If you want diving Maldives: The coconut palm and the yellow-fin tuna, symbols of the Maldives, say a great deal about this nation of more than a thousand islands. Grouped into 26 low atolls in the Indian Ocean, less than 300 of the islands are inhabited. The Maldives is flat with white sandy beaches and excellent reefs with an abundance of marine life.
Scuba diving is done at a leisurely drift pace as the Indian Monsoon Current sweeps along the island chains, moving nutrients and divers along. This nutrient-rich water flows up along the walls, feeding the sponges and soft corals clinging to the rock sides. Inside the atoll lagoons, rock pinnacles – thila – vault up from the bottom to scratch the water’s surface.
In the channels, there are swim-throughs, caverns and overhangs festooned with colorful sponges, invertebrates and gorgonians to explore. At well-known cleaning stations, wrasse and shrimp service manta rays, and other large marine species. With a welcoming culture and some of the finest liveaboard dive boats and luxury resorts on the globe, a dive holiday in the Maldives makes for an unforgettable experience.
The Maldives remained largely unknown to tourists until the early 1970s. Only 185 islands are home to its 300,000 inhabitants. The other islands are used entirely for economic purposes, of which tourism and agriculture are the most dominant. Tourism accounts for 28% of the GDP and more than 60% of the Maldives’ foreign exchange receipts. Over 90% of government tax revenue comes from import duties and tourism-related taxes.
The development of tourism fostered the overall growth of the country’s economy. It created direct and indirect employment and income generation opportunities in other related industries. The first tourist resorts were opened in 1972 with Bandos island resort and Kurumba Village (the current name is Kurumba Maldives), which transformed the Maldives economy.
According to the Ministry of Tourism, the emergence of tourism in 1972 transformed the economy, moving rapidly from dependence on fisheries to tourism. In just three and a half decades, the industry became the main source of income. Tourism was also the country’s biggest foreign currency earner and the single largest contributor to the GDP. As of 2008, 89 resorts in the Maldives offered over 17,000 beds and hosted over 600,000 tourists annually.
Where to do diving Maldives
Although Maldives is spread in a north south direction in the middle of the Indian Ocean, today it is widely interconnected as well as connected to the world. There are nine regional airports, Maldivian,Trans Maldivian Airways and FlyMe operate to these airports and the seaplane services from all three airlines make almost all islands easily accessible. Major airlines such as Singapore Airlines, Qatar, Emirates, British Airways and many more have scheduled flights to Ibrahim Nasir International Airport. IDD facilities and broadband internet are available. The 3g and 4g networks provided by Dhiraagu and Ooredoo makes it possible to be connected to the entire world even when on a dive trip to the outer reef edge.
Fotteyo Kandu, Vaavu Atoll – This highly-rated dive site for diving Maldives hosts abundant coral and fish, but also includes caves, overhangs and swim-throughs filled with yellow soft coral and a few black coral bushes at deeper depths. You may see reef sharks, jack and tuna, plus large schools of snapper. The Thila in the middle of the channel entrance is a good place to do the safety stop.
Kuredu Express, Lhaviyani Atoll – This site gets its name from the strong current that flows through the channel. Cruise along one of the terraces located at different depths and watch the reef sharks, eagle rays, tuna, stingrays and barracuda go by. Mantas also frequently venture into the scene.
Okobe Thila, North Male Atoll – This site consists of three main pinnacle sections ranging from 10 metres/30 feet to 50 metres/165 feet in length. Because there is always some current, you normally spiral up and around. Look for tuna, white-tip reef sharks and bannerfish in addition to the healthy coral.
Kandooma Thila, South Male Atoll – This large teardrop shaped pinnacle has dramatic scenery and prolific fish life. The walls are covered with soft corals and patrolled by schools of red bass and big-eye trevally. You can frequently meet up with grey sharks, white-tip sharks and eagle rays. Do your safety stop on top of the reef while mingling with green turtles and batfish.
Broken Rock, South Ari Atoll – This unique formation has a canyon that breaks the reef in two. Look for large fan corals in the canyon and Napoleon wrasse, turtles, scorpionfish, moray eels and good coral growth on the reef.
Kudarah Thila, South Ari Atoll – This marine protected area for diving Maldives has a small reef full of soft corals and abundant fish life. Bring a dive light to explore the arch and a large overhang that make the dive unique.
Diving Maldives Key Facts
Visibility ranges from 20 metres/70 feet to really, really good. If the visibility lowers, it usually means plankton is present, which can bring in the whale sharks. The Water temperatures range from 26-30°C/80-86°F year-round.
Perfect is the weather. It’s tropical, hot and humid with loads of sunshine and temperatures around 24-33°C/75-91°F year-round. The diving is good all year long, but the monsoon brings significant rain between April and October, especially June to August.
In the open ocean near the reefs, pelagic animals – including manta rays, eagle rays, tuna and a variety of sharks (including whale sharks) – frequent the Maldives. On shallow dives, the clear, bright water hosts a massive amount of sweet lips, parrotfish, groupers, snappers as well as frequent turtles and moray eels.
The Maldives are a photographer’s dream, so take the PADI Digital Underwater Photographer course. The PADI Drift Diver course will prepare you for the drift dives through the channels. Enriched air nitrox is available, so the PADI Enriched Air Diver course is a good idea.
Travel to any destination for diving Maldives may be adversely affected by conditions including (but not limited) to security, entry and exit requirements, health conditions, local laws and culture, natural disasters and climate. Regardless of your destination, check your local travel advisory board or department for travel advice about that location when planning your trip and again shortly before you leave.
The official language is Dhivehi, but English is also widely spoken, especially in tourist areas and at resorts. Currency is the Maldivian Rufiyaa. Credit cards are the primary method of payment in resorts. Ibrahim Nasir International Airport – also known as Malé International Airport – is the port of entry into the country. Electricity – 220-240 volts, 50Hz. Internet is available at many resorts.
Most resorts have a variety of watersports activities to keep you busy after diving. Spa treatments and general relaxing are also popular. Take an excursion to a local village.
Most visitors arrive at Malé International Airport, on Hulhulé Island, adjacent to the capital Malé. The airport is served by flights to and from India, Sri Lanka, Doha, Dubai, Singapore, Istanbul, and major airports in South-East Asia, as well as charters from Europe. Gan Airport, on the southern atoll of Addu, also serves an international flight to Milan several times a week. British Airways offers direct flights to the Maldives around 2–3 times per week.