes up minimal space in your luggage. This way you will be assured that your mask will fit you comfortably, it won’t leak and it is sanitary, plus you won’t have to awkwardly lug fins around in your luggage.

Our Secret Paradise Packing Tip:

Cushion your mask between clothes to ensure the lens won’t be damaged in transit. As fins are durable, pack them on the outer edge of your luggage to prevent your other belongings from being damaged.

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