Diving Male Atoll

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Male Atoll, Maldives

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Country: Maldives  Area: Maldives

Water Temp: 25 - 30°C (77 - 86°F)

Visibility: 10 - 40m (33 - 131 ft)

Depth Range: 5 - 40m (16 - 131 ft)

Manta Cyclone Feeding – Hanifaru Lagoon

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The best coral reefs in the Maldives are in Male’s brilliant blue waters. The most explored of all the atolls by divers due to its variety of dive sites, abundance of marine life and easy accessibility, Male is an excellent choice of holiday destination.

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Male is located on the eastern side of the Maldives archipelago. It is main hub of the Maldives with a huge choice of resorts throughout the atoll which offer diving as well as a wide range of other water sports. 

Climate & Sea conditions

The Maldives experiences a complex weather pattern consisting of two seasons the dry Northeast Monsoon and the wet Southwest Monsoon. During these two seasons the air temperature varies only slightly and the main factor is the wind direction. From May to November the prevailing winds are from the Southeast, bringing the wet season, this season has more rainfall than the dry season but there is still a lot of sunshine and when it does rain it tends to rain hard and for a short time.  The dry Northeast season runs from December to April and this the time when you get the best visibility.

Colorful Magu Reef! Credit

Male Diving includes a selection of wonderful dive sites for all levels of experience on colourful coral reefs, underwater caves and spectacular deep drop offs. The Coral reefs in this area are by far some of the best in the Maldives, which doesn’t tend to be known for the quality of its reefs. Visitors usually travel here more for large pelagic encounters than pretty coral, but the reefs in this area are as healthy, bright and full of life as anywhere else in the world. Also thanks to a shipping route through one of the atoll’s channels there are now many shipwrecks to explore as they slowly become artificial reefs full of life.

Diving the Maldives can be undertaken in two ways, either by land or by a liveaboard. This choice entirely depends on the type of holiday you are after, whether you would like a totally dive based holiday or diving mixed in with other activities.

Manta Rays, Credit

These weather patterns have a strong influence on the currents and therefore the conditions on dive sites. This affects where to find the marine life which varies dramatically from the eastern to western atolls. Diving during the wet Southwest season is spectacular on the Western atolls and you can frequently encounter large schools of tuna, barracuda, eagle rays and sharks. The water temperature is cooler than the dry season averaging around 26C, which has an effect on the marine life. The grey reef sharks and hammerhead sharks in particular can be witnessed in larger schools and can be found in shallower water. The Eastern side during this time is best for spotting Mantas and Whale sharks but the visibility is not as good as the west due to the plankton rich water which attracts these huge creatures.

The Northeast season is the Maldives summer period, with higher air and water temperatures and less rain. The effect it has on the currents and therefore the marine life is dramatic! The sharks and other large pelagic move across to the Eastern atolls with the most action from these species in the channels, thilas and in the main current points. The Mantas and Whale Sharks however also swap sides and move over to the Western atolls. 

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Shore Diving

Most resorts will provide unlimited house reef diving where you can dive from certain entry points along the shore, if you are an experienced diver you are able to explore these house reefs without a guide as you like. The resorts are all suitable for all levels with the warm, shallow water and interesting easy to reach house reefs making these sites perfect for beginners.

Diver and stingray, Credit

Boat Diving

Most resorts have a dive centre based on the island which provide boats a couple of times a day to the surrounding dive sites and some day boats to the sites further afield. 

Liveaboard Diving

Liveaboards are the most efficient way to take in the best dive sites the Maldives has to offer, they will all have experienced dive guides who know the area well so will know where and when to take you to see the best marine life. These liveaboards do tend to have a minimum dive requirement for some of their trips as currents can be very strong and difficult for beginners, although some do allow you to take part in further training whilst diving with them.

Coral Fish, Credit

Manta Rays are one of the reasons that the Maldives is a top destination for divers, as this is one of the few places in the world almost guaranteed to provide divers with an amazing encounter with these elegant giants. They are year round residents of the Maldives but as previously mentioned the locations they can be found at vary with the seasons. Male Atoll is on the East, therefore the mantas are most common in the surrounding waters from May to November. The atoll has a couple of Manta cleaning stations and hotspots, one being Lankanfinolhu Faru aka “Manta Point” which has an amazing amount of Mantas coming regularly here to be cleaned in the Southwest monsoon season. If you are patient and respect the mantas space you can sit and watch the mantas being cleaned right in front of you for most of the dive.

Turtle! Credit

Cyclone feeding is a rare and spectacular event where over 100 manta rays can feed together and create a chain which the head of each manta ray touches the tail of the manta in front. This creates a huge spiral of up to 200 mantas, the Maldives is one of the few places on the planet where divers can experience this dramatic event.  It takes place at Hanifaru Lagoon during the months of May to October when the tide, current and wind are at an optimal alignment which traps huge concentrations of plankton in the lagoon until the tides change.  This attracts hundreds of the graceful mantas along with their fellow plankton feeders the Whale Shark! To dive in this cyclone is an exhilarating experience with the gigantic creatures whizzing about on every side of you and is definitely a moment of your life that you will never forget! If you are land based on a resort at North Male you will not be close enough to reach this phenomenon but most liveaboards during this season will visit Hanifaru to witness this amazing sight.

Although the Manta Ray is the main attraction of the diving in the Maldives the underwater world in this area has a whole lot more to offer in terms of marine life and dive sites. One thrilling dive site where you may have a chance of spotting schooling Grey Reef Sharks is the “Lions Head” which is named for an overhang which unsurprisingly looks like a Lions head. This site drops from 3m to over 40m deep and is packed with colourful marine life all along the reef with Hawksbill Turtles, Napoleon Wrasses and Eagle Rays are all commonly spotted here. Along with the interesting overhangs and caves, this dive site has something for everyone. 

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How to get there

The International airport is located at the southern end of the North Male Atoll, with the same island being the departure point for most Maldives Liveaboard Cruises. The individual resorts in Male Atoll can be reached by sea plane or by speedboat from the International airport. As most of the atoll’s islands are close to the airport the majority of transfers will be by speedboat, although it is well worth the extra expense for a sea plane to take in the breath taking views of the atolls from the air.

Aerial view, Male Atoll, Credit

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Other Activities

Diving is the main tourist activity on all of the Maldives islands, even so there is a selection of many other activities to take part in on the resort islands. The activities available will depend on the facilities of your chosen resort, so when picking an island and resort, research what each has to offer. Most resorts have spas, a selection of bars and restaurants, and many other water based activities such as wind surfing, snorkelling, canoeing and sailing.  The Maldives is an excellent holiday destination for those who love diving and the water or those who simply want to relax and do nothing on a peaceful quiet remote beach.

Too Beautiful, Credit

Dive Reports


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Rating 10/10

100% Guaranteed Tiger Shark encounter | Maldives |Fuvahmulah

Male Atoll1 Dec 2022 - 31 Mar 2023

We offer great ranges of dive and stay package for budget travellers


Rating 7/10

Olhuveli Beach and Report - Maldives

Male Atoll6 Apr 2018 - 20 Apr 2018

A second visit 8 years in the making! A welcome return to the location where we honeymooned complete with upgraded room.

The place is lovey and clean inside and out, with staff even raking the sand!

The food is excellent and the only fault is the time waiting for drinks in the bar.

Staff are very attentive. There is entertainment each night, day trips and watersports to keep you busy on down days.

The place is a 45 minute speedboat ride from the airport straight to the jetty where the dive club is.

Well organised, safe and very knowledgeable dive guides. Especially Marie-san.

The diving is hard work and the currents are strong most times. Certain sites you can only dive with inbound currents so marinelife is attracted such as sharks and eagle rays.

Negative entry can be expected due to the currents and need to get to 30 meters as soon as possible so as not to miss the site.

That said the abundance of turtles, rays and sharks was worth it.

The olhuveli make you do a skills test on the house reef and first dive. mask clear, reg retrieval and out of air scenario.

This is a pleasant dive and in the evenings you can do a night dive.

Up until end April, the mantas are attracted by the plankton blooms. The Olhuveli place lights of the jetty and visitors are able to look down into the water and see them feeding. Meanwhile you can indulge in the underwater spectacle of gliding mantas. at approximately 4 meters you can hold onto the rock and watch them. This was fantastic. Then we went on to see free swimming shrimps, octopus and crabs.

The diving is good and at the same time if you want relaxing diving akin to Shimoni Island off of Africa, then this is not for you.

The resort spoils you and out of the water life is relaxed and chilled out.

Rating 10/10

Magnificent Maldives

Male Atoll20 Apr 2014 - 27 Apr 2014 with MV Carpe Diem & Carpe Vita

The Carpe Vita is a beautiful boat, luxurious in every way. Spacious cabins, comfortable common areas with air conditioning and enough seating for all the passengers. The crew was friendly and helpful, the divemasters were patient with divers at all skill levels and were excellent critter finders.

We dove North and South Male Atolls, North and South Ari Atoll and Vaavu Atoll. The diving was spectacular: something for everyone, spotted eagle rays, Manta rays, whalesharks, grey & white tip reef sharks, turtles, napoleon (bumphead) wrasse and huge schools of reef fish. Along with the big stuff, there were plenty of anemones of all colors, healthy soft corals and hard corals, nudibranchs, bubble shrimp, coral crabs, mantis shrimp and the usual eels and lobster.

The wall dives were beautiful beyond words, so much life and diversity. The conditions were perfect all week, we were able to do drift dives, reef hook dives in channels while looking for sharks (we found them!) and were fortunate to have mantas seek us out for a night dive and then another night dive with nurse sharks, that was probably my favorite of the entire trip.

This trip was wonderful and one that I will repeat, the only change will be that I make sure it's a 10-day trip instead of just seven.

Showing 3 of 4 comments. Show all

Traci Quick

I would definitely recommend Carpe Vita without hesitation! I had two other groups of friends dive with them prior to my trip and they had a similar experience. While it isn't an inexpensive trip, I do think that it's less than you would pay to stay in landbased resort in the Maldives and you get to see so much more. I was in a lower level cabin and it was spacious and quite comfortable. The Carpe Vita is a bit more than her sister-ship, the Carpe Diem, but you get four dives a day instead of three and some different itineraries. Hope you can make it! It's worth every penny!

Gifford Pelletier

Thankyou Tracey. It does seem a good option and even though more expensive than i would normally pay for a holiday it sounds worth it for the diving. I will look online and hope to be on one of the trip soon!

2012.10.17.Taveuni Fiji..76

Timur Kholodenko

Nice report, thank you. Maldives is definitely on my list to get to.

What's available late Jan 2014 in Raa Atoll?

I'd like to purchase an excursion for my daughter and son-in-law who will be on Raa Atoll.

Gwen Olicker


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Catherine Jones

1 vote

Hi Gwen - I have let the a few of the Dive Centers at Baa & Raa Atoll know about your enquiry here. Hopefully they will get in touch with you - otherwise you can always contact them direct by searching for 'Raa Atoll' on the right hand side of the site :)

Rating 7/10

Maldives Liveaboard - First Half

Male Atoll6 Jan 2012 - 14 Jan 2012

To escape the Jan cold i took a week liveaboard to the Maldives. The Trip included South Male Atoll, Vaavu Atoll and Ari Atoll. Although the visability was a little poor there was still a lot to see with excellent reef fish and macro life including my first Leaf Fish, Pipefish & my new favorite fish, the long snouted Pufferfish (see location photo 4).

There were plenty of sharks, mainly Grey Reef & White Tip Reef, with one amazing dive to a cleaning station where there were at least 30 being cleaned metres away from us!

Although no mantas we had a close Whale Shark encounter whilst diving a wall looking for Hammerheads, which gave many of us a few panicky seconds until we realised what the huge shadow coming straight at us was!

A great first half of the trip......then on to Ari Atoll!

5 2 4 3 6

Sandie Dee

Looks amazing, i would love to go!

Rating 8/10

North Male

Male Atoll8 Oct 2011 - 21 Oct 2011

Took a 12 night liveaboard with Scubascuba covering North and South Ari and North and South Male. Dived the reefs near North Male on 19/20 Oct to main Manta Ray cleaning station, great sitings with 11 rays on one dive and 5-6 on the second.

Whalesharks were also present in the outer reef with up to three circling at one time who hung around for over an hour.

Lots of hawksbill turtles, spinner dolphins and white tip reef sharks also sited. Good schools of snapper, jacks, trevallys and almost endless red fang triggers on most reefs. Also plenty of circling sharks in the blue. More unusual sitings such as leaf and frog fish and plenty of nudibranchs for those who love the small stuff.

Dived during full moon leading to some strong currents in the afternoon dives.

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Catherine Jones

Sounds amazing, cant wait to go in January now :)

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