Maldives scuba is known for "THE BIG GUYS" of the oceans, especially those alluring MANTAS & WHALE SHARKS, plus a wide variety of SHARKS, including the exotics such THRESHERS, OCEANIC WHITETIPS, even tigers in certain sites. A diversity of FISH SPECIES add color excitement - triggerfish, sweetlips, angelfish, anthias, Moorish Idols and LARGE SCHOOLS of snappers, jacks, barracudas & fusiliers. You'll explore CAVES, CAVERNS & OVERHANGS with lovely soft corals & bright sponges. And, the energizing DRIFT DIVES through channels & passages into the atolls never cease to thrill divers. And, then of course, there's all the TOP-SIDE MAGIC of these luscious, tropical atolls.
Now, for most divers, the Maldives conjures up images of swimming & flirting with swarms of great Manta Rays. But diving in the Maldives is definitely more than that.
For starters, rising from the atoll floor, usually in the middle of channels, are 'thilas' or submerged reefs, which can be as shallow as 8-10 meters below the surface. Thilas make great dive sites as they are often small enough to swim around during one dive and have their own compact ecosystems, such as caves, overhangs, steep walls or cracks and crevices. Many are pinnacle formations.
You'll experience gentle dives & strong currents and even a couple of very good wreck dives. The Maldives has diving for everyone from the beginner to the advanced diver and is a destination ideal for divers and snorklers alike.
Do note that Maldives diving is more about abundant life than about colorful corals, but in most of the channels you'll find caves, caverns & overhangs with lovely soft corals, colorful sponges, invertebrates & gorgonian fans.
These areas also host cleaning stations where you'll observe the fascinating process of the small-fries cleaning large ocean species. Groupers, snappers, surgeonfish, eels, parrotfish, even Giant Napoleon Wrasse will install themselves in a quiet corner, while armies of wrasse, shrimp & other assorted cleaners pick at debris in their open gills & gaping mouths.
The rock pinnacles also provide rich diving & diverse life forms, while further afield from the reefs, you'll marvel at the pelagic action. Here on the edge of the open water, you find the manta rays & eagle rays in plentiful supply, along with multiple varieties of sharks.
The resorts in the Maldives are known for their sparkling white-sand beaches and elegantly romantic ambiance .... and we highly recommend a stay of 2 or 3 nights before or after a liveaboard trip. If it's serious diving that you're really after, the resort day-boats can't get you to the sites you really want to experience. Those sites are too far away from most populated atolls to be practical. Liveaboard diving in the Maldives is the option for all serious divers.
CHOOSE YOUR MALDIVES DIVING ADVENTURE ....
You'll love the drift-dive rides, the great visibility and the surprising abundance of hard & soft corals, along with swirling schools of fusiliers & other colorful fish, plus lurking morays, lobsters and nudibranchs. There are also opportunities for cave and wreck diving.
So the far north offers something for everyone, is particularly attractive to the more experienced divers and those who wish to stay away from the crowds.
Baa Atoll, a submerged pinnacle, is exceptional for its incredible overhangs covered with splendid coral gardens with scintillating colors. You will swim directly beneath this amazing ceiling of glowing coral life.
And, when you've had enough of corals, you can move on to Baa Atoll's other attraction, the manta rays, as this is one of the best sites in the Maldives for viewing these magnificent beauties.
Lhaviyani Atoll is a vertical wall dive which arrives at a sandy bottom. As with many of the wall dives in the Maldives, you have you tons of smaller species of marine life - shrimps, gobies, nudis and the like - inhabiting the holes & hiding places along the wall while schools of medium-sized fish swirl or graze along and out in the nearby open waters you'll probably catch a glimpse of Napoleon wrasse, sting rays, eagle rays, devil rays, barracuda and tuna.
Most of the dives in this region are known for the variety of life, so be prepared to fill your memory cells (or photos cards) with a long list of exciting species!
Most of the best liveaboards offer the Central Atolls for the majority of their cruises. The most popular areas include North Male (Kaafu), South Male (Dhaalu), and Ari (Alifu) & Felidhoo Atolls.
North Male Atoll has some great channels, beautiful 'thilas', (submerged reefs), massive coral tables, nice drop-offs, gentle waters and plenty of fish action. A manta ray cleaning station adds extra excitement.
South Male Atoll has long been considered one of the finest diving areas in the Maldives. Dive sites in this area are graced with channels & caves & drop-offs & reefs - plus a great variety of marine life.
There can be pretty strong currents here, which translates to nutrient rich waters attracting Mantas, Spotted Eagle Rays & Grey Nurse Sharks, plus masses of fish, including the pervasive snappers & jacks, batfish, fusiliers & sail-fin tangs for starters.
Well-known for giant anemones also, this area is popular with photographers who love those colorful shots of the anemones and their little guards, the anemone fish.
Ari Atoll is certainly one of the popular dives for serious divers. With multiple thilas both inside and outside the lagoons, this area lures loads of pelagics. Manta rays, plus a variety of sharks, including whale sharks & hammerheads, are regular visitors here and there are several of the ever popular cleaning stations.
Maaya Thila, a favorite for many divers, is located at Ari Atoll. This pinnacle offers a marvelous assortment of life. Get your camera ready for brightly colored nudibranchs, giant frogfish, turtles & even the elusive guitar shark!
Felidhoo Atoll is home to a site known as a photographers' paradise, where soft and hard coral overhangs shelter schools of sweetlips and you'll also get a variety of sharks and Titan Triggerfish, too.
At Mulaku Kandu (channel), when the currents are strong, the diving is great. Giant Trevally, Great Barracuda, White-tip and Black-tip Reef Sharks plus turtles come here to munch.
Large pods of dolphins are not unusual at certain sites and you almost always have whale sharks at some as well as tiger sharks, hammer heads, giant hammerheads, eagle rays, sting rays and mobula rays. Even sailfish appear for the really lucky divers.
Depending on the itinerary, which is very weather and current dependent, you should also encounter Manta cleaning stations with lots of activity. Of course, you get countless turtles, plus tuna, jacks and snappers, colorful coral groupers, angelfish, puffer fish, bannerfish and trigger fish and plenty of anemones with resident damsel fishes and beautiful coral fish.
Much of the diving is in channels, so is very dependent on the current. When it's running well, you'll have exhilarating drift dives.
If you love wrecks, some of the cruises include the wreck of the coral encrusted British Loyalty, torpedoed by the Japanese in 1944, which lies inside the atoll in the Hithadhoo region and is an excellent wreck dive. She brings plenty of pelagics in from the blue - hammerheads, mantas, grey reef sharks, eagle rays and loads of turtles.
All in all, it's highly recommended diving and you're virtually guaranteed to be the only liveaboard at each site.
The Maldives Islands lie in the Arabian Sea portions of the Indian Ocean, southwest of Sri Lanka and India, about 700 kilometres (430 miles) from the Asian continent's mainland. The chain of 26 atolls stretches from Ihavandhippolhu Atoll in the north to Addu Atoll in the south (across the Equator). The total territory is roughly 298 square kilometres (115 square miles), Maldives is one of the smallest Asian countries by land area and population, with around 516,000 inhabitants. Malé is the capital and the most populated city, traditionally called the "King's Island" where the ancient royal dynasties ruled for its central location.