OBLU - Out In the Blue
Offering some of the best resort diving in the Maldives, OBLU is an all-inclusive treat surrounded by ocean channels that bring the reefs to action-packed life
Slap bang in the middle of one of the main entrances to North Malé atoll sits the island of Helengeli. The perfect spot for divers, as its position means there are high-energy channels on both sides of the resort pulsing with pelagic action.
As the Indian Ocean pushes in and out of the vast atoll, it brings bursts of nutrients to kick-start a rich food chain. The plankton attracts an explosion of marine life, and that attracts bigger and bigger fish that feed on the smaller prey. These channels are the main arteries of the atoll ecosystem and they are brimming with life.
This is where you see blacktip reef sharks gorging on small fish. The diving of the highest quality, with lots of action, lots of fish and, of course, plenty of current for visiting divers to enjoy.
As the Indian Ocean sweeps in and out of the atoll vast amounts of water are squeezed through these main channels, and it moves at quite a lick. So be prepared
or drift dives to remember!
Helengeli straddles the channel, so you are just metres away from where all the action happens. Most Maldivian resorts are on islands that form the outer barriers of the atoll and therefore have a more wild ocean side and a peaceful atoll-facing inner side. But Helengeli sits in the middle of the main channel and on the outer sides of its fringing coral lagoons is the bustling traffic of Maldivian marine life rushing past both sides of the island.
The island is on the northeastern side of the atoll, about a 50-minute boat ride from the airport at Malé. This is one of the quietest spots in North Malé with few other resorts in the vicinity.
As well as the excellent house reefs, there are 40 top-notch dive sites a short boat trip from the island.
The resort was completely refurbished and relaunched as OBLU by Atmosphere at Helengeli in November 2015. And this year it was voted second in DIVE’s prestigious Best Resort Awards – a remarkable achievement for such a new destination.
The island is popular with British divers and offers good-value, all-inclusive packages in 116 villas. It is stylish and trendy, but still in keeping with traditional Maldivian designs. Great dining, a well-equipped gym and a garden spa all add up to the perfect island hideaway. The four choices of accommodation include Beach Villas and Deluxe Beach Villas that open directly onto the white-sand beaches; Lagoon Villas with plunge pools that allow you to step down directly into the turquoise lagoon; and the resort’s premium Beach Suites with their own private pool and outdoor deck.
Other resorts operated by the group include OBLU by Atmosphere at Helengeli, Atmosphere Kanifushi, and Ozen by Atmosphere on Maadhoo Island. It is due to open a third resort next year – OBLU Select at Sangeli.
The house reef is something special and has a number of highlights, including a drop-off at the southwestern tip of the island which is great place to spot reef sharks. Along the southern coast you can see Eagle Ray passage and Sweetlips Hangout with vast schools of fish. Along the northern coast is Barracuda Alley and another area that is particularly popular with turtles. The island is a wonderful place for night dives with an extraordinary number of nudibranchs on display
The boat diving is spread over 40 sites to the north and south of the island. As there are few other resorts in the area, expect to get these top sites to yourself. This wide range of sites cater for all types of divers, and the dive centre provides a full range of dive training. This is a great place to learn to dive or to take the next step in your diving education. Nearby dive sites include beautiful coral-covered walls, a variety of sharks, and macro highlights such as ghost pipefish. From May to November there is a reliable manta ray cleaning station 35 minutes from the island. From December to April, when the mantas move west, the centre puts on full day trips and snorkelling trips to a shallow lagoon 30 minutes by speedboat on the west side of the atoll.