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Far North Exploration Itinerary – Male to Haa Dhaalu (10 nights)

North Male – Baa – Raa – Noonu – Lhaviyani – Shaviyani – Haa Alif – Haa Dhaalu

 

QUALIFICATION NEEDED: PADI Open water or equivalent - PADI Advanced Open Water advised due to more challenging dive sites


The North is characterized by beautiful reef formations and this trip will take you away from the usual diving itineraries. The further North you go the less boat traffic there will be, MV Carpe Vita will be the only boat on most of the dive sites on the northern atolls. Many of the sites will be known to the dive team onboard but there will be some exciting exploration of new sites during the trip as well. The trip will include some channel dives promising great shark life, but most of the dives are underwater pinnacle dives. There will be manta sites, a site with friendly green turtles and an abundance of fish life to explore. Due to the distance covered, 3 to 4 dives a day will be offered and a domestic flight either from the North (Hanimadhoo) back to Male or from Male to the North to join the boat will be required.

 

Please note: The following  itinerary highligts are a sample only and any itinerary is subject to change without notice. The itinerary and dive sites visited will depend on several factors including, but not limited to, weather, diving ability of guests & the number of other boats already present at the various dive site


Itinerary Highlights

 

North Male Atoll: There are dive sites here to suite all tastes and abilities. Manta Point may be the most famous, get ready to see more mantas than you can keep track of, as well as sharks and other reef residents. Another top location is Girifushi Thila, the current here is full-on, so expect a drift dive alongside scenery of colorful soft corals and water full of fish, including rays, sharks, and tuna. One of the best-loved and first-discovered is Banana Reef, which still showcases healthy thickets of branching corals. Along the curve of this banana-shaped reef, giant grouper and morays can be found. A huge school of bannerfish hangs in the current at the edge, and a few incredible caverns call for investigation. In another area, the impressive 100 meter Maldives Victory Wreck, has enjoyed over thirty years of colonization by creatures of the sea. The current can be strong but once you find in sheltered areas you can enjoy the big and small fish and invertebrates that have made this wreck their home. More sharks are available at Miyaru Faru, where divers watch the blue-water show from the safety of an overhang on the wall. The incoming current brings crystal-clear water and pelagics, including manta rays, eagle rays, tuna, and more. Two stunning sites for less experienced divers are Hans Haas Place with plenty of overhangs and small caves, and Back Faru, which offers good reef and pelagic life in incredibly low-stress conditions.

 

Ari Atoll: Within Ari Atoll's 40 km length and 105 small islands, site after site vies for divers' attention. it is the most reliable Maldives location for whale sharks and manta rays, as well as for tons of reef sharks and turtles. The area's general topography is dominated by kandus and thilas.  Ari's main draw is the large wildlife in the water column and various marine protected areas ensure the conservation of its incredible underwater creatures. Maaya Thila is considered one of the top Maldives dive sites for both day and night dives. This pinnacle is famous for the wild abundance and diversity of its reef life, from nudibranchs and octopus to schools of pelagic fish. Maaya's neighbor Donkalo Thila holds its own crown as a premier cleaning station for mantas and sharks in the western section of the atoll. Kudarah Thila and Rangali Madivaru, both in the southern section  host high-volume manta cleaning stations as well, while Ukulhas Thila is the premier manta cleaning station in the north. Hammerhead Point in Rasdhoo Atoll, northeast of Ari, tops it all off. The deep water drop-off near this site gives divers a special opportunity to see hammerheads, the highlight for many divers. Fish Head pinnacle is the best place for an adrenalin pumping dive- here, throngs of bustling grey and white tip reef sharks scour the reef for their dinner under huge schools of dancing fusilier. Maamgili, where plankton-rich waters nourish whale sharks gliding over wrecks that also host large marble rays and nurse sharks. For wrecks Fesdu Wreck in the north is popular with macro critter lovers for it's resident ghost pipefish and plethora of nudibranchs and flatworms. The fishing trawler was sunk to become an artificial reef more than ten years ago, Halaveli is a 33 meter long freighter where huge blotched fantail rays provide an impressive counterpoint to the macro-life tucked into the wreck's holes and corners, and can be dived day or night. Rahdhigga Thila is crowned in its shallows with healthy branching corals and festooned on its sides with soft corals in every shade of the rainbow, not to mention other benthic organisms like sponges of many shapes and sizes. Pelagics lovers won't even feel left out here because Rahdhigga hosts shark action from silver tips, white tips and grey reef sharks. At Omadhoo Thila the dive sites lies in the Omadhoo channel where two thilas meet, to give it the nickname of the “Big Valley”. The thilas large coral blocks form an interesting landscape. with numerous overhangs along the reef where there are many colourful hard and soft corals, as well as the infamous long-nose hawkfish hiding in the black corals. Looking out into the blue, divers can often see napoleon wrasse, barracuda, eagle rays and white tip reef sharks. Large schools of bannerfish, snappers and fusiliers are found swarming above the reef top. Omadhoo is widely regarded as one of the true highlights of South Ari Atoll. Kuda Giri is a small reef that starts at just 3 metres which has overhangs running around the coral block between 12 and 22 metres, before levelling out at 30 metres into a sandy plateau. The reef is covered in disc anemones and black coral trees, overhangs are home to lobsters, moray eels and lion fish. In the blue water, keep an eye out for schooling fusiliers and bannerfish.

 

Baa Atoll: Known for having loads and loads of fish, great variety of species, fun topography (especially overhangs), awesome manta-viewing, and fewer liveaboards crowding the scene. At Maavaru Kandu, you'll witness enormous carpets of swaying soft corals covering every square inch of the rocky surface with a glow of blue, yellow, orange and green. View these from within enormous overhangs whose ceilings are just as decorated as their floors, the site is unlike anywhere else in the Maldives. Fish life, black corals, hard corals, and whip corals complete the scene. Dhonfanu Thila lacks Maavaru Kanduís soft corals, but is brimming with fish: mantas, soldierfish and snappers lurk in overhangs, fusiliers shimmer in the blue water, and tons of other reef species abound. Dhigali Haa is not famous for mantas, but it also hosts great fish biomass. While schools of tiny silvery fish and jacks dance out their predator-prey drama along the sides of the pinnacle, slower-moving reef fish stand sentinel in the sheltered areas, and colorful reef-flat inhabitants play in the pinnacleís shallows. Whip corals, bushy black corals, and other photogenic benthic life give additional diversity to the site. Baa Atoll is most famous for Hanifaru Bay where you'll find  huge aggregations of both manta rays and whale sharks going wild in a plankton-eating frenzy. As a World Biosphere Reserve, Hanifaru Bay is an unparalleled draw for marine life enthusiasts, professional photographers, and researchers. Only sixty people are allowed in the bay at one time to see the rollicking, rolling behavior that the bayís abundance of food brings out in these normally sedate giants of the sea. Generally there are fewer sharks in the northern atolls, except at Noonu Atoll. At a dive site called Orimas Thila, there is a channel where grey reef sharks swarm in numbers of twenty or higher. Expect your dive guide to bring you to a resting point just down-current, where you can kneel in comfort without disturbing the inhabitants. This dive site is ideal for checking out a whole community of sharks doing their thing, from small juveniles to adults over three meters long. Christmas Tree Rock is also worth a visit. The topography here consists of large shelves of life-encrusted rock that divers can peer under and swim through to search for big and small reef inhabitants. Small dancing fish of vibrant pink, yellow, and blue ornament the different levels of the with their bright colors. Reef sharks and rays rest in the dark, and large pelagics like tuna stream through the blue water off the sides. With a hard coral garden at the top, Christmas Tree Rock is often cited by divers as one of their favorite northern atolls dive sites.

 

Raa Atoll: High density of thilas (submerged islands) located inside its lagoon. The marine life amongst the caves, overhangs and drop-offs is diverse. 

  

Lhaviyani Atoll:  The dive site Madivaru hosts abundant fish life in the crevices and overhangs of its vertical wall, from butterflyfish to Napoleon wrasse. In the adjacent blue water, triggers, tuna and barracuda add to the action. The channels of Lhaviyani Atoll are another great place to see tons of sharks in the northern atolls. Raa Atoll, with its dive sites Fenfushi Giri and Reethi Thila, also hold immense fish variety and volume, from Napoleon wrasse to tuna, and Reethi Thila is good for a bit of macro as well. Remote Haa Alifu and Haa Dhalu Atolls represent the northernmost point of the entire country.

 

Shaviyani Atoll: Relatively unknown and un-explored, vibrant reefs, batfish, eagle rays, marble rays and guitar sharks among a variety of marine life.

 

Haa Alifu Atoll: The most northerly atoll in the Maldives, with a sizeable local population and virtually no tourism development. A combination of established dive sites alongside truly virgin sites that have rarely been dived until now. This is adventurous, pioneering diving, characterised by waters that are heavily populated with rays, game fish and abundant corals.


Please note: 
Due to weather and diving conditions, it's not always possible to visit each Atoll. Your Cruise Director will decide the best ones to visit at the time of diving.

 

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