SCUBA DIVING

Will be addicted

Unless you take some time to explore the magical world underneath the water in Maldives, you’re seeing just one part of this incredibly diverse country. Glance into the deep blue all around and you’ll see why Maldives is a favourite destination for divers from around the world. Remember to be serious about safety whenever getting into the water.

DIVING IN THE MALDIVES

QUICK FACTS

Taking the plunge into the deep blue is one of the most exciting things imaginable and the rewards are massive, especially in Maldives, which is rightly known as a world-class scuba-diving destination.

The enormous variety of fish life is amazing, and there’s a good chance you’ll see some of the biggest marine creatures – a close encounter with a giant manta or a whale shark is unforgettable.

However, it’s important to know that a serious coral bleaching incident in 2016 has damaged Maldivian corals massively all over the country, and sadly they will take years to recover.

DIVING SAFARIS

On a diving safari, a dozen or so divers cruise the atolls in a live-aboard boat fitted out for the purpose. You can stop at your pick of the dive sites, visit uninhabited islands and inhabited islands, find secluded anchorages and sleep in a compact cabin. If you’ve had enough diving, you can fish, snorkel or swim off the boat.

The massive expansion in the market for safari cruises has meant an increasingly sleek approach from the tour companies that run them. A typical, modern boat is air-conditioned and spacious, and serves varied and appetising meals. It should have hot water, a sun deck, fishing and diving gear, a mobile phone, a full bar, a TV room, wireless and cosy, comfortable cabins.

Costs start at around US$150 per person per day, including the US$8 per day per bed tax and all meals, plus roughly US$80 per day for diving trips. There’s usually a minimum daily (or weekly) charge for the whole boat, and the cost per person is lower if there are enough passengers to fill the boat. You’ll be charged extra for drinks, which are priced comparably to most resorts.

LEARNING TO DIVE

Diving is not difficult, but it requires some knowledge and care. It doesn’t require great strength or fitness, although if you can do things with minimum expenditure of energy, your tank of air will last longer.

Every resort has a professional diving operation and can run courses for beginners, as well as dive trips and advanced technique courses that will challenge even the most experienced diver. The government requires that all dive operations maintain high standards, and all of them are affiliated with one or more of the international diving accreditation organisations. Similarly, all guesthouses will have an arrangement with a dive centre on the same island, and in some cases, they’ll have an in-house dive centre.

When you complete an open-water course, you receive a certificate that is recognised by diving operators all over the world. Certificates in Maldives are generally issued by the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI), the largest and the best-known organisation, but certificates from Confédération Mondiale des Activités Subaquatiques (CMAS; World Underwater Federation), Scuba Schools International (SSI) and a number of other organisations are also acceptable.

MALDIVES UNDERWATER LANDSCAPE

DIVING SEASONS

January to April Generally considered the best months for diving, with fine weather and good visibility.

May and June Can have unstable weather – storms and cloudy days are common until September.

October and November Tend to have calmer, clearer weather, but visibility can be slightly reduced because of abundant plankton in the water. Some divers like this period because many large fish, such as whale sharks and mantas, come into the channels to feed on the plankton.

December Can have rough, windy weather and rain.

RAINFALL & TEMPERITURE

Maldives Rainfall and Temperiture

WATER TEMPERATURE

Maldives Water Temperiture

WHERE TO DIVE

1# Haa Alifu 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.

Islands in Haa Alifu Atoll

2# 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.

Islands in Noonu Atoll

3# 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.

Islands in Raa Atoll

4# 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.

Islands in Lhaviyani Atoll

5# 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.

DIVING TRIP: REETHI BEACH RESORT
Islands in Baa Atoll

6# 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 TRIP: MAKUNUDU ISLAND
DIVING TRIP: SMARTLINE ERIYADU
Islands in North Male Atoll

7# 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.

DIVING TRIP: EMBUDU VILLAGE
DIVING TRIP: FIHALHOHI ISLAND RESORT
DIVING TRIP: BIYADHOO ISLAND RESORT
Islands in South Male Atoll

8# 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.

DIVING TRIP: GANGEHI ISLAND RESORT
DIVING TRIP: VILAMENDHOO ISLAND
DIVING TRIP: ELLAIDHOO MALDIVES BY CINNAMON
Islands in North Ari Atoll
Islands in South Ari Atoll

9# 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.

Islands in Vaavu Atoll

10# 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.

Islands in Faafu Atoll

11# 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.

Islands in Meemu Atoll

12# 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.

Islands in Dhaalu Atoll

13# 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.

Islands in Thaa Atoll

14# 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.

Islands in Laamu Atoll

15# Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll

Gaafu Dhaalu 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.

Islands in Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll

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.

Maldives Marine Life

DIVING BRAND

Best Dives Maldives
Euro-Divers
Dive & Sail
Werner Lau
Silver Sands Diving
Pro Divers