Whether you love to snorkel or scuba dive, the Maldives has incredible coral reefs, manta rays, sharks, turtles and colorful fish waiting to be seen underwater. The capital, Male, does have several hospitals which provide excellent medical facilities and good hygiene standards – but let's hope you don't need to pay them a visit.
No matter where you go, whether you're island hopping or staying put on a beach, it's important to take out travel insurance, but just as important to keep yourself healthy and prevent any unwanted illnesses from ruining your trip. Here are five essential things to know before you go to the Maldives.
Water sanitation in the Maldives is non existant as water from the tap treated rain water. It is strongly advised to boil water, drink bottled water or if you are staying in a resort, they may supply drinking water to you. Travellers Diarrhoea is a real possibility if you don't drink safe treated water If you choose to sanitise your own water, have a read of this guide to water sanitation before you go.
The sun can be incredible intense in the Maldives. Not only to you have to contend with the direct sun but there is also the reflection and glare from the water as well.
It's critical to stay hydrated and protect yourself from the sun by using sunscreen, wearing sun protective clothing etc.
As medical services are limited within the islands, the last thing you want to be doing is ending up needing to be treated for heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
Dengue fever can be a problem in the Maldives, with an outbreak in early 2011 having three hundred reported cases with five deaths. Dengue Fever as well as chikungunya fever are problems that occur periodically in the Maldives. Both of these are mosquito born infectious disease, and adequate mosquito protection is highly recommended.
Diving and snorkelling in the Maldives is top notch, and many novices are tempted into trying the sport. Make sure you get proper instruction, and watch out for the sharks.
Yes, there are plenty of sharks in the waters particularly reef sharks, but despite that there has not been a recorded incident of a shark biting a human. Don't be the first, give them space and you'll appreciate how incredible they are.
On the other hand, there are plenty of other dangerous things in the ocean. On the lighter end of the scale, you could stung by an anemone, sea urchin or touch a lionfish. All of these things will hurt, and in the case of the Lionfish, hurt a lot. But these are creatures which don't jump out at you and attack, just appreciate them and don't touch.
A lot of people tend to assume that if it's a fish that isn't a shark, it's not going to bite you. That's oh so very wrong, and the Titan Trigger Fish is definitely ample evidence of this. Most of the time, the Titan Trigger Fish is a little freaked out by humans scuba diving or snorkelling and tends to stay well clear. During mating season however, things change as they defend their territory. The aggressive posture of the titan trigger fish, is to head directly towards the target and extend the dorsal fin. So if you see what looks like a mohawked fish coming straight for you, be careful. The titan trigger fish isn't venomous, but it does have a reasonably nasty bite that can require medical attention.
The most dangerous fish however, is the stonefish. It's highly venomous and tends to hang out on rocks where it looks, as it's name suggests, like a stone. It's VERY well camouflaged and its venom can be (and usually is) fatal, so take extreme care where you put your feet when snorkelling, swimming or scuba diving amongst coral reefs.
If you're going fishing, be aware that many tropical fish contain various biotoxins that are dangerous no matter how well the fish is cooked. Barracuda in particular should never be eaten, plenty of other fish may contain toxins such as snapper, grouper, amberjack, sea bass, and many tropical reef fish. So really check what kind of fish you've caught and look up whether or not it's safe to eat before you decide to have a fish barbeque.
If you plan to dive in the Maldives, make sure it is with a licensed operator and if you are a newbie to the sport, ensure the dive operator instructing you is qualified.
Should you run into trouble while out on a dive and end up with decompression sickness, the Maldives has five decompression chambers to reverse your bends.
The maximum depth you are allowed to dive to in the Maldives is 30m and this is legislated by the Republic of Maldives - Ministry of Tourism. So if an operator conducts dives beyond that depth, don't use them!
Don't dive beyond your own limits and make sure you allow 24hrs before you fly to reduce the risk of decompression sickness.
Check out this comprehensive guide to diving safety to ensure your diving trips in the Maldives are safe ones.
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