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  4. Diving in the Maldives - all you need to know about immersion, spots, costs and tricks

The Maldivian Republic is covered with water for 99%. Land is less than 1% of the total country’s territory. In total, the Maldives consist of 26 atolls and more than a thousand islands; each of them is part of an atoll. Thanks to such geographical peculiarities, there are great opportunities for exploring the underwater world. Snow-white sands, crystal clear waters, thousands of species of marine life, coral gardens, underwater gorges of incredible beauty, and sunken ships - all this makes the Maldives one of the best diving resorts in the world.

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When is the best time to go?

All year round! However, each season has its particularities.

  • January - April months are considered perfect for diving due to the absence of winds and excellent visibility.
  • May - July are considered the rainy season. However, rainy days are followed by the sunny ones, so this period is quite suitable for diving as well.
  • August - December is the best time to watch manta rays and whale sharks. But the wealth of plankton in the water may slightly worsen visibility.

Diving types 

Most hotels have diving centers that offer dives:

  • At the reef of the resort island;
  • At one of the dive spots near the atoll (usually by group tours of up to 20 people).

Komandoo Island Resort & Spa
Komandoo Island Resort & Spa

Diving training in the Maldives

If you don't have any scuba diving experience at all, there is no need to worry. You can gain diving skills right on the spot by referring to one of the many resort diving centers.

In addition to the classic PADI Scuba Diver (diving for the beginners accompanied by the instructor) and Open Water Diver (diving with a partner) programs, local diving centers offer a variety of ways to explore the ocean. It might be obtaining Advanced Open Water Diver, Rescue Diver, or Divemaster qualifications.

There are also several specialized courses, including:

  • Enriched Air Diver is diving with scuba that contains air enriched with nitrox. It allows divers to extend time underwater.
  • Drift diver will teach you how to properly use ocean currents when diving.
  • Maldivian Shark and Ray Diver. The course explains how to distinguish sharks and rays species, their gender and behavior characteristics.
  • Wreck Diver means submerging to the shipwrecks.
  • Digital Underwater Photographer will allow you to master the skills of underwater photography and video shooting.

You can enroll in a PADI course and complete the theoretical part of the training online at home (before the trip), to not to waste precious vacation time on it. Upon arrival in the Maldives, you will polish acquired knowledge in practice.

Diving in the Maldives: distinctive features

In addition to admiring the natural beauty of the Indian Ocean, in the Maldives, you can safely swim nearby the amazing inhabitants of the marine world, as well as make an exciting dive to sunken ships.

Swimming with sharks in the Maldives

There are 26 species of sharks in the ocean waters around the Maldives, including: reef shark, tiger shark, whale shark, nurse shark, and hammerhead shark.

There are several ways to see sharks:

  • Stay in an overwater bungalow
  • Take a trip on a glass-bottomed boat, on a yacht or a motorboat
  • Visit one of the underwater restaurants that can be found on the private resort islands

In order to swim with them, you need to purchase a dive tour or order a proper excursion. Most resorts and diving centers offer such programs. In this case, it is not necessary to have diving skills. You can see sharks while snorkeling in shallow water as well.

Китовая акула на Мальдивах
Whale shark

The waters of the South Ari Atoll are considered the best place to swim with whale sharks. You can encounter them there at any time of the year.

When swimming close to sharks, you should follow the basic safety rules:

  • Do not make sudden movements
  • Do not touch sharks and feed them
  • Do not use flash to take photos

Underwater Restaurant at You & Me by Cocoon Maldives

Wreck diving

Wreck diving arouses genuine interest among diving fans. The Maldives provide several impressive locations where you can explore human pieces of work, swallowed by the ocean for various reasons. In particular:

  • "British Loyalty" is a huge oil tanker, drowned in 1946. This object is located in the Addu Atoll area and is currently an artificial reef, rich in marine life.
  • "Maldives Victory" is a dry cargo ship that ran into a reef 200 meters away from the Male International Airport (the North Male Atoll).
  • "Sea-gull" steamboat, the hull of which is split into two parts (the North Male atoll).
  • "Kuda Giri" minesweeper, which, according to locals, was scuttled specifically for creation of artificial reefs, as well as for additional attraction of tourists (the South Male Atoll).

Hurawalhi Island Resort
Wrecked ship near Hurawalhi Island Resort

Night dives

The ocean is full of activity at night as well. Sharks, moray eels, and other nocturnal inhabitants peacefully hiding among corals or in splits of rocks during the day, go hunting at night. The corals possess incredible new colors in the light of diving lights.

Among the most interesting places for night diving are:

  • Maaya Thila (Ari Atoll), where you can see many white sharks, barracudas, moray eels, stonefish and octopuses;
  • Alimatha (Vaavu Atoll), where you can swim with several dozen of nurse sharks and rays.

Underwater world of the Indian Ocean | Komandoo Island Resort & Spa

Diving safari

This exciting tour allows you to get to know the Maldives better than while just resting at a resort. Diving safari is a cruise on a specially equipped yacht and can last from 7 to 10 days. During this time, you can enjoy all the benefits of the tour - luxurious amenities on board, diving and snorkeling at different reefs, night fishing, barbecue on a desert island, and romantic dinners on a deck. Diving safari usually requires booking in advance.

Komandoo Island Resort
Yachting | Komandoo Island Resort

Diving for children

According to PADI rules diving is allowed for children from 8 or 10 years old (depending on the chosen course). No prior scuba diving experience is necessary, but parents’ permission is required.

Children over the age of 8 are eligible for the PADI Bubblemaker program. Participants of this course learn to dive properly, breathe underwater, use basic diving equipment, and clean a regulator and a mask. Classes are held in pools and shallow waters. The immersion depth does not exceed 2 meters. Local diving centers can organize the Bubblemaker Party, an unforgettable kid's birthday party full of diving fun and surprises.

It is better to check the conditions and the age of participants directly at the diving center, as they may differ depending on the region. From the age of 10, young scuba divers can receive the PADI Junior Open Water Diver certificate.

Kuramathi Maldives
Diving courses for children | Kuramathi Island Resort Maldives


The cost of diving depends on the location of the hotel. On average, the price for a single dive starts at $ 45. Equipment rental is covered separately. As in many places, the rule is "buying in bulk is cheaper". That is, when a package of services is ordered, many diving centers provide a good discount.

Innahura Maldives Resort
Innahura Maldives Resort

Health condition

Most diving centers will not require a medical certificate from you to complete a course. However, before starting classes, you will have to fill out a medical form. Then, depending on the answers, you may be advised to consult a doctor.

When diving is not allowed

It is not recommended to dive if you have any ENT-diseases, asthma, or other respiratory diseases, central nervous system diseases, problems with the cardiovascular system, blood pressure, blood circulation, musculoskeletal system.

Medical check-up

If you are planning a large number of dives, it will be useful to undergo a medical examination before leaving home. In the Maldives, it can be done at AMDC Clinic, ADK Hospital in Male, or at Bandos Maldives resort clinic, where a decompression chamber is available.

Клиника Bandos Maldives
Medical examination at Bandos Maldives clinic

Useful advice for divers

In general, local diving centers take safety issues seriously. But we recommend taking a following bit of advice into consideration:

  • If diving is going to be your prior activity, we strongly recommend to obtain a special diving insurance certificate, as far as the standard traveling insurance usually does not cover risks associated with diving.
  • Be attentive while reading fill-out forms at the diving center, get acquainted with diving rules, make sure you know about possible extra payments for excursions.
  • Do not touch anything underwater. The Maldivian legislation prohibits tourists of breaking corals, gathering their relics, and also fishing (even with bare hands).
  • The offenders will encounter a penalty of about $1000.
  • Do not submerge if you have any problems with your nose, ears, or throat, and also within 12 hours before and after the flight.
  • Do not hesitate to cancel or interrupt a dive if you feel sick.
  • Make sure you can see your instructor all the time.
  • Do not take any alcoholic drinks the day before.
  • Observe the breathing rhythm, the speed of emersion and submersion.

Дайвинг на Мальдивах
Diving in the Maldives | Lily Beach Resort & Spa

Ari Atoll for divers

Ari Atoll is located in the west part of the country and is quite popular among divers. Manta rays, whale sharks and hammerhead fish live here. There are many exciting diving spots around the atoll, namely:

Broken Rock

The specialty of this place is an underwater canyon of 10-meter depth, which divides the reef into two parts.
Here you can encounter: beside corals, moray eels, humphead wrasse, and fugu fish are residents here.

Maaya Thila

It is considered one of the best diving sites of the Maldives and a favorite place of dwelling of the white reef sharks. Here you can dive both at day and night time.
Here you can encounter: moray eels, turtles, octopuses, stonefish, toadfish, and nudibranches.


It is one of the most popular Maldivian diving places, covered with corals (including the black ones) and gorgonians. Before obtaining a national sea reserve status, this territory was used for sharks baiting by local fishermen and divers. This tradition is not kept, but the sharks used to regular feeding, are still here. 
Here you can encounter: gray reef sharks, humphead wrasses, tunas, blue perches, and turtles.

Multiple underwater ledges and caves are great spots for photo and video shooting.

Gangehi Kandu

A narrow channel of 2.5 km long is famous as the longest channel in the Ari Atoll area. Despite a relatively small depth (less than 25 meters), it’s recommended for seasoned divers due to strong streams.

Here you can encounter: beside different shark species, you can often see triggerfish, ocean perches, rays, and mantis shrimps. Turtles and manta rays are rarer.

Nearby hotels:

Скат манта
Manta ray | Kuredu Island Resort & Spa

Diving at the North Male Atoll

North Male is one of the most visited Maldivian regions due to its proximity to the capital, where the main airport of the country is situated.


Manta-point is a famous diving site located at the south-east of the atoll, which is a great spot to meet manta rays, barracudas shoals, turtles, and humhead wrasses.

Banana Reef

It has got the name due to a curved form, which reminds of a banana. There are many underwater caves here. The diving depth is between 5 to 30 meters, which allows both the beginners and the experienced divers to explore the marine world. Mostly calm streams and great visibility make this place a perfect spot for the newcomers.

Here you can encounter: huge shoals of butterfly-fish, the number of which may reach several hundreds, ocean perches, ballan wrasses, and sharks.

Nearby hotels:

Кораловый риф на Мальдивах
Coral reef in the Maldives

Diving spots at the South Male Atoll

South Male is separated from its northern neighbor by Vaadhu Kandu channel and offers world-class diving spots.

Cocoa Corner

It is a spot with caves, coombs, and ledges, full of beautiful marine life. Here you can move along the steep of 40-meter depth, which allows a unique possibility to feel yourself not just a diver but also an underwater alpinist and experience new sensations from submerging.

Here you can encounter: this is a place of residence for large ocean inhabitants, such as eagle rays, tunas, barracudas, trevallies, and gray reef sharks. Sweetlips, perches and cods may be found here as well. Besides, there is a variety of bright sponges and gorgonians at this diving spot. Local shark show is considered one of the best in the Male Atoll area.

Kandooma Thila

The seasoned divers start their route at Cocoa Corner and, moving underwater, reach Kandooma Thila. It is another popular diving spot, which is famous for the plentifulness of rare fish.

Nearby hotels:

Reef sharks near Addu Atoll

Addu Atoll is the only region in the Maldives, that wasn’t affected by the global decoloration of corals in 1998. It is a home mainly for big fish, manta rays, and turtles. At the north-eastern edge, not far from Holhumeedhoo island, there is a so-called Shark hotel - a sandy plot at depth, where 15-20 gray reef sharks can be seen at the same time.

Отели рядом: Shangri-La's Villingili Island Resort & Spa 5*

Shangri-La's Villingili Resort & Spa
Shangri-La's Villingili Resort & Spa

Diving at Baa Atoll

Baa Atoll deserves attention as well. Hanifaru harbor, located near it, is a biosphere reserve, where stingrays and hundreds of manta rays can be seen from August till November. Full shoals of gray reef sharks and whale sharks come here for spawning.

In Hanifaru harbor diving is forbidden, you can only go snorkeling. There is a huge number of visitors wishing to get here, so it’s better to plan your visit in advance.

Nearby hotels:

As we can see, the Maldives has a lot to offer for both the beginners and the experienced divers. Even if you haven’t practiced diving before, it’s an excellent moment to try it. We wish you great dives and new breath-taking openings!

Дайвинг в Anantara Kihavah Maldives Villas
Diving in the waters of Baa Atoll | Anantara Kihavah Maldives Villas

This article highlights several top-hotels nearby described diving sites. A bigger selection of the resorts, offering diving services, is available at WIOTTO catalogue.


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