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The Maldives, shark

The Maldives, marble ray

The Maldives, octopus

The Maldives, spiny lobster and soldierfish

The Maldives, moray eel

The Maldives, anemone fish

The Maldives, whip coral

The Maldives, wreck

Best Scuba Diving in the Maldives

9 April 2024
The best way to dive the Maldives is by liveaboard boat. You can also dive from some of the resorts: the best islands in the Maldives for scuba diving include Baa Atoll, Kuramathi and Baros. 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. There is one international airport in the Maldives, on Male.

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.

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

Best time of year 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 south-westerly winds. However, during this time fevers of manta rays congregate at Manta Point on Baros and Hanifaru Bay on Baa Atoll. The best vis is from December to April: this is high season and prices tend to be higher. During this time the wind blows from the north-east. The water temperature remains fairly constant throughout the year at an average of around 28 °C.

Get Maldives Liveaboard Deal

During the drier season (Iruvai - December to April) the current normally runs east to west, driven by the winds. However, on spring tides at full or new moon you also get a tidal current. This runs from the west when the tide is rising and from the east when the tide is falling. The currents are also stronger at this time. Exhilarating for experienced divers, especially as strong currents often mean more and bigger sealife. However can be daunting for the less qualified. So be aware that on these occasions the current can switch direction. In May, when the winds change, the weather can be rough and the currents completely unpredictable.

How deep can you dive in the Maldives?

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.

What Sea Life will you see there?

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. 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.

You will also see sharks: whale sharks, white tip reef sharks, silky sharks, thresher sharks, tiger sharks, grey reef sharks.

The 5 Best Maldives Dive Sites:

  1. Maaya Thila, South Ari Atoll
  2. Manta Ray Night Dive, Fesdhoo Lagoon, North Ari Atoll
  3. Rangali Madivaru
  4. Manta Point, Baros Island
  5. The Kuredu Express
(According to divers' votes)

Rate the Diving in the Maldives:

* * * * * (2334 votes, 4.5/5)

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

Dive Sites of the Maldives Maldives Diving Operators and Liveaboards Maldives Accommodation Further Reading Your Comments and Reviews Underwater photos of the Maldives

Map of Maldives scuba diving atolls
Diving atolls of the Maldives

"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, 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

Dive Sites of the Maldives

The South Atolls The North and Central Atolls

Diving Central and North Maldives Atolls

Central Maldives incudes Male, Ari and Rasdhoo atolls whilst the north atolls drop from Haa Alifu to Baa and Lhaviyani atolls. (See the map above.)

Baa Atoll

Reviews: 5 Star Rating: Recommended

Baa Atoll, which comprises 75 islands, has been 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

Olive Ridley Turtle
Olive Ridley Turtle. TeamC/DepositPhotos

Between June and November at Hanifaru Bay on Baa Atoll you can sometimes see feeding aggregations of upwards of 150 manta rays. The reef is like a funnel and from June plankton gets trapped attracting the manta rays and whale sharks and creating the largest known feeding station. To protect the wildlife, diving is no longer allowed at Hanifaru Bay. By booking a liveaboard though, you can include fantastic snorkelling with these great beasts as well as taking advantage of the diving elsewhere.

Manta rays at Hanifaru Bay
Manta Rays in Hanifaru Bay, Baa Atoll. Daisuke Kurashima/DepositPhotos
Rasdhoo Atoll
"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

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
Lhaviyani Atoll
Kuredu Express
"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! "

Snappers taken on the Kuredu Express (Lhaviyani Atoll) in the Maldives by Tim Nicholson
Snappers on the Kuredu Express. Photo credit: Tim Nicholson

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
Lhaviyani Atoll
Fish Head
"Big soup of fish :)"
Rasmus, Denmark
North Male Atoll
Manta Point, Baros

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.

Reviews: 5 Star Rating: Recommended (6)

"We lucked out. 6 huge mantas were doing somersaults not 30 feet away from us."
Bret, USA, December 2017
"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. "
Paul Harris
South Male Atoll
Kandhooma Thila

Reviews: 5 Star Rating: Recommended (1)

"Deep dive, 25-30m current with fantastic fish life, white tip and grey reef sharks, jackfish, barracuda, trevalies, sweetlips, stingrays and eagle its best it will take your breath away."
Stephen White, Norway, April 2018
South Male Atoll
Guraidhoo Corner

Reviews: 5 Star Rating: Recommended (1)

"Drift dive, with the action on the corner. White tip and grey reef sharks,eagle rays,stingrays and marbled morays"
Stephen White, Norway, April 2018
South Male Atoll
Embudhoo Thila

Reviews: 5 Star Rating: Recommended (1)

"Deep dive 25-30m can be strong current, amazing fish life. Sharks, rays, jacks, batfish, baracuda, morays and clouds of banner fish, magical"
Stephen White, Norway, April 2018
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. "
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

Maldives diving
Photo credit: Suzanne Challoner.

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

Reviews: 5 Star Rating: Recommended (2)

"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. Unforgettable nightdive with hunting whitetip reef sharks, tearing apart an octopus not being bothered by you 3 feet above."
Edwin van Velzen, 2018
"Just the best night dive I've ever done. "
Cesc, August 2018
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
"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
South Ari Atoll
Rangali Madivaru

Rating: 5 Star Rating: Recommended (2)

"Great to see mantas "
Donkhalo Thila
"Up to 20 mantas dancing round you for an hour ..."
Toby Farnell
Maldive Victory
"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

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? The true southern pearls are the Huvadhoo, Fuvahmulah and Addu atolls. So, what makes the deep South special? The further south the fewer people. There are more unspoiled healthy corals and the environment is a little wilder.

by Daniel French. We sailed on the Emperor Serenity Liveaboard from Male all the way down past the equator to Addu. The video includes dives at North Male Atoll, Vaavu Atoll, Meemu Atoll, Taa Atoll, Laamu Atoll, Huvadhoo Atoll, Gnaviyani Atoll and Addu Atoll

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.

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)
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.


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
Tiger Shark diving

Reviews: 5 Star Rating: Recommended (2)

The dive site is just in front for Fuvahmulah harbor. in the dives 100% guaranteed to see more than 10 tiger sharks from Near distance. These tiger sharks are friendly "
Fuvahmulah scuba club, April 2021

Tiger Shark
Tiger Shark, Galeocerdo cuvier, by Albert Kok (CC BY SA 3.0)

Maldives Diving Operators and Liveaboards

Carpe Novo Maldives

Carpe Novo is the most recently launched Carpe Diem Fleet boat. Built in 2016 this is the third boat of the fleet which was awarded "Leading liveaboard brand of the year" in both 2016 and 2015. The Carpe Novo is bigger than the Carpe Diem and even slightly bigger than the Carpe Vita, catering for a maximum of 21 people in 11 cabins divided over 3 decks. More…

Carpe Novo Liveaboard in the Maldives

Carpe Novo Maldives Pvt. Ltd.
H. Coal Field 1st floor/B
Kalhuhuraa Magu, 20085
Male, Maldives
Tel: +(960)3300883
Fax: +(960)3306747


"Great week on a really good liveaboard, plenty of space and comfortable throughout and with excellent food. The crew were very good and the diving great, Mantas, Whale shark and some really beautiful Eagle rays. Plenty of sharks too!"
A. Daniel, January 2022
"We went on the Carpe Novo. This is the newest boat and it was awesome. Great food, great crew. Loved the boat. There is no diving off the boat itself. A smaller dive boat follows the larger and all diving is done from this. It was nice knowing there was a good sized lifeboat at the ready."
Bret, USA, December 2017

Read more about Carpe Novo

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


"I was on a fantastic liveaboard with Carpe Diem"
Mary Grice, September 2015

Read more about Carpe Diem

Emperor Leo

Diving in the central and southern Maldives including North & South Ari, South Male, Vaavu, North Male and the "wild south". Internet and free nitrox. Can accommodate 24 divers in 12 cabins. Read More…


Island Safari 1

Reviews: 4 Star Rating: Recommended (1)

"The crew was great and I would definitely dive with them again. "
, Washington DC
Submaldives Pvt. Ltd.

G. Aima
7th Floor
Banafsa Magu
Republic of Maldives
Tel: +960 791 7953

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


Book Maldives Liveaboards - Best price guarantee.

Diving Packages
Dive Club Maldives Pvt. Ltd
Dive Club Maldives

H. Sunaaru (Ground Floor)
Guleynooran Magu
Tel: 009607785165
Fax: 009603320344

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.


Northern Maldives > Haa Alifu Atoll



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

Baros Diving

Baros Diving
PO Box 2015
Male 20-02
Republic of Maldives
Tel: +960 664 2672
Fax: +960 664 3497


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


Male Atoll > Villingili
Divers Lodge Maldives

Divers Lodge Maldives
Island of Villingili
Republic of Maldives
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


Trip Concept Pvt Ltd

Trip Concept Pvt Ltd
3rd Floor
Kurangi Goalhi
Tel: +9607771996


South Male Atoll > Gulhi
Adventure Diving

Adventure Diving
Gulhi Island
South Male Atoll
Tel: +961 9 714 970

Reviews: 5 Star Rating: Recommended (1)

"The resort is 5*+ and so is the dive school and it's staff. Been there July 2009.Enthusiastic, energetic, knowledgeable, helpful, a great guy. The dive center can arrange accommodation on the island for 45US pr night, he can also arrange transfer from Male airport. Boat can be arranged according to group size. Normally only small groups. A package price can be agreed according to how many dives you wish to make. Operates from a small local island called Gulhi. Very few tourists and a lovely beach."
Stephen White, Norway, 2018

South Male Atoll
Manta Divers

Manta Divers
South Male Atoll
Tel: +960 784 3706

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.

Alihuras Rasdhoo dive & Excursions

Alihuras Rasdhoo dive & Excursions
Tel: +960 970 9006

Addu Atoll, Deep South
Aquaventure Dive Center

Aquaventure Dive Center PADI 5STAR
Addu City / Addu Atoll
Maradhoo Island
Tel: +960 777 4310


Fuvahmulah, Deep South
Fuvahmulah Scuba Club

Bahaaree Hingun, 18015 Miskinmagu
Tel: +(960) 7970010


Further Reading

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...

Your Comments and Reviews

Please send us your comments on the Maldives. Do you want to recommend a diving centre or dive site? Let us know. If you own a dive centre get yourself added.

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