The 8 Best Scuba Diving Resorts in the Maldives

Jet-setters, celebrities, honeymooners, and ocean admirers escape to the Maldives for the overwater bungalows, marine life and beaches jeweled with sunshine. In fact, this country is on most people’s bucket lists. If you’re finally planning your trip to paradise, this blog article is for you. We’ve put together a guide for the best scuba diving resorts in the Maldives, so that you can focus on rest and relaxation rather than planning your trip. And without better words, the Maldives literally has it all. Whether that’s a smaller-scale guesthouse or a no expenses spared spa resort, you’ll find it in this part of the Indian Ocean.

best dive resorts in the maldives vilamendhoo

Vilamendhoo Island Resort and Spa, Ari Atoll

Hosted on its own private island and encased in a blue lagoon, Vilamendhoo is a true escape. The room choices are plentiful with beach-front villas, beach villas, garden rooms, and jacuzzi water villas, each of which features fluffy pillows, stunning views, and access to two swimming pools and the onsite spa as well as multiple restaurants and bars. The resort also offers several different all-inclusive dining plans. For this reason, Vilamendhoo truly lives up to its title as one of the best scuba diving resorts in the Maldives.

Furthermore, this resort is passionate about sustainability and marine conservation, with a Manta Trust Marine Biology Center onsite. Plus, a PADI 5-Star Dive Centre is located inside the resort with its own private jetty. In addition, families can also enjoy the children’s play areas and the Vila Memories Photo Studio to capture once-in-a-lifetime moments on the island. Sunset cruises and pelagic life excursions make this an excellent choice for divers and non-divers alike!

best dive resorts in the maldives aveyla

Aveyla Manta Village, Dharavandhoo Island

Aveyla Manta Village is a tranquil guesthouse located on Dharavandhoo Island. It’s a wonderfully affordable yet luxurious resort housing 16 rooms. The smaller scale makes it a soothing escape for those looking for a quieter environment. Beautiful white walls and wooden accents create calming rooms with ocean views.

Liquid Dive Center is an onsite PADI 5-Star Centre, just moments away from the rooms. Diving trips offer high chances of spotting mantas, guitar sharks, false killer whales and macro life. An additional feature of Aveyla is the resort’s unique sustainable power solution of solar panels. Plus, reaching the resort is easy thanks to included transfers from Dharavandhoo Airport when booking through PADI Travel.

To find out more about marine life sightings throughout the Maldives, check out our dive guide here.

best dive resorts in the maldives white sand

White Sand Dhigurah, Dhigura Island

For a cozier, chic guest house, White Sand Dhigurah is our top choice for the best scuba diving resort in the Maldives. The guest house has 23 rooms of different sizes and is a perfect choice for affordable holidays in the Maldives. Firstly, it’s situated on Dhigurah Island, with surrounding waters offering the opportunity to see whale sharks and mantas! Maldivian, Asian and Western cuisine is offered at the roof terrace restaurant with bed & breakfast, half board and full board dining plans available.

Just minutes from the resort lies South Ari Atoll’s White Sands Beach, an ideal spot for snorkelling and relaxing. For divers, the Oceanholic dive centre is within walking distance from the guest house.

best dive resorts in the maldives meeru

Meeru Island Resort and Spa, North Male Atoll

Heading slightly north, we reach Meeru Island Resort and Spa, situated on Meerufenfushi Island. This island is a hotspot for manta cleaning stations and boasts awesome underwater topography. On any given dive trip, you might explore channel diving, revel in shark sightings or spot macro life in overhangs. This atoll is one of the best Maldives atolls for diving.

Above all, this resort boasts the all-star Maldivian experience with waterfront villas and jacuzzi beach villas. Not only are the rooms and location stunning, but the resort has its own onsite museum displaying cultural artifacts. Plus, the resort offers six different dining venues, from casual dining to evening best as well as a room service menu. Plus, Euro-Divers Meeru is an onsite PADI 5-Star Dive Center, offering PADI courses, fun dives and more.

best dive resorts in the maldives zero degree fuvahmulah

Zero Degree Residence, Fuvahmulah

Fuvahmulah is one of the Maldives’ best spots for pelagic life – in particular tiger sharks. This unique diving destination is often dubbed the “Shark Island” of the Maldives, with no special seasons needed to spot pelagics. Zero Degree Residence is a bed-and-breakfast-style resort with 11 rooms (full board meal plans available). Before diving, you can enjoy breakfast on the outdoor terrace, with vegans and gluten-free diets being catered for.

Rooms at Zero Degree Residence feature WiFi, luxurious sheets and some include jacuzzi baths. Guests rave about the large, spacious rooms, airport transfers (additional cost required), and options for island tours during your stay. Lastly, Fuvahmulah Dive is the associated offsite PADI 5-Star Dive Center.

best dive resorts in the maldives plumeria

Plumeria Maldives, Thinadhoo Island

Plumeria Maldives ticks all the boxes when it comes to an unforgettable diving holiday paired with the ultimate in R&R. Situated on the tiny Thinadhoo Island, you’ll have a private beach and quiet surroundings. The island itself has just four resorts, providing a less crowded Maldivian experience. All of the 64 rooms at Plumeria Maldives include jacuzzi hot tubs and sea views, living up to its title as one of the best scuba diving resorts in the Maldives! Additionally, bicycles are offered free of charge to explore the island on your own time.

The Plumeria Diving and Watersports onsite dive centre will take you to explore renowned sites in the nearby Vaavu Atoll. Expect to see mantas, sharks and the largest intact barrier reef in the Maldives: Fotteyo Falhu.

best dive resorts in the maldives hotel riu atoll

Hotel RIU Atoll, Dhaalu Atoll

Experience a vacation in an overwater bungalow at the Hotel RIU Atoll! The resort features over 250 rooms, some on the main island and many junior overwater suites extending off the island. Guests can bathe in the surrounding ocean or enjoy the swim-up pool bar surrounded by in-water and pool-side sun loungers. Massages, jacuzzis and 24-hour lounges add to Hotel RIU’s extensive list of attractions.

With an onsite, PADI 5-Star Dive Center, ScubaCaribe Maldives, water-lovers can dive and snorkel with surrounding marine life. Think turtles, dolphins, whitetip reef sharks and mantas in this region. Lastly, this also features free WiFi.

best dive resorts in the maldives kuredu

Kuredu Resort and Spa, Lhaviyani Atoll

One of Kuredu’s most tantalising features is the onsite diversity; from room types to restaurants and activities. All budgets are catered for in this 387-room resort, with 9 room types available. For the ultimate luxury, guests can choose a Water Villa on the sunset side of the island. Equally stunning are the Garden Bungalows and Beach Villas, all with customiseable diving packages through PADI Travel.

The surrounding ocean is generous in its underwater kingdom with chromatic reefs, channels, wrecks and marine life. Kuredu Prodivers dive center is onsite, offering recreational diving as well as the PADI Instructor Development Course if you’re looking to become a PADI Pro in the Maldives!

Ready for Your Luxe Escape?

Contact PADI Travel to explore your options for your next getaway to this garland of islands. Soak in an overwater jacuzzi at Vilamendhoo Island Resort, or cycle around Thinadhoo Island at Plumeria Maldives. For quieter escapes, head to Aveyla Manta Village or spot tiger sharks at Zero Degree Residence. The Maldives awaits you.


Find the best Diving Sites in Maldives

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With warm, crystal clear waters, white-sand beaches, and island after island to discover and explore, the Maldives is a scuba lover’s paradise.

This archipelago nation in the Indian Ocean is comprised of 26 atolls and more than 1200 islands, of which only 200 or so are inhabited.

Under the turquoise water’s surface, a wealth of marine biodiversity greets visitors. From large pelagics such as sharks and manta rays to tiny, hidden nudibranchs and shrimp, no matter what your diving passion is, you’re sure to find it here.

While you can dive in the Maldives year-round, for the best conditions and more mantas and whale sharks, plan your trip in February, March, or April.

Wondering which sites to tick off your Maldives bucket list? Here’s our pick of the bunch.

The 20 Best Dive sites in Maldives?

Maaya Thila

One of the most popular dives in the Maldives and often featured in world top-ten lists, Maaya Thila’s reputation exists for good reason. The world-class pinnacle is teeming with life including turtles, frogfish, and sharks. Combine wow-moment marine life with awesome geographic features and you have an idea of what to expect.

The reef itself spans about 80m/252ft diameter (small enough that divers can explore most of it in one go, currents permitting) and starts at just 6m/20ft deep. The wall slopes down to around 30m/98ft deep, making it suitable for beginners and advanced divers alike.

Things to see

The big drawcard here is the white-tip reef sharks. On a good day, up to 20 of these sharks patrol the reef. Also circling the pinnacle looking for food are grey reef sharks and the occasional guitar shark.

Take your camera because the caves and overhangs on Maaya Thila house giant frogfish, up to 30cm/11” long. Divers can also spot Moorish idols, turtles, mantas, triggerfish, barracuda, nudibranchs and much much more.

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Cocoa Thila

Situated on the eastern edge of South Male Atoll is Cocoa Thila. This pinnacle stretches to a whopping 400m/1312ft and slopes down to a drop-off 30m/98ft deep. Strong currents make this site better suited to advanced and experienced divers but those same currents are responsible for the wide variety of marine life found here.

Geographic features include craggy overhangs, ravines, and crevices, all of which provide a brief respite from the current. Divers should keep their eyes on the blue — that’s where the magic happens.

Things to see

The pelagics love a current so expect schools of tuna and trevally in the deeper blue water. Eagle rays flying past in formation and grey reef sharks are also a possibility. Not to mention the odd turtle here and there.

A little closer to the reef, rock cod, fusiliers, sweetlips, and snapper hang in large groups, only breaking formation when divers get a bit too close.

Alimatha Jetty

Like Maaya Thila, this site on Vaavu Atoll is a great spot for a night dive. Thanks to the Alimatha Resort kitchen’s practice of cleaning fish on the jetty, local marine life now congregates under the planks hoping for an effortless feed.

While one has to question the validity and eco-credentials of this, it must be said that being under the jetty at night is spectacular. Our top tip is to do this dive in the offseason, during peak season, you’ll see just as many divers as you will fish and sharks. A shallow dive, with a max depth of 15m/49ft, this is a suitable site for bold beginners.

Things to see

Nurse sharks, giant trevallies and marble rays cruise around and between divers, whipping themselves into a feeding frenzy. Sometimes, the creatures even bump divers accidentally because of their excitement.

Kandooma Thila

At around 300m/985ft long, this submerged island sitting around 12m/40ft under the surface may take you a couple of trips to fully explore. Most dive centers and liveaboards focus their attention on the north and west walls. Here, divers can explore Jack’s Corner, a well-loved cave at 24m/78ft carpeted in soft corals.

Exploring the rocky outcrops off the main island is worthwhile too as numerous green sea turtles come here to take a rest or have some lunch. Currents can be strong so this site is better for advanced and experienced divers.

Things to see

Apart from the green sea turtles, the current, which largely results from the island’s position at the base of a channel, draws in all sorts of larger marine life. Like many sites in the Maldives, you can expect a few sharks, maybe a manta or two in the blue and eagle rays. The coral here is spectacular and deserves as much attention as the marine life.

Macro photographers who find shelter from the current by the cave entry should keep an eye on the soft corals, lots of life hides in these.

Banana Reef

In many ways, Banana Reef on North Male Atoll is the Maldives dive. It is one of the first sites that started attracting visitors and divers from around the world and it offers a sample of everything that makes diving in the Maldives great: corals, caves, big fish, and overhangs.

We love Banana Reef because it’s accessible to all, even snorkelers can get their fins wet at this relatively sheltered site. The reef starts at just 5m/16ft and drops to a maximum of 35m/114ft. Along the sloping walls, divers find deep crevices, cracks, and excellent coral cover.

Things to see

All those hiding holes on the reef make good homes for moray eels while sharks and groupers tend to hang out in the blue close to the reef. Jacks congregate en masse and snapper and wrasse dart in and out of the corals. Napoleons are frequently spotted here, too.

Another thing you should expect to see on Banana is people. This site’s accessibility is the same thing that makes it so popular with day-trippers, divers, and snorkelers.

Fish Head

Fish Head, also known as Shark Point and Mushimasmingili Thila, is widely known as one of the very best shark dives in the Maldives. It’s also one of those bucket-list dives that many scuba travelers have on their must-dive list.

Although this pinnacle is small and reaches down to just 36m/118ft, the walls are encrusted with corals and sport enough overhangs and caves to warrant several dives here. Because the sharks were once fed here (thankfully, a tradition that has now ended) up to 20 grey reef sharks patrol the reef at any one time. Fish head gives divers a chance to see these creatures up close and personal.

Things to see

Apart from the sharks, Fish Head is packed with prolific marine life including schooling fusiliers, trevally, barracuda, and huge Napoleon wrasse.

Coral aficionados will love the sea fans and black corals while those looking to find Nemo will revel in the anemone city at the top of the reef.

Hammerhead Point

This demanding dive holds great rewards for experienced divers — the chance to be in the water with dozens of schooling hammerheads. Unlike their larger, solitary cousins, scalloped hammerheads group together in the Maldives’ waters.

The outer reef is situated in Rasdhoo Atoll and the clear waters drop sharply down to around 200m/650ft. Divers willing to tackle the currents here are in the perfect spot to see any passing pelagic life. Most often, this dive is run early in the morning for the best chance of seeing the sharks.

Things to see

Schooling or scalloped hammerheads are the main attraction here but manta rays, grey reef sharks, and giant trevally also grace the drop off on occasion.

Bathala Thila

This long but narrow underwater island in the middle of Ari Atoll is a must-dive for the macro photographer. It’s also a great dive to spot giant trevally and jacks hunting and hanging out in the current.

The currents can be strong, especially during a tidal change but this draws in the huge school of fusiliers who make this site their home. What divers really come to Bathala for though is the smaller stuff.

Things to see

Nudibranchs, flatworms, slugs, sea hares, shrimp, and more mean macro lovers will be in their element. On the north side, hiding around 15 to 20 meters deep, rare and reclusive leaf fish can also be found.

Manta Point

No best-of-the-Maldives list is complete without Manta Point (not to be confused with Manta Point in Nusa Penida, Indonesia). This famous manta cleaning station is a drawcard for divers around the world who flock here to see the gentle giants. The reef itself is excellent as well, so there’s something for everyone.

Emas Thila, the local name, runs about one kilometer long and during the north-east monsoon season, the rays congregate at 15 to 30 meters (49-98ft) on the north-west side of the submerged island. The gently sloping reef gives way to a sheer drop off but it’s at around 20m/65ft where all the action is. Elsewhere on the reef, crevices, channels, and caves hide a wealth of marine life.

Things to see

Apart from mantas, divers can spot vibrant soft corals, sea whips, dog-tooth tuna, Napoleon wrasse, sharks, and trevally. Keep an eye out for schools of sweetlips, red bass, masked bannerfish, and emperor fish on the reef. The occasional turtle cruises past, too.

Kuda Giri Wreck

While the Maldives may be best known for large pelagic life and all the whale sharks and mantas you can point your camera at, there a few wrecks here too.

We like Kuda Giri because it’s an accessible dive that suits beginners and those looking for a respite from the big currents on most Maldivian dive sites. The intact steel hull of this cargo ship sits tilted on its side and provides a home to all sorts of interesting creatures.

Things to see

On the decks, you’ll find a carpet comprised of lots of colorful sponges and sea squirts. Glassfish, gobies, batfish, and frogfish are some of the smaller creatures while turtles and humphead wrasse are also present. The neighboring pinnacle often houses octopuses and the occasional leaf fish.

Rainbow Reef

Also known as HP Reef and Girifushi Thila, this famous drift dive in the northern Maldives is named for the vibrant soft corals that adorn the walls. Among the many soft corals, divers will also find large gorgonian fans and tunicates.

For many, Rainbow Reef is a site that requires more than one dive to properly explore all the overhangs, swim-throughs, and caves. One popular feature is the aptly named ‘chimney’ running from 10 to 24 meters (32-78ft).

Things to see

In the blue, eagle rays, tuna, barracuda, and grey reef sharks can be seen. Closer to the reef itself and taking harbor in the many crevices are octopuses, moray eels, lionfish, angelfish, snappers, and jacks.

Hanifaru Bay

The plankton-rich waters in this bay draw in both manta rays and whale sharks, making it one of the few places in the world where visitors can be in the water with large numbers of each of these creatures at the same time.

We’ve included Hanifaru Bay because between December and May is really is a magical place to visit. However, you won’t be needing a tank just snorkeling gear as diving in the bay is now prohibited by the Maldivian government. This doesn’t make a trip to the bay less of an experience, though.

Things to see

Apart from a lot of manta rays and whale sharks (as if that wasn’t enough) grey reef sharks and stingrays also use the bay as their Maldives nursery ground.

Fotteyo Kandu

A narrow but deep channel on the eastern side of Vaavu Atoll, Fotteyo Kandu is a favorite among dive guides and instructors working in the Maldives because it’s always a people pleaser.

The dramatic caverns, overhangs, swim-throughs, and caves make for an exciting dive. Plus, the channel is home to a wealth of interesting marine creatures. The current can be strong but beginners with a high comfort level should be easily capable of making this dive.

Things to see

Large potato and coral groupers lurk in the dark overhangs or sit in the current looking for a meal. Hammerheads might be around at the beginning of the channel or the occasional dolphin could pass by. Divers can also see eagle rays, sharks, and titan triggerfish — one creature they might be less excited about.

The Victory Wreck

In 1981, a 100-meter-long cargo ship from Singapore sank after hitting Hulhule Reef. The captain, anticipating a safe passage decided to follow another vessel but made a critical error. Now the wreck of the Victory rests between 12 and 35 meters (39-114ft) and is home to a thriving reef system.

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Because the wreck is located in a channel, the currents can be kicking. However, the ship offers some shelter while divers are exploring. The wreck was closed for three years but is now diveable again.

Things to see

Macro photographers love the Victory for its ghost pipefish and nudibranchs. The hull is encrusted with corals of all kinds so macro critters have plenty of places to hide. Bigger creatures include turtles, pufferfish, batfish, and schooling fusiliers.

Vadhoo Caves

Want to combine a drift dive with an exploration of deep overhangs and a large cave? Vadhoo is the site to visit for that. Along the northern wall, a series of caves and crevices are open to divers as the current pushes them along. Depths vary from 7 to 40 meters (22-131ft) so there are spots to examine at all levels.

The dive usually ends at a colorful reef where smaller crevices hide macro critters, the perfect place for a safety stop. This site is best reserved for divers with excellent buoyancy control.

Things to see

Look out for unicornfish, soldierfish, and turtles in the overhangs and keep an eye on the entrances as tuna, white-tip reef sharks, and eagle rays often swim past.

Sun Island

The Maldives is one of the best places in the world to see whale sharks, and Sun Island is one of the best sites in the Maldives to spot these gentle giants. No scuba experience is necessary as Sun Island is open to both snorkelers and divers.

The island’s southern side is open to the Indian Ocean and has a shallow plateau at 5 to 10 meters (16-32ft), the ideal spot to wait for the sharks to pass by. Try to get here in the week before a full moon for the best chance of seeing the creatures.

Things to see

If whale sharks aren’t enough of a drawcard, the occasional manta, shark, or turtle is also likely to pass by the plateau in the deeper water.

Kuredu Express

As you might have guessed from the name, Kuredu Express is a fast drift dive. Located on Lhaviyani Atoll, the site features a sandy channel and a reef with good spots to hang out at different levels, perfect for stopping to watch the pelagic life pass.

At just 5m/16ft deep on the reef’s top and dropping down to around 35m/114ft, the site offers lots of areas to explore and some pretty impressive marine life.

Things to see

The fast-flowing Maldivian waters house grey sharks, dog-tooth tuna, and Napoleon wrasse. Look out for the schooling jacks, snapper, and butterflyfish closer to the walls. On the reef’s edges, leaf fish can be seen.

Fuvahmulah Atoll

If you’re feeling adventurous, Fuvahmulah, a single-island atoll in the far south of the Maldives will reward your efforts with some unparalleled shark diving. Like the Galapagos and Cocoa, this island near the equator is swarming with large pelagic life.

All the dive sites here are still being discovered and, so far at least, this island is not well known. We suspect that will change soon as more and more divers discover how epic the diving is.

Things to see

Tiger sharks, mola mola, oceanic whitetips, threshers, hammerheads, reef sharks, and much more much this island a pelagic lover’s dream.

Embudhoo Kandu

Not too far northeast of South Male Atoll is the Embudhoo channel, the best location to spot sharks in this atoll.

Divers generally drop to 30m/98ft on the south side to shark watch. That’s not the only attraction here, the current also pushes past caverns and caves coated in soft corals and sponges. The dive is best on the incoming tide when the two-kilometer drift is exciting and can run quite fast.

Things to see

The marine protectorate area is home is populations of both white and grey-tip reef sharks. Napoleon wrasse and eagle rays also pass in the blue while closer to the reef, turtles, octopuses, morays and schooling snapper can be found.

Fesdhoo Lagoon

Fesdhoo is known for its visiting manta rays and liveaboard boat captains know it. Often dived at night, the vessels moor and then use high powered lights to attract plankton to the surface. In turn, the plankton attracts mantas.

Divers hover in the shallow water as the rays bump and glide over their heads to feed on the riches. Check with your dive center or liveaboard before making this night dive as at certain times of the year, the site can be a bit crowded.

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What are your favorite dive sites in the Maldives? Did we miss anything important?

Drop us a comment below and let us know why you love diving in the Maldives!

Scuba Diving in the Maldives | Complete Guide

Diving in the maldives is the most popular way to see the underwater world. Here, every dive tourist can find something suitable for each level of diving abilities.
If you love diving, you will surely be thrilled by the gentle slopes of these sea gardens where you can observe endemic species: barracudas, moray eels, turtles and large schools of tropical fish. You will also be surprised by the many species of sharks or even tuna.

Table of consent:

How to get to the Maldives

The Maldives archipelago in the southern Indian Ocean consists of 1,192 coral islands grouped into 26 natural atolls and stretches for about 900 kilometers from north to south. The country’s official language is Dhivehi, with the lingua franca English widely spoken in the tourism sector.

The equator divides the Maldives near the Addu Atoll.

Approximately 200 islands are inhabited by the local people and another 150 islands are fashionable private hotels.

Velana International Airport is located on Hulhule Island to the north of the capital Male. It serves international flights from Europe, the Middle East, Singapore and other regions. On arrival, you will be met at the airport by a representative from your hotel or guest house and escorted to either a seaplane, domestic flight, or speed boat which will take you to your island.

If you are diving from a liveaboard, and your itinerary starts from the Male – no need to go anywhere. The boat representative will assist you directly to your liveaboard.

Best time to dive in the Maldives

Dec-Apr. During the northeast monsoon (known as the dry season which takes place between December till the end of April) trade winds originating in the subcontinent of India carry dry air towards the Maldives archipelago. It’s mostly sunny these days and no clouds. The ocean is calm and there’s almost no wind.

The visibility is up to 50 m in the eastern part of the Maldives and up to 25 m. in the western part.

Most certainly water visibility is also going to be dependent on both the weather, location, tides and the time of year. On any given dive, you can go from pretty clear water (up to 50m) to only up to 15-20m.

NOTE: The prices at this time of the year are significantly higher compared to the May-Nov season.

May-Nov. The southwest monsoon season from May to November brings with it a lot of rain. During this time the current is stronger. Also, marine life is more active in the west part of Maldives.

The visibility is going down during May-July due to the plankton brought by the current.

The manta rays and whale sharks will be found off the Eastern edge of the Maldives atolls.

The rates for accommodation or liveaboard trips are the lowest. Also, the majority of boats are doing yearly maintenance at docs.

Aug-Nov is considered the best time to go to Hanifaru Bay to see hundreds of manta rays gathering for feeding. Sometimes, whale sharks are coming as well, but not as regularly, like 10 years ago. Also, it’s the best time to go to the far Southern part of Maldives (Fuvahmulah) to observe tiger sharks.

Discover diving in the Maldives

The Maldives is a dreamy dive location which makes it the ultimate place for divers who want to experience something more challenging. Due to the medium to strong currents, you will have to do certain things before you start your dive.

These include a negative entry, where you will have to descend immediately after entering the water and experiencing a weightless moment. Drift diving is very common in the Maldives, so make sure you don’t run low on air during your long drives!

The depth is 20m to 40m (66-131 feet) which any diver from an entry-level diver to an advanced diver can enjoy.

Diving conditions in the Maldives

The temperature of water: 25-30 C
Visibility: 20-50m (depends on dive site, current, time of year, etc.)
Depth: 10 – 35m
Current: no current – strong current, most dives are drifted dives. The current may vary within a day/time of year/moon phase


Dive environment in the Maldives

In the Maldives, you can dive in calm, safe waters, or you can feel a true sense of adventure by diving with sharks and manta rays. Below are some of the dive environments offered:

Channels (Kandu)

The Maldivian channels are effectively natural canals connecting the ocean and the interior waterways of the atolls. The width of such channels usually varies from 100 to 400 meters and they’re 30-40 meters in depth. This type of formation is typical for islands located on the perimeter of lagoons, where the water flow does not nearly move in a circular motion. Moreover, you can find several special types of diving spots in channels, which are quite similar to permanently open coral passages. It should be better to hang with a diving hook on the bottom of Kandu.

It happens that a very strong current can even pull out the regulator from your mouth. One of the best channels is Fotteo and Golden Wall, Vaavu Atoll. You can read more here – Azalea Cruise diving trip.

The Faru is situated in the water surrounding the atolls, deep and shallow, hard and soft corals. You drift with the current and constantly find new creatures that are hiding in the crevices of the reef.

A giri, also known as a reef tombolo or an atoll lagoon, is a type of mostly submerged coastal landform. Giri is separate from the island reef the top of which can be seen from the surface. Giri pinnacles are accessible to all divers.


Thila: a big coral rock usually found in deep water (20m – 40m ) under the ocean surface. Thilas are similar to giris, but are larger, deeper and more with far-reaching ridges and corners. They produce many interesting dive features along their length and breadth, including arches, swim-throughs and huge overhangs in places. They are the most fascinating of all sites wherever they exist.

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Have you ever dreamed of exploring a wreck underwater? Now you can. There are not so many wrecks in Maldives, but they are fascinating! This is a very well-kept secret and you won’t find much information about them on the web. Although wreck diving isn’t popular with casual divers. All instructors of dive centers know the locations. The most popular wrecks are:

Kuda Giri (near Anantara Dhigu)
Halaveli Wreck (near Constance Halaveli Maldives)
Fesdu wreck (near W Maldives Resort)
British loyalty (Addu City Atoll)
The Liffey and The Utheemu (near Kudahuvadhoo)
Khuda Maa (near Centara Grand Island Resort & Spa)

Marine life in the Maldives

Mantas and whale sharks are year-round residents in Maldives, drawing divers and snorkelers to the country. These gentle giants are among the most spectacular marine animals in the world; they are truly remarkable animals to see.


Manta Rays

The Maldives is home to the largest population of manta rays (Manta alfredi) in the world with an estimated 5000 to 7000 species! It is equally possible to come across Manta alfredi and Manta birostris in exactly the same place. Anyway, they are slightly different.

You may see manta rays almost everywhere in any atoll. They even come almost every day (especially during the monsoon) to the clearing station which is just next to the capital Malé, near Paradise Island Resort.



Besides manta rays, it is possible to see the biggest fish in the world – whale sharks (Rhincodon typus). In Maldives, the average size is 6-8 m. So far more than 200 whale sharks have been identified and are regularly seen according to the data provided by Maldives Whale Shark Research Programme.

They will generally be observed to the south of the Ari Atoll ( the islands of Sun Island Resort and Spa, Holiday Island Resort and Spa) and Addu City Atoll. Till 2013 it was possible to see these sharks in Hanifaru Bay but since then it’s quite a rare thing (1-2 times a season). But for sure you’ll witness these sharks only in South Ari Atoll. And it is possible to go snorkeling and diving there.


Apart from seeing whale sharks and manta rays diving on the Maldives is a veritable feast of many different species such as gray reef, whitetip, nurse, thresher, hammerhead, and even tiger sharks. Though the former is the second-largest predator after the white sharks, nobody is reported to be hurt in the Maldives. Mostly sharks appear in the kandu channels. But you may see baby sharks even from the shore.

Hammerhead sharks. They’re hard to meet as you need to dive 5-10 minutes before the sunrise in the deepest part of the ocean. If you’re quite lucky you’ll see from 1 to 3 of them. The most popular site to see these sharks is near Rasdhoo. But it depends on the season because locals tell quite controversial things about this site.

Here’s a list of the sites where hammerhead sharks were seen lately:

Fotteyo, Vaavu Atoll;

Dhiyamingili, Thaa Atoll

Rasdhoo, North Ari Atoll

Miyaru kandu, Vaavu Atoll

Gemanafushi Beyru, Gaafu Alif

Most of these sites are available from liveaboards only.

Night diving with sharks. The most popular site for this is Alimatha Jetty, Vaavu Atoll. It’s located near Alimatha Aquatic Resort. Here you may meet a lot of nurse sharks that swim so close that you can even touch them! But the biggest disadvantage of this place is that it is too popular and attracts a lot of divers. So there could be up to 50 divers at a time!



There are more than 600 species of exotic fishes in the Maldives, many of them are found only here. The list includes the barracuda that is usually coming up in shoals, tuna, napoleon fish, parrotfish, variety of moray eels, lionfish and so on.

There is also no lack of smaller marine life and those who delight in the smaller species will find many creatures that you would normally expect to find elsewhere in the world. Ghost pipefish, harlequin rasbora, and halimeda hide discretely amongst the corral waiting for divers to discover them; the same goes for leaf fish and frogfish.

Besides manta rays, you may also see Mobula rays, eagle rays, stingrays, etc. Stingrays are usually fed near resorts and even on the local islands sometimes (for example near Thinadhoo). You may dive with a great number of stingrays at a site between Hulhumale (the airport island) and Sheraton Full Moon. Although it’s obvious that they come to be fed, it’s still an impressive experience!

Maldives atolls and areas for diving

In the Maldives, your eyes will be opened to a diver’s paradise of endless aquatic life. The area is home to over 1200 types of fish, 300 species of coral and 600 different types of crustaceans—giving you a seemingly endless list of marine life to explore. Most itineraries will visit the atolls in North Male’, Central Male’ or South Male’, but there are several other Maldives itineraries that a good travel manager can advise you.

Whatever type of diving you’re doing and whatever your budget, there’s a Maldives itinerary for you. Some of the best dive sites in the Maldives are in the Deep South, however, they cover such a large area that not all of them can be visited on a single trip. Ari Atoll and Male Atoll in the central islands are some of the more popular itineraries and some of the key pelagic spots.

Maldives atolls for diving (from north to south):

  • Ihavandhippolhu Atoll; ;
  • Noonu Atoll;
  • Raa Atoll;
  • Lhaviyani Atoll;
  • Baa Atoll;
  • North Male Atoll;
  • South Male Atoll;
  • Ari Atoll;
  • Vaavu Atoll;
  • Faafu Atoll;
  • Meemu Atoll;
  • Dhaalu Atoll;
  • Thaa Atoll;
  • Laamu Atoll;
  • Huvadhu Atoll;
  • Fuvahmulah Atoll;
  • Addu Atoll;

Dive types in the Maldives

If you would like to dive in the Maldives, there are several options available for you: the liveaboard, from a resort, or the cheapest option is from a local island (stay in a guest house and dive from a local dive center). Let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of each of them.


Liveaboard diving in Maldives

If diving is the main reason for your trip to the Maldives then liveaboard is your perfect choice.

Today liveaboards are very comfortable and some of them, like Scubaspa, positioned themselves as a floating resort with all facilities.

With so many sites in one area, you are sure to see an amazing number and variety of sea creatures each time you dive. You will be able to explore wrecks, plane wrecks and underground caves, visit the perfect dive site at the ideal time for the given sea conditions and seasonal variation. Usually, you will have 3 dives per day plus one night dive per trip.

You may choose from 20+ different routes which go mostly through the central atolls: North Malé, South Malé, Vaavu, Ari Atoll. But several routes lie to the south (Thaa Atoll, Gaafu atoll and further) and to the north (usually Baa и Raa Atolls).

Usually, a liveaboard trip lasts for 7 nights, but also you may do a longer trip for 10 days and the longest one is up to 14 days. The longest trip starts in в Hanimaadhoo (north) and finishes in Addu City (deep south).

In addition to a great diving experience, you will also get to visit some of the resort islands and dine on a sandbank or an uninhabited island somewhere in the middle of the ocean. It’s an excellent way to see both underwater and topside life in the Maldives.

If you choose liveaboard diving, it’s better to have at least 30 logged dives and have a certificate not lower than PADI AOW before you come. That is because many of the dives will take place in currents and in 25-30 m deep.

The starting price for a 7-days trip starts from 1800-2200 $US per person (low season). And around 2400-2600 $US during high season.

Diving from Island Resorts

For a fun-filled holiday in the Maldives where diving is not the main focus but rather a small part of your holiday, you would be best be placed at an island resort. This way there will be a large variety of activities to choose from and will keep you entertained during your surface intervals such as water sports activities, fishing, visiting local or uninhabited islands, etc.

Diving from a private island resort is probably the most comfortable and convenient way to dive.

The resort dive guides are doing diving every day, so they know the area very well.

Each resort will have its own rules and restrictions on who can access their local dive sites — these are in place for good reason and it is highly recommended that anyone who wants to scuba dive at these sites be fully capable and certified.

The obvious disadvantage of diving from these island hotels is the limited number of dive sites that you will be able to dive to.

The second drawback is the price. If you compare it with the price for diving at a local island or a liveaboard it will be 1,5-2 times higher while you also may visit the same site staying at the local island or from a liveaboard.

Shallow Lagoon Rasdhoo a

Diving from inhabited islands

Diving from a local island in the Maldives is the cheapest option. Over the past few years, a new market has developed offering visitors an alternative low-budget holiday. Guesthouses and small local hotels with modern dive centers started to appear.

Now diving is much more affordable. Guesthouses offer the activities and infrastructure that a luxury resort provides and at more considerable prices. So it’s important to plan your trip beforehand if you’re eager to save plenty a lot.
The obvious advantage of local island diving is that it’s cheap and affordable.

What is more, you are given the opportunity to see the life of the local people? Of course, you should be ready to respect their laws and traditions. The Maldivian people are very open-minded and friendly with tourists, they’re eager to help and tell their guests about their island.

You’ll be limited with the choice of diving sites while visiting a local island as well as staying at a resort. However, you may choose from a variety of different dive centers where usually international instructors are working.

Every local island has its tourist infrastructure and a hospital where you can receive first aid. When more serious accidents happen the patient is sent to Malé.




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