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Haa Alif’s wide and shallower channels are ideal for beginners, but have greater depths for advanced divers. Expect vibrant corals, diverse marine life, mantas at the cleaning stations and a wreck.

Diving in Haa Alif Atoll

Quick facts

The channels in the Haa Alif Atoll are much wider, and shallower, than in the rest of the Maldives. This reduces the currents and makes diving suited to beginners. It’s the perfect dive location for beginners to progress and experience the excitement of drift diving with sharks in the atoll’s channels.

In the south-west is the Filadhoo Wreck. It rests at just 46 feet (14 meters), and is covered in a variety of soft and hard corals. Table coral surrounds the wreck, and schools of groupers, snappers and fusiliers swim through its structure. Eagle rays occasionally swoop around the hull like a fighter jet in an old war movie. If you’re lucky, a whitetip reef shark may also be patrolling.

Advanced divers can explore Heaven and Hell. This dives’s thila (submerged island) starts at 59 feet (18 meters) and has some of the atoll’s best corals. As you descend to 90 feet (30 meters), you’ll admire the reef’s overhangs which are covered with blue, pink, yellow and green soft corals. Turtles and an occasional manta will swim above you.

In the center of the atoll is the Ihavandhoo channel, and a shallow thila located at 15 feet (5 meters). The top of the thila is a cleaning station, and when the currents are right, mantas can be found here. The top reef has soft corals and lots of macro life. At 59 feet (18 meters), there are overhangs with lobsters that are patterned like a humbug. Lionfish also enjoy the overhangs - their red and white spiky fin rays make them ready for any Mardi Gras.

You can also navigate swim throughs, and explore caves where peculiar looking puffer fish will make you smile (as much as you can with a regulator in your mouth).

Photography enthusiasts will be kept busy.

When to go

Rain and temperature

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Water temperature

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What to see

During the dry season (December to May), manta sightings are very common. There are several established cleaning stations where you’ll be able to get close and observe them gliding like birds riding thermals.

With a dive site named the Aquarium, you can expect lots of colorful fish. Also expect groupers, bluestripe snappers, tuna, sting rays, and albino moray eels looking for prey.

The soft corals gleam with color, and bright orange clownfish swim amongst the anemone coral’s green tentacles.

Amongst the channels and reefs, you’ll find lots of turtles and the occasional reef shark.

You might find it easier to complete your dive log if you take a camera.

Calendar

For better readability of the table, pass into the landscape mode.

Most likely sightingsPossible sightings

Area

The Haa Alif Atoll is the most northerly administrative atoll in the Maldives, and is the archipelago’s third largest in terms of land area and population. Its tropical climate is drier during the north-east monsoon, which runs from December to March, and wetter during the south-west monsoon from May to November. The air temperature consistently averages 84° F (29° C), and the water temperature never drops below 75° F (24° C).

The far north of the Maldives is still relatively underdeveloped as a tourist destination. Although liveaboards visits are starting to increase, you won’t feel like you’re moored in a busy harbor during a dive. The hotels that exist on the atoll are targeting the luxury end of the market, but during the low season great deals can be found. Depending on your budget, a liveaboard may offer better value for money.

During your stay, you can visit Utheemu Ganduvaru on the island of Utheemu. This wooden palace is the birthplace of the Sultan Mohamed Thakurufaanu who, with his brothers, staged an uprising and fought for eight years to dispel the colonial Portuguese during the late 16th century.

The atoll is very popular with dolphins. You can head out on a traditional dhoni, spend the afternoon writing your dive log on its deck, and wait for playtime.

Other attractions

On a day off from diving, arrange a day trip to visit one of the fourteen inhabited islands. Understand the archipelago’s history and experience a Maldivian way of life. Or sail on a traditional dhoni to a small uninhabited island, walk around the white shoreline, and pretend you’ve been marooned. The oceans offer the chance to sail a catamaran, or you can paddle a sea kayak and try to stand on a paddle board. Spend the afternoon big game fishing, and barbeque your catch on the beach; experience the colorful corals 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.

A transfer to Haa Alif will take 75 minutes by seaplane.

UTC+05:00

Time zone

MVR

Currency

+960

Calling code

230 V

Electric volt

C, 

D, 

G, 

J, 

K, 

L

Plug type

MLE

Main airport
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.