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Diving in The Maldives

Scattered pearls in the Indian Ocean, the Maldives’ warm waters are a great place to see mantas rays, whale sharks and an incredible rich array of colourful reefs and fish.

Diving in The Maldives

Quick facts

The coconut palm and the yellow-fin tuna, symbols of the Maldives, say a great deal about this nation of more than a thousand islands. Grouped into 26 low atolls in the Indian Ocean, less than 300 of the islands are inhabited. The Maldives is flat with white sandy beaches and excellent reefs with an abundance of marine life. Scuba diving is done at a leisurely drift pace as the Indian Monsoon Current sweeps along the island chains, moving nutrients and divers along. This nutrient-rich water flows up along the walls, feeding the sponges and soft corals clinging to the rock sides. Inside the atoll lagoons, rock pinnacles – thila – vault up from the bottom to scratch the water’s surface. In the channels, there are swim-throughs, caverns and overhangs festooned with colorful sponges, invertebrates and gorgonians to explore. At well-known cleaning stations, wrasse and shrimp service manta rays, and other large marine species. With a welcoming culture and some of the finest liveaboard dive boats and luxury resorts on the globe, a dive holiday in the Maldives makes for an unforgettable experience.

Recommended training

The Maldives are a photographer’s dream, so take the PADI Digital Underwater Photographer course. The PADI Drift Diver course will prepare you for the drift dives through the channels. Enriched air nitrox is available, so the PADI Enriched Air Diver course is a good idea.

When to go

Tropical, hot and humid with loads of sunshine and temperatures around 24-33°C/75-91°F year-round. The diving is good all year long, but the monsoon brings significant rain between April and October, especially June to August.

Rain and temperature

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Water temperature

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Where to dive

  • Ari Atoll

    Home to some of the Maldives’ best dive sites, the Ari Atoll’s clear blue waters are packed with pelagic species. This accessible atoll is the perfect choice for divers visiting the island nation.

  • Baa Atoll

    Baa Atoll’s marine diversity was awarded UNESCO Reserve status in 2011. Its scuba is suited to beginners and advanced divers; expect overhangs, colorful reefs, manta rays and whale sharks.

  • Dhaalu Atoll

    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.

  • Faafu Atoll

    Faafu’s diving is suited to all levels, and two wrecks are on a resort’s house reef. The unspoiled reefs, stimulating channel dives, and frequent manta sightings make this a perfect atoll.

  • Fuvahmulah Atoll

    Fuvahmulah Atoll, located in the Maldives’ far south, is a unique and unchartered adventure that promises pristine reefs, oceanic mantas and rare sharks – thresher, tiger and oceanic whitetip.

  • Haa Alif Atoll

    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.

  • Huvadhoo Atoll

    Huvadhoo 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.

  • Ihavandhippolhu Atoll

    Ihavandhippolhu Atoll offers unchartered diving in its wide channels, and advanced divers can explore new sites. Expect vibrant coral, diverse marine life and mantas at the cleaning stations.

  • Laamu Atoll

    Laamu Atoll’s scuba is suited to beginners as well as advanced divers. Mantas are common in its channels, and Buddhist ruins can be found on Gan - which also has 4 miles (7km) of beach.

  • Lhaviyani Atoll

    The Lhaviyani Atoll has wall, channel, reef and wreck diving for beginners and advanced divers. You'll see diverse marine life, colorful coral, guitar sharks and mantas.

  • Meemu Atoll

    Meemu Atoll’s sheltered inner reefs are ideal for beginners. Advanced divers can enjoy the deeper reefs and exhilarating drift dives in the channels. You'll see pretty corals, mantas and reef sharks.

  • Noonu Atoll

    Noonu Atoll’s scuba is suited to intermediate and advanced divers, but beginners can progress too. Drift dive the channels, meet grey reef sharks, and explore a Christmas tree shaped pinnacle.

  • North Malé Atoll

    With easy access from Male and the country’s best coral reefs, there is good reason why the North Male Atoll is the most visited region in the Maldives. Diving doesn’t get much better.

  • Raa Atoll

    Raa Atoll’s scuba is popular for its unspoiled thilas (submerged islands) and is suitable for beginners and advanced divers. Expect pink soft corals, turtles, Napoleon wrasses, reef sharks and mantas.

  • South Malé Atoll

    Quieter than its sister to the north, the South Male Atoll is dotted with lush emerald isles in crystal clear oceans. It features a plethora of dive sites with caves, wrecks and wicked drifts.

  • Thaa Atoll

    Thaa Atoll’s diving caters to both beginners and advanced levels. Some dives have strong currents but this brings in the pelagic. Expect large reefs, coral gardens, steep walls and overhangs.

  • Vaavu Atoll

    The Vaavu atoll has superb channel diving for beginners and advanced levels. The corals are vibrant, and you might see mantas, hammerheads and whale sharks.

USD 2,048Per trip
USD 1,279Per trip
USD 1,279Per trip
Fotteyo Kandu, Vaavu Atoll – This highly-rated dive site hosts abundant coral and fish, but also includes caves, overhangs and swim-throughs filled with yellow soft coral and a few black coral bushes at deeper depths. You may see reef sharks, jack and tuna, plus large schools of snapper. The Thila in the middle of the channel entrance is a good place to do the safety stop. Kuredu Express, Lhaviyani Atoll – This site gets its name from the strong current that flows through the channel. Cruise along one of the terraces located at different depths and watch the reef sharks, eagle rays, tuna, stingrays and barracuda go by. Mantas also frequently venture into the scene. Okobe Thila, North Male Atoll – This site consists of three main pinnacle sections ranging from 10 metres/30 feet to 50 metres/165 feet in length. Because there is always some current, you normally spiral up and around. Look for tuna, white-tip reef sharks and bannerfish in addition to the healthy coral. Kandooma Thila, South Male Atoll – This large teardrop shaped pinnacle has dramatic scenery and prolific fish life. The walls are covered with soft corals and patrolled by schools of red bass and big-eye trevally. You can frequently meet up with grey sharks, white-tip sharks and eagle rays. Do your safety stop on top of the reef while mingling with green turtles and batfish. Broken Rock, South Ari Atoll – This unique formation has a canyon that breaks the reef in two. Look for large fan corals in the canyon and Napoleon wrasse, turtles, scorpionfish, moray eels and good coral growth on the reef. Kudarah Thila, South Ari Atoll – This marine protected area has a small reef full of soft corals and abundant fish life. Bring a dive light to explore the arch and a large overhang that make the dive unique.

What to see

Maldives is one of the best places in the world to spot manta rays and whale sharks; this should be more than enough to convince anyone to travel there, but there is more. Reef sharks like whitetip and grey reef are quite common too, together with big tunas, Napoleon fish, eagle and stingrays. Big schools of jackfish patrol the reefs, morays and turtles are also very commons. The reef enjoys both soft and hard, colorful corals, and tons of little fishes, nudibranchs and worms.

Calendar

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Most likely sightingsPossible sightings

Country

The Republic of Maldives is an island nation, composed of 1,200 islands divided in 26 atolls. It lays across the equator, 370 (600 km) miles southwest of India. The capital is Malé.

Only 192 of the islands are inhabited making the remaining the perfect destination for your Robinson Crusoe adventure. Maldivian islands are usually very tiny, you can walk around them in 10 or 20 minutes, they all have shining white sand, tall palms and large lagoons around them. To better get the idea of these islands, keep in mind that Maldives is the lowest country in the world. The maximum natural ground level is only 7 ft 10 in (2.4 m) above sea level.

Other attractions

Maldives is a very famous destination for weddings and honeymoons. During the wet monsoon, it’s also a good place for windsurfing, kitesurfing and sailing.

Getting there

To get to The Maldives, you’ll fly into the main airport that lies on Hulhule Island, just 5 minutes boat from Malé. The internal transportations are done either via speedboat or with seaplanes.

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
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