Snorkelling & Diving in the Maldives
The atolls of Maldives offer some of the best spots for exploring the wonders of the underwater world! As a result, snorkelling and diving are hugely popular activities among those who travel to the islands, with some visitors dedicating their entire holiday to experience the abundance of marine life that inhabit the waters surrounding the archipelago.
The countless miles of coral reefs in the Maldives, which amounts to about 5% of the global reef area, are populated by over a thousand species of fish and about 250 species of coral. Some of the underwater creatures which can be spotted here include, Whitetip Reef Sharks, Whale Sharks, Tuna, Clown Triggerfish, Butterflyfish, Bannerfish, Eargle Rays, Fusiliers, Hawkbill Turtles and Octopus.
Snorkelling in the Maldives
You can snorkel almost anywhere in the Maldives, just wade out to the reef from the beach and begin your underwater exploration. The calm, clear, warm waters offer an ideal environment for snorkelling, and you will find that it is one of the best activities to engage in during your holiday. The resort you are staying at will most likely be able to organise a snorkelling experience for you, especially if you need to take a boat to go on a snorkelling trip. If you are keen to include snorkelling in your holiday itinerary, it would be best to select a resort located on an island with a house reef, as it means you can easily wade out to the reef. Keep in mind that the quality of the house reef differs from island to island.
Diving in the Maldives
The excellent reefs, teeming with rich marine life, coupled with waters that are warm and clear, make the Maldives a scuba diver’s dream destination. Many of the resorts have scuba diving facilities and training centres, while a number of liveaboards offer scuba diving holidays which take guests to different dive sites around the archipelago. If you have never engaged in diving before, this may be the best place to learn how to.
The Maldives has varying dive types, which include reef dives, drift dives and wreck dives. Rock pinnacles known as Thila (an underwater island), as well as overhangs, swim-throughs and caverns are some of the things you will find on your dives. The value in the wrecks lies in the reefs that have formed around them, rather than in the wrecks themselves. The lagoons on the interior of the atolls are rather shallow and protected from currents, which make them ideal for practice dives and diving classes, although they are low on marine life.
The tropical climate of the Maldives and resulting warm waters make diving here possible year round. However, the best time to visit the islands for scuba diving is between January and April, when visibility is at its best.
Where to Dive in the Maldives
Great visibility, a healthy coral growth and diverse marine life make Addu Atoll one of the best regions for diving in the Maldives. Sites such as Gan Inside are best suited for beginners, while the British Loyalty Wreck (World War II) and Shark Point are ideal for more advanced divers.
Baa Atoll Biosphere Reserve
Baa Atoll was awarded UNESCO Reserve status in 2011 because of its marine diversity. Divers can expect colourful reefs, overhangs, thilas and sightings of Manta Rays and Whale Sharks. The dive sites here are suitable for beginners as well as advanced divers.
The azure waters of Ari Atoll are teeming with Pelagic species, including Manta Rays, Whale Sharks and schooling Hammerheads. The region has many thilas and kandus (channels) which are ideal for drift diving. As the currents here can be rather strong, it is more suited for experienced divers. Maaya Thila and Fish Head are probably the most popular dive sites in Ari Atoll.
North Malé Atoll
Easily accessible from Malé, and also consisting of some of the country’s best reefs, North Malé Atoll is definitely a must-visit for any diving enthusiast. Colourful coral reefs and ship wrecks offer plenty of great dive sites where you can spot Manta Rays, Barracudas, Hawksbill Turtles, Napoleonfish and much more. The most popular sites here are Manta Point, the Maldives Victory Wreck, Nassimo Thila and Banana Reef.
Perfect for advanced as well as beginner divers, the Lhaviyani Atoll has a number of well explored dive sites. The Shipyard, which has two wrecks covered in a variety of soft and hard corals, is one of the most popular dive sites on Lhaviyani. Some of the species to be spotted here include Butterfly Fish, Yellow Sweeper, Damsels and Napoleon Wrasse. Large pelagics such as Nurse Sharks and Grey Reef Sharks can also be found here. The Aquarium, a sheltered dive on the reefs of the island of Huravalhi, is great for beginners, while more experienced divers can explore Madivaru Kandu, which is located south of the ship wrecks.