The North Male Atoll (also known as North Kaafu) is the epicenter of tourism in the Maldives. It is home to the capital, Male, and is therefore the entry and exit point for nearly all tourists visiting the country. Among divers, this atoll is known to have the most complete and colorful reefs among the islands. That doesn’t mean other types of dives don’t exist as well. There are also plenty of wrecks, walls and drifts featuring large pelagics like manta rays and hammerheads. With accessibility and a wide variety of sites, it makes sense that more divers visit the North Male Atoll than any other group of islands in the Maldives.
The atoll’s tropical climate has average temperatures between 86°F (30° C) and 90°F (32° C). The water temperature is consistently 79 - 84°F (26 - 29°C). Diving can vary quite drastically throughout the year here. From December until late May, dry weather and calm seas arrive during the northeast monsoon. From late May until July, the southwest monsoon arrives and diving is at its worst. Many liveaboards will travel elsewhere during this season. From August until October, the southwest monsoon continues but weakens. There is still a higher chance of rain and choppy seas, but visibility improves. November is a transitional month that brings heavy currents. Many dive sites might become more difficult this time of year, but the large pelagics move in and divers have a greater chance at these interactions.
Because the North Male Atoll was the first to be opened to tourism in the 1970s, it is the most developed of all the Maldivian atolls. The area’s 50 inhabited islands host a variety of resorts and guest houses although it’s imperative to check that the islands have a dive shop before booking in. The North Male Atoll is sought after by a variety of tourists as it is the most accessible from the international airport. It is also a popular destination for liveaboards that leave from Male Harbor.
In high season (December to April), the dive sites in the North Male Atoll may be crowded with divers and snorkelers although there are plenty of sites to go around. Visiting a lesser-known dive site or a resort’s house reef is sure to give you a more solitary dive. During low season (August to November), discounts on dive packages may be offered by both luxury resorts and local hotels. If you are visiting from May until July, make sure the dive shop on your island remains open for this season. Many shops and liveaboards will migrate to another atoll during these months.
Even though diving may be the reason most tourists visit the North Male Atoll, it shouldn’t be the only thing you do here.
Take some time to relax on white sand beaches, snorkel your resort’s house reef, or schedule a spa day. Alternatively, take a tour to a deserted sand bank where you can play with black-tip reef sharks or hunt for the shy octopus. In the evenings, enjoy the sunset while dining on fresh seafood.
Of course, if you want to spend your time diving the plethora of dive sites on the atoll, we won’t stop you.
Male Ibrahim Nasir International Airport is well served by flights originating in Europe, although a stop-over in the Middle East may be required. If coming from Asia, expect to stop in Sri Lanka before continuing on to Male.
To transfer from Male to other islands in the North Male Atoll, a flight by seaplane, speedboat transfer or local ferry trip may be required.