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.
Which atolls: South Male, Vaavu, Meemu, Laamu, Thaa, Huvadhoo, Foammulah, Addu
South Male atoll;
Kandooma Thila - Definitely number one in the ranking of the best dive sites in South Male atoll. Long thila, located in the middle of the channel, offers spectacular conditions to observe grey reef sharks, whitetip reef sharks, eagle rays, big schools of jacks and snappers both with incoming and outgoing current. North side of the pinnacle is nicely covered with soft corals with the top of the reef being home to many reef fish and green turtles.
Vaavu atollThe dive schedule is dependent on tides, currents and prevailing weather conditions
Miyaru Kandu - One of the channel dives that you don’t want to miss. With strong incoming current the list of possible encounters is impressive. Mainly grey reef sharks but also whitetip reef sharks, eagle rays, napoleons and tunas are quite common and with the visibility reaching 120 feet during the northeast monsoon it can be the highlight of the trip. Most of the time guests will spend time at the depth of 70 - 90 feet.
Alimatha House Reef - Considered one of the best night dives in the Maldives.Every night there is a show performed by a big number of nurse sharks, stingrays and massive jacks. Maximum depth will not exceed 15 meters and most of the time you will be kneeling on a sandy bottom waiting for the sharks to come closer. Definitely not to be missed.
Muli Corner - The reef is known as home to a lot of sharks during incoming currents but it also welcomes manta rays on a large cleaning station during outgoing current. Entering the water with empty BCD and not wasting time on the surface is often recommended, specially with strong currents.
Whaleshark point - There is no specific place where diving would guarantee an encounter with a whale shark but the common practice is to use a strong light in the evening at the back platform of the boat to attract the zooplanktons which will further attract the whale sharks. Scuba diving while having the shark at the back of the boat is rather discouraged as the bubbles may disperse the mass of the plankton. The best experience is to grab a mask, fins and gently enter the water on the side of the boat, not to scare the whale shark away and then enjoy the view while snorkeling. Sometimes the whale shark will stay for hours, more than one visitor is also possible. .
Fushi Kandu *** - The most spectacular channel dive of the atoll. There are a few different ways to dive it but crossing the channel offers the most exciting encounters with big fish. Although it might seem very easy it is not recommended for not experienced divers due to washing machines created by the current.
Whaleshark Point - Huvadhoo atoll is known for being home to the biggest fish in the world. Just like in Thaa atoll there is now specific place where diving would guarantee an encounter with a whale shark but the common practice is to use a strong light in the evening at the back platform of the boat to attract the zooplanktons which will further attract the whale sharks. Scuba diving while having the shark at the back of the boat is rather discouraged as the bubbles may disperse the mass of the plankton. Sometimes the whale sharks will stay for hours.
Maareha Kandu - One of the best channel dives in the atoll, suitable for all diver levels depending on the entry point. With incoming current dozens of grey reef sharks can be seen as well as eagle rays and many species of fish that swim around the channel. Crossing the channel above the edge will be the most effective way to spot big amount of fish.
Nilandhoo Kandu - Another top ranking site and definitely a must dive spot. As most channel dives it offers the best conditions during incoming current in the northeast monsoon. It is possible to observe grey reef sharks, leopard sharks, nurse sharks, big barracudas, tunas, eagle rays and napoleons. Tiger sharks have also been seen in this place.
Turtle City - Unique place because of the number of green turtles that can be spotted. Very easy drift dive along the reef, suitable for all levels of experience. These turtles can get scared easily and often swim away as soon as they spot a diver, therefore divers staying in the back of the group may have much fewer encounters. More caution before coming up to the surface is recommended as there are many fishing boats arriving to or leaving the nearby port.
Villigili Kandu - This channel comparing to other channels in this area offers more technical conditions to observe big schools of grey reef sharks. The center of the channel is the place to be. Current hooks are a must. It is very easy to be tempted by the main edge which is deeper than maximum allowed depth of 30 meters. Divers have to remember though that the closer they try to get to the sharks the further the sharks will swim away.
Foammulah south - This place offers one of the most incredible drift dives in the the archipelago. Unlike other atolls in the Maldives this one has no lagoon. Surrounded by depths in the middle of the Indian Ocean the site offers unique conditions to encounter species like tiger sharks, oceanic mantas, mola mola, thresher sharks, hammerheads, grey reef sharks and other big fish. With good visibility during the northeast monsoon and unpredictable and powerful currents, the biggest challenge might be to keep the maximum depth of 90 feet and not being taken beyond reasonable depths. Divers should watch computers more carefully to make sure they have enough air and time to finish the dive safely. The dive is mostly based on luck and
common practice is to try the place two or three times before moving on to another atoll. With a bit of luck this might be the most memorable dive in your logbook.
British Royalty Wreck - This 420 ft long tanker is the biggest wreck in the Maldives, torpedoed twice during WW II and eventually sunk by the British in 1946. The vessel rests on its starboard side at around 33 meters depth.
Maa Corner - The place is known for its cleaning station hosting manta rays all year long. The main station is quite deep and the current in the channel can make it more difficult to handle for beginners. There are a few coral blocks a bit shallower, which are also considered cleaning stations and mantas can be seen there quite often. Current hooks are recommended to keep the right position and stay in one place for better observation.
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