DIVING HOLIDAYS IN THE MALDIVES
The Maldives' 26 atolls stretch north to south for hundreds of miles creating a broken barrier to the Indian Ocean's prevailing currents. It's the flow of these currents and local tides through & around the atolls and islands, and the rich planktonic soup they carry, that gives diving in the Maldives its unique flavour. The Maldivian atolls are divided into 21 administrative regions named in order, north to south, by the letters of the Maldivian alphabet. At Planet we have one of the most comprehensive collections of Maldives Island Resorts spread across virtually every Maldives Atoll. We also work with a fleet of Maldives liveaboards that range around the archipelago. To describe the day diving and liveaboard itineraries we use a mix of official, 'popular' and traditional names. If there is a particular area or spot that you'd like to dive we'll have an option to get you there, or its not worth diving.
Planet suggested tour itineraries in MALDIVES
DIVING THE MALDIVES
One of world's ultimate in long haul luxury, the Maldives is at the top of most seasoned divers’ wish lists.
Indian Ocean currents and local tides flush clean water through the atolls. As it exits the atolls through the channels (Kandus), it carries with it nutrients and plankton, the ideal environment for the filter feeders. The huge variety and abundance of fish life make a holiday diving the Maldives so exciting. Some species are common throughout the Maldives while pelagics, like Mantas and Whale Sharks, move with the season. Sites around the channel walls and coral pinnacles (Thilas & Giris) in these channels, offer exhilarating drift dives. The inner reefs and the atolls’ outer walls offer diving at a more leisurely pace, something for everyone, and Manta ‘cleaning stations’ and Manta ‘feeding stations’ add to the excitement.
The Maldives are blessed with an incredible variety of marine species throughout the year the Maldives are probably most famous for the Whalesharks and Manta Rays which can quite reliably found at known feeding and cleaning stations. But there are also eagle rays, devil rays, blue spotted rays even the enormous black spotted rays – so keep an eye out into the blue.
For the shark loving divers out there, the Maldives has a fantastic array of species that make for the most incredible of diving experiences. Amongst many other types to be seen roaming Maldive waters, there is a great range of black tip, white tip, leopard shark, and the Maldives has its own hammerhead point. Another firm favourite amongst voyaging divers are the characterful turtles, as the age old creatures are a mascot of your safety stops.
Diving the Maldives is either liveaboard diving in Maldives, with the opportunity to range around sites spread over a large area, or Landbased diving in the Maldives based in a comfortable resort with day boats departing morning, afternoon or for full day trips. Most islands have a house reef of sorts but only a select few Maldives Resort Islands can claim to have true world-class House Reefs.
DIVING SEASONS IN THE MALDIVES
The following is written in broad terms as forecasting seasonality in the Maldives is not an exact science. Throughout the Maldives there are, broadly speaking, two seasons:
Iruvaa: December-April is the North Eastern monsoon when the winds are Northerly, North Eastern or Easterlies, and bring generally dry weather. Average air temperature 25˚C to 30˚C
Hulhagu: April-December, the winds come from the opposite side of the compass carrying with them moister air. Brief storms pass across the Maldives chain and the rest of the day is usually dry, sunny, and hot.
Seasonal Equinox: Late May or early June and then late October early November are the equinox months marking the transition of the monsoons. With the change in season comes a reversal in currents, which dictates the location of the filter feeding Mantas and Whale sharks, and so influences the choice of dive site at any particular time of year. Average Visibility can vary between 15 to 40m, by their nature the many of the great sites have reduced viz due to waters flowing out of the atolls' interior. During these equinox months currents and surface conditions are changeable and less predictable.
The moon phases also affect the type of diving you might expect. New and Full moons, particularly in January and February create strong flowing water, a drift diver's dream. These periods are also times of frenetic activity both on the reef and amongst pelagic species. A few days either side of the new moon is the best time for Manta sightings, especially in Hanifaru (see below); the next best is either side for the full moon.
Hanifaru Bay: Between August and October sees the seasonal congregation of Pelagics in Baa Atoll. This is without doubt one of the top places in the world to see mantas and whale sharks. It is the only place on the planet where you can swim with up to 200 manta rays and 20 whale sharks when the plankton-blooms are at their fullest and trapped in Hanifaru Bay, it attracts a great range of life from every corner of the surrounding ocean. This area is now a protected zone and diving is prohibited, but snorkelling with the mantas is, thankfully, still allowed.
MALDIVES RESORT TRANSFERS
The Maldives islands lie across 750Km of Indian Ocean from the Far Northern atoll of Haa Alifu to the Deep South and Seenu (Addu) Atoll. Getting to the Maldives for most people involves a flight to Male International Airport in the center of this island chain. Each Maldives Island Resort sits on its own private island and getting from your point of arrival to your resort involves a resort transfer. But by resort transfer we don't mean a huge coach or some long hot taxi ride. In this island nation resort transfers are either by sea or air, or both.
For those Maldives Resort Islands closest to Male speedboats are the way to go. Speedboats are relatively cheap alternatives and the speedboat jetty is right in front of the airport terminal building. Once clear of the marina speedboats zip across the ocean. Settle back, wind in your hair and gaze out at the idyllic coral islands and busy local fishing boats. If you're lucky a pod of dolphins or tips of a manta's wings can be seen breaking the surface.
Seaplanes are small aircraft with floats for taking off and landing on water. The seaplanes in the Maldives are located on the same island as the Male airport so there is a short mini-bus journey around the runway to get there. Seaplanes carry around 12 guests and luggage and small windows provide aerial views of the stunning coral waters below. Watch out for reef sharks thrashing in shallow lagoons below. Seaplanes land close to your Maldives resort with just a short dhoni journey across the lagoon to the jetty left to endure!
With a network of 11 airports now strung across the islands for some of the very remote Maldives Island Resorts we use the small domestic flights followed by a relatively short speedboat to your accommodation.
For each of our Recommended Hotels in the Maldives
we provide a short description of its location and the type of resort transfer required. We arrange the resort transfer for you at the time of booking your accommodation. Similarly if you are island hopping we'll arrange the inter-island transfers for you. So with resort transfers all taken care of all you need to do is just sit back and admire the view.
NB: Seaplanes in the Maldives are unpressurised but fly at or about 1000ft, cabins of domestic flights will be pressurised to a similar altitude. Divers should take this into account when planning their final days of diving.
TRAVEL HEALTH FOR THE MALDIVES
Advise changes from time to time however so we ask that you ask your travel health expert (e.g. GP, practice nurse or travel clinic) to provide you with the most up to date information and vaccines to ensure your travels are safe and enjoyable. It is vital to ensure that all members of your party have adequate health and travel insurance cover, which includes cover for any ‘higher risk’ activities you are likely to take part in.
Practically all Maldives resort islands have a resident doctor and first-aid services. Health Centres and Hospitals located across the atolls can also be accessed when required. The Maldives two main hospitals are located in the Capital Male with specialist doctors and clinics.
Maldives Recompression Chambers: There are currently 6 recompression chambers operating in the Maldives. The first established and largest chamber is on on Bandos Island (15 minutes by speedboat from Male). Others are located on Alidhoo Resort in Haa Alifu, Villingili Resort in Addu, Kuramathi Resort in Rasdhoo, and Kuredu in Laviyani Atoll.
ENTRY REQUIREMENTS FOR MALDIVES
You will need to ensure you have correct documentation for your holiday including a full passport valid for the minimum period beyond your planned return date. You may also require a visa.
If you are bringing a great deal of photographic or diving equipment with you, it is advisable to bring a list with details such as serial numbers in order to avoid delay at customs. There are tight restirctions on the import of various items including alchol.