Diving in the Maldives
Maldivian coral reefs are home to the richest diversity in the region and are the seventh largest on the globe, accounting for 5% of the world’s reef area. The islands have become one of the most famous diving locations with unique coral reef formations and a great diversity of marine species with visibility throughout the year. There are incredible dive sites in all the atolls with more being discovered as islands open up to tourism.
While some divers maintain the best diving is to be enjoyed from resorts recently opened in atolls far away from Male’, others maintain that there are great dive sites close to the centre, such as the 35 recognised sites in North Male’ Atoll and the 25 sites in South Male’ Atoll. Ari Atoll offers a great variety of dive sites and fish-sightings. The southern atolls are renowned for coral and lots of channels for spotting sharks and barracudas. The northern atolls have interesting reefs in shallower waters.
There are six major underwater sites within easy reach of Male’ (which has a number of dive centres that provide equipment and dive vessels to explore them). Many are close to resorts north of the airport, such as H P Reef, 100m long with outcrops of coral, caves and crevices. Okobe (Barracuda) Thila consists of three reefs with a great variety of marine life. For manta fans, Manta Point is the place to dive. Furana Thila has caves frequented by sharks, and Banana Reef supports a colourful fish population. South of the airport is the Maldive Victory, a sunken ship that is a popular wreck dive. The best areas for divers are the reef edges, the kandus where currents attract big fish; the thilas where wave actions and currents attract a multitude of fish; and the wrecks dotted around where seafarers suffered misfortune or which have been deliberately sunk to create attractive dive sites. A popular wreck, where divers can explore the interior, is close to Maafushi, an inhabited island that has three separate dive centres. There are dozens of dive sites within an hour or so by boat from Male’. Colosseum, 15 minutes by boat, is near Thulusdhoo Island with a reef gently sloping down to 25m; home to schools of blue stripe snapper, red and midnight snapper, eagle ray, whitetip reef shark, leopard shark, batfish and sometimes manta ray and whale shark. It’s 15 minutes to Chicken Island corner dive site to see moray eel, tuna, red snapper, blue fin and big eye Trevally, and whitetip reef shark. Prisca Head north of Meeru Channel is good for grey reef shark, whitetip reef shark, schools of sergeant fish, black jack fish and moray eel.
Inside Dhifushi Channel there’s a deep dive for advanced divers with overhangs to see fan coral, soft coral, schools of blue stripe snapper, hump head red snapper, sweet lips, moray eel, mantis shrimp, red snapper, blue fin Trevally, and Napoleon wrasses. Kuda Wreck is located near Dhifushi Island and is home to small glassfish, cleaning shrimp, trumpet fish, and sweet lips. Asdhoo Rock near Asdhoo Island is composed of small pinnacles on its northeast side and is home to Napoleon wrasse, schools of hump head snapper and blue stripe snapper, turtles, red snapper and big schools of fusilier. To the east side of the pinnacle are live corals.