Diving in the Maldives
The Maldives is an absolutely breathtaking tropical idyll made up of over 1000 islands and 26 atolls all surrounded by crystalline turquoise waters and boarded by perfect beaches and tropical gardens—for many, it’s the quintessential island destination. Apart from attracting jet-setters looking for the ultimate luxury in the most incredible settings, the Maldives is also a highly coveted destination among the scuba diving community. A thriving ecosystem, vividly colourful reefs, big pelagic fish, hundreds of smaller sea creatures, deserted or isolated islands and pristine conditions make diving in the Maldives a truly extraordinary and unforgettable experience. Touted by some to have the best diving in the world, the Maldives is a must-visit destination for eager divers of all abilities.
Diving in the Maldives is unlike any experience you might enjoy elsewhere thanks to the incredible abundance of marine life that can be found here. This is largely due to currents that move through the channels and passages between the atolls, bringing nutrients and smaller fish such as plankton with them. The nutrients and smaller fish then attract a huge array of bigger fish that make the most of the convenient buffet. While there are virtually hundreds of species you can encounter underneath the water’s surface, here are some of the most common:
- Napoleon wrasse
Many of the dive sites in the Maldives have two distinguishable features. The first, as we already mentioned, is the current sweep channels. The second is the pinnacles which attract fish much like magnets. At many of the incredible dive sites, you can discover caves, caverns and overhangs with their typical abundance of soft corals, sponges, invertebrates and gorgonian fans which thrive in the nutrient-rich water. There are also loads of cleaning stations where wrasse and shrimp help to clean the bigger marine species such as mantas.
Inside the lagoons, you can find rock pinnacles that sometimes reach to the surface of the water and are covered almost entirely with barnacles. These little rock formations are also often home to sponges, soft corals and crustaceans. A little distance from the reefs, the pelagics can be found (if you are lucky). Manta rays, eagle rays, whales, dolphins and a host of sharks frequent the tempting tropical waters of the Maldives, and thanks to the typically good conditions (better in some seasons than in others though), divers have the chance to enjoy some incredible marine life.
For those who prefer to stay in shallower waters, the sightings are still phenomenal with schools of gorgeously coloured fish made even more brilliant by the illuminating rays of the sun. No matter what your diving skill or which of the many exceptional dive sites you explore (there are more than 200 dive sites in the Maldives), when diving in the Maldives, you are practically guaranteed wonderful sightings. Most of the dives here for experienced divers are drift dives (for the beginners, the dives will probably take place in the lagoons), and the water is very clear, allowing up to 40m visibility in perfect conditions (which makes for fantastic underwater photography).
While it’s possible to go diving in the Maldives throughout the year, the best season is generally between January and April, where the sea conditions are good and the visibility superb. The average water temperatures here range between 27ºC and 30ºC and there are sites for all levels of divers from beginners (there are some awe-inspiring coral gardens in the lagoons) to advanced. For the more advanced divers, it’s important to know that currents in the channels can be strong and some of the dives are deep. The sites range from 5m to 40m deep, but the average sits between 10m and 20m.
The enchanting and diverse coral reefs, the incredible plethora of marine life and the underwater ecosystem as a whole are incredibly important to many in the Maldives who have put conservation efforts into place to ensure that this gorgeous diving destination thrives for years to come.
While there are some divers who would prefer to opt for a liveaboard diving trip, if you can't think of anything better than exploring the underwater playground while diving in the Maldives and making the most of the luxurious resorts in your downtime, then a stay at Kanuhura is a must. Not only are there spectacular dive sites nearby, but there is an exceptional dive centre on the main island itself. Here you can learn to dive from scratch or upskill to a new level and enjoy spectacular dives in the Maldives—this is an experience you are not likely to forget