The sun doesn’t pass through water the same way, from island to island.

I try to visit the Maldives at least once every other year, and every year I visit a different island’s fish and I have to tell you: the variety across the 1,192 islets is remarkable. Sure, I’m just there a few days at a time so maybe I’m fooling myself, but from what I’ve seen, every island has a different makeup of fish and a different personality of sealife.

Maldives wildlife turtleMost recently I’ve been diving off Vilu Reef. I ran into this small school of fish with vibrant yellow tails. The fish were not too large—about the length of my hand—and they lazed through the water. I didn’t bother them at all. The politely separated to let me through but otherwise they were content to let me share their space. Interspersed with the friendly yellows were bulkier black fish, like pepper over a mellow entrée.

And I guess that’s how I view diving in the Maldives. Every island is an entrée, a distinct flavor with distinct accenting spices, but they all share the same sunshine, even if that sunshine cuts through the water in a unique way, leaving behind its own particular pattern of streaks and shadows, like a flavor half remembered and never forgotten.