The Maldives are made up of 26 Atolls (ring-shaped reefs), which in themselves are home to over 1192 individual islands. That’s an awful lot of places to explore both under the water and on land. However, the tourism in the Maldives is strictly controlled, meaning that tourists MUST remain on the registered tourist islands or on a liveaboard.
There are only 85 resorts based within the Maldives, however, you need to make sure you do the necessary research as not all of them cater for divers. However, even if the resort you choose does not provide diving opportunities, then you should be able to dive from other resorts within the vicinity.
The Maldives are not cheap, however, provide unbelievable experiences for divers and non-divers alike. If the Maldives is not on your bucket list, this little slice of heaven should be. Choosing to go to the Maldives is quite expensive, so when picking your resort, make sure you opt for the full-board option, even renting equipment on these islands can leave your pockets feeling a little lighter. Throughout the months of July to August, the resorts tend to go down slightly in price as this is the rainy season, however diving around this time means lower visibility.
If you’re planning your trip from purely a diving perspective, then make sure you have a look at dive resorts including Ellaidhoo. This stunning resort is found in the North Ari Atoll and is a water lover’s paradise. Biyadoo Island Resort is another incredible resort, which is known for its white sand and remarkably good food, as they grow all of their own fruits and vegetables.
The best time to dive in the Maldives is pretty much all year round, however, the rainy season is between May and November, which means the visibility is not a good as it would be throughout the dry season. However, if you choose to go to the Maldives during this time, as the prices are a little less dear, you will get the chance to see large numbers of Manta Rays coming together at Manta Point in Baros.
As the tourist regulations are so strict, diving isn’t dissimilar. The maximum depth you’re allowed to dive throughout the Maldives is 30m. In addition, make sure you have the proper and suitable travel insurance for diving, before embarking on a trip to these shores. Make sure that your passport has a minimum of 6 months prior to its expiry before traveling to the Maldives.
Within the month of July 2011, Baa Atoll, which in itself is made up of 75 islands was officially declared as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. A year later, the president of the Maldives told the world that the Maldives, in its entirety would become a marine reserve by 2017.
The waters surrounding the Maldives are beaming with incredible reef formations and abundant marine life. Out of the seven species of marine turtle found throughout the world, five of them have been recorded within the Maldives. These include; the Hawksbill Turtle, Olive Ridley Turtle, Green Turtle, Leatherback Turtle and the Loggerhead Turtle.
The Maldives have approximately 3% of the world’s coral reefs, so if you’re planning your next adventure and are looking for a slice of luxury as well as phenomenal underwater experiences, then get yourself to the Maldives.
Top 7 Dive Sites in The Maldives
Ukulhas Thila, North Ari Atoll
On the outskirts of the north rim of Ari Atoll lies almost one enormous reef, which pops up sporadically to 30m. At the end of this dive site is the Maavaru Kandu, which is a wide channel that is found in the middle of Ulkulhas Thila. This dive features a very long and narrow pinnacle, approximately 300m in length, with a flat top at 15m, sloping down to 30m. At the end of this flat reef top, is a cleaning station used by Mantas throughout the months of December to April. At this time of year, the currents in the area are pretty strong, meaning a reef hook will not go amiss. Divers usually will have to grab on to some rock at the edge of the reef, however, you must be vigilant to make sure you do not grab onto live coral or even scorpion fish, which call this reef their home. Due to the strong currents, this is not a dive for the inexperienced, however, the sights are second to none. The best way to see these majestic Mantas is by holding on tight to the rock and waiting for these curious giants to approach you. This is definitely not a site to be missed.
Broken Rock, South Ari Atoll
This dive site boasts a unique formation that has a deep canyon, which breaks the reef into two parts. It is possible to swim through the canyon, however, buoyancy proficiency is paramount. This top dive site is known to have relatively strong currents, so divers tend to find some rocks at the top of the reef and watch the large numbers of fish fly past them. The walls of the canyon are covered in soft corals, with spectacular pastel colors. Divers at this location will see large numbers of Anthias, Jacks, Butterfly Fish, Angel Fish, Morays, Puffer Fish and even large Napoleon Wrasse. Beware, as the Morays in this area can be quite protective of their rocks, so make sure you check out your surroundings before grabbing hold of anything.
Miyaruga Thila, North Ari Atoll
Southwest of Kudafolhudhoo Island, in the Ari Atoll, lies a large Thila, which is roughly 80m in length and more than 30m in depth. The top of this reef is approximately 15m below sea level. However, due to the currents in this area, a negative descent is usually preferred. This whole pinnacle is practically covered in terraces, caves, and overhangs. However, the highlight of this dive site is found in the middle of the north side. There are two tunnels that cross over each other. They are roughly 1m in width, one can be found at 21m and the other at 2m. This dive site boasts truly remarkable rock formations, with the entire Thila peppered with cavities, holes and a large number of soft and large coral formations. If you’re a budding underwater photographer, then this dive site will be right up your street. This dive site should only be attempted with a guide and a torch is extremely useful if you want to go and explore the tunnels and caves.
Kuda Rah Thila, South Ari Atoll
This dive site is located in a marine protected area and is a really beautiful dive. Divers start by swimming through an arch covered in stunning coral. Kuda Rah Thila is absolutely teeming with reef fish, including Anthias, Fusilier, and Snapper. At the top of the Thila, you are likely to see Moray Eels, large Turtles, coral Groupers, Nudibranchs, Triggerfish and a number of Puffer Fish swimming around the large overhang. There is usually a mild-to-strong current at this location, so this is for the more advanced divers. Make sure you take a torch to explore the stunning coral formations found on the arch.
Okobe Thila, North Male Atoll
Okobe Thila, also known as Barracuda Thila is located south-east of Thulhaagiri. This incredible dive site can provide completely different and unique experiences depending on the current. You’ll find a long, thin Thila that is about 80m in length, so it is easy to circle this pinnacle in one dive. There are three main pinnacle sections, which range from 10m to 50m. Due to the current, you usually start at 30m and spiral your way up the pinnacle. Keep an eye out for large Moray Eels, Tuna and White-Tip Reef Sharks. You’ll also find schools of Long-Finned Batfish, Banner Fish, and incredibly healthy coral formations. Take a torch with you on this dive, as the walls of the pinnacle are dotted with holes and cavities to explore.
Kandooma Thila, South Male Atoll
Considered as one of the best dive sites in Male, Kandooma Thila consists of a 300m long teardrop shaped pinnacle, with incredible scenery and stunning marine life. The west point of this Thila is known as Jack Corner and is perfect to explore when the current in outgoing. You’ll have the chance to see Barracuda, White-Tip Reef Sharks, Groupers, Trevally, and Jacks. If you’re lucky you may get a chance to see schools of Eagle Rays and Dogtooth Tuna. At around 23m below Jack Corner, there is a small cave, which is home to Big-Eye Trevally and a number of Snapper. Due to the current, a negative descent is usually required. The best way to end your dive is to do your safety stop at the top of the reef as you get to end your dive with a number of Turtle species.
Fotteyo Kandu, Vaavu Atoll
Found on the eastern edge of the atoll, Fotteyo Kandu is one of the most favored dive sites found throughout the Maldives. This site is home to abundant marine life and stunning coral structures, however, some of the most exciting parts of this dive site is found in its caves, overhangs and swim-throughs, which are full of yellow soft corals, with a few black coral bushes found at slightly lower depths. If you get the opportunity to dive this site, then don’t miss out. You might see large Anemones, Jacks, Tuna and schools of Snapper as well as a number of other reef fish species.
There are so many incredible dive sites found throughout the Maldives, so if you have one that hasn’t been mentioned on our list, let us know about it in the comments below.