If you’re planning a trip to the Maldives, and diving is on your mind (it is, after all, even in the name), you’ll have no shortage of places to choose from. With 26 atolls and 1192 islands, there are thousands of places that offer divers the experience they’re looking for.
The area isn’t open to unlimited tourism, though. The necessity to protect the reefs and natural areas from damage demands some restrictions – and that means a little advice on where and when to go can make the difference between wonder and disappointment. To make sure your holiday is in the first category, make use of the advice and experience of our travel consultants.
When to Go
As for the time to go, we recommend avoiding the summer months. Holidays to this area are cheaper then, but the visibility is lower too. Same goes for the rainy season, which is between May and November. This is the best time to see manta rays, but it will be through cloudier water. The colder months then, December to April, mean the best underwater views. You may pay a bit more, but the value is there.
Where to Go
There are a lot of great options, but the very best place to go depends a bit on what you most want to see. Here are some suggestions.
Manta Point – Manta Rays
Manta Point is off the coast of Baros, a little island with a Dutch-run dive centre that specialises in helping guests find and view the ghostly giants, some of which are more than three metres from wingtip to wingtip. As mentioned above, the best time to catch rays in the area is between June and November. Some visitors stay on nearby Paradise Island, just a five-minute boat ride from the site.
The animals are a lesson in grace, as they sweep their great wings along through the water, often doing underwater somersaults or even launching themselves from the water if you’re lucky enough to see it.
Other local (underwater) residents include jackfish, barracudas, trevallies, sweetlips, white tip sharks, reef sharks, stingrays and eagle rays. Most of these can be found throughout the Maldives. You won’t be lonely down there.
“To witness the sheer size and grace of these giants will leave you with a lifetime memory but you do need a little luck on the day. Experienced dive leaders will take you to a Manta Ray cleaning station where mantas come to get their skin, gills and teeth cleaned by parasitic copepods and small cleaner wrasse species. We ascended from a non-intrusive viewpoint behind a reef to see a small ‘fever’ of Mantas gently hovering over a rock outcrop whilst getting cleaned in a cue-like fashion, not too indifferent from a car wash! Without doubt the best dive in 30 I did from the island of Bandos – Ed Texier, Meon Group Marketing Manager.”
Kuramathi – Hammerheads
This island in Rasdhoo Atoll is a spot known for spotting hammerhead sharks. No guarantees, as every experienced diver knows, but if you’re willing to be in the water by 6am, you might just catch a glimpse of the rare… can we say ‘beauties’? I think we will.
You might also see reef sharks, eagle rays and a number of other fish in large schools or scattered groups, so even if you’re not lucky enough to see the hammerheads, you’ll see plenty of other worthwhile things.
The site is known for dramatic wall dives too, and the experience of drifting slowly along, as still as possible, watching the various wall residents going about their usual business… it’s profoundly underrated.
Ukulhas Thila – Reef Dives
Ukulhas Thila, on the northern rim of the North Ari Atoll, is a reef that offers some of the best diving and fish-spotting in the area. If you’re there between December and April, you might be able to see mantas at their cleaning station atop a 15-metre-high reef that runs 300 metres along the sea floor.
The currents are strong, and it’s not a dive for the novice, but the more experienced will find it exhilarating and well worth the extra effort. Most divers hang onto an outcropping of rock (not live coral of course) and stay as still as possible, hoping the big creatures will swim by for a closer look. It’s a close encounter of the very best kind.
Broken Rock – Fish, Fish, Fish
Broken Rock, on the South Ari Atoll, is a large reef separated by a deep canyon. Like at Ukulhas Thila, currents can be fairly strong in this area. That, and the need for confident buoyancy control, make this a dive for the more experienced.
Hanging onto a bare piece of rock and letting the current stretch them out like a trailing plant of some kind, divers linger there while a wide variety of fish move by in singles or schools of various sizes. Pastel-coral backgrounds show off jacks, angelfish, puffers, anthias, Napoleon wrasse, morays and more. Even the rock formations are interesting and beautiful.
Kandooma Thila – Turtles and More
This area is best explored with the advice of a skilled local guide, as current changes and other factors cause notable changes in where the bulk of local fish and turtles spend their time. The 300m teardrop pinnacle is a joy regardless, however, and there will always be something interesting nearby.
Most visitors start their dives lower down, in search of barracuda, groupers, white-tip reef sharks, jacks, trevally, dogtooth tuna and eagle rays. This allows divers to do their safety stops in areas frequented by turtles, and to use up the last of their tank capacity watching these calming little animals go their way, aware of, but not disturbed by, the presence of land-dwellers in their vicinity.
More to See
These five are just a sampling. Sun Island, Kuda Rah Thila, Okobe Thila, Maaya Thila, Miyarga Thila, Fotteyo Kandu – these are just a few of the others available. Avid divers can return to the area multiple times and see something new each time.
From the rays, to whale sharks, to the many little details of life and seabed that don’t get the big press, but bring deep pleasure nonetheless, the Maldives are rich in all that divers look for in an undersea experience.
Travellers who want the most from their days away from work will book space in one of the luxurious resorts that service the area. Your travel expert can help you determine the ideal pairing of resort and diving location to ensure that you have the best underwater experience possible and return to the comforts and pleasures of a great resort to relive and retell each day’s adventures.
After all, more than seventy percent of the earth is covered by water… why not get down there and take a look?
Call us on +44 (0)1730 711010 or email email@example.com for more information on diving holidays to The Maldives.