In search of Mantas in the Maldives

Having a blast as a solo in a honeymooners paradise

As a solo traveller, the last thing you want is to find yourself stuck on a paradise island surrounded by honeymooners!  Looking back on my first trip to the Maldives three years ago, I avoided the crowds (and the honeymooners) by going slightly out of season and had the time of my life searching for mantas.

I have never arrived anywhere by seaplane before. It really was quite special. And after around 24 hours of travelling from London, I was about ready to see Reethi Beach Resort, my Maldivian home for the next 7 days.  I’m in The Maldives – or more precisely – Baa Atoll – for a week of diving and specifically a week of searching for the elusive manta. In all my years of diving holidays around the world, I have only ever seen them once and I am itching to see them again. I have even faced my extreme aversion to photographic advancements and bought a Go Pro just for this trip.

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Getting back into the swing of things

I don’t mind admitting that I’m feeling a bit flat at the moment. It’s been 3 weeks since arriving back from my trip to Brazil and I just can’t seem to get back into the swing of things.

It’s not helped by the fact that all eyes are currently on Rio for the Olympics Games. I know it’s difficult for anyone coming home after a significant time away, but I can’t help feeling that my particular situation is made worse by being able to see ‘my beach’ through the window of the Beeb’s TV studio on a daily basis: the very studios that I watched being built on the Copacabana whilst I was there. I recognise it all. The pedestrian crossing in front of the Irish bar, the Rio 2016 official merchandise store where I bought my T-shirts and Olympic Havaianas, the promenade that I walked up and down every day, the beach bar where I drank many a caipirinha, even the flags that flutter in the wind. They are all so familiar to me and they all make wish I was still there.

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5 things I’ll miss the most about Rio (plus a few that I won’t)

I love large cities by the sea and, in my humble experience, Rio is the most beautiful one that I have visited (followed closely by Sydney and Cape Town). It lived up to my expectations in every way and despite many people telling me that I was crazy to go there, ‘Rio is so dangerous’, ‘You’ll get Zika’, ‘The country is broke and the government is corrupt, it will be depressing’,  I could not have asked for a better experience. It certainly has a bit of an edge about it but use common sense and leave your valuables at home and you’ll be fine.

There are many things that I’ll miss about Rio but here my top 5.

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Laid back and leaner – lessons from Rio

I came to Rio for six weeks as part of a volunteer programme to mentor young entrepreneurs, but as I get ready to leave, I am very aware of just how much I have learned during my stay here. It’s fair to say that when I arrived I was more than a little wound-up (as my lovely, straight-talking teammate pointed out to me, as only a South African with Dutch, German and Greek influences can).  I hadn’t thought it was that obvious but it was time to relax and go with the flow.

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