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Scuba Diving in The Maldives

Known for its crystal clear waters and picturesque water bungalows, the Maldives is a unique coral-based archipelagic haven that’s popular with travelers, honeymooners, and scuba divers. It’s the perfect paradise for those seeking peace, tranquility, and relaxation in the middle of the Indian ocean.

Geography of The Maldives

Situated in the Indian Ocean far off the coast of India, the Maldives is a South Asian archipelago that is made up of 1,190 coral islands. Grouped into two strings of 26 atolls with live coral reefs and sand bars spread over roughly 90,000 square kilometers, it’s one of the most unique countries and best scuba diving destinations in the world. Its largest island, Gan, belongs to Laamu Atoll (Hahdhummathi Maldives) and its westernmost islands in Addu Atoll are connected by roads over the reef.

Ari Atoll

Ari Atoll is one of the largest Maldives diving sites. Located in the western part of the archipelago, it draws numerous divers all year round.

Maaya Thila

One of the most famous diving sites in all of the Maldives, Maaya Thila is a great spot for divers of all levels due to its varying currents. Dive during the day or at night and discover an abundance of mysterious caves and overhangs, as well as fascinating marine life that include gray reef sharks, white tips, barracudas, angler fish, octopus, and turtles, among many others.

Gangehi Kandu

Located in the northern part of Ari Atoll, Gangehi Kandu is recommended for advanced scuba divers. While its currents can be unpredictable, it’s one of the best spots for spotting sharks—including white tip reef sharks, gray reef sharks, and leopard sharks. Large pelagic fish also frequent the site and divers can expect to see triggerfish, nudibranch, and moray eels amid colorful coral formations.

Malé Atoll

On the eastern side of the Maldives is Malé Atoll, which is divided into two sections—the north and south. Both are home to some of the finest scuba diving spots in the Maldives, though North Malé Atoll is the most developed section in terms of hotel and resort development.

Banana Reef

Ranging in depth from five to 30 meters in North Malé Atoll, the Banana Reef was the first dive site to be discovered in the Maldives. It remains popular due to its colorful coral formations, interesting pinnacles and overhangs, and extensive variety of fish. Currents can be strong around the reef, so surface balloons can really come in handy.

Cocoa Corner Thila

South Malé Atoll’s Cocoa Corner (Cocoa Thila) holds the best shark show around Malé Atoll. When dive conditions are right, divers often cross Cocoa Corner to nearby Kandooma Thila, during which they maintain a minimum depth of 25 meters. Marine attractions include grey reef sharks of all sizes, as well as eagle rays and jack fish. The dive ends at the top of the Thila where divers continue their journey in shallower waters.

Addu Atoll

Addu Atoll was fortunately not affected by the global coral bleaching in 1998. Today, it features some of the most interesting dive spots in the Maldives and a total of four main channels or kandus: the Gan Kandu, Viligili Kandu, Maa Kandu, and Kuda Kandu.

Bodu Hoholha

Ideal for more advanced divers, Bodu Hoholha features a wall dive with a reef measuring about five to eight meters and a near vertical drop past 30 meters. Feast your eyes on beautiful purple sea fans along the walls and an abundance of fish and corals at around 10 meters. Caves and overhangs are also waiting to be discovered at past 25 meters. The deep water near the side of the reef offers opportunities to see bigger pelagic animals, making it an unforgettable Maldivian dive experience at all depths.

British Loyalty

Dive at the biggest wreck in the Maldives and discover the World War II oil tanker known as British Loyalty. This supreme dive spot is 135 meters long and starts from around 15 meters down to 35 meters deep. Beginners can easily enter the right side-lying wreck through the biggest opening in the engine room, while more advanced divers can access other openings for full penetration wreck diving.

Marine Life in The Maldives

As its islands are situated in the open ocean near the reefs, the Maldives is home to pelagic animals. Water channels connecting the Indian Ocean to the lagoons bring in organisms and nutrients that attract incredible marine life.

  • Planktons - These organisms are unable to swim against currents, so it’s common to find bioluminescent planktons, making Maldivian shores glow in the dark.
  • Manta Rays- This species of massive flat fish is just one of the many large aquatic animals that feed on plankton.
  • Sharks - As their primary source of food is plankton, you’re bound to encounter several species of whale sharks.

You’ll find healthier reefs and macro life forms in the northern areas of the Maldives while sharks are more frequently spotted in the southern areas. But in general, the islands are surrounded by vast reef formations, dolphins, eagle rays, hammerhead sharks, butterfly fish, oriental sweetlips, tuna, parrotfish, groupers, snappers, turtles, moray eels, blue marlins, and other reef fish and pelagic animals.

Other Attractions

  • Malé Fish Market - Among the top things to do in the Maldives is to visit the busy fish market in the capital city of Malé. It’s a fascinating place for food lovers who love to watch fishermen unload the day’s catch—including some really large tuna, octopus, and grouper.
  • Whale Submarine - Take in the beauty of the underwater world by going on a 45-minute underwater tour inside the Whale Submarine in Malé. It’s the perfect chance for families and kids to see colorful corals and beautiful marine species without actually having to go scuba diving.
  • National Museum - This three-storey museum holds a large collection of galleries and historic artifacts that trace the long history of the Maldivian Islands. It welcomes tourists, history buffs, and art experts daily (except Fridays) at 10am-4pm.

How to Get to The Bahamas

Tourist visas will be granted for all nationalities upon arriving at the Maldives. While you can take a very long ferry trip from India, the best way to get to the islands is by plane.

By Air
Malé International Airport (previously known as Ibrahim Nasir International Airport) is the port of entry into the Republic of Maldives. It serves a wide array of flights to and from nearby countries like India, Sri Lanka, the United Arab Emirates, China, and major airports in South East Asia, as well as an increasing number of charter flights from Europe.

Getting Around

Should you wish to go island hopping in the Maldives, you can check out the ferries. While they are cheap, it can be quite a challenge to incorporate their travel times into a scheduled itinerary as their trips run infrequently. If budget isn’t a problem, you can rent a speedboat to visit resort islands. You can also try seeking the assistance of local fishermen who might be willing to take you on their boats for a more reasonable price.

Best Time to Visit The Maldives

Scuba diving in the Maldives is good all year long, but you’ll want to go between December to April if you want the best visibility and excellent sea conditions. The rest of the year, especially between April and October, can bring significant rain due to the monsoons. The increase in plankton density around May would also result in reduced visibility.

Required Trainings & Certifications

All types of international certifications are accepted in Maldivian resorts. If you’re learning how to dive for the first time, the resorts offer open water and advanced courses. Once trained and certified, make sure you bring your logbook and C-cards, and be prepared to do a check-out dive.

Miscellaneous Information

Currency
The Maldivian rufiyaa (abbreviated as MRF or Rf) is the official currency of the Republic of Maldives. The law requires resorts to price their services in US dollars and often require payment in cash or credit card. If you’re heading to Malé or the other inhabited atolls, rufiyaa would definitely come in handy.

Language
The official language of the Maldives is Dhivehi. English is also widely spoken, especially in resorts and in other tourist areas.

Time Zone
The Maldives observes Maldives Time (MVT) all year and never uses Daylight Saving Time.

Driving Side
Driving in the Maldives is on the left-hand side of the road.

Calling Code
Dialing +960 will allow you to call the Maldives from another country.

ISO 3166 code
SO 3166-2:MV is the entry for the Maldives in ISO 3166-2.

Internet TLD
SO 3166-2:MV is the entry for the Maldives in ISO 3166-2.