- A manta and whale shark journey to iconic sites in North & South Ari Atolls.
- Get your whale shark fix at Maamagili and fill your logbook with shark and manta sightings.
- Maaya Thila night dive, lush corals and schooling fish at Reethi Thila and Kuda Rah.
- Expect to see grey reef sharks, whale sharks, manta, beautiful pinnacles.
- Dive sites will vary depending on diver experience levels, local conditions and where the best sightings have been.
On this route we take you on a manta and whale shark journey to the North & South Ari Atolls having crossed over from Male. Exact dive sites will vary depending on diver experience levels, local conditions and where the best sightings have been.
Pelagic Magic gets you face to face with the famous whale sharks of Ari Atoll. As this itinerary devotes more time here, you are certain to get your whaleshark fix at Maamagili. Iconic dive follows iconic dive as you sail from Male through North Ari and then onto South Ari. Then grab your snorkel and splash in to float only feet away from graceful whale sharks. Pelagics of all shapes and sizes await.
With 17 dives, as well as opportunities to snorkel with the whale sharks, this is an action packed week. The pelagic sightings start right from the beginning at Lankan manta point, this is a cleaning station with reliable manta sightings so just settle down and watch the manta swoop in. North Ari atoll offers BMK (Bathala Maga Kan thila), Maya Thila and Fish head are yet more iconic dive site where sharks are plentiful. Watch huge schools of fusiliers being hunted by Dog tooth tuna and Trevally whilst eagle rays and grey reef sharks cruise by. A night dive at Maya Thila is a chance to witness something incredibly unique; Marble sting rays, Morays and reef sharks are hunting with Giant Trevally alongside in what appears to be symbiotic behaviour.
As you reach South Ari keep a look out for the whalesharks near Maamagili, this is the best chance to find whale sharks at this time as they follow the seasonal currents. Manta rays chase plankton trails too and can be found on cleaning stations along the route. Between your pelagic encounters, the reef dives will not disappoint, discover the lush corals and schooling fish at the likes of 7th Heaven and Kuda Rah thila.
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 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.
- 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
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
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.
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 Pelagic Magic itinerary.
Return to Male & Optional Land Visit
On the last diving day, 1 dive is available in the morning 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.