BEST OF MALDIVES - Scubaspa Ying spends the vast majority of her time around Ari Atoll, Male Atoll, Vaavu and Rasdhoo. The inclusion of Vavaau and Rasdhoo is a slightly different route from most Best of Maldives trips. Your itinerary will most likely take you to two to four of the following:
North Male Atoll: one of the finest sites in the Maldives for sighting those majestic mantas. A cleaning station here can be very busy between May and December, with cleaner wrasse anxious to get to work on their oversized friends as they sail in. It’s a bit like a busy barber shop!
South Male Atoll: a challenging thila dive here offers some lovely corals and schools of pelagic fish … plus eagle rays and sharks. Another small wreck features some good macro options.
North Ari Atoll: find caves & overhangs here are home to home to a variety of fish … from dog-toothed tuna, napoleons, trevallies and barracuda to parrotfish, butterflyfish, blue face angelfish, batfish and lionfish. You’ll encounter grey reef sharks and white-tip sharks … while on the top of the reef, countless fusiliers dart around and those lovely, ever-present-in-the-Maldives blue-stripped snappers move in waves. Lovely soft corals and gorgonian fans add color … and there’s a nice little wreck …. a fishing trawler with coral growth and loads of fish and critters to add interest.
South Ari Atoll: popular for its population of whale sharks. In season you’re likely to have the opportunity to snorkel with one or more. But, whale sharks aren’t all there is. You’ll find caves and overhangs, more sharks … plus fusiliers, angelfish, tuna & jacks, large seafans, soft corals and an abundance of other marine life.
Vaavu (Felidhe): there’s a popular channel dive here with nurse sharks as well as black tip and white tip reef sharks. A possible night dive at a jetty offers up loads of nurse sharks & sting rays. Another dive, loved by photographers in particular, is alive with soft corals in lovely hues and includes a nice variety of reef fish.
Rasdhoo Atoll: a popular reef dive which is usually also very sharky if you’re there early in the day … although the hammerheads tend to be around most of the time. Big schools of pelagic fish are commons as well as the ever-present snappers, fusiliers & batfish.
NORTHERN ATOLLS - you are likely to dive sites in most or all of the following:
Lhaviyani Atoll: some rousing currents here, which bring in nutrients and smaller fish for the big guys, who also seem to like the ride. Large groups of grey reef sharks are common … as are giant napoleon wrasses, a giant grouper, big stingrays, turtles, eels, trevally, eagle rays and sometimes a group of mobulas.
Baa Atoll: known even to non-divers, Hanifaru Bay is a UNESCO reserve designed to protect the exceptional marine life that congregates within its remarkable shores. The funnel-like bay and reef have a tidal, current action that traps plankton and other nutrients at certain times. Mantas, whale sharks and other animals arrive for a feeding frenzy unlike any other we know of. At times there can be more than 100 mantas taking part in this huge feast. In the neighborhood are other dives where you’ll find hard & soft corals and a sampling of the other Maldives characters: the turtles, the snappers, the sting rays, the sharks … and even a critter or two.
Raa Atoll: some good diving for advanced divers in fast currents … with the usual Maldives cast of characters: stingrays, eagle rays, groupers, snappers, jacks and sharks. Hard and soft corals make a splash here and there, attracting colorful reef fish and offering the macro photographer nice opportunities to snap some critters. The icing on the cake is a manta cleaning station.
Noonu Atoll: while much of the diving here is less challenging than some of the other atolls there are some good advanced dives, too. And, all levels of divers should have the opportunity for sighting plenty of sharks: grey reef sharks, nurse sharks and white tip reef sharks. There are, of course, the ubiquitous Maldivian stingrays. Keep your eyes peeled for red-tooth triggerfish as they’re often spotted around this atoll along with other reef fish. There’s a nice bit of macro photography to be had here, too.