Fish and coral-gazers worldwide consider the Maldives to be a holy grail of diving and snorkeling. With a broad and colorful spectrum of marine life and some of the clearest waters in the world, the Maldive islands make for spectacular marine tourism.
With 26 atolls, there are endless options. Below are a few recommended areas and dive-friendly resorts. You can also hand-pick your geography by searching for an atoll on the home page. Many of the most popular sites are well documented and there are plenty of resources available online.
Recently designation a UNESCO Biosphere reserve, Baa Atoll has some of the most developed marine tourism in the country, but is now faced with the challenge of balancing this rising interest with the environmental impact of large numbers of visitors.
Shark diving is a must for many - and worry-free. The Maldives contains a variety of sharks, none of which are deemed harmful to humans; such is the abundance of fish a shark merely has to open its mouth for a snack. If that’s your dish, then a resort in Baa Atoll may be a good base:
South and Southeast Ari Atoll boast some of the most accessible reefs in the Maldives for snorkelers and divers:
Kaafu (Male') Atoll
North Ari Atoll
North Male Atoll: Going remote is often a good call. This atoll has fewer resorts than others, so diving tends toward tranquil. Look for:
Getting your diving license is well-worth the time and expense. Most resorts feature a dive shop with a range of options. If you are spending time on Male or Hulhumale, you have several options. It's always good to ask for a recommendation from a local diver or resort dive center; calling schools to weigh the customer service and packages offered can’t hurt either. Resort schools are a safe bet. Always err on the side of caution and buy your travel insurance before leaving home. Given the hundreds of dives across the country each and every day, diving accidents in the Maldives are exceptionally rare.
Resort shops know they have a captive market and the prices are often extortionate - even for essentials such as sunscreen.
In Male', most of the dive shops are located along the tourist strip of Chandhanee Magu off Republic Square (the big flag) and if you have time (such as a few hours transit) it can pay off to investigate your options here.
If you can fend off the touts in the area - they are nowhere near as persistent or numerous as other countries in the region - many of the dive shops are surprisingly willing to discount or throw in extras.
If you plan to do a lot of snorkelling or diving, a good-fitting mask is the best accessory to acquire and worth your time even if your resort offers gear for hire. It should stick to your face when you inhale through your nostrils, even without being fastened.
Snorkels are more difficult to buy as finding the right one to suit your lung capacity can be a matter of trial and error, but most will do the trick in a pinch. Don't go too big, as a larger snorkel can make it harder for novice snorkelers to clear as there is more pipe.
Having your own fins is a luxury, particularly if you prefer to wear booties or like to show off, but most resorts hand out rubber slip ons that work fine unless you are planning to set speed records.
Recreational diving in the Maldives is legally limited to 30 metres - even if an advanced PADI licenses you to go to 40 metres. Going deeper may also void your travel insurance in the event of an emergency, so be careful.
For the exact diver, keeping track of the monsoon season can be important.
The North East Monsoon
The South West Monsoon