In a certain remote part, southeast of the Indian Ocean, lies a vast beautiful chain of islands that were formed from coral tips the volcanic mountain range underwater. A chain of over seven thousand islands that stretches for over twelve thousand miles, which is sparsely inhabited, is the magical place that is called the Maldives.
It is a dream destination of many divers all around the world, who seek to experience the colourful myriad of marine life, including more than 26 types of sharks and the incredible display of corals. The crystal-clear water and direct sunlight that penetrate the water only adds to its beauty.
History and Culture of The Maldives
The Maldives is among the developing countries, depending majorly on fisheries and tourism as the main income earners. The earliest settlers came at around 500 BC, coming from southern India and Sri Lanka. Buddhism was originally the main religion until the 12th century, when the national religion was proclaimed to be Islam.
It is currently an independent political entity, as from 1965 when it joined the United Nations. The population of the Maldives Republic is a mix with the people having their descent tracing from Arab countries, Sri Lanka, India, and Africa. Because of the linguistic and religious homogeneity, unity and stability exists.
English: Aerial view of Kurumba Island in the Maldives (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Dive Sites in The Maldives
The Maldives territory comprises mainly of water, which covers up to 99% of the country. The land is comprised of 1992 islets that divide to form 26 atolls. The atolls home most of the renowned dive sites. Some of the major ones are;
North Male Atoll
In terms of resort and hotel development, it is among the most developed atolls. It has more than 20 resort islands and the following diving spots including,
Banana Reef: It was the first discovered dive site in the Maldives, retaining its popularity up to date. Its depth ranges from 5 meters to 30 meters. Some of the interesting characteristics include some overhangs and a pinnacle. It has a prolific formation of coral that attracts a wide variety of fish,including bannerfish, squirrelfish, and oriental sweetlips. Occurrence of strong currents around the reef is observed from time to time, with areas around the overhangs experiencing occasional turbulence. Some high level of expertise is thus required, with the recommended use of surface balloons.
Okobe Thila: It is an advanced site for diving consisting of three sections. Constant current is a main feature requiring divers to balance its effects by spiralling up around or near the reef. It is common to spot white tip sharks, tuna, and bannerfish. Lucky divers also get to encounter spotted stingrays and nurse sharks among others.
South Male Atolli
Located on the Maldives’ eastern part, it has some of the best and finest scuba dive spots, which includes:
Kandooma Thila: It has the shape of a teardrop having a length of 250 meters. Soft corals cover the north and west coasts, with schools of big eye trevally and red bass patrolling it. Grey sharks, eagle rays and whitetip sharks are often seen in the north east of the Thila. Divers also get to mingle with green turtles and batfish.
Embudhu Express: This is a spot for advance divers with excellent drift skills. Whitetip sharks, big eye travelly, grey reef sharks, tuna and barracuda are the most likely to be seen by divers. Butterfly fish and giant sea fans are also observed occasionally. The advance divers usually take a ride on ingoing currents on the Embudhu Express so as to get a full rush
An atoll for the mantas, diving can only take place there during the moths of May, June, and July. The competition for space by the whitetip reef and grey reef sharks with the snapper, trevally and barracuda makes it unsafe to dive throughout the rest of the year. Hammerhead sharks can also be encountered. The largest barrier reef that is unbroken in the Maldives is found here, stretching for about 50 kilometres.
Among other great diving spots that are worth mentioning are the Lhaviyani Atoll, Ari Atoll, and the Addu Atoll.
Sunset in the Maldive Islands, officially the Republic of Maldives (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Best Traveling Times for Diving The Maldives
In general, the best time to go diving in the Maldives is during the months of January to April. This is when the weather is at its best, with the sun shining bright in the sky. Storms and cloudy weather is common up to the month of September. Visibility in the water is reduced during the months of October and November due to plankton deposits in the water. Wind and rain are associated with December.
Local Shops to Book Trips With When Scuba Diving in The Maldives
Some of the local dive shops that one can book trips with in the Maldives include Padi Dive shops and resorts. They offer complete package for scuba divers including supply of scuba gear and equipment. Sun dive centre and Delvis diving centres are also renowned for their excellent services and facilities. For those who are new to diving, Maldives Passions is the recommended local shop as its packages include diving lessons.
Where to Stay
One can choose depending on one’s budget from various hotels. Some of the highest rated hotels are:
Paradise Island Resort and Spa. It is found on the South Male Atoll, on its eastern edge. It takes a 15 minutes’ drive from the Male Airport. The prices are from $248 per night onwards depending on the type of services that one will require.
Kurumba Maldives. One of the most charming resorts found on the inhabited island of Kurumba, it is at a distance of three miles from the Male International Airport. The price per night is $260.
Surf View Hotel. For those working on a lower budget, this hotel located in Male would be a great choice. The price per night is $68.
Other Tourist Attractions
The biggest tourist attractions in Maldives are definitely the natural beaches and marine life that comes with it. Many tourists enjoy the long walks on the sandy beaches, feeling the absolute tranquillity of the islands. The various activities going on in the waters including surfing, jet skiing, snorkeling, lagoon diving, and canoeing cannot help but get one’s attention. The most famous beaches are Bandos, Mirihi, Fun Island, and Kanuhura island beach.
Sarawak underwater Jungle is a must-visit place for most of the tourists that set foot in Maldives. It highlights a vast range of marine biodiversity.
Spot fishing is also an activity that has attracted many tourists the Maldives.
English: Maldives (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Shallowest dive site depth: 5 meters deep
Deepest dive site depth: 40 meters deep
Dive site visibility: 15m to 40m depending on location and season.
Dive site currents: range from none to high currents depending on the location and tide.
Dive site surface conditions: Generally, calm but gets choppy in the southwest monsoon.
Common types of animals at dive sites: various types of sharks, fish, and turtles.
Number of dive sites in the area: greater than 200.
Recommended diving experience level: beginner – advanced.
Water temperature range during peak season: 26 degrees – 29 degrees centigrade.
Nearest airport: Male International Airport.
Recommended length of stay: 1 week -3 weeks.