North Malé Atoll:
There are several good dive sites including caves, cliffs, reef slopes and Protected Marine Areas surrounding North Malé Atoll that have been well explored by divers. Fascinating dive sites include Helengeli Thila, Shark Point, Blue Canyon, Bodu Hithi Thila, Rasfari, Colosseim, Aquarium, just to name a few. The famous Protected Marine Area of Banana Reef is a combination of cliffs, overhangs and caves that are covered with good coral growth and myriad of reef fish species including moray eels napoleon wrasse, and snapper. Large predators such as sharks and barracuda can also be spotted here.
South Malé Atoll:
Some of the best dive sites in the Maldives are around South Malé Atoll around the Vadhoo Kandu channel. Some popular dive sites for the more experienced divers are Velassaru Caves, the Vaadhoo Caves, and Embudhoo Express which is a 2 kms drift dive. Beautiful coral growth, shark, turtles, sting rays and eagle rays can be seen in these sites. For beginners, the Yacht Thila shipwreck, Vaagali Caves and Guraidhoo Kandu dive sites are more suitable.
The Indian Ocean around Ari Atoll is excellent for diving and large fish from the open seas such as hammerhead and whale sharks can be spotted here. As a result, during the peak season the more popular dive sites can have many groups at the same time. It is important to choose resorts with good dive masters who will take you to the less crowded but equally fascinating dive sites. Some of the more popular dive sites in this region are:
- Maaya Thila: A Protected Marine Area with where white-tip reef sharks can be seen along with colourful soft coral;.
- The Halaveli Wreck: A 38m cargo ship which was deliberately sunk in the early 90’s where sting rays are found.
- The Fesdu Wreck: A 30m trawler that is home to Moray eels, groper, and a good coral growth.
- Orimas Thila: Another Protected Marine Area with overhangs, caves, and crevices that has soft coral, sea fans, anemones and clown fish.
- Mushimasmingali Thila: A Protected Marine Area also known as Fish Head; a famous dive site with caves and overhangs that have good growth of black coral and grey reef sharks.
- Kudarah Thila: A Protected Marine Area for more experienced divers. Has an entire field of sea fans, black corals, sharks, batfish, and other unusual species.
- Okobe Thila: Located near North Male Atoll, this Protected Marine Area has steep ledges, caves and overhangs with a variety of marine life including pelagic, reef fishes and anemones.
With more than 40 fascinating, little-visited dive sites located within Protected Marine Areas, shipwrecks and caves, the sea surrounding the far Northern Atolls is ideal for scuba diving and snorkelling.
- The Milaidhoo Reef, off Baa Atoll, which is drops up to 35m and consists of caves and overhangs with sponges and corals.
- Kakani Thila and Muthafushi Thila are home to schools of exotic fish and colourful coral.
- Off Lhaviyani atoll there are several demanding dive spots for the more experienced divers including Kuredhoo Express which is within a Protected Marine Area; the Shipyard which has two ship wrecks within just 50 metres of each other; and Fushifaru Thila.
There are several fascinating dive sites around Meemu Atoll including the 'Shark's Tongue' which is for the more experienced divers located at the mouth of the Mulah Kandu; and the 'Giant Clam' which is an easier dive where giant clams can be spotted just 8 – 15 metres below the seas and colourful butterfly fish, clown trigger fish, stone fish and scorpion fish swim in and out of underwater caves. The waters around Addu Atoll are known for its huge tables of coral which are over hundreds of years old. The British Loyalty wreck nearby has schools of reef fish inhabiting the decks as well as turtles and a good growth of soft coral. The Maa Kandu is another fascinating dive site with a variety of coral such as big brain corals, table coral and long branching staghorns. Manta rays, Eagle rays and White-tip reef sharks, turtles and an array of reef fish can also be spotted at this dive site.