Ever wondered why diving the Maldives is on so many scuba diving bucket lists? The Maldives are blessed with stunning coral reefs, snowy white sandy beaches, and an ocean full of astonishing marine life
Photo Credit: iujaz
Scuba diving the Maldives
The Maldive Islands, also referred to as the Maldives, are found in the Indian Ocean and consist of 1,192 coral islands.
There are 31 areas within the Maldives that are protected, and the diversified ecosystems throughout the waters that surround the islands make them a prime location for unforgettable scuba diving trip.
Manta Rays in the Maldives
Manta rays are, by far, one of the most famous attractions for divers who visit the Maldives. It's really no wonder that so many scuba divers and snorkelers from all over the globe head to the Maldives in order to experience encounters with these majestic creatures.
In fact, the Maldives is one of the only places in the world where you're almost guaranteed a chance to see these animals during your dive trip.
Manta rays found throughout the waters that surround the Maldives can reach an incredible 8 meters in length and weigh up to 2,300 kilograms.
Photo Credit: nicoboxethai
Look for then at one of their so called "cleaning stations". There, the Manta rays allows smaller fish to consume the algae and parasites that they have collected on their body and within their gills.
One great site for this type of wildlife encounter is the Addu Atoll. In sites like these, you can book a front row seat and you can kick back on the sandy bottom and just relax as you watch these Mantas rays get cleaned.
You can scuba dive with Manta rays in the Maldives throughout every month of the year. However, if you visit during the northeast monsoon season, stick with sites that are located on the western portion of the atolls. And during the southwest monsoon season, stick with those sites located on the eastern side instead.
Watch an astonishing documentary about the Maldives as a scuba diving paradise
Whale Sharks in the Maldives
Whale sharks are massive, beautiful, and docile creatures (gentle giants) that divers from around the globe are always in search of, and the Maldives is certainly the place to dive into if you're hoping to encounter these whale sharks up close and personal.
An average whale shark can grow to be nearly 10 meters in length, and it can weigh up to 9 tonnes. And while there are many places around the world that provide these creatures with the tropical waters that they prefer, the Maldives is one of the best-known areas on the planet for seeing these gentle giants during a scuba dive.
When to dive with Whale Sharks in the Maldives
Scientists assume that because of changes to the environment, populations of whale sharks now be seen in the Maldives all year long, whereas they used to only be found in the area during the southwest monsoon season.
May through December is considered the drier northwest monsoon season. Catch whale sharks throughout the western side of the Maldives.
Photo Credit: tobze
On the other hand, you can see whale sharks on the eastern side throughout the months of December through April, which is also known as the rainy southeast monsoon season. Generally, though, the best atolls for spotting these creatures are the Baa and Ari Atolls.
Looking for dive packages in the Maldives? Check out the dive operators in the Maldives who offer liveaboard and land-based scuba dive packages.
Shark Species found in the Maldives
The coastal waters found throughout the Maldives are home to a rich array of marine life, including soft and hard corals, myriad schools of fish, jellyfish, clams, and much more.
Because there are so many different animals that live in or travel through these warm Maldive waters, APEX predators like sharks, can also be found in abundances here.
In fact, around 26 different shark species have been identified swimming through the waters of the Maldives, so divers who are looking for a truly exhilarating experience will absolutely love diving into the water and seeing what sharks they can encounter and photograph.
The most frequently seen shark species include the:
- Hammerhead shark
- Oceanic whitetip shark
- Tiger shark.
Divers who find themselves in the water with any of these shark species should be very careful and should definitely keep their distance, as these creatures can be dangerous, especially if provoked.
There are also many species of smaller reef sharks in the Maldives which include:
- Whitetip reef shark
- Blacktip reef shark
- Nurse shark
- Grey reef shark
Photo Credit: AlKok
Atolls, which are only found in the (sub)tropics, are essentially described as rings of coral that developed and continued to grow over time around the shorelines of islands on the planet.
These corals continued to grow on top of themselves, getting taller and taller with each passing year. The Maldives is home to (arguably) the best 26 atolls in the world spread over 90000 square kilometers.
For divers seeking extraordinarily clear waters, coral reefs teeming with life, sunken ship wrecks, and abundant varieties of marine species, the atolls of the Maldives have it all.
Have you been to the Maldives? Let us know in the comments below and share your experience with us.
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Rutger Thole is an avid scuba diver and loves to travel, dive and write about scuba diving. Based in Amsterdam he runs bookyourdive.com and at least twice a year he plans a dive trip of the beaten track.