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Top Five Diving Spots in the Maldives

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With a stunning plethora of exotic marine life, a huge number of unique and fascinating sites and fabulous weather all year round, it’s little wonder the holidays in the Maldives are considered one of the world’s best destinations for scuba diving.

If you’re looking for a whole new scuba experience, the Maldives is a superb place to take your first night dive. This will give you the chance to view a huge variety of marine life that simply cannot be seen during daylight hours.

Only around one per cent of the Maldives consists of dry land – the vast majority of the country is composed of water surrounding almost 1,200 islets, which in turn comprise a total of 26 atolls. One of the largest, the Ari Atoll, is located in the west of the Maldives and is home to numerous dive sites.

Located on the eastern side of the Maldives, the North Male and South Male Atolls feature at least 20 resort islands, all of which are hugely popular with scuba divers. Although the resorts have extensive facilities, the majority of visitors join live-aboard diving safaris so they can visit a number of sites.

A 30-minute seaplane ride from the capital, Male, will get you to Kudarah Thila, one of the most exciting dive sites in the Maldives and part of the Ari Atoll region. The short flight is well worth it as the marine life here is so abundant that divers who have been to the area refer to it as ‘fish soup’.

A thila is a large coral structure that has sections both in and out of the water. The thila at Kudarah is around 80 meters in diameter and during times when the currents are mild it is possible to negotiate the entire structure within a single session.

Best suited to experienced scuba divers, Kudarah is accessible all year round with depths varying from 14m to 30m. Featuring caves, overhangs and outcrops as well as a wide variety of coral and sponges, you can expect to see reef sharks, triggerfish and barracuda, among others.

The Thamburudhoo Thila, also known as the H.P. Reef, is located in the North Male Atoll and is a superb site for novice divers. With depths ranging from 5m to 30m, the site is suitable for diving all year round and features spectacular reef formations along with caves and crevices.

Multi-coloured soft coral is abundant as is a huge variety of species, including angelfish, leaf fish, silver jacks, moorish idols and bat fish. Eagle rays are also a common sight. Although suitable for beginners, the currents here can be strong and need to be monitored closely. A safety balloon is also a necessity.

Another great site for novice divers is Banana Reef, one of the first to be discovered in the Maldives and one that continues to be hugely popular. Taking its name from the shape of the island, the site features numerous caves and will often be occupied by schools of bannerfish numbering in the thousands.

The large number of visitors to Banana Reef means that many of the fish have become quite tame and are responsive to feeding. Expect to see pufferfish, wrasse, fusillier, squirrelfish, grouper, grubfish and many more.

A great site for a night dive is MaayaThila, where you will be able to see turtles resting inside caves along with octopus, stone fish and white tip reef sharks, which are particularly common in this region. The creatures will look all the more spectacular due to the contrast between the dark water and the glow from your dive light that will make the colours of the fish stand out even more.

Located at the North Ari Atoll, accessible all year round and with depths between five and thirty metres, MaayaThila also makes a great daytime dive spot and is suitable for novices and experienced divers alike.

Voted one of the top five dive sites in the world, FotteyoKandu is undoubtedly the jewel in the Maldives scuba-diving crown. With abundant coral growth and fish life and a range of exciting features that includes caves, overhangs and swim-throughs, all with great visibility and depths starting from just 5m, a dive here promises to be little short of a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

With hammerhead and white tip sharks as regular visitors, deceptively deep sections and the possibility of strong currents, this dive is really only suited to those with significant amounts of scuba experience. The site is best visited during the time of the Northeast Monsoon, which runs from September or October until the end of the year.

Located within the Felidhu Atoll, close to the idyllic resort island of Alimatha, FotteyoKandu also boasts schools of jackfish and tuna, red snapper and midnight snappers and large numbers of glass fish, all in a stunning setting that has to be seen to be believed.

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