Scuba Diving Maldives
The Maldives is host to some of the best dives in the world and is considered one of the top diving destinations. Boasting a plethora of stunning marine life like sharks, manta rays, breathtaking coral formations and brimming with exotic fish life, many of the best dive sites in the world are found in the Maldives.
Republic of the Maldives is a sovereign archipelagic nation positioned in the Indian Ocean. Notably the South Asian Island nation has no counterpart in the entire world in terms of its unique geography and topography.
The Maldives encompass more than 99 % of the sea and less than 1 % of the land. The 99 % of the sea is home to one of the most diverse marine treasures of the world. Less than 1 % of the land is a masterpiece in natural landscaping.
The Maldives comprises of 26 natural atolls consisting of dual island chains. Incidentally the Maldivian language has the distinct pleasure of contributing to the English word “atoll”, which was derived from the Maldivian word “atholhu”.
The Maldives, located on top of a vast underwater mountain range have around 1190 islands and sandbanks. The pearl string like islands covers a land area about 298 km2. All the islands are encircled by a lagoon blessed with crystal clear water. These islands are protected by a reef structure, housing one of the most exclusive and spectacular underwater life.
The Maldives is the perfect haven for those seeking peace, tranquility, rejuvenation and relaxation as well as paradise for the water lovers wishing to snorkel dive and surf.
SCUBA DIVING MALDIVES
Known internationally as one of the world’s best diving destinations, the Maldives has an abundance of dive sites with one thrilling dive opportunity after another. It is easy to see why The Maldives has become one of the world’s premier scuba diving destinations because of the abundance of amazing white sand beaches, coral reefs, clear warm waters, numerous dive sites and rich marine life. Most holiday resorts in the Maldives have a scuba diving facility and there are a number of live-aboard operators offering itineraries all over the Maldives. Many scuba divers are attracted to the Maldives because of the presence of whale sharks, manta rays, eagle rays, reef sharks, and hammerhead sharks as well as many smaller fish and coral species.
Between the 100’s of Islands, there are channels connecting the Indian Ocean to the Lagoons. This water coming from the ocean is full of plankton and nutrients which, in turn, attracts an incredible marine life.
The coral is beautiful in Maldives but what makes it so special is the high density of marine life! Divers are Immersed in enormous shoals of butterflyfish and oriental sweetlips; drift the channels with white tips, hammerheads and whalesharks; descend deep sea ridges with eagle rays, giant napoleans and blue marlin; spot turtles at dawn, dolphins at dusk and mass seasonal gatherings of manta rays; or marvel at the “weird and wonderfuls” that inhabit the vast reef-formations and unique Maldivian thilas. Exhilarating sites include vibrant thilas, exciting channels, coral-filled overhangs and fascinating wrecks.
As a general rule of thumb, the northern areas tend to have healthier reefs and better macro life, while the southern areas have more sharks. Since the islands are scattered over a large area, and the best diving is found inside and outside the atolls’ lagoons and in the channels in between. The Best Way to see the region is by live-aboard.
Video Credit to Maldives Blue Force
HIGHLIGHT DIVE AREAS
The following atolls, reefs and channels are home to some of the most popular dive sites in the Maldives.
The best channels for diving in the Maldives with reef sharks are at – Lhaviyani, North and South Male, Vaavu, Meemu, Laamu and Gaafu (probably the best). Elsewhere the channels are too deep to dive.
The best areas for whale shark encounters are Ari Atoll, and Gaafu and Thaa atolls in the south. For mantas, the best locations are Ari, Addu, North Male, Haa Alifu and Haa Daalu, and Baa Atoll. For Hammerheads, plan a visit to Rasdhoo Atoll in North Ari, or Fotteyo Kandu at Veevu Atoll. Thresher sharks and tiger sharks can be found at Foahmulah Island all year round.
Ari Atoll – Although there are many Maldivian atolls where you can encounter pelagics and big schools of fish, Ari Atoll may be the place with the greatest reliability. Passing big fish such as whale sharks, mantas, hammerheads and eagle rays are frequently seen, as well as large residents like the Napoleon wrasse, grey reef and white tip sharks, and large schools of blacktail barracuda and batfish.
Vaavu Atoll – Located in the Southern Atolls, features deep channels with nutrient-rich, fast-flowing currents. At any time of year you will be treated to encounters with schooling reef sharks as well several different shark species including the occasional hammerhead. The area boasts Fotteyo Kandu – considered by many to be the best dive site in the Maldives with its swim-throughs, caves and overhangs. As well as plenty of sharks you can expect to see tuna, trevallies, unicornfish, snappers, triggerfish, eagle rays, mantas and groupers.
North Male Atoll – This area was one of the first to be discovered for its scuba diving delights and comprises some of the oldest and most popular sites in the Maldive Islands including Gaathugiri, also known as Banana Reef. You can expect breathtaking topography with magnificent rock faces, numerous caves, steep drop offs and precipitous overhangs. The marine life is just as awesome with sharks, manta rays, trevally, black snappers, grouper, schooling bannerfish, large morays, squirrelfish, soldierfish and Maldivian grubfish.
DIVE SEASON: The diving is good all year long, but the monsoon brings significant rain between April and October, especially June to August. The best season for scuba diving Maldives is from January to April with very good visibility and excellent sea conditions.
The Wet Season from May to August with rain, winds and waves runs reducing the visibility, but diving is still good. It is usually heavy short rains followed by sunshine .
Dry weather is from December to March offering The Best visibility
May has High Plankton density that reduces visibility but does attract Manta Rays and Whale Sharks!
VISIBILITY: Ranges from 20 metres/70 feet to really, really good. If the visibility lowers, it usually means plankton is present, which can bring in the whale sharks.
WATER TEMPERATURE: Water temperatures range from 26-30°C/80-86°F year-round.
ACCESS: The resort experience is great if you also want to relax. You will have the choice between 100 different resorts, from very basic to very luxurious accommodation. Some of the resorts are even dedicated purely to diving. But
If your Goal is especially for diving, a live-aboard is the best choice. It will allow you to dive all of the best sites and discover the best of what the Islands have to offer. This is alos your best chance to spot Manta Rays and Whale Sharks. . A Liveaboard trip can also be less expensive than many of the higher end resorts as the diving packages are all inclusive.
MARINE LIFE: In the open ocean near the reefs, pelagic animals – including manta rays, eagle rays, tuna and a variety of sharks (including whale sharks) – frequent the Maldives. On shallow dives, the clear, bright water hosts a massive amount of sweet lips, parrotfish, groupers, snappers as well as frequent turtles and moray eels.
CLIMATE: Tropical, hot and humid with loads of sunshine and temperatures around 24-33°C/75-91°F year-round. The diving is good all year long, but the monsoon brings significant rain between April and October, especially June to August
LANGUAGE: The official language is Dhivehi, but English is also widely spoken, especially in tourist areas and at resorts.
ELECTRICITY: 220-240 volts, 50Hz.
CURRENCY & CREDIT CARDS: The Maldivian Rufiyaa. Credit cards are the primary method of payment in resorts. By law resorts price services in US dollars and require payment in hard currency (or credit card), so there’s absolutely no need to change money if you’re going to spend all your time at the resorts. If you are heading to Male or the other inhabited atolls, exchanging some rufiyaa will come in handy
GRATUITES: Tipping is optional, but appreciated.
PHONE & INTERNET SERVICE: If you want to get a local SIM card, there is a Dhiraagu shop (the primary local telecom company) just to the left of the airport arrivals area upon exiting. A local cell number is needed to purchase time at many wifi spots around the country (sometimes reachable from where liveaboards anchor for the night). Internet is available at many resorts. it is slow compared to most countries.
VISA & PASSPORT REQUIREMENTS: The Maldives have a remarkably easy visa policy — Everybody gets a free 30-day visa on arrival, provided that they have a valid travel document, a ticket out and proof of sufficient funds, defined as either a confirmed reservation in any resort or US$100 + $50/day
DEPARTURE TAX: Departure taxes are generally included in your airline ticket.
CUSTOMS: The following goods may be imported into the Maldives Republic without incurring customs duty: A reasonable amount of cigarettes, cigars and tobacco; a reasonable number of gifts
Importing alcohol, pork or pornography (very broadly defined) into the Maldives is forbidden and all luggage is X-rayed on arrival. On the way out, note that exporting sand, seashells or coral is also forbidden.
GETTING THERE: Ibrahim Nasir International Airport – also known as Malé International Airport – is the port of entry into the country. The airport is served by a wide array of flights to China, India, Sri Lanka, Dubaia nd major airports in South-East Asia, as well as an increasing number of charters from Europe
Topside Attractions – Most resorts have a variety of watersports activities to keep you busy after diving. Spa treatments and general relaxing are also popular. Take an excursion to a local village.
LOCAL CUSTOMS / TRAVEL NOTES: Maldives has very strong anti-drugs laws. Importing or possessing drugs can carry severe penalties, including life imprisonment.
Local laws reflect the fact that Maldives is an Islamic country. Serious violations of local laws may lead to a prison sentence. Public observance of any religion other than Islam is prohibited. You should respect local traditions, customs, laws and religions at all times and be aware of your actions to ensure that they don’t offend, especially during the holy month of Ramadan or if you intend to visit religious areas
Dress is informal, but locals who are Muslim will be offended by nudity or scanty clothing in public places, and the Government rigidly enforces these standards. Bikinis and other scanty beachwear are not acceptable in Malé or on any other inhabited island. When entering a mosque, the legs and the body, but not the neck and the face, should be covered. Handshaking is the most common form of greeting. The indigenous population not involved in the tourist trade lives in isolated island communities maintaining almost total privacy. A large number of locals smoke, but smoking and eating during Ramadan is discouraged.
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