Scuba Diving in Maldives: What to Expect

scuba diving in maldives
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The Maldives is known for its incredible beaches and beautiful waters that lead to a gorgeous underwater world ripe for exploration. The area offers some coral reefs, but that isn’t what highly attracts divers. Instead, it is the incredible amount of marine life to be seen.

The highlights include things like observing manta rays and whale sharks. The diving environment is full of drift diving and can be enjoyed by both advanced and beginner divers alike. If you are looking for drift diving that will show you an incredible marine life, you must include scuba diving in Maldives on your bucket list.

Scuba Diving in Maldives

We’ll start by highlighting some of the sites you really shouldn’t miss if you plan on scuba diving in the Maldives. If you are looking for other unique sites, you can also consider diving in Cape Verde, and you can even look to explore the best freediving spots the world has to offer.

For now, we will stick to the Maldives, where two main features are pretty universal at each of the dive locations. Those are the pinnacles and the current swept channels. The pinnacles really serve to attract the marine life the area has to offer.

You can use the channels for exploration. There are plenty of overhangs, caverns, and caves to check out. Below, you’ll find the three best areas in the Maldives for scuba diving. Each of these areas offers unique sites for diving.

1. Vaavu Atoll

This dive site is in the Southern Atolls. It offers an almost guaranteed encounter with reef sharks, no matter what season.

You have a great chance of encountering other shark species, as well, including the hammerhead, if you are lucky. This site is full of very deep channels, along with fast-flowing currents.

This location also offers Fotteyo Kandu, which is considered by many seasoned divers to be the very best singular dive site in all of the Maldives. It boasts an incredible number of overhangs, caves, and swim-throughs.

Of course, you can expect plenty of shark viewings, but you are also likely to see unicornfish, tuna, triggerfish, groupers, mantas, eagle rays, trevallies, and snappers.

2. North Male Atoll

This area was one of the first discovered as a place to be enjoyed by scuba divers. It has some of the most popular, as well as the oldest sites available. These include Banana Reef, also referred to as Gaathugiri.

You will see plenty in this location. That includes some really incredible topography, such as several caves for exploring, steep drops, impressive overhangs, and breathtaking rock faces.

For marine life, you’ll also see some impressive wonders. Likely sightings include manta rays, sharks, grouper, trevally, bannerfish, black snappers, soldierfish, squirrelfish, Maldivian grubfish, and large morays.

3. Ari Atoll

There is really no shortage of atolls where you are likely to witness huge schools of fish in the Maldives. That is pretty common in the area, which offers plenty of marine life to see.

However, this specific area provides the most reliable location for viewing. You will swim alongside huge fish such as eagle rays, hammerheads, mantas, and whale sharks.

There is excellent predictability in this location, so you aren’t likely to be disappointed. You are also likely to see Napoleon wrasse, white tip sharks, batfish, and barracuda.

Best Time to Dive in the Maldives

The season for diving in the Maldives really runs throughout the whole year, but the months most recommended are from November to May. The temperature of the water stays pretty consistent throughout the year.

You can expect it to be a regular 26 to 29 degrees Celsius. The only exception to this is when you get to the far south during the northeast monsoon. At that time and in that location, temperatures can get down to 24 degrees Celsius.

Northeast Monsoon 

The winds from the northeast, or the northeast monsoon, take place between December and May. This is when you can expect blue skies and a reduction in the wind. This makes for really calm seas for diving.

On the eastern side of the atolls, the visibility is excellent, ranging from 20 to 30 meters. On the western sides of the atolls, the visibility is 15 to 20 meters.

During this timeframe, you can expect the eastern atolls usually have the greatest visibility with December through March being the best. This is largely due to the flow of currents, which go through the atoll channels, flowing from east to west.

The reef sharks then gather in huge numbers right at the entrance to the channels on the eastern side. The mantas, on the other hand, get drawn toward the western side because plankton flows toward the west out of the channels. You should also expect the strongest current of the year during this timeframe.

Southwest Monsoon 

The Southwest Monsoon offers the complete opposite of the conditions you would get during the Northeast monsoon. During this time of year, mantas go to the east while reef sharks go to the west. The greatest visibility is in the west.

In addition, the seas are choppier, and the winds are stronger. The skies are also far cloudier. Bear in mind, though, that the conditions are not all poor. There are plenty of really sunny, nice periods as well.

You can expect the surface spells to reach anywhere from one to two meters. This is especially true during June and July, which make up the rainy season. During these months, it typically rains for a total of three or four hours every day.

Conclusion

The Maldives is universally considered to be breathtaking. That beauty doesn’t stop at the surface of the water.

While the beaches and water are gorgeous, so is the marine life and underwater formations. There is plenty to explore when scuba diving in Maldives.

If you are looking for a new area to try, you may want to put the Maldives on your bucket list. Swim alongside some of the most beautiful marine animals while exploring overhangs and caves, all while swimming in crystal clear waters.

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