The coconut palm and the yellow-fin tuna, symbols of the Maldives, say a great deal about this nation of more than a thousand islands. Scuba diving is done at a leisurely drift pace as the Indian Monsoon Current sweeps along the island chains, moving nutrients and divers along. The Maldives is flat with white sandy beaches and excellent reefs with an abundance of marine life. Grouped into 26 low atolls in the Indian Ocean, less than 300 of the islands are inhabited.
The Maldives Islands lie Southwest of India. Scattered across the equator in the middle of the Indian Ocean, the gem-like islands of the Maldives depict the rare vision of a tropical paradise. Palm fringed islands with sparkling white beaches, turquoise lagoons, clear warm waters and coral reefs teeming with abundant varieties of marine flora and fauna, fascinates visitors as it has for thousands of years.
There are three distinctly different types of diving: inside the atolls, outside the atolls and inside the channels or passes, which is where the currents are strongest and you'll find the greatest congregation of fish life. Most intriguing are the cleaning stations, found around every corner and under every ledge. Groupers, Snappers, Surgeonfish, Eels, Parrotfish, even Giant Napoleon Wrasse park casually in corners, oblivious to all, (including cameras) while armies of wrasse, shrimp and other assorted cleaners pick at debris in their open gills and cavernous mouths. The big attraction, however, are the schools of fish that patrol the reefs in colorful packs: Humpback and Black and White Snappers, Trevally Jacks, Barracuda, Batfish, Unicornfish, Yellowback Fusiliers and Harlequin Sweetlips almost comical in design. The reef's larger inhabitants, including sharks, rays and occasionally even Whale Sharks, are often seen cruising in the blue.
Meemu atollThe atoll’s inner reefs offer deeper depths for advanced divers. There aren't many channels on the eastern side, and this reduces currents. Beginners will have plenty of dive sites to choose from. One of the atoll’s top dive sites is found on a reef at Mulee Island. During the south-west monsoon (May to December) it’s common to spot mantas with their offspring here. Several cleaning stations can be found at 33-49 feet (10-15 meters), but the currents can be strong. Groups of five or more mantas can often be seen playing; they twist and turn like a roller coaster’s cars. Healthy coral can be found on the reef as it gently slopes to 98 feet (30 meters). Advanced divers can join the tuna, barracuda and Napoleon wrasse.
A more challenging dive site is Shark’s Tongue. Sizeable coral formations are found at 26-49 feet (8-15 meters) where schools of surgeon, oriental sweetlips and copper snapper are found. The reef then slopes down to 98 feet (30 meters). As you descend you’ll see groups of whitetip and blacktip reef sharks swimming amongst the coral's rocks. If the currents are right, you can also see grey and silvertip reef sharks. If your encounter with mantas and sharks has left you wanting more – soft and hard corals, channels, submerged pinnacles, walls, overhangs, and steep drop-offs are all waiting for you.
Thaa Atoll’s diving is suitable for beginners, but many of the best dive sites have strong currents that requires experience. Crustaceans creep amongst the rocks like a child playing hide and seek, and nudibranchs add even more color to the reefs. The south-east side drops off to 131 feet (40 meters), and on the south-west side there is a sandy plateau that's peppered with colorful coral. The wall is covered with large sea fans, and the small caves are decorated with soft coral. With little current, lots of macro life, and the possibility of a manta, the Caribbean Garden is for all divers.
Divers with more experience can enjoy the strong currents at Gorgonian Garden. Expect schooling batfish, whitetip reef sharks, and turtles enjoying their lunch on the soft corals. Manta rays, turtles, schooling batfish and fusiliers will join you – the fusiliers’ yellow contrasting with the red coral perfectly. This large thila (submerged island) starts at 20 feet (6 meters). At over 1500 feet (457 meters) long, this coral reef has a gentle slope to the north and a steep wall, which descends to 131 feet (40 meters), to the south. Advanced divers can explore deep, steep walls that are decorated with coral.
The dive schedule is dependent on tides, currents and prevailing weather conditions
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