Like glittering emeralds tossed into the Indian Ocean, the Maldives are a true castaway’s paradise. Sink beneath their inviting cerulean waters and you’ll discover an underwater wonderland of shimmering shoals of exotic fish, dramatic caverns and rugged shipwrecks. If you’re heading to this mesmerising chain of islands, be sure to take the plunge at one of these extraordinary Maldives dive sites.
South Malé Atoll
Characterised by verdant green islets and turquoise seas, South Malé Atoll offers caves, wrecks and marine life aplenty. On the eastern border of the atoll, Cocoa Thila is home to red snapper, giant trevally, eagle rays and grey reef sharks sheltering from the nearby strong currents. Towards the north of the atoll, explore Vaadhoo Caves to see a variety unicorn fish, soldierfish and turtles. Join Jumeirah Vittaveli’s Best Dives Maldives, which guides beginners and advanced divers on a vivid marine safari around Bolifushi Island. Or if you’d rather stay dry while marvelling at one of the islands’ prime dive sites, take the adventure on the semi-submarine.
For epic pelagic spotting, Ari Atoll’s crystal-clear waters are teeming with graceful whale sharks, hammerhead sharks and manta rays. Submerged pinnacles and channels make this a popular Maldives dive site. For shark-spotting, Fish Head never disappoints, while the Maaya Thila pinnacle is covered with a coral reef and home to vibrant shoals of fish. It’s ideal for an atmospheric after-dark dive, too.
A UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, Baa Atoll comprises 75 picture-perfect islands, forming some of the most colourful dive sites in the Maldives. Beginners and advanced divers can submerge themselves at Horubadhoo Thila to swim around vibrant hard and soft corals as schools of black jacks and fusiliers weave in and out. Come face to face with midnight snappers, small-toothed emperors and lunar fusiliers around the rainbow reefs of Maavaru Kandu. In the centre of Baa Atoll is Dhigali Haa, a long, narrow reef occupied by barracudas and turtles, as well as schools of tiny silvery fish that glimmer in the dappled light rays.
Captivating shipwrecks, long, open channels and abundant sea life: Lhaviyani Atoll has them all, topping Maldives’ most adventurous dive sites. The Shipyard is home to two wrecks, Skipjack 1 and 2 that sank in the 1980s. The rusted ship skeletons are encrusted with coral, and angelfish and butterfly fish glide around them. Nicknamed Turtle Airport courtesy of its many shelled residents, Kuredu Caves is a superlative spot to see green sea turtles, stingrays and huge Napoleon wrasse.
A quieter atoll and relatively undisturbed, Laamu Atoll is known for its vast shoals of fish. Deep passages offer plenty of nooks to explore and fewer channels means excellent visibility. One of the most beautiful dive sites in the Maldives, Fushi Kandu hosts a marine medley of surgeonfish, eagle rays, barracudas and tuna. At Laamu Atoll’s southernmost tip, Hithadhoo Corner is all about the mantas. The spot is a cleaning station for these gentle giants and a prime place to swim with manta rays.
Discover the island paradise Jumeirah Vittaveli in the Maldives.