North Male – Ari – Baa – Raa – 7 nights (May to Oct)
QUALIFICATION NEEDED: PADI Open water or equivalent - PADI Advanced Open Water advised due to more challenging dive sites.
This classic route, allows you to explore some of the top dive sites in the Maldives. North Malé Atoll features some of the Maldives most quintessential and enduringly popular dive sites, while Ari Atoll is considered by many to have some of the Maldives most consistent big fish sightings, including manta rays and whale sharks. The smaller Rasdhoo Atoll is well known for some of the Maldives’ finest hammerhead shark encounters and heading north, Baa Atoll’s incredible marine diversity saw it awarded UNESCO Reserve status in 2011. Nevertheless it sees fewer divers than its more southerly neighbours, ensuring diving away from the crowds, with regular sightings of manta rays and whale sharks during the summer months.
The cruise is either ending or starting in Maamingili (Ari Atoll) and therefore a one way domestic flight will be needed either to join or leave the vessel.
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
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.
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.
Rasdhoo Atoll: This tiny atoll has found fame as one of the best location in the Maldives for encounters with hammerhead sharks and for some spectacular dive experiences with manta rays and schooling fish.
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.