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Scuba Diving the Maldives Islands

8 May 2017
The 26 atolls (ring-shaped reefs) in the Maldives are home to 1192 islands. Tourism is strictly controlled: visitors must stay on registered tourist islands or on a liveaboad boat. There are 85 resorts in the Maldives, but not all of them cater for divers. On those that don't you should be able to dive from a neighbouring resort. It's better to go full board as everything is very expensive, including equipment hire. July and August are cheaper, but the visibility is not as good. The serious diving resorts include Biyadoo - very good food as they grow their own fruit and vegetables and Elaidoo - popular with Germans and Belgians. There is one international airport in the Maldives, on Male.

Diving Maldives Islands: sharks
Sharks on Orimas Thila (Noonu Atoll). Photo credit: Tim Nicholson.

When is the best time to dive the Maldives? You can dive all year. The rainy season is between May and November. The visibility is not as good at this time and there may be strong winds. However, during this time fevers of manta rays congregate at Manta Point on Baros. The best vis. is from December to April: this is high season and prices tend to be higher. The temperature remains fairly constant throughout the year at an average of around 28 °C.

If you are lucky enough to see manta rays you can send your sightings data and images to the Manta Trust's Maldivian Manta Ray Project. The Maldives hosts the world's largest known population of reef manta rays and a large population of oceanic mantas, with over 4500 individuals and 50,000 sightings in the national database.

Compare prices of Maldives Liveaboards.

Diving regulations in the Maldives are strict - the maximum depth for diving is 30 meters. Make sure that you have suitable travel insurance for diving.

In July 2011 Baa Atoll, which comprises 75 islands, was declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Biosphere reserves are sites that promote sustainable development based on local community efforts and sound science. Baa Atoll covers an area of around 1200 km2.

Of the seven species of marine turtles in the world, five species have been recorded in the Maldives, the green turtle (Chelonia mydas), hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata), olive ridley turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea), loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta) and leatherback turtle (Dermachelys coriacea). Baa Atoll is the best place to see them, with most frequent sightings being of hawksbill turtles. 1

The Maldives contains around 3% of the world’s coral reefs and the islands are considered particularly at risk of climate change because they are low-lying and threatened by sea level rises.

Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry into the Maldives.

Rate the Diving in the Maldives:

* * * * * (158 votes, 4.9/5)

Dive Sites of the Maldives Maldives Diving Operators and Liveaboards Maldives Accommodation Books to Take to the Maldives Your Comments and Reviews Underwater photos of the Maldives Find a Hotel in the Maldives

Longnose hawkfish in the Maldives
The shy Longnose Hawkfish. Photo credit: Suzanne Challoner.

"Over 60% of visitors to the Maldives participate in diving of one form or another, and 80% in snorkelling. To the best of my knowledge there is only a small handful of resorts that do not have a diving base actually on the Island and on these few your are still able to SCUBA dive in connection with neighboring resorts. During my two years there at three different resorts we had at least 30% of the guests who were certified divers and another 10 to 20% who at least tried it during their stay. Snorkellers were a bit more difficult to judge as far as percentages but I would guess at least half of the islands guests participated in such activities.
As far as cost it is comparable to diving in UK waters with Open Water course running between 150 and 350 Pounds depending of course on the grade of the Island. The cheapest being the larger resorts such as Sun Island, Male itself and Kuredu and the most expensive being the Hilton Rangali and comparable five plus star resorts. ".
Paul Dollar

Maldives Diving Operators and Liveaboards

Liveaboard
Dive Club Maldives Pvt. Ltd
Liveaboard
Emperor Serenity

New luxury yacht introduced in September 2016. Thirteen cabins with internet and nitrox. Read More…

Emperor Serenity Liveaboard in the Maldives


Review

Liveaboard
MV Leo

World class diving in the central and southern Maldives. Internet and free nitrox. Can accommodate 24 divers in 12 cabins. Read More…


Review

Liveaboard
Emperor Voyager Maldives

Leaving from Male, the M/V Emperor Voyager liveaboard has 10 cabins, all with air conditioning, a fan and en-suite bathroom. She also offers a home theatre with comfy sofas on the upper deck and an outside dining area with amazing sea views. Free Nitrox available. Read More…

Emperor Voyager Liveaboard in the Maldives

See prices and availability…

Review

Liveaboard
Lets Go Maldives Pvt. Ltd.
Liveaboard
Carpe Diem Maldives

Carpe Diem has 10 cabins spread out over three decks and can accommodate up to 20 guests. Offers year round dive diving at some of the best dive sites in the Maldives. The experienced dive staff show divers everything from pelagics like mantas, sharks and whale sharks to tiny shrimps, nudibranchs and ghost pipe fishes. Most dive itineraries include stops at Kudarah Thila, Manta Point, Maaya Thila, Fish Head and the Machafushi wreck. More…

Carpe Diem Liveaboard in the Maldives

Carpe Diem Maldives Pvt. Ltd.
H. Coal Field 1st floor/B
Kalhuhuraa Magu, 20085
Male, Maldives
Tel: +(960)3300883
Fax: +(960)3306747
Skype: mvcarpediem
E-mail: [email protected]
See prices and availability…

Reviews:

"I was on a fantastic liveaboard with Carpe Diem"
Mary Grice, September 2015
Liveaboard
Island Safari 1

Reviews: 4 Star Rating: Recommended (1)

"The crew was great and I would definitely dive with them again. "
, Washington DC
Liveaboard
Blue Force 1

Blue Force Diving.

Luxury liveaboard.
Book now pay later

Review…

Liveaboard
Maldives Oceanic Dreams Pvt Ltd.

Maldives Oceanic Dreams Pvt Ltd.
Tel: +960 786 0513
Fax: +960 331 41 01
E-mail

Liveaboard whose routes incluede Male, Felidhe, Mulaku, Ari and Baa atolls.

Review…

Liveaboard
Maldives Travel Cruise Pvt Ltd

Maldives Travel Cruise Pvt Ltd
M.Seenukarankaage
4th Floor B Apartment
Tel: +960 771 052
Fax: +960 330 933
E-mail

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Liveaboard
Sailing Tours Pvt. Ltd

Sailing Tours Pvt. Ltd
Abdulla Ibrahim
Ma Uivashaage
Tel: + 960 332 5468
Fax: ++ 960 331 8997
E-mail: [email protected]

Offer liveaboard diving safaris around the Maldives. Also handle inbound tours to Maldivian resorts

Review…

Liveaboard
Sachika

Sachika
Tel: +960 771 1306
Fax: + 960 334 2951
E-mail: [email protected]
E-mail

Luxury liveaboard in the Maldives.

Review…

Liveaboard
Oceantree Maldives

Oceantree Maldives
E-mail: [email protected]

Liveaboards in the Maldives.

Review…

Liveaboard
Ocean Oasis

Ocean Oasis
Blue Horizon
Mudhdhoo
Tel: +960 332 1169
Fax: +960 332 8797
E-mail: [email protected]

Tour the inner and outer atolls of the Maldives. Offer up to 3 dives a day and one weekly night dive.

Review…

Liveaboard
Princess Ushwa

Oasis Holiday Maldives Pvt Ltd
M. Daaf Store No1 Building
Tel: 00 960 330 9697
Fax: 00 960 332 9697
E-mail

Princess Ushwa is Dive Liveaboard from Maldives.

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Liveaboard
Submaldives Pvt. Ltd.

G. Aima
7th Floor
Banafsa Magu
Male'
Republic of Maldives
Tel: +960 791 7953
E-mail: [email protected]
http://submaldives.com/en/

Operate Dive Safaris in the Maldives with 4 boats, including one luxury Cruise of 47 meters.

Review…

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Diving Packages
Dive Club Maldives Pvt. Ltd
Dive Club Maldives

H. Sunaaru (Ground Floor)
Guleynooran Magu
20079
Male'
Maldives
Tel: 009607785165
Fax: 009603320344
[email protected]

Dive Club Maldives offers affordable dive packages for Male' region, Ari Atoll and Laamu Atoll.

Dive Club Maldives

Dive Club Maldives Pvt. Ltd. is a registered local company in the Maldives. The company's main focus is on diver training, recreational scuba diving and water sports related activities for an affordable price in the Maldives. The company holds Dive Center Operating License issued by the Ministry of tourism and a PADI International Resort & Retailers Association (IRRA) membership. This membership entitles the company to a PADI 5 Star Dive Resort status. The company operates out of a fully functional diving facility based in Hulhumale, Ukulhas island and Laamu Atoll with an operational capacity to support up to 30 divers.

Review…

Northern Maldives > Haa Alifu Atoll
Manafaru

Manafaru

Reviews

"The resort is 5*+ and so is the dive school and it's staff. Been there July 2009."
Ed

Maldives
Baros Diving

Baros Diving
PO Box 2015
Male 20-02
Republic of Maldives
Tel: +960 664 2672
Fax: +960 664 3497
E-mail: [email protected]

Review…

South-East Ari Atoll > Vilamendhoo
Werner Lau Vilamendhoo

Werner Lau Vilamendhoo
South-East Ari Atoll
Republic of Maldives
Tel: +960 668 0637
Fax: +960 668 0637
E-mail: [email protected]

Review…

Villingili
Divers Lodge Maldives

Divers Lodge Maldives
Island of Villingili
Republic of Maldives
E-mail: [email protected]
Tel or sms (+960)7784264 and (+960) 7782232

" Located in the small Island of Villingili, an 8 minute ferry ride from the Capital Male. This dive school is in easy access for the tourists and expatriates who stay on the Capital Island. We offer dive courses and boat dives to the most famous dive spots around, including the Manta point and wrecks."
Divers Lodge Maldives, 2012

Review…

Northern Maldives > Haa Alifu Atoll
Manafaru

Manafaru

Reviews

"The resort is 5*+ and so is the dive school and it's staff. Been there July 2009."
Ed

Male
Trip Concept Pvt Ltd

Trip Concept Pvt Ltd
H.Mehelige#03
3rd Floor
Kurangi Goalhi
Male
Maldives
Tel: +9607771996
Fax:+9603316153
E-mail: [email protected]

Review…

South Male Atoll
Manta Divers

Manta Divers
Guraidhoo
South Male Atoll
Tel: +960 784 3706
[email protected]

Manta Divers offer all PADI courses and individual fun dives. The dive centre is located in the South Male Atoll, Guraidhoo. We combine experience, passion and fun surrounded by a fantastic underwater scenery bursting with an amazing marine life, while not compromising on any safety standards.


Dive Sites of the Maldives

Diving the Maldives Deep South

Most Maldives liveaboards visit the Central Atolls of the Maldives. What if you want to be different and explore the diving deeper in the south?

Everything south of Male is considered to be one of the South Atolls. However, the true southern pearls are the Huvadhoo, Foahmulah and Addu Atholhu atolls. So, what makes the deep South special? It's simple: diving is just much better far from the madding crowd! The further south the fewer people. There are more unspoiled healthy corals and the environment is a little wilder.

Maldives Shark

When to dive the Deep South Maldives?

The best time to go is from February to April, because there is little wind during these months. As the south atolls are so lost in an open ocean, the channels are wider and calm weather is crucial when it comes to diving.

Getting There

International flights go to Male. You may have to take a local flight if the port of departure is elsewhere. Another option is an extended trip – departing from Male.

Choosing a Deep South Liveaboard

Maldives liveaboard, Emperor Leo

There are not many liveaboards operating in the deep south, and the season is short, so it is well to book well in advance. These boats all visit the south Maldives: Scubaspa Yang, Blue Force I, Emperor Leo, Emperor Virgo, Manta Cruise, Duke of York and Carpe Novo.

Compare prices of Maldives Deep South liveaboards

Huvadhoo Atoll
Nilandhoo Kandu

Huvadhoo - the largest atoll in the south - is known for beautiful channels full of life. You might see hammerheads and silky sharks during the morning dives, and welcome huge whale sharks under your liveaboard at night.

"A Channel dive with strong currents. Lots of Pelagics. 20-25 grey reef sharks, lots of white tip sharks and 6-7 eagle rays, Napoleons, Trevallys etc. "
Kristian, (Denmark), 2011

For more details see Diving in the Maldives: Huvadhoo - The Forgotten Atoll

Addu Atoll

Addu Atoll is the southern spot of the Maldives. The atoll itself is sufficiently developed, but not crowded by divers. Besides the channels, thilas (underwater islands) and coral walls, Addu is the most famous for diving with mantas.

Fuvahmulah

Fuvahhmulah is a tiny atoll in the heart of the ocean. There are not many dive sites, but you have an extremely high chance of seeing large, pelagic fish. Divers often report thresher sharks, mola mola and tiger sharks. It is also known as Foahmulah or Formullah. See above for liveaboards that visit Fuvahmula

Reviews: 5 Star Rating: Recommended (1)

This ledge in the southern hemisphere is Grand Central Station for oceanic sharks. Though quite deep - it feels like diving in the blue - diving can be interesting even if you stay shallow. In 3 dives we saw a whale shark, 3-4 great hammerheads, 50-70 silver tips sharks, 4-7 tiger sharks and 1 thresher shark. The penetration at this site is like nothing else in the world."
Amisha Gupta, May 2017

Diving Central and North Maldives

Baros
Manta Point

Manta point is off the tiny island of Baros. Its dive centre is Dutch run. The best time of year to see the mantas is between June and November.

"Unbelievable! Dive to about 18 m to a ledge. Then just sit there. The Manta's "fly" all around you, about 5 at any one time, some 3 m across. They are disturbed when you exhale, so you find yourself trying to hold your breath as they approach. But you have to exhale before passing out and they move away again. There is also a resident shoal of yellow fish (sorry, forgot the name) which must number tens of thousands. Once in the middle you are completely disorientated as you can see nothing but these fish! In all, an amazing experience. Have spent a month on the barrier reef, several dives in Thailand, but nothing gets close to Manta Point. "
Nick Matthews
"I dived Manta Point in November 2004. We stayed on Paradise Island which is five minutes from the dive site. I've dived all over the world but this site was amazing. The second time I dived it we had a total of 12 giant mantas circling us, swooping down to the cleaning station then shooting up to the surface. At times as they swoop down you can reach up and stroke their undersides. The currents are quite strong so you have to hold on tight but the photos I got of the Mantas were superb. If you are in the Maldives make a beeline for this site. "
Simon Turner
"I went in June 2005 and had the most phenomenal experience when we were surrounded by over 10 mantas, of an average tsize of 2 m, for almost 30 minutes. They seem to come right at you, turn just before they hit your face. We were told they like to play with divers' bubbles. The experience made up for the poor water visibility during this time of the year. "
Jannie C
"I went to Lohifushi in north male atoll now known as Hudhuranfushi in 2005 and 2006 and dived Manta point 3 times each holiday. The first year we only ever had 2 mantas at any one time but the following year we had 12 mantas on dive 1, 15 on dive 2 and on the third dive had 17 mantas swimming nose to tail to the one in front. MAGIC, the best dive of my life and just glad I had my camera to catch the moment.
Going to Chaaya Lagoon in november 2009 so hope its as good. "

Paul Harris, 2009
Rasdhoo Atoll
Kuramathi
"Kuramathi is a lovely island in Rasdhoo Atoll, just to the north of Ari Atoll in the Maldives. There is an early morning "blue water dive" which the local dive centre is careful to say will give you the CHANCE to see hammerhead sharks. Sadly, they're actually very rare, but I was lucky enough to see one. As for the blue water, well at 30 m at 6 a.m. it's more like a night dive, but apparently they're never seen later in the day. The dive centre has brilliant guides, and they really know how to handle this dive."
Matthew Moore

Diving Kuramathi video by Matthew Moore

Maldives
Ari Atoll
" One of my most memorable dives is swimming with a whale shark Ari Atol"
Ivan Maddocks, 14 January 2017
"A one km long rock with plenty of soft coral and all kinds of reef fishes. In the winter you can often see a lot of big manta rays. A difficult dive with strong currents and visibility not always good. You need to reach the bottom very quickly...a small group of divers is suggested. "
Oliver
Ari Atoll
Kuda Rah Thila
Kuda rah thila is the first protected marine area in the Maldives. A small underwater pinnacle covered with snappers, fusiliers, white tip reef sharks, trevally, bannerfish. Huge overhangs cover both sides of the thila and a small swim through can be found at the east side. Encouters with pelactics are always possible."
Dennis Kaandorp, 2008
North Ari Atoll
Fesdhoo Lagoon

This is the place to see manta rays. At night the boats moor up and shine lights into the water to attract first the plankton and then the manta rays.

Reviews: 5 Star Rating: Recommended (1)

I was on a fantastic liveaboard with Carpe Diem and we stopped at North Ari Atoll, . After sitting at 12m watching the manta feed on the plankton in the torchlight for 45 mins, getting hit by their fins and bodies as they came in so close, we snorkelled with them for a while on the surface and then simply sat, mesmerised, at the back of the boat for hours. Amazing. And one of my lifetime dive highlights."
Mary Grice, September 2015
South Ari Atoll
Maaya Thila
"Best dive in South Ari Atoll, hunting whitetips during nightdive. Small stuff on top of Thila(reef), big stuff at 30 meters. Sharks, rays, etc."
Edwin van Velzen, 2008
South Ari Atoll
7th Heaven
"Deep thila in the South Ari Atoll in the Digurah channel. The most perfect site covered in soft corals. Blue, yellow, pink, orange.. all can be found here. A true advanced dive site due to strong current. Fish all around and mantas swim over your head. "
Dennis Kaandorp, 2008
South Ari Atoll
Vilamendhoo
"The diving on this island is operated by Werner Lau, and they have good, safe staff. They make all divers do 2 basic skills before they are allowed to dive - namely retrieving their regulator and removing and clearing their mask. You'd be surprised how many qualified divers did not want to do this! You can do shore dives around the island, in and out at well marked exit points. Alternatively you can do boat dives, for which there is a US$ 10 charge per boat trip. Two boats go out each day - one for novices, and a second boat for anyone who has more than 40 logged dives and choses to visit a site that is a little more advanced. All dives are guided and good briefings are given. The dive boats can get a little crowded, but still not to the point ot being cattle trucks. The majority of guests on Vilamendhoo are British, German or Japanese. We were lucky, we saw whale sharks and snorkelled with them, plus we did some pretty decent boat dives: some in strong currents which did bring out the larger fish. However, the shore diving was a little disappointing - a large amount of the coral is dead/bleached, which was initially quite shocking to see, although this does not seem to have affected the population of reef fish - as there are plenty, which brings life to the place and colour. The resort itself is ok, not really a party place, there were a few families etc. I'd recommend it. "
Iona Hill
Lhaviyani Atoll
Madivanu Corner
"Strong current, large Napolean Wrasse, reef sharks, shoals of big fish, Stingrays and Eagle Rays. And the chance of an occasional manta or maybe even a hammerhead. "
Mark Goodchild
"Dive in a channel, in the right period schools of Manta rays and whale sharks. "
Nicolas, UK, 2008
Lhaviyani Atoll
Kuredu Express
Maldives diving: Hawksbill turtle
"Pelagic Heaven"
Brendan Lund
"Amazing dive site from the island of Kuredu in the Maldives. Lots of trigger fish soft corals, saw on two occasions large nurse shark, fast current, an exhilarating dive full of colour and beautiful selection of bright fish at 8 m - fantastic! "
Joe
Lhaviyani Atoll
Biyadhoo House Reef
"White tip shark, black tip shark, sting ray, eagle ray, turtles, moray eels and fishes in big proportions."
Jen Gaskin, 2011
Lhaviyani Atoll
Fish Head
"Big soup of fish :)"
Rasmus, Denmark, 2011
Maldives
Donkhalo Thila
"up to 20 mantas dancing round you for an hour ..."
Toby Farnell, 2010
Maldives
Maldive Victory
Maldives diving: wreck
"Dived the Maldive Victory in November 2005 and it was one of the most challenging dives that me and the wife have ever done. There was a 4 knot current and the boat crew had to make a noose for us to hold as we jumped in and then they dragged us to the guide line otherwise we would have been swept away. On descending if we turned to face the way the current was running it tried to pull our mask and regs off.
It's one dive I would love to do again but in calmer seas."
Paul Harris

Squid and Mantas - Night Diving in the Maldives


Maldives Accommodation

For hotels and resorts see the Agoda site...
For more on the different resorts try Resorts of Maldives.

South Male Atoll
Manta Divers
Maldives
Prestige Holidays

Sudetenstr.21 D-64572 Buttleborn
E-mail


Books to Take to the Maldives

Diving in the Maldives: Huvadhoo - The Forgotten Atoll
by Alexander von Mende, 200 pages, 2011
Resorts of the Maldives
by Adrian Neville and Adrian Tatum.
There area over 100 resorts in the Maldives to choose from. Which is the right one for you?
Maldives (Lonely Planet Country Guides)
by Tom Masters, 224 pages, 2012
The Maldive Mystery
by Thor Heyerdahl, 320 pages, 1988
Thor Heyerdahl's account of the culture of ancient Maldives.
Coral Reef Fishes, Indo-Pacific and Caribbean
by Ewald Lieske and Robert Myers, Harper Collins, 400 Pages, Paperback
An excellent, comprehensive guide to reef fishes, which is small and light enough to pack regardless of amount of diving equipment. Highly recommended for anyone wanting to identify the fish they see whilst diving the tropics.
Read the full review...

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1 Review of the Status of Marine Turtles in the Maldives - 2016, Marine Research Centre