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Gaafu Atoll has scuba for beginners and advanced divers in the Maldives’ far south. The corals are pristine, and sharks patrol the exhilarating channels. Tiger and whale sharks can also be seen.

Diving in Huvadhu Atoll

Quick facts

The atoll’s central lagoon is 40 miles (65km) across at its widest point and up to 279 feet (85 meters) deep. The substantial outer reef forms a natural barrier to the ocean’s currents, and diving options are available for both beginners and advanced divers. The atoll’s diverse topography includes caves, steep drop-offs and pristine reefs.

There are numerous dive sites located on the inner and outer reefs. Expect vibrant yellow box fish and schools of bigeye trevally spiraling like liquid in a blender. In the depths of the channels, both blacktip and whitetip reef sharks stalk their prey. It’s as though their fins have been dipped in paint.

Advanced divers can enjoy the stronger currents as you drift dive through the channels. On the south-west of the atoll, hammerheads, tiger and leopard sharks can be found, but they’re not as common as they are further south.

In the north of the atoll, the Hithaadhoo Nature Reserve, which provides shelter to nesting turtles, can be found in a deep interior lagoon. Below the surface, the coral gleams like a pirate’s treasure chest and macro life is in abundance.

It’s also possible to see whale sharks in May and June when the currents change direction and plankton levels increase.

When to go

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USD 1,999Per trip
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USD 1,880Per trip
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What to see

Divers visit Huvadhoo Atoll for its sharks. Nurse sharks laze in crevices and whitetip, blacktip and grey reef sharks patrol the channels. If you’re lucky, tiger and thresher sharks may ascend from the deep blue.

Green and hawksbill turtles and different species of ray, including the rare porcupine, can also be seen. Thicklip wrasse feed on coral, and their lips look like they've been injected with Botox. Large bluefin trevally are either solitary or swim in schools to herd smaller fish into bait balls.

Make sure you’ve got enough space in your dive log. You might be making an entry for a whale shark.


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The Huvadhoo Atoll is located in the far south of the Maldives just above the equator. It’s the region’s second largest atoll and is divided into two separate administrative regions – the northern Gaafu Alifu and the southern Gaafu Dhaalu.

The tropical climate brings a north-east monsoon (the dry season) from December to March, and the water temperature is a minimum of 24° C (75° F) all year. Accommodation options are limited, and they're generally luxury resorts. In the low season, during the wetter south-west monsoon (May - November), good discounts can be negotiated. Depending on your budget, and the type of holiday you’re after, liveaboards can offer good value.

Huvadhoo provides an escape from the developed north, and its diving is less chartered. You’ll need to use local knowledge to explore the atoll’s 1,864 square miles (3000 km²) of ocean.

Due to its distance from the country’s capital, the locals speak a different form of the Dhivehi language called Huvadu Bas. After a day spent diving, you can admire the red-hued sunset from the beach. The silhouettes on a traditional dhoni sailing by are more likely to belong to fishermen than tourists.

If you decide to travel this far south, you might be rewarded by seeing a rare tiger shark. Just don’t swim away too quickly.

Other attractions

There are many Buddhist archaeological sites on the atoll, but they haven’t been properly investigated yet. Unlock the inner explorer and arrange a trip to any known areas – just don’t dig for ‘hidden treasure.’ You can visit an uninhabited island and fish for tuna with a pole and line, or you can learn to fish like a true Maldivian – set sail in a traditional dhoni and attempt handline fishing. After a relaxing day on the beach, lie-down and enjoy the stars.

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 Huvadhoo Atoll, then you will transfer by domestic flight (one hour) to either Kooddoo in the north or Kaadhedhoo in the south. It depends on where you’re staying.


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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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