Diving Holidays In The Maldives

The Maldives fit the postcard-perfect images of tropical islands - white sandy beaches backed by lush interiors, azure blue skies and lagoons filled with the crystal clear waters, fringed by multi-coloured coral reefs. The tropical paradise continues under the water, where snorkellers view the coral reefs from the surface, divers experience it in true 3D.

When And Where To Dive In The Maldives

The Maldives is one of the most complex dive holiday destinations to understand. Over 1190 islands are clustered together into 26 atolls, perched in the middle of the Indian Ocean. The dive sites in and around these atolls are heavily influenced by seasonal winds and currents, but not in a uniform way. You cannot apply one season rule to the whole of the Maldives, different areas are better for different types of diving during any given period.

However, in very broad terms, we can say that during the dryer season of November to April, the visibility is at its best and the seas calm. During this time the ‘channel’ dives (underwater valleys with fast flowing water attracting big plankton feeders and sharks) tend to be best on the incoming currents on the Eastern side of the Maldives. The west monsoon of May to October tends to have the best chance of seeing big numbers of manta rays, and a higher chance of whale sharks. During this season the west side is at it’s best.

Channels And ‘thilas’ In The Maldives

The Maldives is very famous for sightings of the 'big hitters', as well as huge numbers of fish. Generally, the best dive sites are either channels or ‘thilas’ (underwater pinnacles jutting out of deep water). Both of these types of dive sites have deep ocean nutrient and plankton-rich water which attracts marine life in huge numbers. Although the dive channels on the far east or west of the Maldives are seasonally predictable, thilas can generally be dived all year round. Some areas of the Maldives have a good number of thila dive sites and can therefore be dived all year.

Sites around the channel walls and coral pinnacles offer exhilarating drift dives while the inner reefs and the atolls’ outer walls offer diving at a more leisurely pace. 

The huge variety and abundance of fish life make a diving holiday to the Maldives very exciting. Throughout the year the Maldives are most famous for whale sharks and manta rays which can quite reliably found at known feeding and cleaning stations. In addition, there are 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 have a fantastic array of species, including black tip, white tip, hammerhead, and leopard sharks, that make for the most incredible of diving experiences. 

Maldives: Land-based Vs. Liveaboard Dive Holiday

As with any of the world's best diving destinations, a diving liveaboard will always give you access to the best dive sites. There is a great range of boats to choose from in the Maldives, but as with the island resorts, standards vary a lot. It is important to speak with a Maldives dive liveaboard expert to find the best boat for your budget and expectations and get first-hand advice.

On a liveaboard dive holiday, you are able to get to the best dive locations for the season. Many liveaboards will venture further south during the dry season, when the seas are calmer, making the longer cross atoll journeys possible. In the deep south, advanced divers can enjoy some of the most spectacular shark action in the channels. There are a few boats that are permanently located in the south, giving the option for year around diving there.

However, a liveaboard diving holiday is not for everyone, especially those travelling with non-diving partners or family. For those who prefer a land-based holiday, the Maldives has a huge number of island resorts to choose from, around 180 at the last count, with more coming every year. The standards and costs of these resorts vary hugely, and the sky is the limit in terms of luxury. The islands can tend to be quite expensive, especially when compared to the cost of a Maldives liveaboard, which is comparatively great value.

Choosing an island resort, from the huge range on offer, is a daunting task. Without professional help from a Maldives dive holiday expert, a great deal of time and patience is needed to research, and even then it can be a most frustrating experience. Main differences between islands include size and facilities, couple or family focused, and the distance to the best dive sites. Once you have a rough idea of budget and time of year, call and speak to a Planet Dive Maldives expert, who will help you find the best island for you.

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