Maldives Dive Guide

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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.
 
Over the years, Maldives has gain popularity among divers for its great visibility and underwater marine life. With only 1% of the country being land based, its no surprise that you can almost find a great diving spot at almost any corner of the country.
 
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.
 
With over 1,190 islands, spreading over 90,000km2, it is no doubt almost impossible to cover the whole of Maldives in a single diving trip.
 
Therefore, picking your diving route to satisfy your diving crave in Maldives is important.
 
 
 
Liveaboard Route
Generally, most liveaboard in the Maldives carries out a very standard route with a slight variation:
 
Route 1: North Male Atoll - North Ari Atoll - South Ari Atoll - South Male Atoll (Year Round)
Route 2: North Male Atoll - Baa Atoll - North Ari Atoll - North Male Atoll (August - October)
Route 3: Deep South Huvadhoo Atoll (February - March)
 
 

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What you want to see
Maldives has always been popular among divers for whalesharks and mantarays. Whaleshark hunting is a great experience among many divers where you try spotting it from far. You will be surprise on how amazing are the eyes of the dive guides. 
 
On a lucky day, you will find the whaleshark almost immediately. On a bad day, you spend hours moving up and down potential diving area searching for the elusive whaleshark.
 
If you enjoy the adrenaline rush of drift diving, Maldives has plenty to offer you. With the great amount of channels, it is never difficult to find a diving spot to satisfy your craving.
 
 

Night diving

Diving at night in the Maldives will give you a glimpse of what night life is like down under. Other than seeing corals extending tentacles en masse to catch a bite, nocturnal ones like shrimps out finding food, phosphorescent plankton have waters glowing blue due to bioluminescent effect, you will also get to see rays, eels and sharks sleeping – all of which can only be found after the sun sets. 

 
Popular dive regions include:
Ari Atoll - Whaleshark and Mantarays 
South Male Atoll
North Male Atoll
Addu Atoll
Baa Atoll - Mantarays (August)
 
 
 
Dive Season
It is possible to dive in the Maldives all year round, however, most liveaboard operators only run regular trips between August 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.
 
 
 
Climate
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).
 
Getting Here
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.
 
 
 

 

Popular Diving Destination
 
South Ari Atoll 
Maamagili is the place to find whalesharks in Ari! There are several locations right on the southern point of South Ari atoll where the whalesharks cruise up and down, looking for their next meal. If you are lucky you can see them passing by whilst you are diving. However, most of the encounters will be snorkeling so don’t forget your gear!
 
Hanifaru Bay  (Baa Atoll)
Hanifaru Bay is a marine protected uninhabited island located in the Baa Atoll of the Maldives Islands. Its size is no greater than that of a football field and yet it has become one of the hottest spots on the planet for underwater photographers. The reason for this modern day phenomenon of underwater diversity is because plankton blooms between the months of May and November – a very unusual phenomenon – attracting manta rays by the hundreds. At any one time at Hanifaru Bay, there can be up to 200 manta rays feeding off the coral reefs as well as plenty of whale sharks which do the same! Hanifaru Bay has become the world’s largest manta ray feeding destinations. PLEASE NOTE: From January 2012 scuba diving is not permitted in Hanifaru Bay, however you will be able to snorkel in this area for a $20 fee (per person for approx 45mins).
 
Rasdhoo Madivaru (North Ari Atoll)
Rasdhoo Madivaru Corner is located in the corner of the channel into the atoll. Madivaru has its fame amongst seasoned divers of the Maldives. It has one of the most spectacular and confusing reef formations found in Ari Atoll. Hammerhead sharks emerge in big numbers just before sunrise swimming in large groups. Dolphins, dog tooth tunas along with schools of black snapper are seen at the reef edge during the early hours. Divers get an opportunity to view white tip reef sharks, pelagics, trevallys, little tunas, jacks, ribbon eels, fish leaves tunas, napoleon wrasse and barracudas. Experience the thrilling scuba diving adventure amongst fine coral formations with highest underwater visibility.
 
Guraidhoo Kandu (South Male Atoll)
Since the eastern side of the channel is open ocean, large predatory fish can regularly be spotted here. This site is famous for sightings of sharks, schools of eagle rays and the occasional sail fish and hammerheads. The best condition to do the dive is when the current is flowing into the atoll. The dive begins on the outer reef following the current into the atoll. Most of the pelagic species can be observed on the eastern side, where the reef drops off into the deep ocean. At the end of the dive in the channel, along the reef you can find overhangs with plenty of soft coral growth and small fish.
 
Fish Head (North Ari Atoll) 
Fish Head also known as Shark Point or Mushimasmingili Thila, fits the classic definition of a thila – a large isolated flat top reef rising sharply from the inner atoll floor at 40 to 50m to around 10m from the surface. It is one of the best sites for seeing sharks. Featuring a series of caves and overhangs in between where you can see thousands of blueline snapper against a backdrop of black coral bushes and large gorgonians.
 
Maaya Thila  (North Ari)
Maaya Thila is one of the most famous dive sites in the Maldives and is known as a great spot for both daytime and night-time scuba diving. The marine life seen at Maaya Thila depends largely on the currents, which vary greatly; when the currents are not strong, Maaya Thila is an easy dive site, suitable for less experienced divers, but when currents are strong Maaya Thila is recommended for only advanced divers and they will need to use a surface balloon.
 
Maaya Thila is most famous for the white tip reef sharks that can nearly always be seen here, both during the day and night. A night dive at Maaya Thila also allows divers to encounter moray eels, turtles, octopus and stone fish.
 
Fotheyo Kandu  (Vaavu Atoll)
Considered by many as one of the best dive sites in the Maldives, the atoll offers pristine reefs on the eastern side and thrilling shark dives – look out for hammerheads and grey reef sharks. A more challenging dive site which is not really advised for novice divers. Reef hooks recommended.
 
Maamigili  (South Ari) 
Maamagili is the place to find whalesharks in Ari! There are several locations right on the southern point of South Ari atoll where the whalesharks cruise up and down, looking for their next meal. If you are lucky you can see them passing by whilst you are diving. However, most of the encounters will be snorkeling so don’t forget your gear!
 
Dhigali Haa  (Baa Atoll)
This beautiful thila in Baa Atoll is easily circumnavigated in one dive and is a favourite for shark sightings and where you can possibly see at least 6 grey reef sharks at one time. Once heavily fished, it is now a protected marine sanctuary and the fish life is prolific and varied with blue fin jacks, fusilier, blue striped and humpback snapper, batfish and schools of barracuda.
 
Lhaviyani
Excellent channel diving in the north with sites closely located together. Lhaviyani Atoll hosts some of the Maldives wreck diving opportunities, including the two coral encrusted wrecks at ‘The Shipyard’ and the exhilarating drift dive of the Kuredu Express. A site for the more experienced diver.
 

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