Scuba Diving And Snorkelling In The Maldives

Diving With a School of Travally

When we think about being in the Maldives, we dream about scuba diving and snorkeling.

The beautiful Maldives sits in the Indian Ocean with over 1,000 little coral islands and 26 interesting ring-shaped atolls.  They offer some of the best prime diving sites for scuba divers and snorkelers.

This tropical paradise has been blessed with friendly people, elegant blue lagoons and white sandy beaches and palm trees… what more can you ask for?

In this article, I’ll be telling you what diving and snorkeling is like in the exotic Maldives. The type of diving skills for each dive site is described with a rate of easy to difficult along with a couple of entertaining videos.

Water Villa In Gili Lankanfushi Maldives

While you indulge yourself to the land pleasures of night activities and long walks along the crystal beaches, there is also the intriguing underwater invitation from the sunken garden of Eden and elegant sea creatures.

It’s no wonder snorkelers and divers from newbies and experienced, travel to the Maldives from all over the world to full-fill a few of their bucket list dreams.

The majority of the dives are drift diving and are mostly done from luxurious liveaboards that take you to remote and exotic locations.

Click Here For The Top Liveaboards in the Maldives For Beginners

Current Swept Channels

Diving from the Scubaspa Ying Liveaboard Video!



The Maldives is one of the world’s renowned drift diving destinations.

The channels can be broad in between the atolls and strong incoming currents mean fresh new plankton soup.  This attracts the larger pelagic sea creatures like the year-round residents like the giant manta rays, the gentle whale sharks, and tunas.

Enchanting forests of different coral and entertaining fish species thrive in currents because of the delicious floating minute drifters.

This is a dream come true for underwater photographers who enjoy the magnificent colorful reefs with caverns, undercuts, swim-throughs and exotic overhangs with gorgonians and sponges.

While most of the dive sites in the Maldives are average to strong currents, there is still something for everyone like the easy gentle currents for snorkelers and the not so experienced divers.

What I really like about the Maldives is its unique diversity in the diving ambiance, for instance…

Blue Lagoons

Beautiful Blue Green Lagoon In The Maldives

Every Maldivian island has a lagoon and while it may not offer much in large pelagic sea creatures, you can still have a great snorkel or have your first memorable dive experience as you learn.

Looking for some calm water? This place is perfect for you or a family member. Here, you will find the body of water is usually quite shallow and sandy and protects the lagoon from strong currents.

Thila

Cave Diving Maldives

Thilas (pinnacles) are fascinating underwater islands.

If you’re looking for some good strong drift dives, look for the small peaks.

These magnificent pinnacles are bejeweled with clinging colorful coral and sponges. They are one of the best places to see caves, tunnels along with resident lobsters, crabs, sharks and large schools of fish.  

Even the hungry wrasse and shrimp set up their cleaning stations in the current. They patiently wait for the large pelagic sea creatures like the manta rays and whale sharks to arrive so they can feed on their dead skin, parasites, and bacteria.

Kandu

Giant Manta Ray With Divers In The Maldives

Another great place for drift diving!  

Anytime you dive around atolls, the border of ring-shaped tiny coral islands or if they’re situated close together, the tidal current changes bringing in a harvest of fresh plankton for the big guys like the manta rays and the whale sharks

When you see the Thia and the Kandu, the strongest currents are here. Want the thrill of your life? Then this is where you need to dive.  Come and watch the most spectacular show of assorted marine fauna whiz before your eyes!

Faru

Drift divers love this place because of the strong current and even snorkelers have a fun time hanging out where it’s not so deep.

A faru is an interesting collection of reefs often appearing in the shape of a horseshoe on a single atoll.

Dive Sites With Diver Skill Rating

Maldives Dive Map

 

Below is a list of some dive sites with their rating. * is easy drift diving and ** medium to difficult *** invites challenges

At Male Atoll

Manta Point (Lankan Beyru) *

Type of drift dive – Easy

Dive level – You can easily learn to dive in lagoons. Beginners to experienced divers and snorkelers. 

Attraction – Manta rays and whitetip reef sharks come to the cleaning station.

Rasfari Corner *

Type of drift dive – Easy

Dive level – You can easily learn to dive in lagoons. Beginners to experienced divers and snorkelers. 

Attraction – Cleaning station for the manta rays. Lots of turtles.

At South Male Atoll

Kandooma Thila ***

Reef hooks and sharks in the Maldives video.. enjoy watching!



Type of drift dive – Challenging

Dive levelGood buoyancy control. You need to be an experienced drift diver and don’t forget to bring your current hooks

Attraction – This is a popular dive site and is considered the best dive site in the South Male Atoll. White tip sharks and grey reef sharks, trevally, jacks, snappers, eagle rays, green turtles, and large schools of fish await you.

Strong currents greater than 5 knots exist with incoming and outgoing current and so you are advised to do a fast descent. You will want to quickly and gently equalize your ears.

Rasdhoo Madivaru ***

Whale Shark And Diver South Ari Atoll Maldives

Type of drift dive – Challenging

Dive level – Good buoyancy control is required. You need to be an experienced drift diver and bring your current hooks.

Do not swim out to the blue and keep your diving along the Madivaru Island reef. The site’s natural layout is intricate and presents many sandy bottoms and appealing reef formations.

Attraction – Reef sharks, huge dogtooth tunas, eagle rays, manta rays, whale sharks

This is a channel drift dive between the Rasdhoo Island and the Madivaru Island that goes out into the open ocean.

Because of this, there are strong currents that are incoming that attract manta rays and whale sharks. You may even be fortunate enough to see hammerhead sharks.

At North Ari Atoll

School Of Blue Stripe Snappers Maldives

Maaya Thila **

Type of drift dive – Medium to difficult current

Dive level – Good buoyancy control is required.  Beginners to experienced divers should be comfortable in the water and familiar with drift diving. 

Attraction – Moray eels, whitetip sharks, snappers, fusiliers, jackfish, turtles, and stingrays.

Fish Head **

Type of drift dive – Medium to difficult current

Dive level – Good buoyancy control is needed.  Beginners to experienced divers should be comfortable in the water and be familiar with drift diving. 

Attraction – Large impressive schools of jacks, snappers, barracudas, tunas, reef sharks and fusiliers. Moray eels and turtles.

Bathalaamaagaa Kanthila ***

Type of drift dive – Challenging

Dive level – Good buoyancy control. Need to be experienced drift diver and bring current hooks. Incoming and challenging outgoing currents.

Attraction – Eagle rays, large jack schools, fusiliers, reef sharks, napoleons

At South Ari Atoll

Manta Point (Moofushi Kandu) **

Type of drift diving – Medium to difficult current

Dive level – Good buoyancy control is needed. Beginners to experienced divers should be familiar with drift diving. 

Attraction – Manta rays at the cleaning station at 46’/14 meters – 82’/25 meters. There are lots of blue striped snappers and fusiliers along with whitetip reef sharks.

Recommendation – Use reef hooks to enjoy taking photos of manta rays.

Kudhimaa Wreck **

Diver In Maldives Wreck

Type of drift diving – Medium to difficult current.

Dive level – Good buoyancy control is needed. Beginners to experienced divers should be familiar with drift diving. Want to do a wreck dive?

Attraction – Located next to the Machafushi House Reef.

A must see dive is the Kudhimaa Wreck. This is a  medium-sized 52m long Japanese cargo steel ship.

Sunk in 1998, the ship is a prisoner to the sea to the delight of divers and sea creatures. It is a competition to supplying homes to corals, sponges, sea squirts and algae.

Pufferfish, lionfish, batfish, boxfish, nurse sharks, eels and the hard to spot rockfish are just some fish who have made this wreck their home.

Large holes have been cut to allow safe entrance and once you’re inside, you will be amazed by the activity of life.

Kudarah Thila ***

Type of drift diving – Challenging

Dive level – You must be able to do a deep dive to 30 meters and have good buoyancy control. This dive is for the experienced drift diver. Bring your current hooks so you can stay awhile to watch a panoramic scene of underwater bliss.

Attraction – Groupers, large schools of snappers, flatworms, jacks, batfish, colorful soft corals, and fusiliers.

This protected site has the most superior diving conditions in the South Ari Atoll. You will definitely want to bring your torch if you want to check out the small caves.

Interesting diverse geography awaits you here with an appealing tunnel crossing,  2 exotic detached blocks and some very large overhangs.

Maamigili Beyru *

Type of drift diving – Easy

Dive level – You can easily learn to dive in lagoons. Beginners to experienced divers and snorkelers. 

Attraction – This is the perfect location to see the world’s largest fish year round, the gentle whale sharks. Specific rules are discussed by your professional tour guide prior to the dive which must be followed.

At Vaavu Atoll

Alimatha House Reef **



Type of drift diving – Medium to difficult

Dive level –  Good buoyancy control is required for beginners and experienced divers. Familiarity with drift diving is required.

Attraction – This is a night dive where you are entertained by a show of nurse sharks and stingrays while you relax and kneel on a beautiful sandy bottom.  

Large groups of jackfish are also performing at a depth of no more than 15m.

Miyaru Kandu ***

Type of drift diving – Challenging

Dive level – Good buoyancy control is required for the experienced diver.

Descend quickly when encountering strong current.

Attraction – Hammerhead sharks, grey reef sharks, turtles, jacks, fusiliers, eagle rays, huge groupers, napoleons, tunas.

Visibility can be as great as 131’/40m (northeast monsoon). Some very exciting caves can be explored in this channel revealing black coral, a distinct potato coral and whip corals and if you look close enough you’ll see moray eels and Glassfish.

Manta rays can be spotted during the southwest monsoon.

Maldives Diving Summary – How You Can Do This!

Best Time To Go: Male Atoll, Maldives – Manta rays and whale sharks can be seen from May to November.

Best Time To Go: Ari Atoll, Maldives – Manta rays and whale sharks are year-round residents

Best Way To Scuba Dive And Do Some Snorkeling: Liveaboards

Departure Port: Male

Water Temperatures: You’re going to love diving and snorkeling in the Maldives! Year-round, it’s 80-86 F/26-30 C

Visibility:

Ranges anywhere from 70’/20m and up but the good part is when the visibility is not so great because of floating plankton, this means manta rays and whale shark are possibly around.

Featured Sea Creatures: Manta rays and whale sharks, hammerhead sharks and other sharks, eagle rays and tuna frequent the open water where currents reside. Napoleon wrasse, groupers, sweet lips, snappers, turtles, moray eels, parrotfish, jacks, fusiliers, glassfish and much more.

Recommendation: If you are new to diving or maybe you consider yourself a novice diver, there are liveaboards in the Maldives perfect for you. You may want to check this out…

Click Here For The Top Liveaboards in the Maldives For Beginners

The great thing about my top recommended liveaboards is they also offer PADI’s Advanced Open Water Diver and Nitrox Courses. If you want to dive a little deeper to examine an underwater wreck and want to be a wee bit more adventuresome… these courses will give you a ton of confidence and improve your buoyancy control.

If you have any stories you would like to share of your vacation to the Maldives or have any questions or comments, it would be awesome to hear from you. Please put them in the Comment Box below.

Thanks for reading!

Monica

 

 

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4 comments

  1. I am new at diving and have my basic open water certification and so far i love it.
    The Maldives and the Indian Ocean are definitely on my list of places to dive.
    do you think it would be a good idea for me to get my advanced open water before visiting the Maldives? Or would my current certification be sufficient to get a great experience there?

    1. Hi Brendon,

      Thank you for reading my article. I glad to hear you are enjoying your diving. To get the best drift dive experience I would say yes, it is an excellent idea to get your Advanced Open Water Diver Certification before you dive in the Maldives. You can go on PADI’s website and sign up in their eLearning. You can learn all the sections online in which you have a year to complete and do in your own time. After that you can hookup with a dive shop and finish by doing 2 required dives, the Deep dive and the Underwater Navigation dive plus pick out 3 others courses, all part of the Advanced Open Water Diver Certification. Here is an article I wrote on the certification 

      https://joyofscubadiving.com/p

      While you’re on PADI’s website, you might want to also check out PADI’s Buoyancy Control Course because being neutral buoyant will be very important doing your drift diving. They also have a course on Drift Diving which is definitely worthwhile taking. All these courses are going to make you a more confident diver and are lots of fun plus you get more dives in.

      Let me know which course is your favourite.

      Regards,

      Monica

       

       

       

  2. Wow, This is so beautiful, I am looking at taking a course in diving and some of my family members snorkel We’re actually looking at making a trip to the Maldives next year. They way you painted the pictures and the details of the Maldives, I can see myself actually doing it. The video was gorgeous. How long have you been diving? I live in Florida would you suggest anywhere here for beginners.

    1. Hi Brian,

      Thank you for your great comment! You can do your theory on the entry level PADI Open Water Diver Certification online thru PADI’s eLearning. Here is an article that explains how to do it . https://joyofscubadiving.com/d

      When you do the theory online, you have a year to complete and can do it anywhere with internet and a computer. As you go thru each section, you’re given quizzes and at the end you’ll do the exam. After that, inside PADI’s site, there is a list of dive shops in Florida and other places around the world where you can complete the certification by meeting with a professional dive instructor to get familiar with your dive gear and get to practice dive skills in confined water or pool and then do 4 open water dives accompanies by your instructor.

      I have been diving since 1982 thereabouts… long time…

      Thanks for reading!

      Monica

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