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Dhaalu Atoll’s wide channels are suitable for beginners. Advanced divers can explore the deeper caves. Expect drop-offs, stunning anemone corals, moray eels, mobula rays and colorful gobies.

Diving in Dhaalu Atoll

Quick facts

Dhaalu Atoll’s scuba is perfect for beginners due to its wider channels and shallower drop-offs. But advanced divers can still explore greater depths and enjoy the thrill of drift diving in stronger currents.

On the inside of the lagoon, on Lohi Island, is a cave dive that is suitable for both beginners and advanced divers. During stronger currents, it’s still an easy dive as you drift to explore the overhangs. You’ll see sea fans on the edges of the overhangs, and red, yellow and pink sponges. If it’s dark enough, flower corals’ tentacles extend to feed. Frogfish and mobula mantas may also be seen. After the caves, you’ll see Clark’s and Maldivian anemonefish.

A channel on the atoll’s western side, called Loricanto, has strong currents and is a challenging drift dive. You’ll find Napoleon wrasses, silvertip and whitetip reef sharks, tuna and trevally. As you reach the channel’s corner, you’ll see a thila (submerged island) covered in hard coral where you'll find grouper, parrot and emperor fish. On the channel’s sand banks are spotted garden eels. They live in large colonies, and as they stretch from their burrow to feed on plankton, it looks like patchy stubble on a teenager’s chin.

On an inner reef to the north-west, you'll find large colonies of anemone coral covering one if its sides. On the other side, you’ll find lots of moray eels. These include giant, white-mouth and yellow margin. The latter looks like its yellow body is covered in a dark rash. If it strikes, you’ll know, despite its appearance, that it’s perfectly healthy. On a large overhang, you’ll see spiky black coral and longnose hawkfish. Completely still leaf fish blend in with the coral, and red and purple gobies will flash past you. These brightly colored fish look like they’re dressed for a psytrance party.

When to go

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USD 1,873Per person for 7 nights for 2 divers
USD 3,347Per person for 7 nights for 2 divers
USD 2,211Per person for 7 nights for 2 divers

What to see

Dhaalu Atoll has over 30 dive sites to explore. There are many different types of coral, such as large table corals, finger corals and substantial anemone colonies with pink tentacles swaying in the current. Clark’s anemonefish can be found snuggled into them.

Amongst the reefs, you’ll see moray eels, turtles and reef sharks. The variety of fish includes glassy, puffer, grouper, parrot and lion. Sabre squirrelfish, with an elongated jaw, look grumpy and lizard fish sneak amongst the rocks.


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Dhaalu Atoll (also known as Southern Nilandhe Atoll or Nilandhe Atholhu Dhekunuburi) is in the Maldives’ southerly region and on the archipelago’s western side. Only seven of its fifty-six islands are inhabited, and the atoll is known for its jewelers – silversmiths and goldsmiths.

The eastern island of Gemendhoo was inhabited prior to the 2004 tsunami and is surrounded by a line of eleven uninhabited islands. You can navigate a 4 mile (7km) route through these islands during low tide.

The north-east monsoon runs from December to March – the dry season – and the south-west monsoon runs from May to November – the wet season. Daytime temperatures average 29° C (84° F) and water temperatures never fall below 24° C (75° F). The atoll’s tropical climate has diving all year long.

There are two high-end resorts on the atoll and good rates can be found during the low season. Some liveaboards do visit this area, but it’s not as popular as other atolls.

The island of Kudahuvadhoo has an old mosque with impressive stone masonry, but the atoll's Buddhist sites have yet to be excavated – appearing as mounds.

When you’re not exploring the corals in the caves, you can try filming your first blue movie. Octopuses can be seen mating on the outer reef during the months of April and May.

Other attractions

Out of the water, you can write your dive log on the beach, walk across islands that connect during low tide, or explore the stone masonry on the atoll’s ancient mosque. Back in the water, you can snorkel, windsurf and learn to sail. Or you can head out on a traditional dhoni at sunset and try big game fishing. After a day spent island hopping, experience the nocturnal corals coming to life during a night dive.

Getting there

Male Ibrahim Nasir International Airport is well served by direct charter flights from Western Europe, but direct scheduled flights are rarer – it may require a lay-over in the Middle East first.

If you’re staying on the Dhaalu Atoll, then you will transfer by seaplane (45 minutes) upon arrival in Male.


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Note - Travel to any destination may be adversely affected by conditions including (but not limited) to security, entry and exit requirements, health conditions, local laws and culture, natural disasters and climate. Regardless of your destination, check your local travel advisory board or department for travel advice about that location when planning your trip and again shortly before you leave.

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