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South Central Atolls

January to March - 7 & 9 day trips

   

Please note:  This itinerary is not for beginners and most dives will involve going to depth and diving with currents. It's best suited to more advanced divers. We recommend a minimum of 100 logged dives to join this trip. Divers may find some dives challenging and may be asked by the Cruise Director to skip dives that are not suitable for their diving experience. All diving is made from dhonis to give precise entry and exit points.With visibility being really good in the southern atolls, this is ideal for photographers for normal and macro shots.


This itinerary offers action, speedy drift dives, mantas, sharks and diving around seven atolls.  The best thing?  As we visit unihabited islands and atolls with very few resorts, liveaboard competition is low and there are few or sometimes no boats! January to March is the time to join us as this is when the current in the Kandus is largely incoming. There's a good variety of diving from thrilling channel dives to more relaxed diving inside the atolls on Thilas or Giris. Our guides and crew make it their business to make sure you see mantas, sharks and even a wreck.


The main manta activity is at Ari at this time of year but there's a good manta cleaning station in Meemu Atoll. Hammerheads are often found in Thaa as well as whale sharks who visit our boat at night attracted by the lights. When the currents are running well, the channel dives here are outstanding. Abundant with schooling snappers, jacks, barracuda, white tips and greys, grouper, Napoleon wrasse, turtles, eagle rays and more. Fancy a wreck dive? We can fix that for you at the Kuda Giri wreck, famous for its rare black corals and macro life complete with resident frog fish.


Please noteThe 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

 

South Male Atoll: The six big channels, or kandus, here are not known for coral, but they have amazing pelagic life, big schools of fish, and tons of sharks. Cocoa Thila is one of the most famous South Male dive sites. If you've got the perfect amount of current, you can see rays and all the rest; luckily, there are some dips and caverns in the topography in which divers can rest as they watch the goings-on. Cocoa Thila is a big pinnacle rooted in deep, deep water, and it's located on the perimeter of South Male Atoll, this means you may well be doing a drift dive in the same current that brings in the big ocean life. Guraidhoo Kandu South is a large area hosting varied topography warranting several dives. Here, divers can submerge on a vertical or horizontal plane, from walls, to flats, to channels, to caves. Sharks glide along the waterways while tons of different reef denizens enjoy their holes and hiding places. However, for bucket loads of sharks, Embudhoo Kandu comes top of the list with it's healthy population of white tip and grey reef sharks. Kandooma Thila is another prime site, located in the thin channel alongside this thila an intense current brings a crazy amount of activity, including schools of barracuda and other big predators. Other sites include Vadhoo Caves and Kuda Giri Wreck. At Vadhoo , one cave after another offers the chance to chill with reef inhabitants among a garden of colorful soft corals, while watching sharks glide by in the adjacent open water. At Kuda Giri Wreck, inexperienced divers have a great chance to jump in the water to explore the artificial reef and its inhabitants with little or no current.

 

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.


Felidhoo (Vaavu) Atoll: In the waters around Felidhoo's relatively undeveloped 19 islands, deep, fast-flowing channels promise abundant sharks and big pelagics like manta rays. At this easternmost area of the country, the Fotteyo barrier reef stretches for 50 kilometers along the open ocean, offering plenty of opportunities to see large marine life. While kandus (channels from the open ocean into an atoll) and thilas (pinnacles, or sea-mounts) characterize Maldives diving throughout the archipelago, Felidhoo boasts one of the best kandu scenes in the country. Besides kandu diving, Felidhoo also offers a fantastic night diving. Fotteyo Kandu is considered one of the Maldives' top sites, within this narrow channel, reef sharks and plenty of fish can be expected, including big groupers, and (if youíre very lucky) hammerheads. There are plenty of overhangs and swim-throughs, which add variety to the dive and give photographers plenty of opportunities. Miyaru Kandu, is another diving highlight with schools of grey reef and whitetip reef sharks, as well as a variety of other big pelagic and reef fish. Overhangs, small caves, and hard and soft corals diversify the channelís topography. Miyaru is known as a good site for mantas, and in general, the entire Felidhoo Atoll provides good manta sightings, especially between May and July. At Alimathaa Island, two kandus named Devana and Dhekunu offer the chance to see pelagic rays in the blue water, as well as sharks, tuna, and big schools of reef fish. The current in these channels can be very strong. For a slower-paced, but no less thrilling experience, Alimathaa Jetty provides the opportunity for a night dive with nurse sharks and stingrays. 


Vattaru Atoll: A small round shaped atoll 9km wide that lies 4.5km to the south of Vaavu Atoll. It has only one dive site, Vattaru Kandu which is on the southern side. The 150 metre wide channel has a bright white sandy bottom with a vertical wall on its west side, a gently sloping reef on its east side and an edge to the south. Stingrays are to be found on the sandy bottom, while many fish are concentrated on the eastern reef. During incoming currents, sharks, tuna and other large fish can be seen on the outer side of the reef and on the edge. During outgoing currents, Manta rays make an appearance and attract most of the attention, they can be seen in the channel, on the east side or on the west side around the vertical wall.This protected site is almost free from human activities.

 

Meemu Atoll:  You are almost guaranteed to see manta rays on every dive. The eastern and western rims are characterised by deep channels with currents that sweep in plankton-rich water, sustaining healthy soft corals and thriving marine life. Large numbers of a variety of pelagics populate the channels. In addition to manta rays and the occasional appearance of a magnificent whale shark; grey reef sharks, mobulas and eagle rays can be spotted almost everywhere. The Mulaku Kandu channel in the north east is peppered with submerged pinnacles covered in predominantly soft corals whilst snappers and jacks are abundant in some parts. Rays and sharks can be spotted as you descend and ifurther north along the reef is an overhang rich in soft coral. The wall below is home to moray eels, while sting rays sleep in the depths and groupers look for snacks in the coral formations. At Medhufushi Thila, you descend through the warm, clear waters of a north eastern channel situated between 2 wide lagoons,. Dolphins might accompany you to the start of your dive on the northern side of the thila. Peaking at 4m below the Indian Ocean's surface, the thila is covered in a colourful selection of hard corals. You could descend to as low as 35m to take a look at the steep wall with overhangs, but remember to save bottom time to scout out the caves and marvel at the countless reef fish. The current is virtually non-existent here, making it one of the few Southern Atolls sites that are suitable for scuba divers of all skill levels. 

 

Thaa Atoll: One of the least-explored areas of the Maldives and a good location for whale sharks. Whilst these gentle giants are rare, some of the other Maldives favourites can be seen regularly, such as schools of eagle rays, and big reef fish like Napoleon wrasse. Healthy corals decorate the craggy wall at the site 7-Up, and nearby, a large garden of gorgonian fans makes a pretty landscape for circling manta rays. The strong currents of Thaa's large kandus ensure that sharks are plentiful, especially whitetips.

 

Laamu Atoll: With a length of 48 kilometers and no resort, it's exploration is still very much in-progress, prepare to descend at incredible sites that have seen few or no divers before. Big schools of fish like tuna and jacks can be found in deep channels. In fact, some say that Laamu tops all the atolls of the country in terms of large schools of fish. While drift-diving these kandus, expect to see whitetip reef sharks and eagle rays as well. The lagoons, some of which are over 70 meters deep, also hold incredible fish biomass.

 

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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