SCUBA DIVING 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 Earth’s most desirable.
Maldives is a destination common for weddings and honeymoons, and just plain old luxury escapes, but what some don’t know, is that the greatest wonders are not on land.
Maldives doesn’t have to be a luxury-only destination, which is what scares some budget travelers and divers away, and can be done on a budget via various “locals” islands.
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. Whether you want to be pampered in over-water bungalows in-between dives, or just want to experience local living, our goal is to bring you all the information you need, for each aspect of your trip planning!
BEST DIVE SITES
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
North Male Atoll
As for coral and reef around the country, the North Male Atoll really is the best. It is no wonder that it is the most visited are in Maldives to dive, and it also happens to be the easiest to get to from the main airport/capital.
South Male Atoll
This area is also easy to get to, but a more quieter version than it’s northern sister. Experience clear waters, reef sharks, and of course, drift diving.
The Vaavu Atoll is amazing for beginners and advanced divers who want to experience some deep channels together, and get eye to eye with some big pelagic. Look for mantas, hammerheads and whale sharks.
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.
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.
There are plenty of underwater islands to explore here, good for beginners and up. Expect pink corals, napoleon wrasse, mantas, turtles, sharks and more.
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.
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.
Ihavandhippolhu Atoll is a more remote location that divers can explore, see untouched reefs and manta cleaning stations. Experienced divers might even discover new dive sites.
Buddhist ruins can be found on Gan, and island that boasts 4 miles of beach. Of course mantas and sharks can also be seen in the channel, which seems to be the theme for most of Maldives!
Advanced divers can enjoy the deep reefs and nice drift dives out in the channels around Meemu Atoll, where you’ll see pretty corals, mantas and reef sharks. But new divers can also experience perfect conditions in the sheltered coves and inlets of the area.
Noonu Atoll’s scuba is perfect for intermediate and advanced divers, with the common drift dives around the channels. Once again you will see grey reef sharks and more!
BEST TIME TO DIVE
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. The monsoon brings significant rain between April and October, especially June to August.
For the massive manta ray season in the north, mainly Baa Atoll, you will need to visit between May and October.
HOW TO GET TO 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.
COMMON TRAVEL QUESTIONS
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.
Where are the 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.
Where are the 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.
Where are some 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.
WHERE TO STAY
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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
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: Baa Atoll