Diving in Maldives: all about diving in the Maldives islands

With its crystal clear waters, white sand beaches and great visibility, diving in the Maldives is one of the most spectacular activities that can be done on a trip to the islands. On a scuba dive in the Maldives, you can see giant manta rays, whale sharks, reef sharks, all kinds of corals, and an abundance of fauna and flora like few other places in the world.

Here we tell you everything you can see and do in the Maldives.

And of course you can consult us for a trip to the Maldives where you can practice scuba diving, snorkeling or other activities. In addition, the Maldives is a perfect place to obtain open water or other diving qualifications.

Diving in Maldives

Diving in the Maldives is one of the reasons that thousands of visitors are drawn to the islands each year. The waters of this archipelago offer a huge variety of underwater areas to be explored by all types of diving enthusiasts, from beginners to the most advanced.

Between the islands, there are channels that connect the Indian Ocean with the lagoons. This ocean water is packed with plankton and nutrients, which in turn attracts incredible marine life. Coral is beautiful in the Maldives, but what makes it so special is the high density of fauna on its reefs.

National Geographic considers Maldives one of the 5 best places in the world for beginners (link in English)

There are two options for travelers interested in diving in the Maldives:

  • Staying at a resort or hotel on a local island like Ukulhas island. For travelers who want to go scuba diving but also enjoy other activities in the Maldives.
  • liveaboard dive cruises. An option totally focused on diving in which different points are crossed with several dives every day.
Diving Maldives: Whale Sharks in the Maldives Islands
Whale Sharks in the Maldives Islands

Marine life in diving in Maldives

The flora and fauna in the Maldives is incredibly rich and varied. The marine flora of the archipelago is very well preserved. There are soft and hard corals with striking colors. The islands have a vast and diverse seabed.

During the dives, divers can share water with giant manta rays between 3 and 5 meters, entire families of sea eagles, barbed ray, 5 different species of sea turtles, whale shark, whip shark, guitar shark, tiger shark, leopard shark, gray shark, whitetip shark, blacktip shark, giant wrasse and schools of hammerhead sharks.

Best time or season to dive in Maldives

You can dive in the Maldives all year round. But if you have to bear in mind that the Maldives have two distinct seasons, a dry and a rainy one.

The northeast monsoon (with northeast winds) runs from late December to May. At this time of year, the skies are blue and there is little wind which means the seas are calm. The eastern atolls generally have the best visibility during this time. Reef sharks often congregate on the east side of each atoll; while the mantas move to the western sides in search of plankton. The current is also strongest at this time of year.

June through November is the southwest monsoon and the above process is reversed; as the mantas move to the east and the reef sharks to the west. The sea is usually more rough. This is usually the best season for giant stingrays.

The water temperature is fairly constant throughout the year at 27 – 30 ° C, except in the extreme south where the water temperature can drop to 24 ° C during the northeast monsoon.

Here all the info about the weather in Maldives.

Diving Conditions in Maldives

Visibility during the activity is usually very good; since species can be seen from 20 to 50 meters. A day with poor visibility means that the water is full of plankton; So it is synonymous with having great chances of encountering whale sharks and mantas, which feed on these small organisms.

The ocean currents can be very intense, but these currents are what attract the large specimens. It is always convenient to have experts who know the area. You can consult us for the best dives in Maldives.

The difficulty varies depending on the dive sites. In each area there are options for all levels, from those who have never tried the experience to those who have traveled half the world practicing diving.

Best diving spots in Maldives

In each atoll of the Maldives Islands there are several areas that are ideal to enjoy diving activity. We are going to summarize the best areas of Maldives from a scuba diving point of view.

Diving in Ari Atoll

One of the best atolls for scuba diving in the Maldives. The deep channels of the Ari Atoll attract mantas, whale sharks, hammerhead sharks, and many other kinds of reef sharks. In the canals, strong currents mean that you have to be accompanied by an experienced instructor in the area, but divers will be amazed by the rich fauna. There are also easier areas near the reefs for beginners that will not disappoint because you can see practically the same fauna.

There are hundreds of interesting areas around the Ari Atoll, which makes it a very popular choice with divers.

Diving in Rashdoo

Rashdoo is one of the best dive sites in Maldives (within the top 5). It is north of Ari Atoll and stands out for several interesting areas. In Madivaru corner, two currents meet, the oceanic and the tidal currents, creating a point where reef sharks, mantas, sea eagles and huge schools of tuna, barracudas, snappers, etc. will feed themselves. It also has a manta point that is a cleaning station where giant blankets accumulate daily early in the morning. There are also caves and two wrecks near the island.

In total there are 21 cataloged dive sites and they are between 2 and 15 minutes by boat from the island, so many varied dives can be done easily.

North Ari

It is an area with many sunken ships, blanket areas, and many thilas.

Ukulhas stands out for its thilas, which are small underwater coral mountains full of marine life. Close to Ukulhas is one of the most famous spots for night dives in the Maldives, called Maya Thila.

South Ari

Baa Atoll

Designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 2011, Baa Atoll is home to abundant amounts of mantas in season. We will also be able to see glass fish, as well as the curious bat fish.

During the southwestern monsoon (May through November), the mantas use the entire reef as a cleaning station, providing excellent photo opportunities. Baa Atoll is also a popular area for whale sharks.

In addition, in this area the visibility is very good between November and May, although it is not the ideal season to see the famous giant mantas.

The most famous place to see the big animals is Hanifaru Bay.

Raa Atoll

A host of pristine reefs, located within the Raa Lagoon, boasting an impressive array of corals and fantastic marine life. On the western side of the atoll, you can find tunas, groupers, and wrasse, while stingrays and turtles frequent the eastern reefs and walls.

One of the most popular sites is The Labyrinth. This place is known for being the home of batfish and gray and white tip reef sharks, along with moray eels and groupers.

Coral - Diving in Maldives
Gray and white corals in Raa Atoll
Baa Atoll Maldives - Diving in Maldives
Seabed of Baa Atoll in Maldives

North Male Atoll

North Male Atoll, one of the most visited areas in the Maldives, is close to the capital and the airport. The well-known Manta Point is located in the southeast of the atoll, and as its name suggests, it is a privileged place for encounters with manta rays, as well as barracudas, turtles and napoleon.

Diving in Fuvahmulah or Gnaviyani

Gnaviyani Atoll, or Fuvahmulah is the smallest atoll in the Maldives, located on the channel between Huvadhu and Addu. Actually the whole atoon is a single island, but one of the best for diving in the Maldives.

Much less explored than most atolls, Fuvahmulah is a refuge that attracts numerous species of sharks and rays throughout the year. The unexplored reefs are the perfect place for regular appearances of thresher, tiger, silvertip, whitetip and gray reef sharks; as well as giants of the open sea such as hammerhead sharks and whale sharks.

South Male Atoll

South Male Atoll is quieter than North Male, and although it does not have the same marine diversity as the North Atoll, the topography and strong currents bring large species closer to shore. Diving here can be exciting and sometimes challenging, with deep channels and rapidly changing conditions. Cocoa Thila, one of the best dive sites in the Maldives, is a pinnacle that attracts horse mackerel, eagle rays, or whitetip and graytip sharks.

To the north, the Vadhoo Caves provide shelter from strong currents and the opportunity to explore the more unusual species found in the twilight.

Diving in Maldives on other atolls

Diving in Maldives

Noonu Atoll

Noonu offers a variety of diving suitable for different levels of experience, including some exciting drift dives and unique shark encounters. Christmas Rock, a submerged island, is home to whitetip sharks and rays.

It offers divers the opportunity to witness large groups of gray reef sharks, as well as leopard sharks and rays.

Lhaviyani Atoll

This popular atoll is well explored and offers more than 50 dive sites suitable for all skill levels. Hawksbill turtles and guitar sharks can be seen in its waters.

It is home to the wrecks of Skipjack 1 and Skipjack 2, which offer fascinating dives. Both boats are covered by a multitude of colorful corals where we will find butterflies, damselflies, glass fish and small blennies.

South of the wreck, the Madivaru Kandu offers some deeper places to explore, as well as encounters with eagle rays and whitetip reef sharks.

Ihavandhippolhu Atoll

The northernmost atoll in the Maldives. Diving here comprises wide, shallow channels with gentle currents and a vibrant selection of hard and soft corals. The overhangs and walls of the reefs are covered in coral. Reef sharks, turtles, wrasse, and mantas can be seen, as well as reef species such as grouper, moray eels, lionfish, and a variety of crustaceans.

The waters here are relatively unexplored, ideal for experienced divers, while the shallow areas offer the perfect zone for beginners.

Haa Alif Atoll

Another beginner-friendly atoll, Haa Alif also has wide channels and shallow sites that facilitate gentle dives drifting through reefs.

There are also more advanced sites with areas frequented by mantas and turtles.

Vaavu Atoll

Vaavu Atoll is an excellent destination for beginners to scuba diving, with shallow channels and sheltered sites that offer gentle snorkeling over beautiful coral reefs. The Vattaru Reef offers a relaxed dive filled with butterfly fish.

A more challenging site, Miyaru Kandu to the northeast experiences stronger currents with the possibility of seeing a hammerhead shark in the distance. Humphead wrasse and eagle rays are very common, while lucky divers may find a stingray or whale shark if the season is right.

Faafu Atoll

With a variety of diving and some unspoiled reefs, Faafu Atoll offers something for all tastes and abilities. Deep channels with fast currents attract stingrays and occasionally whale sharks throughout the year, and sites like Jumping Jack are noted for their bright coral.

Repeater’s Paradise is a shallow, sheltered site; which attracts stingrays, turtles and whale sharks to the reef.

Diving in Maldives
Hawksbill Turtle in Maldives

Meemu Atoll

Like the nearby Faafu Atoll, Meemu Atoll offers divers deep inland reefs with currents that support healthy corals and abundant marine life.

Shark’s Tongue is a challenging site with large corals. Gray and silver reef sharks can be spotted if conditions are favorable.

Dhaalu Atoll

The marine life around Dhaalu Atoll is diverse and unique, with several unusual species living around the wide canals. Inside the lagoon, the Lohi Island Cave is a dive that features sponges that are embedded around the cave entrance.

In the northwest, many species of moray are found, including giant moray eels and white-mouth moray eels. The long-beaked hawkfish also hide in these waters.

Thaa Atoll

Diving in the Maldives on Thaa Atoll has areas for all levels. The best sites have strong currents but offer abundant reefs. You can find mantas, turtles or bat fish.

More suitable for beginners is the so-called Caribbean Garden, a sheltered place with very little current. Whitetip reef sharks are often found in slightly deeper areas.

And along with Ari and Gaafu, possibly the best area for whale sharks.

Laamu Atoll

Gentle, shallow currents make Laamu Atoll ideal for new divers, or those looking to relax in smooth waters through exotic coral gardens. Underwater mini islands are a focal point for reef sharks, while mantas can often be spotted.

Huvadhoo Atoll

Huvadhu is divided into two administrative areas: Gaafu Alif Atoll in the northern part, and Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll to the south. It has a good number of species of sharks. There is diving here for beginners and experienced divers alike, where an outer reef protects an inner lagoon sheltered from ocean currents and waves.

Dozens of dive sites along the pristine reefs showcase tropical fish. Whale sharks can also be found in May and June, when changing ocean currents increase plankton blooms.

The northern part, called Gaafu Atoll, Gaafu Alif ‘or Huvadu North, is famous for both whale sharks and smaller ones.

Diving in Maldives
Impressive encounter with several Whale Sharks

Addu Atoll

The southernmost of the atolls, Addu is as picturesque above the waterline as it is below. Sharks, turtles, and mantas are regularly seen on deeper dives.

Advanced divers can explore the remains of the British tanker Loyalty. It is the largest shipwreck in the Maldives and a huge artificial reef that supports all kinds of marine life.

Open Water in Maldives, Advanced and other certifications

Given that we are talking about one of the best places in the world to dive, it is not surprising that the Maldives is one of the best options for obtaining diving qualifications, including the famous open water.

Depending on the place the prices change, but you can consult us since we can offer prices similar to those of Spain in an incredible environment and in waters at 28/30 degrees centigrade.

Snorkel in Maldives

In the Maldives you can snorkel practically anywhere. It is not convenient to do it on inhabited islands, such as the capital Malé, but all resorts and most local islands have areas to practice the activity; either on your beach or from your room on the water.

The resorts have areas with different levels of difficulty for all types of people. For those who want to dive for the first time, they can start with the calm waters of the lagoons; since there is no depth or waves or currents. More experienced divers have a greater variety of options, highlighting opportunities to see large animals such as turtles, manta rays and whale sharks.

More Info about Maldives islands

Check our post about Coronavirus in Maldives

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