The Maldives is an archipelagic nation located in the Indian Ocean that stretches across the equator from Ihavandhippolhu Atoll in the north to Addu Atoll in the south. The island country has 26 paradisiacal atolls that promise dreamy white sand beaches, while its nutrient-rich waters are home to about three percent of the planet’s coral reefs. Join us as we bring you through different dive destinations around Maldives and be fascinated by the marine life and diving experiences that the dive spots have to offer!
Why not consider Malé Atoll as your next dive destination? With a quarter of a million people living on a little over eight square kilometres, Malé is the beating heart of the Maldives, but it doesn’t take long before you leave the hustle and bustle of the capital to discover the beauty of this unique archipelagic country, both above and below the waves. Some of the republic’s best diving is right here in the two separate atolls — north and south — that make up Malé Atoll.
North Malé Atoll
With the capital city located at its southern edge, North Malé Atoll (also known as Kaafu Atoll) is one of the most popular among visitors and divers alike, as the resorts are within easy reach and the diving is still among the best the Maldives has to offer. The highlight is Manta Point, a prime spot for encounters with large numbers of manta rays, as well as schools of barracuda, turtles, and Napoleon wrasses. North Malé Atoll is also the home of Girifushi Thila, or Rainbow Reef, which is a contender for “soft coral capital of the world” due to its dazzling display of decorative corals.
For advanced and technical divers, another famous dive site is the wreck of the Maldives Victory, which hit a reef and sank in 1981. The nutrient-rich currents have transformed this 83-metre-long vessel into a bustling artificial reef, complete with gorgonians, hard corals, turtles, groupers, batfish, and schools of trevallies. Sitting upright on the seabed at 35 metres, this iconic wreck should only be explored by experienced divers that know how to tackle the currents.
South Malé Atoll
South Malé Atoll is the quieter half of Malé Atoll. Although it doesn’t offer quite the same marine diversity as the northern atoll, the southern atoll makes its claim for dramatic topography and large pelagics. Diving in South Malé Atoll can be equally exciting and challenging, with deep channels and rapidly changing conditions. Guraidhoo Corner is one dive site that does boast an immense variety of marine life, including schools of reef fish, Napoleon wrasses and both grey and whitetip reef sharks cruising the washing machine-like currents.
Another worthy mention is Cocoa Thila, a 400-metre pinnacle that attracts fusiliers, tuna, sweetlips, red snappers, trevallies, eagle rays, and reef sharks.
To the north, Vaadhoo Caves provide shelter from the strong currents and a chance to explore the more unusual species found in the semi-dark. Unicornfish, soldierfish, and the occasional turtle linger in the calm waters, while reef sharks and tuna can also be spotted. There’s something for everyone here, although most of the sites cater to intermediate and advanced divers.
How to get to Malé Atoll: From Velena International Airport, transfer to your resort by seaplane or speedboat. Local ferries are also an option but take much longer.
Malé Atoll is a dive destination suitable for all levels of divers! If you are interested in embarking on a dive expedition in the Maldives, be sure to consider joining ADEX Maldives Retreat taking place on 18-23 October 2022! For more information, visit www.adex.asia/adex-back2blue-maldives-retreat/. To read up more about Maldives as a dive destination, do head over to shop.asiangeo.com/product/asian-diver-issue-04-2021-no-159/ to get a copy of Asian Diver No.159!