Top 12 Dive Sites in The Maldives
The Maldives is home to some of the best scuba diving in the world. From magnificent Pelagics to the most colourful nudibranchs and corals… You certainly won’t be bored when scuba diving through the warm, crystal clear waters of The Maldives. It truly is a scuba lover’s paradise - for advanced divers as well as beginners.
Roughly 98% of The Maldives is the ocean, so can you imagine how much there is to explore, and how much still hasn’t been explored yet! The Maldives’ wealth of marine biodiversity is fascinating, to say the least, and the main reason why The Maldives definitely makes for an unforgettable diving holiday.
Manta Rays, Eagle Rays, Whale Sharks, Tiger Sharks, Hammerheads, 5 out of the 7 Turtle species and Dolphins, amongst a tropical array of fish and coral reefs are just some of the amazing creatures you may come across whilst diving in The Maldives….
We have dived in these dive sites ourselves, but have sourced opinions of Maldives diving experts so that we can give you the official Top 12 Dive Sites in The Maldives - with videos of each dive site.
1. British Loyalty Shipwreck in Addu Atoll
The 1944 British Loyalty Shipwreck, is one of the most famous in The Maldives. The 5583-tonne oil tanker, British Loyalty was built in 1928 in Newcastle and torpedoed twice by enemy submarines during WW2. The first torpedo was caused by a Japanese submarine in Madagascar in 1942. As a consequence, the British Loyalty was damaged and taken to Addu Atoll in 1943 to be used as a storage hulk. She was torpedoed again in Addu Atoll in 1944, by Germans who had ingeniously fired through a gap in the submarine nets blocking Gan Kandu. The ship was damaged but not sunk and remained there for the rest of the war. The British Loyalty was finally scuttled on January 5th, 1946, before the British withdrew from Gan.
Now, the British Loyalty ship lies 33 metres under water between the islands Maradhoo and Hithadhoo. The site is easily accessible by boat, as it is less than 25 minutes away from Gan. The ship is covered with hard and soft corals that are home to a large number of fish. It is also surrounded by groups of blue-fin jack, turtles, manta rays and sharks. The visibility ranges from 2m to 20m, depending on waves and weather. The best time of year to do dive here is between January and March when the visibility increases up to 30m or more. Addu also has Manta Rays all year round.
2. Maaya Thila in North Ari Atoll
Maaya Thila provides a world-class pinnacle dive and is famous for an abundance of white-tip reef sharks. The pinnacle starts at 6 meters and reaches down to 30 metres, and it is home to nurse sharks, stingrays, turtles, barracudas, guitar sharks, frogfish, nudibranchs and more.
Maaya Thila is suitable for beginners as well as advanced divers. Experts say that Maaya Thila should be enjoyed after sunset as a night dive, as that is when the feeding frenzy begins - you can see up to 20 white-tip reef sharks here, as they circle around the pinnacle for food.
3. Kandooma Thila in South Malé Atoll
Kandooma Thila consists of a 300m long teardrop shaped pinnacle, with incredible corals and stunning marine life. This spot is known for Green Sea Turtles as they nap or forage for food. The coral here is spectacular and deserves as much attention as the marine life.
Most divers will want to focus on the west and north sides of Kandooma Thila where you’ll find Jack’s Corner, a cave at 23 meters with blankets of soft coral and a huge school of red bass and trevally. You’ll have the chance to see Barracuda, White-Tip Reef Sharks, Groupers and Jacks - maybe even a school of Eagle Rays! Currents can be strong so this site is better for advanced and experienced divers.
4. Hammerhead Point in North Ari Atoll
For a chance of seeing Hammerhead Sharks, definitely come here! This demanding dive holds great rewards for experienced divers — the chance to be in the water with dozens of schooling hammerheads. The outer reef is situated in Rasdhoo and the clear waters drop sharply down to around 200 metres.
Most often, this dive is run early in the morning for the best chance of seeing the sharks. Schooling or scalloped hammerheads are the main attraction here but manta rays, grey reef sharks, and giant trevally also grace the drop off on occasion.
5. Banana Reef in North Malé Atoll
Banana Reef in North Malé Atoll is one of the first scuba diving sites that started attracting visitors and divers from around the world. It is slightly touristic and a protected marine area, because it offers everything that makes diving in The Maldives unforgettable: corals, caves, big fish, turtles, sharks and overhangs.
All those hiding holes on the reef make good homes for moray eels while sharks and groupers tend to hang out in the blue close to the reef. Napoleons are frequently spotted here, too. Banana Reef is great as it’s accessible to all, the reef starts at just 5 metres and drops to a maximum of 35 metres.
6. Fotteyo Kandu in Vaavu Atoll
Fotteyo Kandu is a narrow but deep channel on the eastern side of Vaavu Atoll, and has everything a diver dreams of. From dramatic caverns, anemones, Pelagics, overhangs, swim-throughs, and caves…
This spot definitely makes for a fascinating dive. Divers can see eagle rays, sharks, titan triggerfish, coral groupers and hammerheads as well as the occasional dolphin that could pass by in the channel.
7. Brocken Rock in South Ari Atoll
Broken Rock is one of the most distinguishable dive sites in the South Ari Atoll, famous for beautiful fan corals. The site owes its name to a deep canyon which splits the pinnacle in two - creating a unique formation. The walls of the canyon are covered in soft corals and fans, with spectacular pastel colours.
Divers at this location will see large numbers of Anthias, Jacks, Butterfly Fish, Angel Fish, Morays, Puffer Fish and even large Napoleon Wrasse. Careful divers can swim through this 50 metre canyon, great buoyancy is a necessity for this dive as currents in the canyon can be unpredictable, we would recommend this dive to intermediate and advanced divers.
8. Muli Kolhu Faru in Addu, Seenu Atoll
Manta Rays and Grey Reef Sharks are spotted all year round here. Muli Kolhu Faru is the corner into Viligili Kandu which is long and rounded with a gently sloping reef from 5 to 30 meters. Big barracuda, white-tip reef sharks and huge manta rays up to four meters across, are common here.
Two hundred meters further into the channel is a large chain starting at a steel anchor point on the reef edge at 15 meters and trailing to the bottom of the channel at about 34 meters. Near the chain, mantas can be seen all year round making this the ‘manta point’ of Addu Atoll. There is also an overhang nearby that is a favourite resting place for nurse sharks.
9. Fish Head in North Ari Atoll
Fish Head is a pinnacle dive, famous for the sighting of Grey Reef Sharks. It is also called Shark Point or Mushimasmingili Thila, and is widely known as one of the very best shark dives in The Maldives.
It’s also one of those bucket-list dives that many scuba travellers have on their must-dive list. The reason why this spot is famous for sharks is that the sharks were once fed here (thankfully, this has now ended) and you can regularly see up to 20 grey reef sharks patrol the reef at any one time. Apart from the sharks, admire the sea fans, black corals and the anemone city.
10. The Kuda Giri Wreck in South Malé Atoll
The Kuda Giri wreck is an interesting dive site in South Malé in the Maldives, which includes both a small wreck and a pinnacle. They create an artificial reef full of marine life. It is possible to penetrate the wreck in a few places, and the bow section is located quite shallow.
The Kuda Giri wreck features numerous small creatures among its colorful sponges, tube corals, and orange cup corals. Batfish, glassfish, shrimp, and triggerfish are common residents of this dive site and there is a good chance of spotting turtles, wrasses, eels, octopi, and sometimes even a guitar shark.
11. Tiger Shark Point in Fuvahmulah Atoll
Want to see Tiger Sharks? If you’re feeling adventurous, Fuvahmulah, a single-island atoll in the far south of the Maldives will reward your efforts with some unparalleled shark diving.
All the dive sites here are still being discovered and, so far at least, this island is not well known. Expect to see many Tiger sharks, oceanic whitetips, threshers, hammerheads, reef sharks, and much more much this island a pelagic lover’s dream.
12. Emas Thila, Manta Point in South Ari Atoll
Manta Point or Emas Thila is a famous Manta Ray cleaning station. It runs about 1 kilometre long and during the north-east monsoon season, the rays congregate at 15 to 30 meters on the north-west side of the submerged island. Apart from mantas, divers can spot vibrant soft corals, sea whips, dog-tooth tuna, Napoleon wrasse, sharks, and trevally. Keep an eye out for schools of sweetlips, red bass, masked bannerfish, and emperor fish on the reef. The occasional turtle cruises past, too.
Top Tips for Scuba Diving in The Maldives
The maximum depth you’re allowed to dive is 30 metres.
Make sure you have good travel insurance for diving, before embarking on a trip to these shores.
Make sure that your passport has a minimum of 6 months prior to its expiry before traveling to the Maldives.
Scuba diving in The Maldives is fantastic all year round. However, the water clarity is usually better during the ‘sunny season’ which runs from from December to May.
If you've been diagnosed with Covid-19, you will need a medical certificate from a Doctor specialised in diving, who will examine you and grant you the possibility of diving in The Maldives.
Scuba diving in these rich waters is a bucket list experience for many visitors in The Maldives. Fortunately The Maldives is the best place in the world to experience diving - and we can't wait to help you plan your once-in-a-lifetime trip!
- Maldives Secrets