The Maldives is often recognised as one of the most sought-after holiday destinations in the world. A collection of beautiful islands with white sand beaches and clear, turquoise waters, it’s the perfect place to unwind and relax in one of the many high-end resorts. But, there’s more to do here than reading your book and sipping Pina Coladas! Especially if you combine it with the nearby Tear Drop Isle in a Sri Lanka and Maldives package!
The Maldives offers up a whole underwater universe to explore, and we’ve put together a guide to help inspire and ensure you make the most of your trip.
Stay Above Water With a Glass Bottom Boat
If you’re not sure about heading under the sea, you can still explore the wonders of the ocean from a glass-bottom boat. Containing a transparent window, you can see right down into the clear water from the comfort of your boat. Watch fish swim past, try to spot a manta ray or whale shark, and get to grips with the coral reefs from a safe distance.
If you’re joining us on our Sri Lanka and Maldives package, there will be plenty of time to enjoy a glass-bottom boat tour to ensure your adventure is entirely stress-free.
Explore the Underwater Ecosystem
The Maldives sits in the Indian Ocean and provides a wonderful opportunity for diving through underwater ecosystems. Warm and crystal clear, you can stay out for hours if you have the oxygen! The water in this sea has great visibility, ranging between 70 to 130 feet.
Darren Burn, Founder and Managing Director of Out Of Office explain that “with some of the world’s most gorgeous turquoise seascapes, for those who like the idea of water sports, then diving and snorkelling are a must in the Maldives.”
Dive down below the ocean’s surface and let the peace of being under the sea wash over you. There’s nothing quite like being immersed in the water and getting close to coral reefs, fish, and all manner of marine life.
Some of the best spots for diving include:
- Maaya Thila
- Rainbow reef
- Cocoa Thila
- Banana Reef
Snorkel at Your Resort’s Reef
If you’re new to underwater activities, the best place to start is at your resort’s house reef. Many resorts in the Maldives have their own reef. This typically sits a little out from the shoreline, making it an easy spot to reach.
You don’t have to take any boats or swim too far, so if you’re looking to build underwater confidence it’s the perfect place to start. You don’t have to dive down or spend hours searching to uncover incredible underwater ecosystems.
If you aren’t a strong swimmer but would still like to explore the worlds that lie beneath the sea, check that your resort has a house reef nearby.
Swim With Manta Rays
Beautiful and calm, swimming with manta rays is one of the most breathtaking experiences you can have in the Maldives.
These slow-moving creatures seem to soar and dive through the ocean, moving as though part of the water themselves. Watching them is both peaceful and awe-inspiring.
The Maldives is home to the largest population of reef manta rays anywhere on the planet, with over 5,000 individual rays identified, so it shouldn’t be too tricky to find some.
It’s usually best to take a boat out with a local who can find the best spots for big groups of manta rays. You can either snorkel or dive, depending on where you are (certain bays are snorkelling only) and watch them feed in the water.
It’s good to note that reef manta rays are the second largest variety of their species, with an average width of between 9-11 feet. These aren’t small creatures! But they’re also very gentle and aren’t dangerous at all, so there’s nothing to fear.
Explore Underwater Wrecks
There are a few underwater wrecks that you can dive down to on your trip. We recommend checking out the Victory wreck dive site, where you’ll uncover the carcass of a 100-metre-long cargo ship that sunk in 1981. Be aware that the currents here can be pretty strong, so it’s only recommended for advanced swimmers and confident divers.
Beginner divers will be better suited to the Kuda Giri wreck site. Here you’ll find the hull of a huge cargo ship that’s settled into the sea bed. Now home to a wonderful array of sea life between the rusting metal, it’s a site of true beauty.
Dive or Snorkel With Turtles
Five of our planet’s seven species of sea turtle live in the Maldives. Unfortunately, many turtle species are now endangered, and – as with any interactions with marine life – we urge you to be responsible and work with companies that focus on ocean conservation.
When you swim with turtles, you’ll understand why it’s so important that these beautiful creatures are protected! Turtles are calm and majestic, with an air of wisdom to them that’s hard to ignore. Make sure you don’t swim too close to the turtles and never touch them. Choose instead to observe their beauty from a comfortable distance.
Get Close to Whale Sharks
Whale sharks stay in the Maldives throughout the year, and are entirely harmless. You’re more likely to get attacked by a dog than a whale shark – or any shark, actually! Even so, this isn’t an underwater activity for the fainthearted, with some of the sharks reaching a whopping 30 feet long.
There are two great spots for seeing whale sharks in the Maldives. Hanifaru Bay (which is also great for manta rays) and South Ari Atoll Marine Protected Area. If you’re looking to be surrounded by our sharp-toothed friends, the narrowest end of Hanifaru Bay during the wettest seasons (May to September) is the place to be. The monsoons create a build-up of plankton in the water. This makes it a dream for whale sharks and shark spotters alike.
With all of these once-in-a-lifetime underwater experiences, it’s not hard to see why the Maldives has become such a popular tourist destination.
Just remember to be respectful of the marine life when you visit. And work with organisations that are striving to protect the ocean landscape for future generations. Do that, and you’ll leave the Maldives utterly relaxed and with a clear conscience to match.
Kate Sheppard is a mum of two, living in Sussex, UK. Kate enjoys writing about all things parenting, lifestyle and travel. Connect with Kate on Twitter: @KateSheppard90 and Pinterest: @katesheppard90