North Male – South Ari – Vaavu – Meemu – Thaa – Laamu – Huvadhoo
QUALIFICATION NEEDED: Experienced divers only with minimum PADI Advanced Open Water.
A limited number of Deep South Shark trips are available during the peak high season of February/March/April. These trips get away from the crowds by venturing deep South and take advantage of the strongest currents and best visibility to enjoy the abundance of sharks the Maldives has to offer. This trip is suitable for experienced divers only due to the currents and number of channel dives involved. The itinerary is focussed on seeing lots of sharks including possible thresher and tiger sharks, hammerheads, whale sharks and mantas plus the possibility of seeing the rare mola molas (sunfish). These routings take place during peak high season (February/March/April) when the currents are at its strongest and visibility at its best to enjoy the abundance of sharks the Maldives has to offer. Most of the dives will be so called channel dives, whereby the diver descends near the corner of a channel, hooks on and enjoys whatever the current brings varying from sharks, eagle rays, Napoleons etc.
Departures will either begin in Male atoll and cruise south, or begin in the south and journey north. Longer trips take in the dive sites around Huvadhoo and Addu atoll. Shorter trips begin or end in Laamu. A domestic flight is required for this itinerary.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Huvadhoo Atoll: This remote area of the Indian Ocean is only accessible by liveaboard and therefore, remains mostly unchartered. There are two distinct districts, Northern Huvadhoo Atoll (Gaafu Alifu) in the north, and Southern Huvadhoo Atoll (Gaafu Dhaalu) in the south. The atoll is the 10th largest in the world, giving ample reef rim space for diverse marine wildlife. There are more than 230 islands at the center of its lagoon - more than any other atoll in the Maldives. The sapphire-colored lagoon inside the atoll is one of the deepest in the Maldives, the lagoon bottom is covered with sand and reaches a maximum depth of 90 meters. The strong currents bring lots of pelagic and reef life; whalesharks, silkies, hammerheads and grey sharks all frequent this area. Channel dives like Vilingilli, Nilandhoo, Mareehaa and Kondeey and reef dives like Gazeeraand Vaadhoo are not to be missed. Divers can experience unforgettable displays of manta rays, eagle rays, sea turtles and reef sharks. Staghorn coral reaches toward the sunlight as black and white tip reef sharks patrol the ecosystem below. Angelfish, clownfish, anemones and lionfish guard their small patches of reef. The Hitraadhoo Nature Reserve provides shelter to nesting turtles.
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. This itinerary may also operate in reverse.