Let your adventurous spirit sway you halfway around the world, to this Indian Ocean island nation of endless atolls, swimming with schools of big animals. Dive in and become one of the few Americans to dive in this stunning dive destination.

The Maldives consist of more than 1,200 islands, distributed in about two dozen coral atolls. The country lies a few hundred miles southwest of India and Sri Lanka. Only about 200 of those islands are inhabited and while its original residents were Buddhists who migrated there from the Indian subcontinent, history has seen Muslim, Portuguese, Dutch and British colonists and traders all leave their cultural and religious footprints there, which still remain. The Maldives – whose capital city is Male – is today predominantly Muslim and Asia’s smallest country.

While there are a handful of land-based resorts in the Maldives, diving the country by live-aboard boat is both the most practical and enjoyable way to cover the four major dive regions of the country – North Male, Ari Atoll, South Male Atoll and the Northern Atolls. The currents there sweep plankton throughout the atolls, providing a veritable supermarket for big creatures and carry you along on exciting drift dives. And beyond the animal attractions, you’ll find soft-coral laden caves, channels and magnificent pinnacles.

North Male Atoll

Your live-aboard boat will most likely depart from here, near Male International Airport and you’ll find a great diversity of diving. There are bejeweled reefs, caves, pinnacles, drop-offs galore and also a few wrecks. Manta rays and sharks are the animal eye candy in this area, which includes a cleaning station where the mantas are tended to by smaller creatures and where moray eels can also be spotted. At least two pinnacles – “thilas” in the local language are well worth diving, as are a couple of wrecks.

Ari Atoll

This is the Maldives’ pelagic capital, where big animals cruise individually and in schools. Sharks of all kinds reside in these waters – whale sharks, hammerheads, grey reef and white-tips – and are often seen and blacktail barracudas and batfish are seen in the greatest numbers. Count on seeing spotted eagle rays and Napoleon wrasse as well.

South Male Atoll

In addition to being a live-aboard destination, this area is where you’re likely to find land-based resorts. Channels define this area, where a half-dozen of them house the needed nutrients schools of fish crave. Soft corals, pinnacles, caves, plateaus, walls and drop-offs form the underwater landscape, with rays, sharks, lionfish and morays as the primary inhabitants. The intentionally sunk Kuda Giri is the Maldives’ most acclaimed wreck dive, where you’ll find little critters like nudibranchs and gobies to larger life, such as turtles and humphead wrasse.

Northern Atolls

This region is so far off the beaten path that if you’re lucky enough to dive it, your group may find itself utterly alone when its live-aboard boat settles in. In four different atolls here, swim-through fiends will delight in exploring the nooks and crannies of underwater caves, while shark lovers will be in heaven, marveling at schooling grey reef sharks.

Scuba Travel Ventures can match you or your group with a live-aboard boat or land-based resort that best fits your needs, desires and budget.


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