THE SKY WAS A VIVID BLUE, the beach was white and a gentle breeze rustled the palm fronds above my head. What a pity that the aquamarine water in front of my bungalow was ripping past at a rate of knots that reminded me of the flow of an Andean river.
It didn’t seem conducive to a quick refreshing dip – not unless I was intent on heading to Sri Lanka.
It cannot be denied that some of the currents experienced in the Maldives, as the ocean flow forces its way past the islands and through the narrow channels into the atolls, can make the diving, exciting though it is, suitable only for competent divers.
Anyone selecting a tropical paradise island holiday for themselves and their family, with a view perhaps to learning to dive, could face disappointment if they chose the wrong place.
A quick survey of those people who choose Filitheyo reveals an almost equal number of people on honeymoon, couples with tiny children and those older people on holiday with a spouse, sometimes their own.
Some of them spend their days diving. The dive centre represents the centre of day-time activity on the island.
As it happens, the island of Filitheyo is surrounded on four-fifths of its shore by a benign sea, and only a narrow fringing reef before the drop-off.
Provided you enter by marked entry points, of which there are six or seven, a diver shouldn’t get into any trouble.
This makes it a great place for those gaining initial scuba experience, for those who want to dive from the shore unsupervised, and for those who wish to learn to dive.
A couple of diving dhonis leave the little dockside twice a day to take divers to sites further away. They tend to stay inside the lagoon with visits to giris and thilas (shallow coral reefs) or, for the more adventurous, visits to the channels through to the lagoon from the open ocean.
The currents of the channel dives provide a chance to be thrilled by bigger fish and their predators. The coral reefs within the lagoon appear to be thriving.
Notwithstanding that, the main purpose of my own fleeting three-day visit to the island was to see the couple of old wooden fishing-boats the dive-centre people have sunk just off the shore. These make easy shore dives and a good introduction to the whole idea of wreck-diving for new divers. They are not deeper than 30m, and only about 40m apart.
Dive-centre manager Oli and I strolled fully kitted to entrance Number Six. It was clearly marked by tethered ropes from the surface down the short coral wall. I had persuaded him to
wear a wetsuit, not for warmth but to look better in the photos.
We swam out on the surface over the sand until we reached the point for a descent. It was all very relaxed and easy.
Below us on the flat seabed sat the remains of an old wooden fishing-boat, hydroids growing on its stanchions and deck supports. It was upright and on an even keel.
A group of skipjack tuna harassed some smaller fish that took refuge in the shelter afforded by the wreck.
Oli posed around the little propeller for a moment while I took a picture. Then it was up onto the deck and down into the cavern that was the hold.
This was accessed through open hatches, but all there was inside were a lot of concrete slabs. These were used to keep the vessel on an even keel for its sinking, as all the heavy machinery including the engine had been removed.
Up and out past the crucifix-like foremast and over the bow, we set off for the latest wreck to be sunk for the benefit of divers. It was a few fin-strokes away but still beyond the range of visibility, so it was good to have been briefed before we set off.

ANOTHER VERY RECENTLY SUNK wooden fishing vessel, the Koimas 1, again stripped of all machinery, sits upright on the seabed, neatly parked in-line with the other.
This wreck too had its propeller still in place but there was little in the interior to capture the imagination, other than a moderate-sized moray eel. It was enjoying being cleaned, but beat
a hasty retreat when it saw me.
This was a poor reflection of the closing scene in The Deep, when Nick Nolte and Jacqueline Bisset are saved by a giant moray swimming inside their wreck and eating the villain!
I took several pictures of Oli, and was surprised to see by the light of my flashguns that the interior of the wreck was painted a bright blue; something I might have otherwise missed.
It was an extra dive, squeezed in between the morning and afternoon dives out on the reefs.
At around 28m deep and as second dives, we were on the edge of needing to do decompression stops, but that was probably the most hazardous part of the experience.
We found the roped exit route to Number Five. It was no imposition to pause for five minutes at 5m before swimming over the edge of the wall into water little more than a metre deep.
We de-kitted and left our stuff to be collected by dive centre staff. It was all very civilised.
These wrecks are not the sort of thing you would cross the world to dive (as I had done!) but they make a good introduction to wreck penetration for the less-experienced diver.
Filitheyo Resort provides a classic Maldivian island holiday, with comfortable bungalows arranged along the beach but sheltered by tropical trees, excellent and varied buffet catering and a good opportunity to do some stress-free diving, or perhaps to encourage a family-member to have a go.
There are water bungalows and an a la carte restaurant for those on bigger budgets. Snorkelling off the beach on my day before flying home, I saw sting rays, barracuda and a manta ray.