Scuba divers and manta rays in Maldives Islands, Indian Ocean.
Why Maldives diving?
15 important dive sites were established as marine protected areas in 1996 and another 10 protected areas were declared in 1999, in addition to three islands.
A number of marine species and birds are protected and various destructive fishing methods are banned but regrettably, some shark fishing (for ‘finning’) still occurs.
Diving is officially regulated: for example, on any dive the maximum permitted depth is 25 metres and the maximum time allowed in water is 60 minutes. However, the rules are not always enforced as evidenced by the number of snorkelers and divers at times in the water with manta rays in small lagoons.
Maldives Island Resorts usually have a ‘house reef’, where the reef flat drops into deeper water.
Resorts without a house reef are likely to run a couple of boat trips a day to a nearby snorkelling site but this is a lot less convenient.
Reef slopes are the best areas for snorkelling as they are easily accessible and can have interesting topography – small walls, caves and so on, a variety of coral and marine flora, many small fish and critters, as well as occasional visits from larger pelagic animals coming to feed. The house reef is also a good place to do your check out dive.
Coral reefs and associated marine life – especially Whale Sharks (this one’s a baby) – are the number one attraction of holidays in Maldives. Photo by Shiyam ElkCloner.
Maldives Diving Holidays
The better Maldive dive boats come with their own filling stations.
For more varied diving and snorkelling some sort of a boat is required – either a day trip or a dive safari (aka liveaboard). Liveaboards offer the possibility not only of a lot of diving but also of visiting a variety of sites and there are dozens of different diving safari boats to choose from.
Red Sea type liveaboards, which use Zodiac boats (RIBs) to get to the dive sites or beach are the most stable and best designed platforms for both diving and relaxing.
Large dhonis (local boats) are much more widely available and cheaper but can be rather basic with a small communal area, cramped cabins, shared shower and a toilet hanging off the stern. The term ‘up close and personal’ comes to mind. If the sea is choppy the dhonis dance around as their relatively flat-bottomed hulls get tossed in the swell. You pays your money…