Best Maldives Atolls for Scuba Diving


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The Maldives is an island nation, full with white sand seashores, lovely coral reefs offshore, and world-renowned marine life. It’s no shock that visiting the Maldives atolls is a bucket listing merchandise for ocean lovers. In fact, with manta rays, whale sharks, and heat, clear waters, the Maldives is an absolute heaven for scuba divers.

Earlier than we dive into the most effective atolls generally visited by scuba divers, let’s speak about dive circumstances and the unimaginable species you'll be able to anticipate from this paradise nation.

The Maldives atolls current a singular geography. Dive websites are made up of channels and pinnacles, referred to as ‘kandus’ and ‘thilas’ by the locals. You’ll discover that these native names are mirrored in a number of of the dive websites. These pinnacles are an underwater photographer’s dream, elevating water from the ocean flooring alongside their partitions, giving meals to sponges and gentle corals that cling to the edges, and creating an setting that helps crustaceans and fish. Cleansing stations alongside the reef host wrasse and shrimp, servicing manta rays, with big turtle and whale shark sightings widespread.

You might have heard about manta rays and whale sharks within the Maldives, however that’s removed from all that there's to see right here. The Maldives atolls are house to about 1100 fish species, 400 mussels and 83 sorts of echinoderms together with snipers, parrot fish, huge tunas, Napoleon fish, eagle, manta and stingrays. You can too anticipate to see quite a lot of totally different shark species, comparable to grey reef, whitetip, nurse, thresher, hammer, whale sharks and even tiger sharks. The nice and cozy, clear water of the Maldives makes this the right spot to view your bucket listing species.

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Most dives within the Maldives are drift diving from boats the place you permit the present to maneuver you ahead. Due to the numerous channels and passages between atolls, sea currents hold the water vitamins in movement. The abundance of meals because of the present brings in lots of colourful fish.

In 1998, the El Niño had an hostile impact on some, smaller areas of coral reefs, bleaching pink and purple corals. However, the reefs are returning to their former colourful glory, and the good marine lifetime of the Maldives has by no means been exhausted, and certainly many have believed that over the previous few many years, the variety of marine life has elevated considerably, at the very least partially, because of the creation of marine reserves.

Above the water, pristine white sand seashores, infinite sunny skies and different lodging make your topside hours simply as unimaginable. To not point out, the Maldives is surprisingly budget-friendly. And, with a tropical local weather and heat temperatures yr spherical, the Maldives atolls could be dived at any time.

Under you’ll discover descriptions of the top-rated Maldivian atolls for scuba diving. Some are generally visited, and some are off the crushed path. This listing will serve you the most effective dive sites within the Maldives and extra. Let’s dive in!

North Malé Atoll, Maldives Atolls

The North Malé Atoll is probably the most visited space within the area, doubtless due to its proximity to the airport. With colourful coral, deep wrecks and manta rays, this atoll is certainly a diver’s playground and is house to probably the most visited dive websites within the Maldives. There are greater than 50 dive websites within the space.

The North Malé Atoll is legendary for its huge number of marine species. Most of the reefs are very wholesome and supply shelter for a ton of marine life, akin to frogfish, moray eels, nudibranchs, faculties of fusiliers and a whole lot of different colourful fish species. It's also possible to anticipate to see bigger marine species: manta rays, whale sharks, hammerheads, hawksbill turtles, gray reef sharks and eagle rays.

Maldives - North Male Atoll

When to dive in North Malé Atoll: From Might to October, the manta rays could be seen of their uncommon cyclone feeding formation.

Greatest dive websites in North Malé Atoll: Nasimo Thila, Banana Reef, and Okebe Thila are lovely shallow reefs for freshmen. Lion’s Head is a marine reserve and deep reef wall. Kuda Haa is a legendary website, dubbed by divers ‘fish soup’. For lovers of mantas – Manta Level reef is irresistible to manta rays through the southwest monsoon season, with astonishing numbers congregating right here. The wreck of the MV Maldives Victory is an ideal wreck website to spherical off your go to to the world.

South Malé Atoll

Prepare for some high-speed drift dives! Six channels present for robust nutrient-rich currents to enter the South Malé Atoll, and this attracts giant faculties of fish, reef sharks, and lots of different giant pelagics. The South Malé Atoll is well-known as the primary habitat of the reef sharks of the Central Atolls.

Divers shelter themselves in overhangs and ravines as faculties of fusiliers, sweetlips, purple snapper, trevally, eagle rays, white sharks and gray sharks make appearances. You might also catch a glimpse of reef sharks, eagle rays or tuna enjoying within the open ocean.

You'll be able to look forward to finding just a little one thing for each diving expertise degree, nevertheless it’s essential to notice that a lot of the websites cater to intermediate and superior divers.

a manta ray scuba diving in maldives

When to dive in South Malé Atoll: The atoll’s tropical local weather has common temperatures between 86°F (30° C) and 90°F (32° C). The water temperature ranges from 79 – 84°F (26 – 29°C). Diving varies drastically from season to season. From December till late Might, dry climate and calm seas arrive in the course of the northeast monsoon. November is a transitional month that brings heavy currents and lots of bigger pelagic species. Liveaboards depart from November to Might and all dive outlets function throughout this season.

Greatest dive websites in South Malé Atoll: Quite a lot of thrilling dive websites can be found, however the 5 greatest ones are – Embudu Kandu, Guraidhoo Kandu, Losfushi Nook, Kadooma Caves and Kuda Giri Wreck. Take a look at Cocoa Thila and Kandooma Thila for big faculties of fish. Or head for Embudhoo Kandu to see whitetip and gray reef sharks.

Vaavu Atoll, Maldives Atolls

With a 31-mile barrier reef, Vaavu Atoll is understood for its heavy currents ripping by way of slender channels – good for drift diving. Whereas this will typically create difficult dive environments, it attracts numerous sharks and rays. Fortunately, there are caves and overhangs for shelter on most dives. Make sure to pack a digital camera, as a result of that is an underwater photographers dream. The underwater topography mixed with giant marine life makes for beautiful pictures.

Vaavu Atoll
Vaavu Atoll, Photograph: A. Verdier-Ali

When to dive in Vaavu Atoll: Vaavu Atoll’s tropical waters are at the very least 75° F (24° C) all yr, and the dry north-east monsoon runs from December to March. Wetter and fewer secure climate arrives in Might and lasts till November (south-west monsoon) however diving continues to be very nice. The diving is appropriate for each rookies and superior divers, relying on how sheltered the location is.

Greatest dive websites in Vaavu Atoll: Alimathaa – Night time diving with tons of of nurse sharks. Miyaru Kandu – Large faculties of sharks, iconic Maldives. Golden Wall – Probably the most lovely smooth coral life I've ever laid my eyes on. Fotteyo Kandu – The Mecca of all dive websites in Vaavu atoll.

Ari Atoll

Extraordinarily in style with liveaboards, Ari Atoll is a magnet for giant pelagic marine species. There are numerous websites to discover whale sharks and manta rays, in addition to the Fish Head Marine Sanctuary to dive with dozens of reef sharks.

A lot of the dive websites listed here are made up of pinnacles and channels, which, as we properly know, is ideal for drift diving. The top right here plunges from 32-115 ft (10-35 meters) and is roofed in black coral bushes and dotted with caves and overhangs. Residents embrace as much as 16 gray reef sharks and hundreds of blueline snappers. It’s necessary to notice that due to the uncovered nature of the atoll, currents could be very robust on this space.

Ari Atoll

When to dive in Ari Atoll: Diving right here is advisable between January and April, when precipitation is uncommon and days common about 28 levels Celsius. February to April convey the longest days, calmest seas and greatest possibilities for diving with mantas and whale sharks.

Greatest dive websites in Ari Atoll: Among the many hottest are: Damaged Rock, Fesdu Wreck, Fish Head (also referred to as Shark Level or Mushimasmingili Thila), 5 Rocks, Halaveli Wreck, Hammerhead Level, Rasdhoo Atoll (also called Madivaru Nook), Kudarah Thila , Maaya Thila, Omadhoo South.

Rasdhoo Atoll, Maldives Atolls

Rasdhoo Atoll is a small atoll to the north of Ari, and is most well-known for a dive website referred to as Hammerhead Level, the place hammerheads might be seen each single morning at 6:00AM, identical to clockwork! Surprisingly, this tiny atoll is called one of many Maldives’ greatest places for diving with hammerhead sharks, and manta rays.

The hammerheads of Rasdhoo Atoll are scalloped hammerhead sharks. These iconic sharks are one of many prime bucket-list sightings for scuba divers since they're not often seen. With its resident hammerhead sharks, dependable manta ray season and an unusually-large choice of strange critters, Rasdhoo Atoll actually is the entire diving expertise.


When to dive in Rasdhoo Atoll: Bear in mind, manta season in Rasdhoo Atoll is from November to April resulting from its proximity to the open ocean.

Greatest dive websites in Rasdhoo Atoll: Dive with hammerheads at Madivaru Nook/Hammerhead Level. Horseshoe-shaped reef of Madivaru. To the north lies Rasdhoo Reef, a tough coral construction with thilas and a steep drop off.

Baa Atoll

Baa Atoll, declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, might be probably the greatest location to dive with manta rays and whale sharks within the Maldives atolls. This atoll is well-known for its uncommon biodiversity and is house to the world well-known Hanifaru Bay, a protected marine space recognized for its manta rays and whale sharks. Solely snorkeling is allowed in Hanifaru Bay, however the shallow depths go well with the state of affairs a lot better than scuba diving.

With the various marine life round its reefs, thilas, overhangs and swim throughs, Baa Atoll deserves its UNESCO standing. The atoll additionally presents loads of different dive experiences with lovely reefs marked by swim-throughs, caves and overhangs, and current-swept thilas full of plentiful marine life. Scuba diving in Baa Atoll is right for all ranges from freshmen to superior divers.

Image by Divedog
photograph by Ahmed Siraj (@Sideytheshark)

When to dive in Baa Atoll: Might-November sees manta rays utilizing the thila as a cleansing station. The atolls tropical local weather has daytime temperatures averaging 84° F (29° C), and its water temperatures are 75° F (24° C) and above. From December to March, drier climate arrives.

Greatest dive websites in Baa Atoll: Dhonfanu thila, Dhigali Haa, and Dharavandhoo Thila are recognized for his or her lovely coral reefs and marine life. Anga Faru, the birthplace of grey reef sharks, also called the “aquarium”. Right here, dozens of grey sharks will hover previous you. Christmas Tree could be very bizarrely formed reef bears a likeness to an precise christmas tree with beautiful reefs and marine life on every degree beginning with white tip reef sharks circling the underside of the rock. 

Particular notice: Baa Atoll has grow to be most well-known for Hanifaru Bay and the gathering of the Mantas as they push the plankton to grow to be trapped within the bay, nevertheless, this website not permits scuba diving. The Bay of Hanifaru is a dependable assembly place for one of many largest populations of manta rays on the earth, when as much as 100 animals concurrently accumulate within the huge lagoon. Snorkel right here and be utterly blown away!

Addu Atoll, Maldives Atolls

Addu Atoll is the furthest south of all of the Maldivian atolls and is 335 miles (540 km) south of the capital Malé. It simply ideas over the equator, and together with Fuvahmulah is the one Maldivian Atoll within the southern hemisphere.

Top-of-the-line causes to scuba dive the Addu Atoll within the Maldives is as a result of you will discover manta rays yr spherical. Scuba diving here's a really unforgettable expertise that stands out from the remaining within the Maldives. From wreck dives to float dives and reef dives, there are many issues to see and luxuriate in, it doesn't matter what your degree of expertise, together with a number of species of sea turtles and rays to colleges of small and enormous tropical fish and spectacular sharks and coral reefs.

When to dive Addu Atoll: Scuba diving within the Maldives and the Addu Atoll, particularly, is nice all yr spherical, however hotter water temperatures are skilled between the months of January and March. Though there are not any ensures, there's a 99% probability you'll have a rendezvous with the one of many many manta rays who could be discovered yr spherical right here.

Greatest dive websites in Addu Atoll: Meedhoo Coral Backyard and Marc’s Dream are unimaginable coral reef websites, Kottey Nook and Addu Manta Level are good drift dives for catching a glimpse of manta rays and sharks, and the British Royalty Wreck is a must-see shipwreck website within the space.

Raa Atoll

With a number of the most untouched and un-dived reefs within the Northern Maldives, diving in Raa Atoll is fashionable because of the excessive density of thilas scattered inside its lagoons. Guests can benefit from the quintessential Maldives diving expertise with out the crowds. The Raa Atoll’s space is equally acknowledged for providing a high-quality, well-rounded underwater scene, with ample reef fish, interactive topography, and blue-water guests.

Diving in Raa Atoll primarily facilities on Raa’s pinnacles, or thilas, although dive journeys typically go to a kandu or two as nicely. Raa thilas exhibit the Northern Atolls’ attribute topography of overhangs and caverns. The colour on the reefs comes from vibrant, swaying delicate corals, although a pair websites in Raa have good onerous coral, a rarer sight within the Northern Maldives.

The blonde abroad kiersten rich scuba diving maldives
Kiersten Wealthy @theblondeabroad

When to dive Raa Atoll: Diving in Raa Atoll is feasible all yr spherical, however the northeast monsoon from January to Might permits the calmest floor circumstances whereas the southwest monsoon from Might to November typically makes the seas a bit uneven. The visibility between 10 and 20 meters (33 and 66 ft) and the water temperature often stays between 27 and 30 C (80 and 86 F) which means that a shorty wetsuit is sufficient for many scuba divers. Mantas and whale sharks are most plentiful from August to November, so think about a visit throughout that point of yr if the giants are your primary precedence.

Greatest dive websites in Raa Atoll: Fenfushi Giri and Reethi Thila are the 2 most well-known websites; divers right here have an incredible probability of being utterly surrounded by fish!

Huvadhoo Atoll, Maldives Atolls

Huvadhoo Atoll, also referred to as Gaafu Atoll within the Maldives, a world-renowned diving vacation spot. Huvadhoo is the second largest atoll within the Maldives masking an space of just about three,000 sq. km (1150 sq. miles). There are greater than 230 islands on the middle of its lagoon – greater than another atoll within the Maldives. Whether or not you take pleasure in an exhilarating drift dive, a relaxed straightforward going exploration of a shallow reef or in search of sharks within the channels – there's something for everybody.

There are numerous thrilling dive websites on this space, together with colourful coral reefs, outcrops, dramatic partitions, caves, tunnels, thilas and interesting channels. Caves and caverns are hidden in quite a lot of drop-offs. Most of the vibrant reefs and lagoons are unexplored, and marine species embrace stingrays, giant numbers of turtles and quite a lot of sharks together with black and white tip reef sharks, nurse sharks and infrequently hammerheads and tiger sharks.

padi instructor in the Maldives
Photograph Credit score: Are Dragland

When to dive Huvadhoo Atoll: All year-round. The perfect interval for diving in Huvadhoo Atoll is North-East Monsoon: from January until Might. Primarily incoming present with higher visibility, stronger currents.

Greatest dive websites in Huvadhoo Atoll: Rahadhoo Channel: Sharks, eagle rays, robust currents. Kuda Hafza Thila: Sharks, leaf fish, ribbon eels. Channel dives: plenty of arduous corals of a singular high quality, robust currents, abundance of fish life. Outer Reef: Fish wealthy and actual good coral life Giri and Thilas. Channel dives like Vilingilli, Nilandhoo, Mareehaa and Kondeey and reef dives like Gazeera and Vaadhoo are to not be missed.

Trying to Dive with a Particular Species within the Maldives Atolls?

The perfect channels for diving with reef sharks: Lhaviyani, North and South Malé , Vaavu, Meemu, Laamu and Gaafu.

The perfect websites for diving with whale sharks: Ari Atoll, and within the atolls of Gaafu and Thaa, situated within the south.

The most effective places for diving with manta rays: Ari, Addu, North Malé, Haa Alifu and Haa Daalu, in addition to the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Baa Atoll and Hanifaru Bay (snorkeling solely).

One of the best places for diving with hammerhead sharks: Rasdu Atoll, situated north of Ari, or Fotteyo Kandu in Vaavu Atoll, and Fufahmulah island (year-round).

With endless dive websites, and epic marine life and circumstances, you might need to contemplate taking a liveaboard journey within the Maldives.

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