Mapped: 7 Best Places to Dive in Maldives

Diving in Maldives

Maldives consists of 26 atolls in the Indian Ocean, comprising more than a thousand low-lying islands and sandbanks.

  • Stay in a village-island to discover the real Maldives
  • Dive at manta rays cleaning stations, and snorkel with whale sharks in South Ari Atoll
  • Enjoy Maldives fantastic topography with plenty of swim-throughs, pinnacles, caverns and overhangs
  • Embark on a liveaboard to explore deep south Maldives, the little Galapagos of the Indian Ocean!

Whether you decide to go land-based or with a liveaboard, the scuba diving will be top notch, with plenty of pelagic life and colorful fish!

The 7 Best Places to Dive in Maldives

Central Maldives: North Male, South Male and South Ari Atolls

North and South Male atolls have been among the first scuba diving areas to develop in Maldives, due to its proximity to the capital. Still nowadays, they host some really good dive sites, worth a visit.

South Ari atoll is a popular atoll to scuba dive as there’s plenty of exciting marine life, with several manta rays cleaning stations and some of whale sharks coming by. Dhigurah island in South Ari atoll is the hotspot to see whale sharks, and the British NGO Maldives Whale Shark Research has set up base there.

atoll in maldives

The Best Dive Sites of Central Maldives

  • Okobe Thila, North Male Atoll: divers usually start at 30 meters depth (100 feet) and slowly ascend around the pinnacle covered with healthy corals, looking around for tuna and white-tip reef sharks.

  • Kandooma Thila, South Male Atoll: one of the best dive sites around, with an exciting topography and a very rich marine life. The 300 meters long (1000 feet) pinnacle is covered with beautiful soft corals and at its west side, called “Jack corner” you’ll get to see barracuda, trevally, groupers, and jacks of course! Eagle rays, white tip and grey reef sharks are sometimes spotted too on the site. As you ascend, you’ll get to do your safety stop among green turtles.

  • Broken Rock, South Ari Atoll: this dive site topography is quite unique with a deep canyon breaking the reef into two parts. It’s possible to swim in the canyon if you have good buoyancy control in currents. Most divers stay on the side of the canyon and grab a rock while looking at jacks, anthias, angel and butterfly fish among others. You’ll notice the beautiful colored fans in the canyon.

  • Kudarah Thila, South Ari Atoll: another beautiful pinnacle located this time in a marine protected area. You’ll start the dive swimming through a beautiful arch covered with corals. Bring a torch to look closely at this magnificent formation. On the pinnacle, you’ll get to see plenty of fish, such as snappers, fusiliers, anthias, groupers.. and also some turtles. There’s often strong current in this dive site too.

  • Maaya Thila, South Ari Atoll: is no doubt one of the best dive sites in Maldives. Full of life, this pinnacle starts at 30 meters depth (100 feet) and is covered with beautiful soft coral and gorgones. It’s particularly known for its night dives, where you can see a lot of shark action! A big cave on the north side attracts plenty of angelfish, great barracuda, batfish, butterfly fish.. with white tips and grey reef sharks hunting in the nearby current!

whale shark in maldives

Diving Season

  • You can dive in Central atolls year round, however the best time is from November to end of May.
    • you’re more likely to spot mantas January to April
    • you can see whale sharks year round
  • In June-July, there is a southwest monsoon, during which there’ll be more wind, some rain, and stronger swells.

Dive Conditions

  • The water temperature ranges from 26° to 29°C (79° to 84°F)
  • Underwater visibility is most times good, and excellent between November to end of May
  • A good destination if you enjoy moderate to strong currents

How to Get There

  • All international visitors arrive at Velana International Airport (MLE), in Male, Maldives capital

  • North and South Male atolls are easily reached from Male. Your hotel will arrange transportation for you to the island

  • To go dive in South Ari atoll, book a dive trip to Dhigurah island the hot spot for mantas and whale sharks!

  • The most efficient way to go to the best dive sites is to go on a liveaboard trip to Central and South Atolls! (7 nights starting from ...). The team will pick you up at the airport and will take you to the mentioned dive sites

Far North Maldives: Vaavu, Baa and Lhaviyani Atolls

Vaavu atoll has the largest barrier reef in the Maldives, of a length of 50 km (30 miles). Island Tourism is still is still largely underdeveloped, and liveaboards often visit as it offers an abundant marine life, with fantastic overhangs and swim-throughs.

Baa atoll comprises 75 islands and is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. It has one of the largest coral reefs diversity of the Indian Ocean. Many divers go there to see the mantas feeding in Hanifaru Bay.

Lhaviyani atoll is a popular destination with over 50 dive sites offering some wall dives, coral gardens, channels, and even some wrecks.

baa atoll

The Best Dive Sites of Far North Maldives

  • Fotteyo Kandu, Vaavu Atoll: the channel has beautiful topography, with caves, overhangs and swim-throughs, filled with yellow soft coral and a few black coral bushes. It’s common to see some schools of snappers, titan triggerfish, potatoe groupers, tuna, barracuda, some grey and white tip reef sharks, and some sting rays and eagle rays.

  • Hanifaru Bay, Baa Atoll: most liveaboards don’t make it all the way there. The bay is famous for its feeding mantas and is a marine protected area in which it’s now forbidden to scuba dive. You can however snorkel there and witness this incredible ballet.

  • Kuredu Express, Lhaviyani Atoll: is a site for divers experienced with strong currents. You can stop along the dive at various levels of depth and look out for reef sharks, eagle rays, tunas, stingrays, reef mantas and more.

mantas rays in maldives

Diving Season

  • You can dive in Northern atolls year round, however the best conditions are from November to April.
  • To see the most manta rays, choose to go during monsoon season, between May to November, when there’s more plankton in the water.

Dive Conditions

  • The water temperature ranges from 26° to 30°C (79° to 86°F)
  • Underwater visibility is most times good, and excellent in the dry season
  • A good destination if you enjoy moderate to strong currents

How to Get There

  • All international visitors arrive at Velana International Airport (MLE), in Male, Maldives capital

  • You can reach the Northern atolls with a sea plane, a speed boat or a ferry

  • Some liveaboards have routes going North to Vaavu and Lhaviyani atolls, check-out this liveaboard trip to Northern atolls

Deep South Maldives: Fuvahmulah Atoll

Maldives far South is often explored with a liveaboard. Divers can see plenty of pelagic year-round in Fuvahmulah, and the destination is gaining in popularity. It is one of the only places on earth where you can see such diversity of pelagic species year-round. Located just above the equator, the atoll of Fuvahmulah acts as a seamount, attracting large pelagic!

fuvahmulah atoll

The Best Dive Sites of Deep South Maldives

  • Fuvahmulah Atoll: thresher sharks, tiger sharks, schools of great and scalloped hammerheads, oceanic mantas, mobula rays, whale sharks and mola-mola, you can see it all in Fuvahmulah! The waters are so rich in pelagic life it’s been compared to diving Galapagos or Cocos Island.
jack fish in maldives

Diving Season

  • October to April is a great time to go there, and March-April is probably one of the best time to go:
    • tiger sharks, thresher sharks, grey reef sharks and white tip sharks can be seen year round
    • schools of scalloped hammerheads are seen between October to April
    • whale sharks and oceanic manta rays peak season is in March-April

Dive Conditions

  • The water temperature ranges from 25° to 30°C (77° to 86°F)
  • Underwater visibility is most times good, a little lower in March-April
  • A good destination if you enjoy currents and adrenalin!

How to Get There

  • All international visitors arrive at Velana International Airport (MLE), in Male, Maldives capital

  • You’ll then have to fly to Laamu (KDO) or Seenu (GAN), where liveaboards most often start and finish.

  • This liveaboard trip to Maldives deep South! (7 nights starting from ...) will take you on a 10 days trip to fully enjoy the “Maldivian Galapagos”!

Dive Safety Recommendations

For safety reasons, always bring with you a surface marker buoy, and know how to use it. We also recommend you to have a Nautilus Lifeline, a GPS that could save your life if taken by currents. They can be strong in some areas of Maldives, and you should have a little experience in currents. Negative entry is common practice.

If diving in Southern Maldives, temperatures can be lower, from from 25° to 30°C (77° to 86°F). Make sure you bring proper insulation.

Finally, remember to always use a reef-safe sunscreen.

Maldives Entry Requirements

  • You must have a passport valid for at least six months, a pre-paid or booking accomodation proof, sufficient funds for your stay, and a return ticket.
  • Tourist visa is granted for all nationalities, on arrival, for up to thirty days.
  • Please check current visa policies that apply for your country: Maldives Immigration website
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