Besides relaxing in a hammock at your water bungalow, diving is the most important activity in the Maldives. The atolls form one big tropical underwater paradise. Because of the location of the coral reefs in the middle of the ocean, the visibility underwater is excellent. Add to that a lovely water temperature and a rich aquatic life, and the party is complete. Whether you do boat dives from a liveaboard or dhoni, or shore dives at your resort: the Maldives is definitely a diver’s paradise.
Five good reasons to go scuba diving in the Maldives
There are more tropical destinations with excellent visibility and a rich marine life. Why then especially to this part of the world? Below we give you 5 good reasons to go diving in the Maldives.
1. Manta rays
The Maldives is particularly known among divers for the manta rays. Every year many travellers visit the islands to see the beautiful animals up close. Perhaps the most unique place to do this is the so-called ‘cleaning station’. This is a spot in the open sea where manta rays have their skin, teeth and gills cleaned by small fish and cleaning shrimps. Think of it as a car wash, but for fish.
In the Maldives, sharks are fortunately fully protected. Since the ban on shark fishing in 2010, the shark population has increased again. It happens regularly that you get to see hundreds of sharks during your dives. If you have never dived with sharks before: of course, the first time is exciting! But you will soon see that sharks are totally uninterested in divers. From that moment on, you will enjoy the sight of this impressive animal.
More than 26 different species of sharks have been identified in the Maldives. These include white and black tip reef sharks, nurse sharks and grey reef sharks but also hammerhead sharks and even tiger sharks!
We ourselves have always been fervent wreck divers. Wrecks have something mysterious to us. They usually attract a lot of fish. And in the tropics, they form an excellent foundation for the most beautiful corals. In addition, we often find the history of the wreck interesting to investigate.
In the Maldives, there are some wrecks that are definitely worth a dive. One of the interesting wrecks is the 30-metre-long Fesdu. The steel fishing boat is completely covered with hard and soft corals. You will find many species of fish and with a bit of luck even manta rays. Another beautiful example is the 134-metre British Loyalty located to the south. It is the largest wreck in the Maldives and you can also see manta rays here. But if you want to do wreck diving in the Maldives, the wreck of the Victory should not be missed either.
4. Whale sharks
If there is one fish species that is on every diver’s wish list, it is the whale shark. They are the largest fish in the world. Like manta rays, they only eat plankton. The beauty of the Maldives is that you can see these noble animals all year round. So, if you want to swim with the friendly giants of the sea, this is the place!
5. Coral atolls
Atolls are ring-shaped islands or an annular series of coral islands. Sometimes the inner water of the ring is (largely) closed off. What remains then is a beautiful turquoise lagoon. But because you encounter almost only sand and few fish, it is a bit boring for divers.
In the Maldives, the 26 atolls are not closed. This ensures a particularly varied underwater world. This applies in particular to the natural ‘channels’ from the open sea to the lagoon. There is a lot of current here, but at the same time, this is why there are so many species of pelagic fish! Think of sharks and barracudas, among others.
For extraordinary diversity in marine life, you should go to Baa Atoll. In this UNESCO biosphere reserve, you will find more than 250 species of hard and soft corals. And more than 1000 species of reef fish. You may also get to see manta rays, hawksbill turtles, green turtles, dolphins and whale sharks. It is a top location for both novice and experienced divers.
Best dive sites in Maldives
In principle, you can make very nice dives everywhere in the Maldives. This even applies to the immediate vicinity of Malé, the capital. But the best dive sites are generally located at the atolls a little further away from Malé. Like the Ari atoll, where we also dived beautifully. Visibility is also better here and you have a better chance of seeing large pelagic species (fish that live further from the coast).
Above, we already mentioned some great wreck diving spots. We also mentioned the Baa atoll. Perhaps the most beautiful dive site at Baa is Hanifaru Bay. This is the place to be for large schools of manta rays! But the beauty of diving in the Maldives is that every atoll has beautiful dive sites to offer. On the website of PADI (the largest diving organisation in the world) you will find the necessary information per atoll. You will also find a small selection of fantastic dive sites. If you can’t make up your mind, consider diving from a liveaboard. Such a floating hotel will take you along the most beautiful spots!
Diving in the Maldives: practicalities
You can go on a diving holiday to the Maldives all year round. The average temperature of the seawater is 28 degrees! But for the best visibility and the least rain January to April are the best months. For manta rays, it's better to go in the autumn.
One of the few disadvantages (if not the only one) of diving in the Maldives is the price. By Asian standards, it is not cheap. Count on rates that you would normally spend on diving in the Caribbean. Add to this the cost of accommodation and transport to an island resort. All in all, a diving holiday then becomes quite pricey for many.
In order to still be able to dive as much as possible, many divers therefore opt for a so-called 'liveaboard'. The name says it all: you 'live on board' with this type of holiday. We find diving from a liveaboard an ideal way of celebrating a diving holiday. Your floating hotel brings you to the most beautiful diving spots. And apart from alcoholic drinks, almost everything is included. No worries about transport costs, or about the cost of food, drinks and diving. You know in advance exactly how much you will spend.
Because staying in an island resort also has its charms, many tour operators offer combination trips. In that case, you start your diving holiday from a liveaboard. You then end your holiday in paradise with a few days on a bounty island. We did this too and can recommend it warmly. This way, you can end your holiday with the ultimate Robinson Crusoe experience.