The Official Guide to Scuba Diving Maldives

maldives whale shark

Welcome to the Maldives!

Maldives is one of the most beautiful island nation in the world, with its pristine beaches, beautiful islands, and clear blue waters. But the beauty doesn’t stop there, the underwater world of Maldives is some of the best in the world as well.

What most people don’t know, is that Maldives doesn’t have to be a luxury-only destination, and can be done on a budget as well, with just as good diving.

This guide is all you will need to plan out the perfect dive trip to this amazing country, without the stress of not knowing what to expect. Our goal is to bring you all the information you need, for each aspect of your trip planning!


Where should you dive in Maldives?

a manta in Baa Atoll

1. Fulidhoo Island

Fulidhoo is one of those locals islands, with lots of guest houses, restaurants and a good dive center. The diving is great here, with lots of sharks and good reef. There is a great night dive as well with some nurse sharks, that you will want to check out.

2. Baa Atoll

Baa Atoll in the north of the country, is famous for (during season) its massive manta ray migrations. If you are lucky you will be able to swim with many mantas at once, for a once in a lifetime experience.

3. Maamigili

This is another cool little locals islands, as apposed to the resort owned islands. Here you can be taken out to see whale sharks, for starters. This might be the best place in Maldives to spot the gentle giants.

4. Ari Atoll

This is considered one of the areas with some of the best dive sites in the country. Keep an eye out for nice corals, small reef fish, and the bigger pelagic.

5. Dhaalu Atoll

Dhaalu Atoll’s is suitable for beginners and up. Advanced divers can explore the deeper caves and walls. Expect rays, morays, anemones, reef fish and much more.baa atoll mantas

6. Faafu Atoll

You can get to two wreck dives from here, as well as some channel sites, nice reefs and its inhabitants, as well as the occasional manta sighting.

7. Fuvahmulah Atoll

This is the southern most dive sites, with more unexplored waters. Here you will see pristine reefs, manta rays, and more rare shark sightings like thresher sharks, tigers and oceanic white tips.

8. Haa Alif Atoll

There are wide, shallow, sandy channels ideal for beginners, with the customary pretty corals and fish, but then there are also deeper sites such as a wreck, and a manta cleaning station.

9. Raa Atoll

There are plenty of underwater islands to explore here, good for begginers and up. Expect pink corals, napoleon wrasse, mantas, turtles, sharks and more.

10. Thaa Atoll

There are dive sites for beginners, but also some deeper drifts, that bring in the big stuff. Expect sharks, mantas, coral gardens, overhangs and walls.

11. Huvadhoo Atoll

Another dive location in the far south, Huvadhoo offers whale sharks, mantas, tiger and other species of sharks, as well as the customary pristine corals.

More great dive locations:

12. Ihavandhippolhu Atoll

13. Laamu Atoll

14. Memo Atoll

15. Noonu Atoll

16. North Male Atoll

17. South Male Atoll

18. Vaavu Atoll


Common questions about Maldives

white tip sharks and rays

Is Maldives safe to travel/dive?

Maldives is a predominantly Muslim country, which is usually very welcoming and safe for tourists. Locals are very friendly, and eager for you to like their home country.

Just like most countries, the capital is the most populous, and most dangerous, if at all. Male would’nt be considered dangerous, but it gets even less so as you leave the city. You’ll feel safer than you would in London or Detroit etc.

Just use common sense and be respectable, and there will be nothing to worry about.
resort island in maldives

Best locations to see mantas

During the season, Baa Atoll is one of the best places in the entire world to see manta rays, and it is a huge attraction, for divers or snorkelers alike.

Although you are probably going to run into dozens of manta rays in Baa, you also have good chances to see them in lots of other locations, especially in the north.

Best locations to see whale sharks

When I was in Maldives I stayed at another locals island called Maamigili, which is considered to be in the best location to see whale sharks in the country. And sure enough, I saw plenty during my stay there.

Best budget friendly locations

Maldives has always been thought of as an ultra-luxury destination, frequented by celebrities and the rich. But as I recently found out, the budget conscious travelers and divers can also have a good time here.

As appose to the luxurious, private resort islands mentioned above, budget travelers will want to find “locals” islands, where all of the locals live.

These islands offer the same dive sites and beaches, but also a more genuine cultural experience with local restaurants and bars and everything else small villages offer.

One of the coolest “locals” islands is Fulidhoo. There is a great dive center there called Fulidhoo Dive that will take you to all of the best sites.


Maldives travel information

boats in a bay
Maldives is an archipelago 1,192 coral islands grouped into 26 coral atolls situated near Southern Asia. It is one of the world’s most dispersed countries with a total area of 300km² and a population of 427,756.

Maldives is the lowest elevation nation in the world, which gets lower as seas rise. It is on the bucket list of every traveler to enjoy the crystal clear waters and the abundance of tropical reefs, as well as some of the best beaches in the universe.

Capital city: Male

Closest neighbors: Closest neighbors of Maldives are India and Sri Lanka to the north, with Mauritius and Seychelles to the south.

Currency of Maldives: The currency of Maldives is Rufiyaa (MVR). Most big resorts can exchange common currencies into MVR, or better yet get some from the ATM at the airport when you arrive.

Official Language(s): Maldivian (Dhivehi) is the official language of Maldives. English is widely spoken as tourism is a big economy.

UNESCO World Heritage sites in Maldives

There is no UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Maldives, but 1 on their tentative list.


How to get to Maldives

traveling in maldives

The truth is, if you are coming from the US, there is no fast or easy way to get to Maldives. You are still going to have some long flights and layovers. The direction you fly, east or west, depends on what coast you are closer to at departure.

You might Have a layover in Europe, with common connections in Istanbul via Turkish Air, but there are other stops possible.

From the other direction, you could have stops in Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Singapore or various other capitals. Either way you are going, you have options from many airlines.


Visa information

Excerpt from Maldives Tourism:

A thirty day free visa is issued on arrival for all Nationalities, provided:

  • Should posses a valid passport with Machine Readable Zone (MRZ) and should have at least 6 months validity
  • Have a valid ticket to continue the journey out of Maldives
  • Have enough funds to cover the expenses for duration of the stay in Maldives. (US$100 + $50 dollars per day) or a confirmation of reservation in a Tourist Resort or a Hotel

Best time to visit Maldives

white sand beaches

There is really no bad time to visit Maldives. There is a “low” season, May to November, where the sky are a little more hazy and dark, and the water a little more choppy. But even then, the diving is still good, with less people.


Where to stay

white tip shark

Since there are so many places to visit in Maldives, all listed above, there are tons of places to stay in each. If you are here you are probably interested in the diving, so you’ll want to stay at dive resorts preferably, which isn’t a problem for the big resort islands.

For the locals islands, you have the choices of staying at resorts, or staying at budget accommodations, and diving with a nearby dive center. In the end it doesn’t really matter where you stay, when it comes to the dive experience you’re about to have.

Search for the best accommodation for you, depending on where you want to go HERE.


More Maldives travel resources:

 

 

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