Diving the Maldives Southern Atolls - 2024 Trip Recap - Bluewater Dive Travel
Diving the Maldives Southern Atolls - 2024 Trip Recap

Diving the Maldives Southern Atolls - 2024 Trip Recap

Diving the Maldives Southern Atolls

A Liveaboard and Resort Experience - January 2024

Words and pictures by Dan Bishop


I just returned from a great trip exploring the southern Maldives for Bluewater Travel, where I combined a mix of land-based and liveaboard-based diving. During this time of year, Maldives liveaboards can do the southern routes, allowing for a bit more diving in remote areas with a higher chance of pelagic encounters. Dive sites in the Maldives boast a great mix of sharks, healthy reefs, and macro subjects. It was my first time in the southern Maldives, and this trip didn’t disappoint. 

A tiger shark underwater in the Maldives  A beautiful sunset on the ocean in the Maldives A turtle swims along a reef in the Maldives

Getting to the southern Maldives is a bit of a journey for US-based travelers, but well worth it. I flew from Washington DC to Male through Doha and then took a Maldivian Airways domestic flight from Male to Koodoo, a small island in the Huvdhu Atoll. I opted to fly in a few days early to enjoy some resort-based diving near Koodoo. The reefs in this area are very healthy, and the schooling fish are plentiful. We encountered various shark species, including reef, white-tip, black-tip, and leopard sharks, plus many green turtles, eagle rays, clown fish, fire gobies, nudibranchs, Napoleon wrasse, eagle rays, marble rays, and a manta ray!

A fish on a coral reef in the Maldives South Atolls Fire gobies on a coral reef in the Maldives A marble ray in the sand in the Maldives South Atolls

After a few days on Koodo, I boarded the Carpe Novo to begin a weeklong Maldives liveaboard adventure through the southern atolls. 

The Carpe Novo liveaboard on the beautiful Indian Ocean in the Maldives A sunset view from the Carpe Novo liveaboard in the Maldives

Sand art of a whale shark decorates a beach in the Maldives  

The Huvadhu Atoll

We dove the first four days around the Huvadhu atoll. We did three dives per day, including a night dive on one of the days. Many of the dives at this atoll are channel dives – typically, we’d descend to 90-100 feet and hook into the reef to look for passing reef sharks. As you approach your no-deco limit, the group unhooks and drifts into the channel with the current. A few of the dives are more reef-oriented. Over those four days, we encountered plentiful white-tipped and reef sharks, green turtles, Napoleon wrasse, an octopus, eagle rays, healthy reefs, schooling fish, and a large whale shark!


A healthy coral reef in the Maldives Huvadhu Atoll A shark underwater in the Maldives

A shark on a coral reef in Huvadhu Atoll in the Maldives  


The fifth day of diving on the Carpe Novo is at the island of Fuvahmulah, about a 4-hour boat ride from Huvadhu. Fuvahmulah is becoming well-known for its tiger shark population, and we opted to do the tiger shark dive, which is conducted by local guides. It’s an amazing experience to be so close to 6-7 large tiger sharks! We did two other dives at nearby dive sites to look for threshers and hammerheads. 


Tiger sharks swim close to an underwater photographer in Fuvahmulah, Maldives Tiger sharks at Tiger Zoo dive site in Fuvahmulah, Maldives An anemone fish peeks out from its anemone in the Maldives

The Addu Atoll

After Fuvahmulah, the Carpe Novo heads to the Addu Atoll, where the last day of diving occurs. Two dives are done on Saturday morning – typically a dive at a manta cleaning station and another at a wreck. I disembarked a day early on Fuvahmulah since I was staying on land for another five days of diving with the tigers and threshers, so I didn’t get to experience the Addu atoll. However, most guests disembark the boat on Sunday morning to catch a flight from GAN back to Male. 

Overall, my experience on the Carpe Novo was excellent. Read my full review of the Carpe Novo liveaboard in the Maldives for more information and photos of the boat.

A manta ray glides underwater in the Maldives A moray eel swims along a reef in the Maldives Addu Atoll A unicorn fish in the Maldives Addu Atoll

After disembarking the Carpe Novo, I spent another three days diving the sites around Fuvahmulah island. The diving industry on Fuvahmulah has grown quite a bit in the last few years, primarily due to the ability to dive with tiger sharks daily. I stayed at the Fuvahmulah Central Hotel and dove with Fuvahmulah Central Dive (owned and operated by the same management). Diving at Fuvahmulah Central is done from their dhonis - traditional boats made from coconut wood. Like most operators at Fuvahmulah, we did three dives per day – one at Tiger Zoo and two at other nearby sites. Diving with tiger sharks at Tiger Zoo was amazing. After divers line up on the sand at a depth of approximately 25 feet, fish heads and scraps are dropped in the water by the boat, and the dive guides quickly bury the heads under rocks in front of the divers to give the tiger sharks a bit of a challenge. The show then begins as the tigers show up to get their free meal, providing the opportunity to see these beautiful sharks up close. Even after diving at Tiger Zoo four days in a row, I never got tired of diving with the massive tigers. At the other Fuvahmulah dive sites we were treated to thresher sharks, hammerheads, turtles, and healthy corals and reef life.

Overall, Fuvahmulah was a great experience. Read my review of the Fuvahmulah Central Hotel and Dive Operation for more information and photos.

Tiger sharks swim close to an underwater photographer in Fuvahmulah, Maldives Tiger shark diving in the Maldives

A vibrant coral reef in Fuvahmulah, Maldives 


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