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Diving in 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.

Diving in North Malé Atoll

Quick facts

With colorful coral, deep wrecks and feeding manta rays, the North Male Atoll is a diving wonderland. This atoll is home to the most visited dive sites in the Maldives. Whatever your desire, you’re sure to find something to fit your needs in the North Male Atoll.

Maldives Victory Wreck, widely regarded as the most popular dive site in the North Male Atoll, is a 328 feet (100 meter) long Singaporean cargo ship which ran aground in 1981. Today it sits between 39 feet (12 meters) and 115 feet (35 meters) below sea level and is encrusted by corals and fans. Local residents include groupers, batfish and schools of fusiliers. The occasional turtle might also be spotted taking a rest on the deck of the ship.

Manta Point is the best place in the North Male Atoll for spotting manta rays. This dive site is located in the southeast of the atoll and has much more to offer than an impressive number of rays. At 39 feet (12 meters), a colorful reef begins. As you descend to 131 feet (40 meters), the size of the animals grows. You might find schools of barracudas, hawksbill turtles and napoleonfish. During the right time of year, visitors can observe manta rays being cleaned by wrasses. From May to October, the manta rays can be seen in their rare cyclone feeding formation.

The above may be the two most famous sites in the North Male Atoll, but the fun doesn't stop there. The atoll is home to a large variety of dive sites with something for every level of diver.

When to go

Rain and temperature

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Water temperature

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What to see

The North Male Atoll is famous for its variety of species. Elsewhere in the Maldives, divers don’t gape at beautiful corals, but in the North Male Atoll, many of the reefs are extremely healthy and provide shelter for a ton of marine life. Frogfish, moray eels, nudibranchs, schools of fusiliers and hundreds of other colorful fish species reside here.

While the neighboring Ari Atoll is more famed for its pelagic species, spotting something big is not a rarity in the North Male Atoll either. It is not uncommon to see manta rays, whale sharks, hammerheads, hawksbill turtles, grey reef sharks and eagle rays on occasion.

Wherever you dive in the North Male Atoll, you are sure to be astounded by both the variety of environments and species you encounter in just a few dives.

Calendar

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Most likely sightingsPossible sightings

Area

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.

Other attractions

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.

Getting there

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.

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.