Scuba diving in Maldives
Maldives truly lives up to its reputation of being among the best diving places in the world. Maldives diving offers numerous dive sites from reefs, wall, caves and pinnacles to wreck and drift diving in the Indian Ocean. This variety of dive sites makes it possible for divers of various levels of expertise to take full advantage of the diving here. The marine life is varied with plenty of tropical reef fish and pelagics like eagle rays and sharks. Maldives boasts colourful coral gardens and clear water with outstanding visibility. In the month of May you can see whale sharks and manta rays.
Always dive according to your level of training. Never enter the water without checking with the local dive center for safety, additional information, level required for each dive site and without being accompanied by a professional.
All the information provided is purely informative for our readers and shouldn't be used as is to plan your immersion.
Average Water surface temperature 24°C (75°F) to 27°C (81°F)
Visibility often averaging 15 - 45 metres (50 - 147 feet)
Warmest time is April to June
Possible to dive all year round. It's warm all year and a 5mm shorty is enough.
Best time to dive is from June to October and December to March
Worst time to dive may be May and August because then it's the wet season and visibility is reduced. The number of accessible dive sites may also be limited.
The Maldive islands are scattered over a large area and naturally the best way to dive is on a liveaboard. There's good diving in and outside the attolls' lagoons and also in the channels between. Although there are many operators offering liveaboard diving make sure you reserve well in advance because this is in very high demand and is often fully booked. Maldives liveaboard diving can be done throughout the year, however if you intend to go on a liveaboard the best time is from November to May. Liveaboard diving gives you the advantage of being able to pick the best dive areas and go easily from one attol to the other. The boats offer different qualities thereby catering for a wide range of budgets.
There's nothing more fun and exciting than heading for Maldives to spend your cheap holidays on the beach. The Maldives consists of more than 1200 small coral islands set in white sand in the Indian Ocean and counts 26 atolls. Maldives is dominated by the monsoon winds and the rain season runs from July to August because of the southwest monsoon and also from November to March with the northeast monsoons. This may be important for you when planning your dive vacation although diving is done all year.
As the Maldives are far away from land the marine life is abundant and you will encounter large pelagics like sharks and rays. Many nice dive sites can easily be reached from the resorts. Night dives are recommended as the reefs come to life in the night with the predators on the move. There are lots of reefs and lagoons but very few wrecks. However these wrecks are interesting as a lot of marine life has grown around them. The dive sites here include submerged pinnacles locally referred to a "tillas" which often attract a lot of marine life like juvenile fish, rays and sharks, shallow colourful reef gardens and channels between reefs. In the channels there is good drift diving but on drifts make sure you have an SMB and you pay attention to your depth. A lot of the diving in the Maldives is in the current and this will vary depending on the season. January to March are the months where the currents are strongest. For those looking for large pelagics the best months are from April to june. This is the hot season and there's lots of plankton that attracts mantas and ray sharks.
Maldive's atolls offer exciting diving opportunities. The North Ari atoll has a lot of popular dive sites with a lot of reef fishes and bright coral. There are some shallow channels with reefs sloping to about 25metres (82 feet) in the middle of the channel. In this atoll you can see manta rays, zebra morays and white tip reef sharks. Encounters with whale sharks are frequent here. You may also see stone fish, turtles and grey reef sharks just to mention a few.
North Male Atoll has good resorts and lots of facilities for tourism. Diving is offered by most resorts. A good part of the diving is concentrated around North Male Atoll as most of the dive sites are close by. The marine life is rich and the coral colourful and abundant. The diving is mainly drop offs, caves and reefs and there are lots of lenty of overhangs, crevaces and caves along some of the the reefs. However, you must beware of the currents which can be very strong. In North Male's dive sites encounters with pelagics, eagle rays and tuna are common. Hawksbill turtles can also be spotted. From March to October you can see lots of mantas on Sunlight Thila. If you're looking for a good drift dive North Male is the place.
In North Male Atoll there's a wreck called The Victory. This wreck is about 100 meters (328 feet) long and is lying in 35-40 metres (114-131 feet) of water. It went down in 1981. There's a lot of coral and lots of fish like snappers and bat fish have made this wreck their home.
South Male Atoll which is part of Kaafu Atoll is bustling with diving activity. Here you can dive in caves and there are plenty of soft corals. The marine life is varied andand colourful you will encounter tuna, groupers and hammerhead sharks. The diving is mostly reef diving but there's a wreck of a small cargo ship the Kuda Giri that was deliberately sunk to make a wreck diving attraction. This wreck has attracted a lot of marine life among which you will find the green turtle, mory eels and groupers. The green turle should be approached quietly as it will take off if frightened.
The Ari Atoll, the largest Atoll has amazing fauna and flora and numeous dive sites. There are many more "thilas" than in the other parts of the Maldives and the marine life is greatly varied. There is wall diving, submerged reefs and some caves. On some of the reefs you may see morays, shrimp, pipefish and flatworms. There is a "thila" named Bodhufinolhu where whale sharks are frequent as they come to feed on the plankton. The Maya Thila is a protected area and is known for having plenty of grey sharks. There is also other marine life like oriental sweetlips, titan triggers, morays and batfish just to mention a few.
The Raa Atoll also known as North Maalhosmadulu boasts a lot of soft coral gardens and abundant marine life. This atoll has over 90 isles but only 16 are inhabited. Raa Atoll diving is made of many channels and submerged pinnacles. Raa Atoll has become a popular dive place. It has strong currents bad a visibility of about 26 metres (85 feet). While diving here you can see lots of caves with yellow and orange corals, black coral bushes and seafans. These caves harbour vibrant marine life. A majority of the dive spots on this Atoll are accesible uniquely by liveaboard.
Baa Atoll has several "thilas" (submerged pinnacles) coral reefs and channels. Sharks can be seen all year round here. This atoll is popular because of its quiet atmosphere, lots of colourful reef fishes and nice coral gardens. Baa Atoll has become a popular diving place and the reefs are suitable for diving and snorkeling. Mantas and sharks can be seen in the months of May to July.
So, the Maldives is beautiful both outside and in the water. The nice beaches and clear water will give you numerous opportunities to go snorkeling, while the waters provide great land based diving and liveaboard diving. Because there are so many atolls the diving experiences will also be as varied. The operators on place offer a lot of outings and can make customized arrangements to suit your requirements. There are probably other exciting diving places that have not been mentionned here because they are countless but once in the Maldives you can check with your dive center to know the options.