The Republic of Maldives (or more commonly referred to as the Maldives) is an island nation in the Indian Ocean–Arabian Sea area, consisting of a double chain of twenty-six atolls. Geographically, the Maldives comprises mainly water, with only 1% of the country being land-based.
The Maldives is renown for being one of the top diving destinations in Asia, and quite possibly in the world. Its islands and surrounding waters blessed with white sandy beaches, crystal clear waters and are teeming with marine life, in particular, large pelagics like manta rays, tunas, giant trevallies and a variety of sharks, including whalesharks.
Although most hotels and resorts around the archipelago have in-house diving facilities, it is commonly believed that the best way to the Maldives is via a liveaboard since the best dive sites are peppered throughout the atolls and not just within one particular region. Each hotel and resort island may one a few good dive sites nearby, however, to experience the wide variety of diving in Maldives, liveaboards are highly recommended.
Most dive sites in the Maldives have medium to strong currents. The Indian Monsoon Current through the channels between the islands, bringing along with it rich nutrients to feed the abundant marine and coral life living in its waters.
Popular dive regions include:
- Ari Atoll
- South Male Atoll
- North Male Atoll
- Addu Atoll
It is possible to dive in the Maldives all year round, however, most liveaboard operators only run regular trips between November to May. The best months for diving are thought to be between January to April, with the best weather, visibility and overall diving conditions.
It is important to note that generally speaking, lower visibility could be caused by an abundance of plankton in the water, which could also increase chances of whaleshark and manta ray sightings.
Maldives lives up to its name for being a tropical resort location all year round and has a tropical-monsoon climate. The annual average daily surface temperature ranges from 25°C (77°F) to 31°C (88°F), with March typically being the hottest month and January the coldest month. February enjoys the most sunshine with almost 10 hours of sunshine daily on average. September is usually the wettest month with the most rain.
Water temperatures remain fairly constant year round as well, usually ranging from 26°C (79°F) to 30°C (86°F).
Being in the middle of the Indian Ocean and Arabic Sea, Maldives is accessible only via airplane.
Ibrahim Nasir International Airport, more commonly known as Malé International Airport, is the main international airport in the Maldives. It is located on Hulhulé Island in the North Malé Atoll, approximately 15 mins from the capital island Malé.
There are direct flights to Malé International Airport on a number of major international airlines from locations such as London, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Two local Maldivian airlines also operate international flights from locations such as Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Chennai and Thiruvananthapuram, India, and Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Once you arrive in Malé, most resorts and liveaboard operators will provide domestic transfers either via boat or seaplane, depending on the distance from Malé.