The Maldives compromise of 7000 low-lying coral islands in a 1200-mile chain southeast of India. About 200 of the islands are inhabited (although visitors have very little interaction with the 175,000 predominantly-Muslim residents), and several are devoted entirely to small resorts that offer average to excellent tropical reef diving with big fish action if the resort has a knowledgeable staff that knows where and when to find it. However, the Maldives are best dived from live-aboards to get to the pristine dive sites in the more remote locations The Maldives themselves fit the archetypal image of tropical desert islands, white sandy beaches backed by abundant palm and breadfruit trees, azure blue skies and lagoons filled with the crystal clear waters that this part of the Indian Ocean is famed for. Above and below the water the Maldives are truly a tropical paradise that few places on earth can match and one which has fascinated both divers and snorkelers since the islands were discovered as a diving destination. On the remote dive sites this diversity of life is further aided by the currents that can at certain times and places be quite strong and as such require divers to be qualified to at least the advanced level.
"I must thank you for the Theia liveaboard recommendation. We had a great honeymoon, the crew was very thoughtful, the boat maybe the best in her class and the diving is fantastic. Also the advice with the day-room was a very wise one. We'll definitely be back. Thank you!"
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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.
Land based diving takes in sites local to the resort island. This may include up to 40 sites either fringing 'house reefs' that can be dived from shore, quality house reefs are limited to a few resort islands, or local 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.
The climate of the Maldives is warm year round, determined by the monsoons. However, being on the equator, the monsoons are mild and not as defined as in neighbouring countries. Of the two monsoons, the Southwest monsoon from May to October brings some rain and wind. The Northeast monsoon, from November to April, is the dry season with very little wind. The temperature varies little with an annual average daily maximum of 32 degrees Celsius and the minimum at 26 degrees Celsius. The water temperature is between 28 - 30 C, a 3mm wet suit is usually ideal! Maldives is best visited between August and April with the most popular time being November to March.
Due to the vast expanse of the Maldivian atolls and 100s of dive sites the very best way from a diving perspective must be on a liveaboard. There are a very large number of liveaboard operators in the area but we work with a handfull of what we feel offers the best levels of service and value for UK clients. There are however some really beautiful island resorts on offer here. We can combine a liveaboard holiday with an island based holiday if you wish to have a relaxing beach stay before or after your liveaboard cruise. 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 resort on the hotels page.
Generally speaking the standard of accommodation on the islands is very high in the upper categories. The liveaboards tend to be more basic with the emphasis being more on quality of service and diving facilities.
The level of other activities really depends on the island that you choose. The smaller islands are really just for diving and relaxing. On the more up market resort there are some outstanding spa and health facilities to take advantage of. On some of the big midrange islands they also have many other water sports such as sailing, kayaking and kitesurfing.
The nature of the Maldives is a relaxed and tranquil atmosphere with very low-key and modest evening entertainment.
30-day holiday visas are granted free of charge on arrival. 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.
Tetanus and Polio are recommended, please check with your doctor for the latest advice. Some island have their own hospitals or medical centres. There is a recompression chamber on Bandos Island for emergencies.