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World | Diving Maldives:

Maldives overview



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Scuba Diving in the Maldives


Water temperature:

24°C (75°F) in February and July to 27°C (81°F) in April, May and September

Suit:

5mm shortie

Visibility:

15 - 40 metres (50 - 130 feet)

Type of diving:

Reef and drift diving, very few wrecks

Marine life:

Hammerheads, grey reef sharks, white tip reef sharks, eagle rays, manta rays, turtles, frogfish, triggerfish, surgeonfish, jacks, trevallies, snappers, napoleon wrasse, barracudas... the list is almost endless!

When to go:

June to October and December to March

How to get there:

The airport on the Maldives is located on Male, transfers from here are usually by Seaplane

From the UK - Monarch Airlines fly to the Maldives from Gatwick


Local Terms


Falhu:

Lagoon encircled by a reef sometimes with one or more islands inside

Faru:

Large reef partially exposed at low tide

Finolhu:

Island with few or no coconut trees

Fushi:

Big island usually on the outside reefs of the island

Futtaru:

Reef where waves break

Giri:

Small patch of coral a couple of metres below the surface

Haa:

Clearing in lagoon

Kandhu:

Sea inside Atoll

Kandu Olhi:

Channel

Maa Kandu:

Sea outside Atoll

Thila:

Coral reef a few metres below the surface

Vilu:

Deep area inside lagoon


The Maldives are located in the Indian Ocean and stretch 900 kilometres from north to south. They are made up of over 1200 tiny, low-lying coral islands surrounded by white sand in 26 atolls. The islands are some distance from land, which means there is an abundance of marine life. Night dives are a must as the reefs become highly active, with predators on the prowl. The Maldives are particularly renowned for the large pelagics that visit the area, particularly sharks and rays. Reefs form channels and lagoons, but don’t expect many wreck dives as these are minimal and not very spectacular.

The Maldives has a wet season is between May and August, which reduces visibility and may restrict the number of accessible dive sites. The hottest air temperatures are from April to June. December to March has the lowest humidity and the clearest water, so may be a good time of year to visit. However, a plankton bloom in early May causes lower visibility, but attracts whale sharks and manta rays.

Divers generally visit the Maldives for the life they get the opportunity to see as well as for the rapid drifts that dominate the area. The recent coral bleaching caused by the 1996 - 1998 El Nino rise in water temperature has not altered the quality of the diving here. The coral is recovering quickly and the life on the reefs is prolific and more than enough to keep you occupied on a dive. It even appears that the amount of fish life has even increased since the bleaching. Always keep an eye out into the blue, away from the reef into the thermoclines below you - you never know what action you may drift pass! All boat dives are drift dives; shore dives are also possible if you don’t want to do two boat dives a day.

Diving may be in shallow reef gardens filled with fish, or round thilas (submerged reefs) in strong currents. The channels between reefs also make good drift dives. On drifts you will need an SMB and to pay attention to your depth. There are a few wrecks to break up the reef diving, although these are dived more for the fish life found on them rather than for the wrecks themselves. All divers are required to have a computer, these are available to hire from dive Centers. You may also like to take a reef hook for the drifts. There are hyperbaric chambers are located on Bandos (North Male) and Kurumathi (Rasdhoo). There is rarely any nitrox diving available.

If you are going to the Maldives purely to dive, a liveaboard may be the way forward. They give you access to a wider range of sites and get you to best sites early to see maximum amounts fish life. You will be required to have at least twenty logged dives to dive from a liveaboard. They are more expensive than day diving, but don’t forget that prices are all inclusive. Liveaboard itineraries vary dependent on season and weather conditions. If you want to thoroughly explore one area, day diving may be a better option, especially if you want to do other things apart from diving. There is always the possibility of getting the best of both worlds if you have a two-week holiday by spending one week on a liveaboard and one week onshore.

The lifestyle on the islands is quiet, slow-pace and simple, and there is not much to do on the surface other than relax on the beach when you are not diving, except for the possibility of indulging in other water sports such as windsurfing or sailing. Accommodation is generally basic and in the form of bungalows located close to the waters edge. A short swim from the beach will get you onto the fringing reefs. However, there are over one hundred resorts to choose from on the islands so you should be able to tailor your holiday to suit your requirements whether you are after something luxurious or something simpler. Food is to western standards as it is mostly imported. Travel times to the Maldives may make a holiday worth a two-week trip. Getting between the islands is possible either by boat or by seaplane. The best currency to take with you is US dollars.


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