A remote paradise better known as nature’s sunken garden, the waters surrounding the Maldives draw in avid divers from all corners of the globe.
These tropical islands have warm waters filled to the brim with sea creatures, colorful corals, and underwater life just waiting to be explored. There are countless dive sites, the whitest beaches imaginable, and more than 1,200 islands to hop between. No matter where you choose to hop in the water around the Maldives, you’ll be amazed at what you’re able to see.
In the past 10 years, much of the Maldives has opened up to tourism, making the blue waters of the area more accessible than ever. It’s a prime place to dive, no matter your skill level, with each of the 26 ring-shaped atolls holding a new and unique surprise.
Keep reading to discover everything you need to know about planning a diving trip to the Maldives and be prepared to be amazed at all that these islands hold.
Why Dive in the Maldives
Diving in the Maldives is one of the top diving experiences you can have. It is an endlessly exciting experience with vast diversity in sites and so much to see anywhere you go.
The Maldives boasts sites filled with caves and caverns, where you can swim among soft corals and colorful sponges. Or you can dive deep beside a pinnacle to take in all that the nutrient-rich water has to offer.
While diving in the Maldives, you’re bound to see tons of marine life in their natural habitat. There’s a lot of corals but the moving organisms really take the cake. Picture ginormous whale sharks, graceful manta rays, endless schools of fish, and large pelagic fish everywhere you look.
Swim among napoleon wrasse, parrotfish, and snappers at any dive site in the area. The Maldives is also well-known for having sharks swimming in their waters, so keep your eye out and you may spot some!
Besides exploring the warm waters during the day, there are sites that are great for night dives, with vibrant marine life coming alive after the sun goes down. Witness feeding frenzies and large animal migration, all without the interruption of other dive groups.
There are so many reasons to dive in the Maldives, from the marine life to the colorful corals to the unique experience of diving in one of the most remote parts of the world. The only thing left to do now is see for yourself!
Liveaboards in the Maldives
Due to the remote location and abundance of dive sites far from shore, a liveaboard is without a doubt the best way to experience diving in the Maldives.
Liveaboards allow you to reach the furthest, most pristine sites that aren’t crowded with those taking day trips from shore. Even if your itinerary includes trips to the more popular sites, you’ll be able to dive early before the crowds or after they leave.
And since you’re staying on the boat, many Maldives liveaboards offer night dives which give you a glimpse into what goes on underwater when the sun goes down.
Most liveaboards in the Maldives run from November to January, although you’re able to find trips all-year round. There’s an immense number of options to choose from, ranging in boat type, itinerary, and cost, but there’s certainly something for anyone looking to go diving in this part of the world.
While on a liveaboard, you can expect to dive three times a day, with the option for more. You’ll be led on excursions by an experienced divemaster who knows the sites, marine life, safety procedures, and protocol well. They’ll guide you during your time in the water, answer any questions you may have, and help you make the most of your time underwater!
When you’re not exploring underwater, you can kick back and relax because Maldives liveaboards have it all. You can expect your boat to have a sundeck and other common areas to relax, but if you have the budget, you might want to splurge on one of the luxury boats that come with hot tubs and an open bar.
Picture world-class meals while sailing around the sea and a fully equipped with a crew capable of serving your every need. Plus, unforgettable dives.
A diving holiday can’t get much better than that, wouldn’t you say?
Search for your dream Maldives liveaboard trip now!
When to Go Diving in the Maldives
While the Maldives diving season may be year-round, the best time to go is between November and May. This is when most liveaboard trips run, and the weather is best for prime visibility.
The seas are calmest from the end of December until May, and you can expect to have 20 to 30 meters of visibility, especially between December and March.
The wet season in the Maldives is from May to August. You’ll get rain and heavy wind so visibility isn’t great, but diving isn’t bad as there’s often sunshine for part of the day. The hottest time of the year is from April to June — the perfect time to get your tan on in between dives!
If you’re seeking sightings of certain marine life on your trip to the Maldives, you’re in luck because manta rays, whale sharks, reef sharks, hammerheads, and turtles are spotted all-year long. However, in Hanifaru Bay, between May and December, you’ll be able to see hundreds of mantas and whale sharks along the eastern side of Baa. Pretty cool, right?
What is Maldives Diving Like?
There is so much diving to be done in the Maldives, which is why it’s a great place for divers with all levels of experience.
There are lots of easy, shallow dives for those taking the plunge for the first or second time. There are also lots of drift dives and more technical sites, making for interesting diving conditions for advanced divers.
Liveaboards cater to different skill levels so don’t be shy about exploring your options. Just be sure to be upfront with the divemaster so they can take you on suitable excursions!
Visibility is generally pretty good in the Maldives. It ranges from 15 to 40 meters, depending on the location of the site. Currents are modest but can be pretty strong at certain points. Dive sites have a great range of depth, with some being just 5 meters and other coming closer to 40.
No matter where you’re diving in the Maldives (and beyond), it’s important to stay safe by always having a neon dive flag and a collapsible pole stowed in your BC pocket in case of strong currents.
You should also have dive insurance for your trip so that you’re covered in case of any medical emergencies. For dive insurance, we recommend World Nomads.
Best Dive Sites in the Maldives
The Maldives is best known for drift dives but there are also two different features you’ll come across at the dive sites here. You’ll either be diving in current swept channels or around pinnacles, both of which are magnets for marine life.
Here are some of the top dive sites in Maldives that you can’t miss!
Comprised of 75 islands, this area is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, which means that the entire site promotes sustainable development and the protection of the creatures living within it.
This is one of the most pristine sites in the world, with different species of turtles and other large fish swimming alongside you. If you dive here between May and December, you’ll behold the insane sight of hundreds of manta rays coming to feed!
A total paradise in a diver’s eyes, a trip here will be remembered for a lifetime to come.
One of the most well-known sites in the Maldives, Maaya Thila is a pinnacle located in the South Ari Atoll. The pinnacle starts at six meters and goes as far as 30 meters deep!
You’ll have many cool encounters while diving here, including run-ins with whitetip reef sharks, stingrays, and other unique marine life living in these warm waters.
What makes this spot so special is that it’s an awesome place for a night dive. When the sun goes down, sharks and other large fish often have a feeding frenzy, giving you a peek into the natural running of this marine ecosystem.
In the Southern Atolls, you’ll find Vaavu, an atoll with deep channels and quick-moving currents. It has nutrient-rich waters that attract schools of reef sharks and other large fish to make for an interesting dive.
While you’ll almost always see a shark, on occasion you’ll spot a hammerhead in all of its glory. While making your way around the area, you can also expect to see the likes of tuna, snappers, mantas, trevallies, eagle rays, and groupers.
This is a super fun dive site because there are tons of caves to explore, swim-throughs and overhangs for the conquering. It shouldn’t be missed on a trip to the Maldives!
Other Things to Do in the Maldives
When you’re done exploring everything that Maldives diving has to offer, there’s plenty to do on these luxurious islands to round out your trip to paradise.
If you’re not one for diving or need a break but still want to be in the water, snorkeling is a great way to get a glimpse into what’s hiding below the surface.
Since many of the reefs are shallow, it’s easy to spot some cool marine life without swimming too deep. Look out for schools of fish, unique species and even the occasional turtle!
You definitely won’t be disappointed with snorkeling in the Maldives. So throw on your goggles and flippers, it’s time to get swimming.
Read More: Best Snorkeling Gear
The dolphins in the Maldives are known for being active and playful, especially in the presence of visitors.
There are tours offered from everywhere in the Maldives that allow you to hop aboard a boat and spend the day spotting dolphins swimming around with one another! You may even see one hop out of the water to do a trick or two.
With 1,200 islands in the area, there’s much exploring to be done when it comes to the Maldives.
When you’re not exploring the underwater world, enjoy your time on shore traveling from island to island. At each different one, you’ll come across unique local traditions, delicious food, and friendly communities waiting to show you their land.
Just always remember to be respectful to locals, especially when traveling off of the beaten path! This is their home, so be sure to treat it as such.
Relax on Shore
Finally, in my opinion, there’s no better way to spend your time in the Maldives then relaxing. Idyllic white beach landscapes with clear turquoise water, palm trees and coconuts — these islands are the perfect picture paradise.
Spend some time soaking it all in by relaxing at the beach, taking a walk along the shore, or treating yourself to a spa treatment back at your resort or hotel. While visiting this beautiful place, be sure to kick back and relax because you’re on vacation!
How to Get to the Maldives
Getting to the Maldives can be a bit of a challenge, depending on where you’re coming from. Typically, it’s best to fly from the Middle East or Europe, both of which have plenty of direct flights to the islands. If you’re flying from anywhere else, you can expect a pretty steep airfare, with a layover or two.
International flights fly into either Male or Gan, but most frequently Velana International Airport (MLE) on the island of Hulhule.
If you’re hopping on a Maldives liveaboard, crew from the boat is often at the airport waiting to meet you and help get you to the port of departure. This escort service is a great thing to have because it may be tricky to get to the port otherwise.
Most hotels and resorts also have transport service from the airport, so be sure to keep an eye out for it during booking!
Where to Stay in the Maldives
One of the most well-known aspects of the Maldives is the luxury accommodation spread across most of the islands. Water bungalows, private beaches, and as much fresh seafood as your heart could desire but with prices ending with plenty of zeros…
However, even with all the high-end options, there are still some lovely budget accommodations that will make your heart swoon.
Did you know that it’s possible to find some killer hotels and guest houses for a super reasonable price in the Maldives? Our pick is the Ukulhas Inn, which is well under $100 a night and still offers guests a memorable experience in paradise.
This hotel sits right on the sandy island of Alif Alif Atoll and features a large private beach front, decently-sized air-conditioned rooms, and an awesome restaurant to eat at during the day.
The hotel staff is friendly and helpful, especially when it comes to arranging activities like snorkeling, diving, and manta ray safaris! You’re sure to love staying here, especially because it won’t even come close to breaking the bank.
Furaveri Island Resort & Spa
If you don’t mind spending a bit more for your Maldives stay, you could very well end up at a place like Furaveri Island Resort which is the sure picture of paradise.
Sitting on Raa Atoll, this resort offers guests the choice of different sprawling villas. Whether you want to be in the garden, on the beach, or out on the ocean, there are villas available. Plus, most of which come complete with a private pool!
When you’re not hanging around your villa, take advantage of the professional spa treatments available or grab a bite to eat from one of the four restaurants sitting right on the beach.
The resort is happy to help guests set up excursions to go snorkeling, diving, sailing, kayaking and windsurfing, so you’ll never be bored on a stay here.
Dhigali Resort Maldives
Finally, for the ultimate taste of luxury, sink your teeth into the five-star treatment at Dhigali Resort.
Fulfill your Instagram dreams and stay at either a beach bungalow or a water villa to wake up with the ocean directly in front of you. You’re able to start your day with your toes in the sand and then make the most of your surroundings by hopping in the water for activities or heading to the resort compound for some pampering.
There are seven dining options at this resort and there’s even an airport shuttle included so you’ll be able to find your way without a problem.
Eat, drink and enjoy to your heart’s content… There’s no better place to do it than here!
So are you ready to hop into these turquoise waters yet?
There’s so much to discover in the Maldives which is why it’s one of the best places in the world to dive. With tons of species that are only able to be seen in this area of the world, the tropical waters are holding age-old secrets and marine life unlike anything you’ve ever seen before.
Diving in the Maldives may come at a steep price… but it’s certainly worth every penny once you realize all that’s waiting for you under the surface of its warm waters.
Interested in a Maldives liveaboard?
Check out our picks of the best budget and luxury trips!
Need more diving inspiration? Check out these articles
- Best Galapagos Liveaboards: The Ultimate Diving Experience
- Raja Ampat Liveaboards: Best Budget & Luxury Trips
- Komodo Diving: Everything You Need to Know
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