- Dive the best and most famous dive sites across Male and Ari Atoll.
- Dive channels, pinnacles, action-packed night dive with nurse sharks, get up close at the cleaning stations without disturbing the locals!
- Expect to see sharks, manta, reef fish, turtles, morays, eagle rays, abundant macro life. Possible hammerheads and whale sharks.
- We don’t follow an exact itinerary; flexibility is key irrespective of the year you visit, this underwater world is yours (and ours) for the exploring.
This is the Best of the Maldives – and it delivers exactly that. This is where you dive the best and most famous dive sites of the Maldives in a week of wonderful liveaboard diving across Male, Ari & Vaavu atolls.
Enjoy a dive holiday that gives you all you could wish for from the iconic sites of North Male, South Male, Ari & Vaavu Atoll. Awaiting you are channels (Kandus), pinnacles (Thilas) & cleaning stations where you have every chance of meeting mantas, a variety of sharks and mesmerising marine life of so many varieties.
This itinerary gives you a marine mix of big fish such as shark and manta dives as well as reef dives, reef fish, morays and macro life. Get up close at the cleaning stations without disturbing the locals! One of the best known dive sites is Fish Head; a marine protected site, this medium size pinnacle has many resident turtles, huge schools of fusiliers being stalked by trevally and patrolling grey reef sharks. Overhangs and a large school of blue line snapper, the iconic reef fish of the Maldives make this a genuinely great dive.
A sunset/night dive at Alimatha, Vaavu atoll is a must to have a memorable experience with the resident nurse sharks, these gentle sharks reach up to 3m and offer an up close encounter as they gather here at the end of each day.
We do not follow an exact itinerary; flexibility is key irrespective of the year you visit, this underwater world is yours (and ours) for the exploring.
Click dive site markers for detailed descriptions.
Dive sites & areas that we may visit are subject to weather conditions.
Ari Atoll (also called Alif or Alufu Atoll) is one of natural atolls of the Maldives. It is one of the biggest atolls and is located in the west of the archipelago. The almost rectangular alignment spreads the islands over an area of about 89x30 kilometres. It has been divided in two sections for administrative purposes, Northern Ari Atoll and Southern Ari Atoll.
Here are some possible sites you may visit:
- Bathala Thila -
The small thila just off Bathala island can offer shelter from the Maldivian currents and is a perfect spot look for macro, healthy hard and soft corals play home to frogfish, ghostpipe fish, leaf fish and many more. The shallow top allows divers with less experience an easy dive wher they can find clown fish, moray and if lucky a resting reef shark
- Bathala Maga Kan Thila -
BMK thila is a long finger shaped thila located in the Bathala channel in north east Ari atoll. The thila which is joined the the main reef south corner stretches across the channel to the north. Due to the thila being north south it makes a great dive on an incoming or an outgoing current. Grey reef sharks, eagle rays can be seen patrolling up and down the reef while hunting tuna and trevally are also common place.
- Dhigga Thila -
Over hangs and beautiful soft corals await divers at Dhigga thila, grey reef sharks can be found in the deeper areas but the dive normally concentrates on the wall of over hangs and colourful soft corals. Divers can enjoy the variety of colours and search for macro life as they go, nudibranchs, whip coral goby and even harlequin shrimps can be found here
- Gangehi Kandu -
Gangehi Kandu dive site is located in the northern part of the Ari Atoll. Currents here can be an issue and should only be dived when the currents are flowing into the site. Gangehi Kandu is known as one of the best dive sites in the Maldives for spotting sharks, including grey reef sharks, white tip reef sharks and the occasional leopard shark. Coral formations at this dive site are particularly colourful, and divers here can expect to see moray eels, nudibranch, mantis shrimp and trigger fish. Large pelagic species are also frequent visitors to the site.
- Kudahrah Thila -
Kuda Rah thila in south Ari atoll is one of the highlight dives in the area, a small thila that can be challenging if the current is strong. The reef is covered with anthias, red tooth trigger fish and schooling bannerfish. Eagle rays can be seen circling the site and divers get to swim through large schools of blue line snappers, macro lovers can search for nudibranchs, peacock mantis shrimps and goby. The healthy reef has a number of overhangs and a large arched swim through along the way
- Maalhos Thila -
A Thila several hundred meters long located north of the island Maalhos, famous and known as "blue caves". The southern side of the pinnacle is from top to bottom, 12 - 30 meters, full with small and big overhangs and on the south eastern end big blocks stand alongside at 25 meters with an abundance of corals and reef fish. The Large caves hold its reputation as they are covered with blue soft coral, the best in North Ari Atoll and as a nice contrast the blue caves are full with bright yellow coloured "blue striped snappers".
- Maaya Thila -
Maaya Thila is one of the most famous dive sites in the Maldives and is known as a great spot for both daytime and night-time scuba diving. The marine life depends largely on the currents, which vary greatly; when the currents are not strong, it is an easy dive site, suitable for less experienced divers, but when currents are strong Maaya Thila is recommended for only advanced divers and they will need to use a surface balloon. Maaya Thila is most famous for the white tip reef sharks that can nearly always be seen here, both during the day and night. A night dive at Maaya Thila also allows divers to encounter moray eels, turtles, octopus and stonefish.
- Mushi Mas Mingili Thila (Fish Head) -
Fish Head is one of the most famous dive sites in the Maldives, now a protected marine area the name fish head comes from a fisherman's story. Every time he caught a fish, by the time he reeled it in to the boat, all that was left was the fish head due to the number of sharks here.
The dive site is a medium sized thila that allows divers to see grey tip reef sharks patrol in the up current surrounded by huge schools of fusiliers that are frequently hunted by tuna and trevally. Eagle rays are often seen hear and the top of the thila is home to resident hawksbill turtles, the Maldivian iconic blue line snapper also cover the reef in a large school. Currents can be strong here and visibility varies depending on the current, a small to medium current is best because as they say, no current no action!
- Kudima (Machafushi) wreck -
The MV Kudima is a 52m long cargo ship, lying on a 30 m sandy bottom right next to the house reef of the resort island Machchaafushi. It got sunk in 1999 by the resort dive centre. The hull is perforated and the cargo can be entered and exited easily from both sides as well as through the ceiling. The Wreck offers some good coral colonisation and a large variety of species. Resident stonefish hang around along with lots of Nudi branches and Pipefish. At times divers can find Nurse Sharks sleeping under the hull.
- Moofushi -
Moofushi cleaning station is a hotspot for manta rays, they come to the station to be cleaned by cleaner wrasse. Grey reef sharks and eagle rays can also be seen on the cleaning station that is surrounded by a large school of blue line snappers and oriental sweetlips. White tip reef sharks can be found resting in the sand at the bottom of the reef with tuna and trevally passing by.
- Seventh Heaven -
Seventh Heaven is a large U shaped thila in south Ari atoll, this large site can be dived several times without visiting the same are due to the size and shape of the reef. Stunning soft corals and healthy hard corals make this a truly beautiful site, the reef is covered in anthias and red tooth trigger fish whilst grey reef sharks can been seen in the deeper areas. Large schools of humpback and blue line snapper and fusiliers are found along the way with patrolling dog tooth tuna looking for a meal.
North Male Atoll
North Male Atoll has at least 20 resort islands operating in the area with some excellent diving spots with beautiful pinnacles.
Here are some possible sites you may visit:
- Kandu Oiy Giri (Fish Factory) -
Fish factory is exactly what it says, this dive is conducted just outside a local Yellow fin tuna processing plant in north male atoll. Whilst the corals here are not the best the marine life more than make up for it, attracted here to feed on the waste tuna parts the reef if full of life all concentrated just next to the factory waste disposal. Schooling stingrays, banner fish and fusiliers are always present, and you can find almost every kind of moray in the Maldives here, all of which are very well fed and so a little larger than the norm. For lucky divers, the sight of a Guitar shark really tops of what is a fantastic dive than is full of surprises.
- Kurumba -
Kurumba is the house reef of the first ever resort in the Maldives, it is located close to Hulhumale and perfect for a check dive. The long sloping reef which turns to a wall in certain sections is a popular choice for the first dive of the trip. The currents can vary but generally is an easy drift dive if the current in medium or more. Black tip reef sharks are seen in the shallows while tuna and trevally patrol up and down the reef. All manner of reef fish, morays and sting rays can be found as divers make their way along the reef.
- Lankan Manta Point -
Lankan manta point is the most famous manta point in north male atoll, and a great location to see mantas cleaning. The long gently sloping reef offers a wide variety of marine life from turtles amp; octopus to black and white tip reef sharks. But it is mantas that steal the show, they can be seen at the cleaning station on this reef every day during from the middle of the rainy season through to the end of the year.
The small atoll of Rasdhoo lies off the northeastern corner of Ari Atoll proper. The atoll's main island, also called Rasdhoo, is the administrative capital of North Ari Atoll, despite not being within the natural atoll itself. Good chance to see mantas on various dive sites throughout the year.Here are some possible sites you may visit:
- Kuramathi Channel -
Kuramathi is a very large channel mouth and is dived by crossing the channel on an incoming current, the channel mouth is deep and means the dive can be mid water crossing from block to block as you go. Grey reef sharks in the channel mouth and a chance of manta rays are the highlights of the dive. Divers should be experienced as the current and deep water has to be monitored well to allow a comfortable dive.
- Rasdhoo Madivaru -
Rasdhoo Madivaru located in Rasdhoo atoll and has a huge variety of marine life, along with a number of different ways to dive the site. An early morning dive in the blue allows a chance of hammerhead sharks for the very lucky diver. The main reef is best on an incoming current but can also be dived with an out going current. Grey reef sharks and schooling eagle rays are common sightings, marbled stingrays and Napoleon wrasse can also be sighted. For those divers with a keen eye then leaf scorpion fish and juvenile razor wrasses can be a highlight of the macro lovers. Bat fish and schooling fusiliers are common and the hunting tuna can caused some frenzied action.
South Male Atoll
The atoll of South Male is separated from North Male by the Vaadhoo Kandu channel. Channel diving is a major feature of diving in South Male. These channels, whilst currents can be challenging, do bring with it an abundance of nutrients to feed and attract all types of marine life.
Here are some possible sites you may visit:
- Cocoa Corner -
South of the Island Cocoa is a channel with its northeastern tip rich in reef fauna especially during incoming currents which can be strong at times. Divers can either stop to view the wildlife in the blue in front of the channel or slide along the reef at the inside of the channel with an outgoing current which hosts a number of big blocks and overhangs. The inner reef has schools of reef fish, white tips, and with a small incoming current one could attempt to cross on top of the the channel mouth entrance to complete the dive at Kandooma Thila with numerous Grey Reef Sharks and Eagle Rays.
- Kandooma Thila -
Kandooma is the stand out dive in south male and can be a spectacular dive. It is possible to dive with an incoming or out going current, grey reef sharks are found in the split point of the current along with schooling eagle rays and fusiliers. A large school of big eye jacks are a common sighting along with dog tooth tuna and giant trevally. The currents can be strong and this site is only for experienced divers, the current allows for an action packed dive.
Vaavu (or Felidhoo) Atoll is an undeveloped paradise comprised of 19 beautiful isles and the natural atolls of Felidhoo Atoll and the Vattaru Reef. It is the smallest and among the least commercialised atolls in the Maldives. The pristine, warm waters here are teeming with fish and larger marine life providing superb diving for both beginners and advanced divers.
- Rakeedhoo -
Next to the island Rakeedhoo is a wide north south oriented channel that marks the southern end of the Atoll. The channel is too deep and wide to cross and most of the time it is already possible to measure the strength of the violent currents from the surface when it appears to the eye as if it is boiling. The reef slopes relatively straight down beyond 30m and has a beautiful top reef plateau with table corals, at the corner of the channel the reef extends forming a torn all with some overhangs and plateaus between 20 and 30m+, very rich in soft corals. It is a reef exposed to severe turbulence due to the reef formation but the turbulences may attract many large schools of fish such as jacks and snappers.
- Devana Kandu -
Devana Kandu is to be considered the "small sister channel" of Miyaru Kandu, which can be just as productive. The channel entrance here however comes down a bit deeper at 34m, and comes up quite steep with a sandy slope up to 16m towards the inside of the Atoll. The channel middle holds a fairly big Giri and in front of it a good number of Bannerfish hang out. From time to time divers can encounter a nursing station for Grey Reef Sharks, where the babies, 3, 4, 5 or many more seem to have Kindergarten hours swimming up end down on top of the sandy bottom.
- Fotteyo Kandu -
This is the last channel in the northeast of Vaavu Atoll and is one of the most beautiful and richest sites. Along the outside reef are overhangs and some tunnels between 20 and 30+ meters, many of them in the western area are filled with yellow soft corals. The channel entrance is at 22m and passes in front of a small thila where, with an incoming current, Sharks and Eagle Rays hang out. Fotteyo can be dived in many different ways, depending on the current, the fauna changes drastically. From Hammerhead Sharks to Leaf fish and the beautiful corals - everything is here.
- Golden Wall -
A large channel on the eastern side of Vaavu Atoll that features a roughly 120m long vertical wall that is covered in yellow soft coral and holds a number of overhangs. With current not too strong one can simply drift along the wall, with an incoming current pelagics can be observed at the channel entrance which is a bit deep, but on the outer reef and the sloping channel corner algae offers a good chance to find ghost pipe and leaf fish, and big Moorish Idols are feeding on the soft corals.
- Miyaru Kandu -
Miyaru Kandu is a very popular channel located North of the Island Alimatha. The channel is about 150m wide with sloping corners to the north and south and comes down to 31 m with a sandy channel bottom covered with green midnight coral. With an incoming current the list of possible encounters is impressive, many Grey Reef Sharks, White Tips, Eagle Rays, Tunas, Barracudas and a shoal of Silver Jacks are resident here. Divers simply go down and hook and hover at the channel mouth entrance and enjoy the show. The inner reef has a sand garden in the northwest where different kind of stingrays, moray eels and smaller wildlife like garden eels can be found.
Check Dive & Depart Male
Once onboard there will be a safety briefing, crew introduction, complete and check dive paperwork, cabin allocation and boat orientation. Our boats moor in port on arrival day departing early next morning. The first dive is a check dive near port. Following the first dive we depart from Male port and commence the Best of Maldives itinerary.
Return to Male & Optional Land Visit
On the last diving day, 1 dives is available in the morning as standard whilst observing the rule of no diving within 24 hours of reaching altitude. We return to port at approximately 1pm and moor here overnight. There is the option of an afternoon land-visit to stretch your legs and escape the boat whilst in port. Evening-time pack up diving equipment, settle any outstanding bills ready to depart for the airport at 7am the following morning.
All experience levels including snorkellers and non-divers
This is a great itinerary for everyone regardless of your experience level. You don’t need a minimum number of dives to join this trip, but you should be comfortable diving in current as they can be unpredictable and strong. Many dives are below 18m therefore we recommend having advanced experience or taking your PADI Advanced Open Water course on board to maximise your enjoyment from the trip. Divers may find some dives challenging and may be asked by the Cruise Director to skip dives that are not suitable for their diving experience. Diving is from a dhoni to give precise entry and exit points.
To find out more about current strengths and how they are affected by the moon’s phases click here.