January to April
Please note: We recommend that you are a PADI Advanced Open Water Diver or equivalent with a minimum of 30 logged dives to join this itinerary. To get the most from the trip we suggest you are certified to dive to 30 metres and you should be comfortable with drift dives. Diving in channels with strong currents can be challenging therefore this itinerary is unsuitable for inexperienced divers. All your diving is made from dhonis to give precise entry and exits points. Please note: the maximum depth for diving in the Maldives is 30m.
This itinerary visits four different atolls. During the period January to April, the clean ocean water flows in from the eastern side of the Maldives. That means currents running from Sumatra, Indonesia to the Maldives bring with them not just fantastic visibility up to 40m but also a variety of pelagic surprises coming to the reef for a quick feed.
The Channel dives of the eastern coast of the Maldives are the main order of the day. These Kandus, as they are known in the local language (Dhivehi), attract grey reef sharks, dog tooth tuna and eagle rays as standard but look out into the blue and you never know what surprises await. The outer walls and corners of the channels in Vaavu and Meemu have the added bonus of beautiful overhangs draping in the blues, yellows and pinks of the majestic soft coral.
After the adrenaline pumping channel dives of eastern Maldives we cross over to South Ari Atoll to look for the whalesharks and mantas at Maamagili and Rangali Madivaru (Dhivehi for Manta Place) among other great sites such as Kudarah Thila and Kudimaa Wreck known for its potential leaf fish and frog fish.
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 sites.
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.
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.
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.
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.