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Maldives Diving - Know Your Atolls | Scuba Diving Blog

Updated: Apr 5, 2023

Popular with divers of all standards, Maldives diving offers a variety of experiences in the tropical waters of the Indian Ocean. Over 1,000 islands are divided into 19 atolls, spread over 35,000 square miles, so a liveaboard is by far and away the best way to discover the best diving this island nation has to offer. But with so much on offer, choosing your liveaboard itinerary can be a challenge. So, from north to south, here is a brief summary of the Maldives dive atolls and what you can expect from them.

Ihavandhippolhu Atoll

Wide, shallow channels with plentiful hard corals and vibrant marine life suitable for beginners. Also, deeper walls, ledges, and overhangs as well as unexplored reef perfect for more experienced divers.

Haa Aliff Atoll

Gentle drift dives down wide channels as well as the shallow wreck of the Filadhoo for novice divers. Submerged pinnacles and deeper channels with cleaning stations offer more challenging dives, and the chance to spot mantas and turtles.

Noonu Atoll

Exciting drift dives along walls and pinnacles, with a variety of shark encounters and some unique reef and macro species.

Raa Atoll

The inner lagoon features unspoiled reefs covered in sun corals while the outer reef offers deep drop-offs, swim-throughs, caverns, and pinnacles. The entire atoll is surrounded by an abundance of marine life.

Lhaviyani Atoll

A popular and well-explored atoll offering diving for everyone. Over 50 sites include shallow, sheltered lagoons, wrecks, deep channels, and plenty of marine life.

Baa Atoll

A UNESCO Biosphere Reserve boasting the Maldives' most diverse and unique marine life. Whale sharks and mantas are often spotted, but the atoll can become busy with tourists.

North Male Atoll

Popular on liveaboard itineraries, a variety of lively dive sites offer vibrant marine life, encounters with mantas, and the chance to explore the Maldives Victory wreck. Proximity to the airport and capital make this a busy atoll.

South Male Atoll

Dramatic topography and brisk currents attract large pelagics to this quieter atoll, however, there is less of the lively reef life found in the North.

Ari Atoll

Exciting diving in strong currents, suitable for experienced divers. Some of the best pelagic action in the Maldives can be encountered along deep walls, pinnacles, and drop-offs.

Vaavu Atoll

Gentle diving through shallow channels and reefs offers a relaxed experience perfect for beginner divers. Reefs are colorful and full of life.

Faafu Atoll

A wide variety of dives sites including some unexplored areas and interesting marine life. Divers of all levels and with a variety of interests can find suitable diving.

Meemu Atoll

Similar to nearby Faafu, vibrant reefs boast cleaning stations, large schools of fish, and a good number of reef sharks.

Dhaalu Atoll

Another area of diverse and unique marine life featuring drift dives through wide channels and shallow drop-offs. Black coral gardens, anemone fields, and many species of moray eel can be discovered.

Thaa Atoll

Dramatic topography and exciting drift dives offer thrilling diving and some great pelagic encounters. There are also shallow, sheltered sites with plenty of macro to be found.

Havadhu Atoll

Healthy reefs in pristine condition are home to a variety of schooling species and a good number of sharks.

Fuvahmulah Atoll

Rarely explore, this is a pelagic hotspot featuring numerous shark species, manta, and mobula rays over uncharted reefs.

Addu Atoll

A variety of sites with some larger marine species and the wreck of the British Loyalty oil tanker.

Several liveaboards operate in the Maldives, ranging from budget-friendly to ultimate luxury. Contact Bluewater Travel for more information on Maldives Diving liveaboards.

If land-based diving is your preference, there are plenty of budget to luxury resorts in the Maldives.

Take a look at the underwater housing canon r5 from the Bluewater Photo Store.

Read a review of the canon r5 underwater housing from the Underwater Photography Guide.

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