Maldives

4.35
(5 REVIEWS)
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SCUBA DIVING IN THE Maldives

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Check here for the latest travel advisory to the Maldives in the light of the current coronavirus outbreak.

Maldives Diving Highlights

With clear blue water, white sand beaches, and great visibility, the Maldives is an idyllic scuba diving paradise. During a diving trip to the Maldives, you may see manta rays, whale sharks, reef sharks, soft & hard corals and much more. The Maldives is also known for its great assortment of dive resorts and liveaboards for all kinds of budgets, from budget to high-end.

Interested in diving Maldives?  View the live availability of some of the best liveaboards in the Maldives and book online at the best price or check out our sidebar for land-based options! 


Where is the Maldives?

Lying 400 miles southwest of India, the Maldives is an island nation of 26 natural coral atolls (over 1,000 islands) spread over nearly 35,000 square miles.

Even though it is 26 natural coral atolls, for the purpose of administration the Maldives is divided into 19 atolls (areas) and they are marked as being 19 atolls. So someone looking through a map would find 19 zones. 

Topside, the Maldives offer some of the most beautiful scenery you will ever see in your life. More than 95 % of Maldives consists of the sea. It is also one of the lowest nations in the world, and is in danger of being submerged one day due to rising sea levels

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Marine Life in the Maldives

The Maldives offers some great reefs and marine life and is known for currents, wide-angle photography and plentiful pelagics such as mantas, reef sharks and whale sharks. Visibility early in the year can be outstanding, well over 100ft.

Hanifaru Bay, in the Baa Atoll, has Manta Rays and Whale Sharks during the middle and the end of the South West Monsoon which runs from April to November. And during this period, it is only during few times that mass feeding events occur in the Bay Area when plankton has accumulated to a certain extent. Many people think it is there all the time, but it is not.


Maldives Webinar

Watch this 40-minute webinar to learn more about the Maldives, it's marine life, and one of the great liveaboard options, the MV Carpe Vita, to see if this destination is right for you! 

 

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Diving Information 

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MALDIVES Marine Life & Photography Subjects

The Maldives offers blue water early in the year - perfect for wide-angle photography. While is there is some macro life here, I would think of Maldives as mainly a "wide-angle" place to see coral, whale sharks, mantas, eagle rays, and schools of fish. There has been some coral bleaching in the shallow reefs.

While the reefs and channels provide a great diversity of marine life, Hanifaru Bay, while allows snorkeling only, is the go-to place for mantas and whale sharks. We're talking dozens and dozens of huge manta rays feeding - up to 200 mantas at a time. You’re also likely to encounter whale sharks, opening their huge mouths and gulping in food. Still, underwater photography cannot properly capture the beauty of the marine life here; you need to use underwater video.

Many dive sites have napoleon wrasse, barracuda, reef sharks including gray reef, whitetip and blacktip, spotted eagle rays, large marbled rays, trevally and tuna. The current will help bring out more of these larger animals.

Some atolls can also produce hammerhead sharks, although this is only at very specific dive sites.

For sites like Hanifaru Bay, shoot wide. Use a fisheye lens like the Tokina 10-17mm, or a rectilinear lens in the 10-20mm range. Take video. Even better, take wide video with a fisheye lens. Leave your macro lenses at home.

If you are at a Manta cleaning station, never chase or charge the manta rays - it won't work. Wait for them to come to you. Don't rise up to their level.

 

Maldives Underwater Video from North Ari Atoll

 

Maldives Dive Environments

The Maldives offer several different dive environments, some of which include:

  • Faru: A faru is one of the Maldivian names for a reef. This could be the outer reef of the atolls and the reefs of islands.
  • Giri: A giri is a circular reef in which the top reaches the surface, particularly in low tide. Giris can be found inside the atoll and inside large lagoons as well. These places offer a variety of marine life and often is good for novice divers.
  • Thila: is also much like a Giri, but it’s further below the surface - basically a seamount. Here’s you’ll find a variety of marine life such as soft coral, gorgonians, and an abundance of fish life including reef sharks. A Thila can be big but most north-worthy thilas are small peaks and can be affected by strong currents at times.
  • Wrecks: There are a few interesting wrecks in the Maldives, but they’re typically visited for the fish at the site as opposed 
  • to the wreck itself.
  • Channel: A channel or pass is where the atoll meets the ocean and is the gateway to the atoll. It is commonly done as a drift dive. The strong currents bring big pelagic fish such as sharks, mantas, and tunas. For most life, it is best to dive at channels when there is incoming current but some spots do offer good dives during outgoing current as well. Underwater photographers will appreciate the geography that some channel reefs have that includes caverns, swim-throughs, undercuts, and overhangs full of colorful sponges and invertebrates.
  • Lagoons: While not very exciting from a marine life standpoint, most islands and big reefs has it’s own sandy bottom lagoon protected from the current which is ideal for beginners learning to scuba. 

 

Typical Maldives Dive

Due to the medium to strong currents, drift dives are common. Often you have to do a negative entry, which means the moment you enter the water, you must descend to the bottom. We recommend the Maldives for the intermediate level or experienced diver. Because of the depths and currents, dives in the Maldives are usually 45 - 50 minutes for many divers. There are many dives sites which are suitable for novice divers as well which are protected from the currents. Also, they can do drift dives on the long reefs which are not affected by tricky currents.  

 

Diving Conditions

  • Water Temperatures: Range from 80 - 86 degrees year round.
  • Visibility: Around 35 feet on the low end, but often exceeds 100 feet.
  • Depth Range: 5 - 30 m ( 14 - 98 feet)
  • Currents: Divers who may not want to experience strong currents should try to time their trips away from the full and new moons, when the currents will be less strong.

 

 

Maldives Atolls & Dive Areas 

There are several areas in the Maldives that liveaboards visit and a good cruise director is key for a successful Maldives trip. Check with your travel advisor to see which Maldives itinerary is right for you.

Some of the best dive sites are in the Deep South, however, they cover such a large area that not all of them can be visited on a single trip. Ari Atoll and Male Atoll in the central islands are some of the more popular itineraries and the key pelagic spots.

From north to south, here are the main dive atolls in the Maldives.

  • Ihavandhippolhu Atoll
  • The northernmost atoll of Ihavandhippolhu is typically visited by liveaboards. The diving here comprises wide, shallow channels with mild currents and a vibrant selection of hard and soft corals. The reefs’ overhangs and walls are covered in table corals, while caves, pinnacles, and swim-throughs hide a good variety of macro. Expect to spot reef sharks, turtles, Napoleon wrasse, and mantas, as well as reef species such as grouper, moray eels, lionfish, and a variety of crustaceans.
  • The waters here are relatively unexplored, with new sites ideal for experienced divers while the better-known shallow areas offer the perfect safe-haven for novices.
  • Haa Alif Atoll
  • Another atoll ideal for beginners, Haa Alif also boasts wide channels and shallow sites facilitating gentle drift dives through reefs and pinnacles of colorful soft and hard corals. The Filadhoo wreck is a great introduction to wreck diving, and at a depth of 46ft is an exciting artificial reef surrounded by snappers, fusiliers, and the occasional eagle ray.
  • There are more advanced sites too, such as the submerged pinnacles of Heaven and Hell that sport fantastic coral formations, and Ihavandhoo Channel with cleaning stations frequented by mantas and turtles.
  • Noonu Atoll
  • Noonu offers a variety of diving suitable for different levels of experience, including some exciting drift dives and unique shark encounters. Christmas Rock, a submerged island with the top at 46ft, is home to whitetip reef sharks and stingrays, while the occasional nurse shark can be spotted snoozing in cracks in the reef.
  • The more advanced Orimas Thila drops to 98ft (30m) and offers divers the chance to witness large groups of grey reef sharks, as well as leopard and guitar sharks, and rays. Other unique sightings include the redtoothed triggerfish and some distinctive nudibranch species.
  • Raa Atoll
  • A large number of unspoiled reefs and pinnacles inside Raa’s lagoon boast an impressive array of tubastrea corals and some fantastic marine life. In the south of the atoll, Fenfushi Thila boasts overhangs and crevices teeming with bannerfish and huge schools of orange basslets. On the western side of the atoll, tuna, grouper, and Napoleon wrasse can be found circling deep drop-offs and overhangs, while eagle rays and turtles frequent the eastern reefs and walls. 
  • One of the most popular sites is The Labyrinth, a pinnacle sporting large gorgonians and vibrant soft corals smothering canyons, tunnels, and swim-throughs. The site is characterized by batfish, and grey and white-tipped reef sharks, with moray eels and groupers a common sight.
  • Lhaviyani Atoll
  • This popular atoll is well explored and offers over 50 dive sites suitable for all levels. The sheltered Aquarium site is great for novices and boasts electric schools of blue snappers amongst the abundant corals. Hawksbill turtles and guitar sharks can also be spotted using the coral as a cleaning station.
  • The Shipyard site is home to the wrecks of Skipjack 1 and Skipjack 2, offering fascinating dives down to 92ft (28m). Both wrecks are smothered in a multitude of colorful corals and swarming in butterflyfish, damselfish, glassfish, and small blennies. South of the wrecks, the Madivaru Kandu channel drift dive provides some deeper overhangs to explore, as well as encounters with eagle rays and whitetip reef sharks.
  • Baa Atoll
  • Designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 2011, the Baa Atoll supports some of the Maldives’ most diverse and unique marine life. Horubadhoo Thila, on the eastern side, is home to plentiful macro as well as attracting large pelagic species, such as mantas, to numerous cleaning stations. 
  • The fascinating topography of Nelivaru Haa features overhangs and strangely shaped canyons covered in hard and soft corals. Glassfish and fusiliers abound, as well as inquisitive batfish, grouper, stingrays, and oriental sweetlips. During the south-west monsoon (May to November) mantas use the entire reef as a cleaning station, offering some great photo opportunities.
  • Baa Atoll is also a popular whale shark area, and although it can become busy with snorkelers, there are plenty of more remote sites to explore. 
  • North Male Atoll
  • One of the most visited regions in the Maldives, North Male Atoll is within easy reach of the countries’ capital and main airport, Male. The well-known Manta Point is located in the southeast of the atoll, and as the name suggests this is a prime spot for encounters with manta rays, as well as schools of barracuda, turtles, and Napoleon wrasse.
  • Another famous site, the Maldives Victory is a 328ft cargo shipwreck that sits between 39 and 115ft. The superstructure is encrusted with gorgonians and hard corals, while batfish, grouper, and schools of fusilier make themselves at home.
  • Most liveaboard divers will join their boat in North Male and explore these reefs at the beginning of their trip.
  • South Male Atoll
  • South Male Atoll is the quieter sister of North Male, and while it doesn’t boast the same marine diversity as the northern atoll, dramatic topography and strong currents bring large pelagics close to shore. Diving here can be exciting and sometimes challenging, with deep channels and rapidly changing conditions facilitating exciting drifts through ravines and past overhangs. Cocoa Thila, one of the best dive sites in the Maldives, is a pinnacle that attracts fusiliers, sweetlips, red snapper, trevally, eagle rays, white, and gray sharks.
  • To the north, Vadhoo Caves provide shelter from the strong currents and a chance to explore the more unusual species found in the semi-dark. Unicornfish, soldierfish, and the occasional turtle linger in the calm waters, while reef sharks and tuna can be spotted out in the blue.
  • Ari Atoll
  • The best pelagic destination in the region, Ari Atoll’s exposed pinnacles and deep channels don’t support as much reef life as some of the other atolls, but instead attract mantas, whale sharks and schooling hammerheads. Strong currents mean diving here is not best suited to novices, however, experienced divers will thrill in deeper drift dives sporting loads of shark action, schools of eagle rays, and abundant vibrant fish.
  • Maaya Thila pinnacle drops from 20 to 100ft and supports a good variety of critters such as nudibranchs and frogfish. And the marine protected Fish Head site is covered in black coral and dotted with overhangs, crevices, and caves full of blueline snappers. There are hundreds of exciting sites around Ari Atoll, and this accessible atoll is a popular choice amongst divers.
  • Vaavu Atoll
  • Centrally located, Vaavu Atoll is a great beginner destination with shallow channels and protected sites offering gentle drift diving over vibrant coral reefs. Vattaru Reef offers a relaxed dive full of butterflyfish and oriental sweetlips, while whitetip reef sharks can often be seen patrolling nearby. 
  • A more challenging site, Miyaru Kandu to the northeast experiences stronger currents that sweep divers through a channel past caves covered in wire coral, with the chance of spotting a hammerhead shark in the distance. Napoleon wrasse and eagle rays are very common, and lucky divers may encounter a manta ray or whale shark if the season is right.
  • Faafu Atoll
  • Boasting a variety of diving and some untouched reefs, Faafu Atoll offers something for all tastes and abilities. Deep channels with brisk currents attract manta rays and the occasional whale shark year-round, and sites such as Jumping Jack are characterized by numerous submerged pinnacles overgrown with bright corals. 
  • Repeater’s Paradise is a shallow sheltered site of coral gardens leading to a drop-off that features plenty of macro, and Manta Point is home to numerous cleaning stations that draw manta rays, turtles and whale sharks into the gently sloping reef.
  • Meemu Atoll
  • Similar to nearby Faafu Atoll, Meemu Atoll offers divers deep inner reefs with bright currents supporting healthy coral and abundant fish life. Cleaning stations along the reefs attract several manta rays at one time, and tuna, barracuda, and Napoleon wrasse can be seen loitering off the reef.
  • Shark’s Tongue is a challenging site boasting large coral heads between 26 and 49ft before the reef drops off to 98ft. Schools of surgeon, oriental sweetlips, and snapper can be spotted amongst the coral formations, as well as gray and silvertip reef sharks if the conditions are favorable.
  • Dhaalu Atoll
  • The marine life around Dhaalu Atoll is diverse and unique, with several unusual species living around the region’s wide channels and shallow drop-offs. Inside the lagoon, Lohi Island cave is a drift dive that features sea fans and sponges encrusting overhangs around the cave entrance. Mobula rays and frogfish may be seen here, as well as several types of anemonefish. 
  • In the northwest, large colonies of anemone coral cover one bank of the inner reef while the opposite wall is home to many species of moray eel including giant morays and white-mouth morays. Longnose hawkfish hide in dramatic black coral formations and keen eyes may pick out a leaf fish against the bright coral.
  • Thaa Atoll
  • Characterized by dramatic topography, impressive coral gardens, and some great pelagic encounters, Thaa Atoll’s varied diving holds something for everyone. The best sites feature strong currents but offer bountiful reefs with steep drop-offs smothered in gorgonians and soft coral. Gorgonian Garden’s deep wall plunges to 131ft, and mantas, turtles, inquisitive batfish, and schools of fusiliers can be found playing in the fast-moving water. At Dutch Divide, divers can trill in exciting features such as overhangs and swim-throughs, although in often challenging currents and eddies.
  • More suited to beginners, Caribbean Garden in a sheltered site with very little current and some fascinating diving as shallow as 20 ft. Plentiful macro can be found along the plateau of the pinnacle, and white-tipped reef sharks are often found in slightly deeper areas of the surrounding sand.
  • Laamu Atoll
  • Gentle currents and shallow channels make Laamu Atoll ideally suited to new divers, or those looking to relax on gentle drifts through exotic coral gardens. Mini underwater islands are a focal point for reef sharks and mobula rays, while mantas are often sighted in the clear visibility of the channels. 
  • A popular site is Fushi Kandi, a 50ft drift along 820ft of bustling reef featuring schooling barracuda and numerous Napoleon wrasse. Similarly, Hithadhoo Corner follows a gently sloping channel from 26 to 72ft, where potato groupers, whiprays, and mantas gather at cleaning stations on the atoll’s southern tip. 
  • Huvadhu Atoll
  • The first of the Deep South atolls, Huvadhu boasts healthy reefs in excellent condition and a good number of shark species patrolling the region’s diverse topography. There is diving here for beginners and experienced divers alike, where a substantial outer reef protects an inner lagoon sheltered from ocean currents and swells. Fascinating underwater features including caves, drop-offs, and deep walls are prime for exploration.
  • Dozens of dive sites along pristine reefs showcase a myriad of tropical fish. Expect to spot swirling schools of bigeye trevally and the occasional hammerhead, leopard, or tiger shark. Whale Sharks can also be found in May and June when changing ocean currents bring increased plankton blooms. 
  • Fuvahmulah Atoll
  • Far less explored than many of the other atolls, Fuvahmulah is a pelagic haven that attracts numerous shark species, manta and mobula rays, and mola mola year-round. Uncharted reefs are a backdrop to regular appearances from thresher, tiger, silvertip, whitetip, and grey reef sharks, as well as open ocean giants such as scalloped hammerheads and whale sharks.
  • Addu Atoll
  • The most southerly of the atolls, Addu is as picturesque above the waterline as it is below. Sharks, turtles, and mantas are regularly sighted on deeper dives, and the sheltered site of Gan Inside offers you close encounters with stingrays along the white sandy bottom.
  • Advanced divers can explore the wreck of the British Loyalty oil tanker. As the largest wreck in the Maldives, she lies in 100ft of water and is a huge artificial reef supporting all manner of marine life.  

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Travel Information 

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How to Get There

Departing from the US, there are several airlines that fly 1-stop to Male, the capital city of the Maldives. Most people stay overnight in Male and board their dive boat the following day. Visitors get a 30 day on arrival visa for free.  

 

How to Dive Maldives

There are several liveaboards that operate in the Maldives ranging from the budget-friendly to ultimate luxury. Contact us for more information on Maldives liveaboards.  

For another fantastic liveaboard destination, check out our guide to diving the Similan Islands. or Tubbataha Reef diving.

The Maldives is a great destination to combine with some time in Sri Lanka. Check out the Trip Report from our 2019 group trip to both destinations. 

 

Best Time to Dive Maldives

 Jan - April (northeast monsoon) are the ideal months to visit the Maldives for the best scuba diving, with it getting less windy as you approach April. Visibility is very good, and it is the driest and warmest period. You may experience sudden rain showers, but they don't last for a long time.

May - July is considered the rainy season and can bring unstable weather, especially June / July. Conditions are usually good from August - November (southwest monsoon season), but the abundance of plankton in the water can reduce visibility (but bring plankton feeders like the Manta Rays and Whale Sharks).

Aug - Nov is the time to go for the best chance to see the "big animals". December can bring a fair amount of wind and rain. "Feeding season" at Hanifaru Bay (and everywhere else) for the whale sharks and manta rays is considered to be from May to November, peaking from late July to early October. So what do you want - clearer water, or whale sharks/ mantas?

 

Topside & Non-Diving Activities

It’s no secret that divers and honeymooners make up the majority of visitors to the Maldives - though those two groups are not mutually exclusive. If you’re land-based and need a break from the water, considering taking an excursion to a nearby uninhabited island or board a fishing boat and try your luck at catching your dinner.

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LIVEABOARD AVAILABILITY

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The rates shown below are per person in USD. Some of the operators quote in EUR. The pricing at the time of booking may vary depending on the latest EUR/USD exchange rate. 

Please contact us for the latest availability of the following boats: Manthiri MaldivesMaldives Legend, Maldives Explorer, Marselia Star and Fun Azul.

 

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Other Useful Information 

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Practical Information

  • Currency: Maldivian Rufiyaa (MVR)
  • Language: The country's primary language is Dhivehi. Main foreign languages‎ are ‎Arabic & English
  • Main Airport Code: MLE
  • Time Zone: UTC+5
  • Electricity: 230 V 50 Hz

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Call us today at +1-310-915-6677 or email us info@bluewaterdivetravel.com

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Reviews (5)

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The magic starts as soon as your plane reaches the outermost atolls to glimpse the almost alien planet like spots all around the ocean. Then once you step outside the airport you are immediately overwhelmed by the crystal clear turquoise waterfront and the boat waiting to take you to your liveaboard or to one of the thousands of islands of the Republic of the Maldives. I dived around South Male and the Southern Ari atolls area on a liveaboard in May. Marine life consists of everything from macro to the "big stuff" (many eagle rays, many manta rays, stingrays, many white-tips, grey reef sharks, whale sharks).

Dive Conditions: Visibility was good ranging from 30ft to 120ft while averaging around 80ft. Besides drift dives I would say roughly 20% of the sites we dove had moderate current (some kicking effort needed to stay on route), and a few sites with strong currents. Minimum level recommended is advanced open water certification.

Top Sites: Rasdhoo Madivaru (grey reef sharks, eagle rays, bumphead , Maaya Thila (white tip, gray reef sharks and eagle ray up close), Fish Head (guitar shark, stingrays, lots of gray reef sharks, swim throughs), Hafusha Thila, Maamigili Beru. Night diving and snorkeling with the mantas is one of the highlights.

How to get there: All international flights arrive in Male. Then you have the option to either take boats/liveaboard, or water aircraft to your next destination.

Where to stay and top-side activities: Maldives has a lot of upscale resorts. Generally the further you venture out from Male the more secluded the resorts will be. Each habitable atoll has it's own beaches and whatever water sport and/or activity you can think of.

Overall impression: The Maldives is simply paradise if you enjoy the beach life and especially diving. The highlights of diving are the frequent manta rays, eagle rays, gray reef sharks, and occasional whale sharks in some particular areas. There are wrecks around but nothing to write home about. White sand beaches everywhere. Only drawback is the lack of alcoholic beverages around the Republic.

Visited on 05/2014 - Submitted on 10/30/2014
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The Live Aboard offered three route options - Northern, Central and Southern trips.
I chose the more remote less traveled Southern route that explores the warm crystal clear waters of Laamu Atoll that is only offered select times of the year when wind and weather allows.

The boat was beautifully constructed out of iron wood with Teak finishes throughout.
The dive deck is spread out giving each diver ample space to setup there gear as well as small storage locker at each dive station for stowing extra gear. In the middle of the dive stations was a large padded covered area with pillows to lounge and enjoy the breeze yet stay out of the sun. For those wishing to work on their tans, a large sun deck with chairs was above the main salon. Both Dining and dive briefing were on the rear deck. The main salon has a large screen for watching movies and internet was available periodically. The overall feel is very spacious and comfortable and never did it feel crowded with 14 guests and 10 crew members.

The rooms are comfortable with single, double, and triple bed suits and have the same beautiful stained Iron wood and Teak finishes as the rest of the boat. Each room has AC, Shower, sink, toilet and a safe.

The boat had a large camera table with a large bank of 110 and 220 outlets with universal plugs. Below the Camera table storage bins were available for each diver to store extra gear.

The sites basically consisted of two types Kandu - a channel between islands and Thila - pinnacles.
Kandu dives were Exhilarating dives with negative entry due to very strong currents that were excellent for dropping down hooking in at the edge of the drop off and watch large schools of big pelagic fish, sharks, and rays. When gas or time was up, we would unhook, and enjoy a drift dive through the channels that were covered in soft coral gardens into the calm waters of the atolls. Every dive had Grey Reef sharks, Eagle rays, sting rays, Tuna, Jacks and and large schools of Barracuda.

Thila dives were much more mellow and allowed time to photograph macro subjects as well as wide angle photography of the pristine coral reefs with large schools of fish, turtles and resting sharks.

The food was combination of European/Western and local dishes consisting of fresh fish, chicken, beef and vegetarian options. Juice, espresso, cappuccino, beer, sodas were free of charge and cocktails and wine are available for purchase.

The dive staff were all European and spoke perfect English, were friendly and courteous and attended to any needs guests came up with. The boat crew were all locals as spoke enough English to help with most needs.
The boat offered free nitrox fills, the crew set up / broke down and washed gear daily. The dive operation was a well oiled machine where both guest comfort and safety was a priority. The boat was equipped with safety gear including Nautilus Lifeline radios for guests, carried large amounts Oxygen due to the remote location.
We dove off of two large zodiac boats that offered comfort and space for large camera gear.

During our ten day trip we explored many remote unpopulated islands where we strolled along white sand beaches and snorkeled in the sheltered coral lagoons.
The boat staff would collect fresh coconuts, bananas, mangoes that where used in our snacks and meals.
Near the end of the trip, a beach BBQ was set up by the crew and the guests and crew dined together before heading back to port.

Diving is well suited for photographers, experienced divers, and intermediate divers that are comfortable with strong currents.

Getting there. Two basic options, via Singapore or Dubai to Male. Inbound required an overnight stay in Male before the flight to Kadhdhoo. Not much of anything to really see in Male and after several long flights, all I wanted was a quite place to rest up. Outbound was a half day layover spent at the hotel pool for a small day use fee, that is a short shuttle ride from the Male airport - Highly recommended.

Visited on 03/2013 - Submitted on 09/26/2014
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This is an amazing dive location. The marine life is abundant and we were able to see mantas as well as Whale Sharks (multiple encounters). Other marine life encountered on the trip included black tip sharks, moray eels, eagle rays, green turtles and multiple fish species including clown and angel fish. Much of this marine life was a short snorkel away form one of the small islands that dot the area. Ocean conditions were good at the time with visibility extending beyond 60ft. Topside attractions are limited but you won't be doing anything but diving here. Liveaboard is the only way to go here due to the high cost of resorts and transportation. We had a great experience on MV Carpe Diem. The boat was clean and well maintained and the staff were very helpful. Food aboard the boat was excellent and our accommodations were well worth the price paid.

Visited on 04/2013 - Submitted on 03/24/2014
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I visited the Maldives in May of 2012 and was on the sane trip as reviewer cdub. I will try not to be repetitive.
The water temps are in the 79-81 range and the air temp is in the 80-85 range but there is usually a nice breeze most of the day. Currents varied from spot to spot and there was generally a medium current, with some spots with very strong currents. We had divers with a variety of experience and nobody had any issues. Our locations were mostly in the North Ari Atoll which is one of the largest areas for diving. One of my favorite spots was Hukrueli Faru which has Manta cleaning stations. The depths there varied from 25-100 feet. Kudarah Thila made me feel like I was in an aquarium. The density and variety of life was amazing. Giant schools of Oriental Sweetlips with some Groupers mixed in. The biggest highlight for me was diving with manta's and seeing a napolean wrasse the size of a volkswagon beetle. We went chasing for whale sharks which we finally did see but there was such a crowd of tourists on the surface that it became claustrophobic so beware.
Topside there was not much opportunity since the biggest island is the capital which is 3 miles square. It was interesting to see the capital and and feel like you saw almost all of it in an hour. Seeing the planes landing on runway was surreal since it looks like the plane is going to land on the water. We did spend one night on the main island as we landed late the night before we got on the liveaboard, but I would have been happy staying on the very nice resort on the airport island that I was not aware of until the end of the trip. There was the comedy factor of seeing the rather absurdities(to us westerners at least) of the hotel set up and the insane amount of scooters roaming the "streets". I did skip a night dive and visited a very tiny island with some of the crew and a couple others from our group. The island was Rashdoo and we walk the perimeter in about 25 minutes. The people were very polite and hearing the mosques call to prayers was very beautiful.
Overall the Maldives will probably the greatest tropical location I will ever go to. I saw pretty much everything I hoped to see which made it worth the almost 20 hours of flying. This is definitively one of those once in a lifetime trip that you take if the opportunity comes.

Visited on 02/2014 - Submitted on 02/11/2014
  • Top Reviewer
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I visited the Maldives on a liveaboard in May 2012, an though it is a pricier trip, it was well worth it to dive the Maldives. Air temps were in the 90s and sunny almost the entire time, and water temps ranged from 80-83.

Topside, it's gorgeous. We were greeted with the brightest blue sunny skies and aquamarine waters, that it was almost surreal. The islands all looked lush and dense with greenery, with beautiful sandy beaches. Since we were on a liveaboard, we only had a few opportunities to visit any of the islands, and on one occasion, the liveaboard had arranged to bring us to an island to see the sunset and they had setup a full BBQ cookout. It was a lovely way to spend the evening exploring the beaches and lagoons amidst all of our diving.

Since it was a 7 day trip, we covered South Ari and the North and South Male Atolls. We regularly had 100 ft viz, though it was as little less on a few of the manta ray snorkels as we ran into pockets of plankton.

I had my favorite night dive of all time here at Mayaa Thila. We saw so much life and behavior on this dive! Starting with a large sting ray, free swimming eels, eels hunting and going from crevice to crevice in the reef looking for sleeping fish, juvenile white tip reef sharks competing for food.

The Kuda Girl wreck was also a beautiful site. Home to amazing schools of fish, abundant invertebrate growth, and we also encountered a frog fish and two stonefish on this wreck.

Some of the the other marine life highlights included a large nurse shark, turtles, titan triggerfish, and schools of triggerfish, and snorkeling with mantas and a whale shark.

Though you could shoot macro on some of the dives, I probably spent about 80% of the time shooting wide angle as my preference based on the marine life.

Visited on 05/2012 - Submitted on 01/27/2014

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