MALDIVES DIVING HOLIDAYS

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Diving Holidays In The Maldives

The travelling diver, whether travelling solo or with other divers may choose a Maldives liveaboard with an extension of a few resort nights. If you are travelling with a non-diving partner or family there are around 109 Maldives Island Resorts to choose from. With one island to one resort these Maldives resorts are as varied as the private islands they occupy. Each island resort offers some kind of diving but they are not made equal. Selecting the right Maldives resort for you is essential to fully enjoy your Maldives diving holiday. Planet Dive are able to arrange tailor made packages to suit your needs. Whether you are wanting shore diving, familiy facilities, spa and wellness facilities or a remote 'no news, no shoes' location then we are the right company to book with. We offer the most comprehensive collection of Maldives resorts covering every atoll with expert dive travel consultants to guide your choice.

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Planet Suggested Tour Itineraries In Maldives

The Diving In The Maldives

The relative isolation of the Maldives, far from any landmass, has led to a fabulous variety of marine species. Seasonal oceanic currents flowing through the country have forged channels from the open ocean in to all the atolls. These channels, or Kandu in Dhivehi, concentrate plankton rich waters into and out of the atolls, which in turn support an incredibly rich marine ecosystem. Once inside the atoll, reefs, sandbars, islands and lagoons have evolved over millennia forming the habitat and nurseries for many of the reefs inhabitants. For more description of Maldives diving and Maldives dive seasons visit our Maldives destination page Maldives Dive Holidays

Land based diving from the Maldives resorts takes in sites local to the resort island. This may include up to 40 local dive sites between 10 minutes to 2 hours away by day boat. The traditional Maldivian day boat is the dive dhoni, based on local wooded craft. More recently resorts have started to use faster fiberglass dhoni's that can carry divers to more remote sites. Most Maldives resorts have some fringing 'house reefs' that can snorkelled from shore, quality house reefs that would interest the travelling diver are limited to a few Maldives resort islands.

We can combine a Maldives liveaboard holiday with an Maldives island stay if you wish to have a relaxing beach stay before or after your liveaboard safari. There are many islands to choose from to suit all pockets and dive requirements, just ask when inquiring about your Maldive diving holiday or see our recommended Maldives Island Resorts.

The Maldivian atolls are divided into 21 administrative regions named in order, north to south, by the letters of the Maldivian alphabet. 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.

The Diving In The Maldives Far North

Following an internal flight north from Male you reach Hanimaadhoo, the most northerly airport in the Maldives. From here the travelling diver can reach the handful of resort islands or the one Maldives liveaboard based in this remote part of the Maldives to dive Haa Alifu Atoll and Haa Dhaalu Atoll.

Haa Alifu Atoll Diving: Haa Alifu has a special meaning for Maldivians as the birth-place of the nation's hero Muhammad Thakurufaanu, who freed the Maldives from its Portuguese rulers. The diving in Haa Alifu is varied with currents tending not to be as strong as they can be in the Maldives Central Atolls. Thila dives include Amba, Baarah and Muraadhoo look out for leopard sharks and occasional mantas. Dhonakulhi Channel is also a good place to spot mantas in season. The 80m Maddhoo wreck is in a mere 20m of water.

Haa Dhaalu Atoll Diving: Directly south of Haa Alifu, the Thila at Nellahidhoo is a good spot for reef sharks, white and black tips and grey reefs.

The Diving In The Maldives Northern Atolls

Below the far North Atolls lie the Shaviyani, Noonu, Raa, Lhaviyani, and Baa atolls as well as the smaller Goidhoo Atoll. These Maldivian Northern Atolls can be reached by liveaboards departing Male or via a short internal flight. Baa Atoll is renowned for the mantas of Hanifaru Bay and Lhaviyani a long time favourite due to its well established and popular Kuredu island resort. The other Northern Atolls are only just being discovered by travelling divers.

Raa Atoll Diving: A large atoll to the north of Baa. The Raa Atoll is another that has only recently been opened to tourism and so still rarely dived. A lot of the diving here is on pinnacles with shallow giris and the deeper thilas.

Shaviyani Atoll Diving: A big draw for Shaviyani Atoll is that its relatively unknown diving and the sites remain little dived, protected by their remoteness and the lack of divers in the area. 

Noonu Atoll Diving: While it is possible to access Noonu Atoll from Lhaviyani, it's rarely done thus leaving the sites for the enjoyment of divers from the handful of island resorts. Orimas Thgila is a shark cleaning station and you'll find many juveniles here. 

Baa Atoll Diving: August through October sees the seasonal congregation of filter feeders in Baa Atoll, particualrly mantas in Hanifaru Bay. This is, without a 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 still allowed. When Mantas are in Hanifaru Bay there is a park fee of US$20 per person (subject to change) for 45 minutes of snorkeling, paid directly to the park rangers. 

Lhaviyani Atoll Diving: Relatively remote and with fewer visitors the Lhaviyani Atoll has a number of spectacular and pristine dive sites. The resort of Kuredu boasts over 45 local dive sites, amongst them two are particularly noteworthy. The two wrecks of the Shipyard have become artificial reefs adorned with marine life. Here the prevailing current enables divers to visit both steel wrecks is one dive. At the Kuredhoo Express eagle rays and various species of reef shark are regularly sighted. But watch out this drift dive is not for the faint hearted, its name says it all.

The Diving In The Maldives Central Atolls

The Maldives’ Central Atolls contains the country's capital Male and Ibrahim Nasir International Airport on neighbouring Hulhule Island. It was here that Maldives diving began with the first of the Maldives resorts. This region includes North Male and South Male Atolls, Gaafaru Atoll, Felidhue Atoll (aka Vaavu Atoll), Rasdhoo and North Ari and South Ari Atolls.

North Male Atoll Diving: The Maldives’ principle atoll has much to attract all levels of driver. The outer reefs to the west shelve steeply to 300 metres and to the east 2000 metres. In the atoll’s north-west region the outer reefs at Madivaru offer plenty of good diving for all levels of diver throughout the year. Those with more experience will enjoy Madi Thila where the outgoing currents attract mantas between January and March. In contrast the incoming currents at Kani Corner create ideal conditions for schooling jacks and dog-toothed tuna. A little further south is Manta Point, best dived during the south westerlies. If that’s not enough there’s also the wreck of the Maldives Victory. Located close to the airport island, and sitting upright in 35 m of water, this intact wreck is often swept by strong currents and is for advanced divers only.

South Male Atoll Diving: The diving in South Male Atoll is largely on the eastern edge with its 6 kandus (channels). Embudhoo Kandu, with its Grey Reef sharks and Guraidhoo Kandu are two of the big names of Maldives diving. Less well known are sites like Kandooma Thila a a coral head just off Kandooma Island standing in 40 metres of water. The current here brings hunting Jacks, Barracuda and reef sharks. The small Kuda Giri Wreck lies upright on the seabed, at between 30 and 15 metres, just off the small Giri and when flooded with light is a lovely dive with loads of marine life both above and within the wreck.

Ari Atoll Diving: The northern Ari Atoll possesses four of the Maldives’ most famous ‘signature dives. Maaya Thila, renowned for White Tips, fish head for Grey Reef sharks, Rasdhoo for schooling Hammerheads and the Halaveli wreck for stingrays. Southern Ari is better known for its exhilarating drift dives in the kandus and around the numerous thilas. Large pelagics can be seen throughout the year moving location with the seasons. Mandivaru is famed as a manta cleaning station whilst diving outside Dhidhdoo during the southwesterlies probably offers divers their best chance of whaleshark experience. The novice or less adventurous diver shouldn’t be put off, Ari has something for everyone.

Vaavu Atoll Diving: Across a reasonably short, approximately 14km wide, channel Vaavu is considered part of the central atolls. It is regularly visited by the Maldives' liveaboard safari boats for its numerous long and deep channels, along the Atoll's eastern edge and the popular night dive at Alimatha.

The Diving In The Maldives Southern Atolls

South of the Maldives' Central Atolls the Maldives' South encompasses the Meemu Atoll, North and South Nilandhe Atolls (aka Faafu Atoll and Dhaalu Atoll) as well as the even more remote Thaa and Laamu Atoll. Until recently these remote atolls were reserved for those diving on liveaboards. However, they are now being explored by a few day divers with the development of a handful of very high class Maldives resorts.

Faafu Atoll Diving: Faafu Atoll has many good channels on the eastern edge where you will find barracuda, napoleon and reef sharks. The widest and deepest of all the channels is Filitheyo Kandu and this is the only protected marine reserve in Faafu Atoll. Faafu also has a couple of good sized wrecks and its own Manta Point. In the entire atoll there is just one resort, Filitheyo Island Resort, in the north-east corner.

Dhaalu Atoll Diving: There are 45 islands in the Dhaalu Atoll, but only 2 resorts, both in the northeast corner. Diving in the Dhaalu Atoll includes channels and deep water. Dhallu also has a marine protected area at Fushi Kandu with a number of thilas across the channel, be sure to look outside these for passing sharks and eagle rays.

Meemu Atoll Diving: The long eastern edge of the Meemu Atoll offers plenty of wall diving and one large kandu, with loads of great dives. Inside the atoll are giris and thilas. Whale shark season in Meemu Atoll is May-December. An early morning dive at Hakuraa Express may even reward you with a manta and even the occasional hammerhead.

Thaa Atoll Diving: Thaa Atoll still has plenty of dive sites not yet fully investigated. Until recently Thaa Atoll was the preserve of the safari boats passing through on their way to or from the Maldives deep south.  Diving here includes giris and thilas, channels, coral gardens, outer walls and overhangs. You'll be diving with rays and sharks, various fish species, schooling tuna, barracuda and a whole array of reef fish.

Laamu Atoll Diving: The shape and remoteness of the Laamu Atoll combine to make it unique. Good coral formations and few divers helps to ensure that the reefs remain in excellent condition. Laamu has its own Manta Point at Hithadhoo Corner with mantas possible virtually all year around. Deep drop-offs form Laamu Atoll's outer walls. It also boasts some excellent channel dives like Fushi Kandu offering good drifts and the chance of seeing larger species of fish and sharks.

The Diving In The Maldives Deep South

Either side of the Equatorial channel (Addu Kandu) lie the most southerly of the Maldives' atolls. On the northern side is the larger Huvadhoo Atoll while to the south are tiny Foammulah Atoll and Addu Atoll (aka Seenu Atoll). Diving in the Maldives Deep South is about as remote as you'll find anywhere

Huvadhoo Atoll Diving:  Maldives liveaboards visit Huvadhoo between January and March attracted by the shark action. Hammerheads, silky sharks, tiger sharks and reef sharks including grey reef sharks. A large atoll Huvadhoo has it all Kandu, channel, diving and well as pinnacles, Thilas & Giris. 

Addu Atoll Diving: Addu, or Seenu, Atoll contains the island of Gan, formerly a Royal Air Force Station, and is the location of the wreck of the British Loyalty. Scuttled in 1946, after being damaged by torpedo earlier in the war, British Loyalty now sits in 33 metres of water. With access by air and one international standard resort and a handful of guesthouses there are few other divers in this relatively small atoll.

Getting Around The Maldives

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.

Activities & Nightlife

The type and level of other activities really depends on the Maldives Island Resort that you choose. Some of the simpler, smaller Maldives Resorts are mainly about a 'No News, No Shoes' chill-out experience with diving and beach life the focus of your day. The most modern and sophisticated resorts have outstanding spa and Wellness facilities and a host of facilities for the active and less active. In the middle most resorts have a mix of water sports such as sailing, kayaking and kitesurfing as well as Spas and Family Facilities available, tailored to the needs of the guests they seek to attract.

The nature of the Maldives is a relaxed and tranquil atmosphere with very low-key and modest evening entertainment. Bars and dining are a focus on all the islands. Some Maldives Resorts have evening entertainments laid on, even black and white movie projectors on the beach!

Resort Summary

  • Beginners
  • Advanced
  • Technical Diving
  • Family Friendly
  • Single Friendly
  • Eating Out
  • Nightlife
  • Un spolit
  • Culture
  • Luxury Hotel
  • Multi Activity
  • Spa

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