The Maldives are a chain of 19 islands in the Indian Ocean southwest of India and Sri Lanka. They extend over 871 kilometers in a north-south direction, up to just south of the Equator. The islands are atolls with coral reefs, surrounded by the peaks of a volcanic mountain range submerged in the water. From the total 2000 islands, only about 220 are inhabited.
However, only some of the inhabited islands are accessible to tourists. These are principally islands with hotels or those visited frequently by safari boats. Principally, tourists must leave the islands before sunset. Exceptions are rarely granted by the Government.
The Maldives are one of the most fascinating dive destinations this planet has to offer. The island state located in the Indian Ocean , with its nearly 400,000 residents has numerous stunning atolls and nearly 1,200 partly uninhabited islands. The islands are characterized by beautiful white sandy beaches with palm trees and beautiful lagoons.
The more than 20 atolls are thereby protected by numerous partly unspoilt coral reefs. They are due as a result the lowering of huge volcanoes. In the following period the corals formed the magnificent fringing reefs of the atollsthat can be watched wonderfully on a scenic flight by plane, nowadays. Thanks to strong ocean currents in this area naturally long drawn channels were formed, through which divers from all over the world are moving today. The reefs are almost overflowing with unique fauna and flora, some of which specimens are not been named yet..
Taking into account the current and in regard to best visibility, you should select the destination of your diving holiday in the Maldives. In general, from May to November it is particularly pleasant to dive west of the atolls. Those arriving from December to April should explore the dive sites east of the atolls. The atolls themselves outdo each other in their beauty and each of them fascinated divers on individual way.
The islands of the Maldives are spread over 26 atolls. Here, most of the islands and most of the tourist islands series (up to a few exceptions) annularly around the large lagoon of each atoll, like the pearls of a pearl necklace. These atolls always have a more or less annular structure which can be observed best from a great height. The ring-shaped atolls of the Maldives are the largest of the Earth and they are considered to support the the theory of atoll formation in geology.
Considered as the originating theory of the atolls it is assumed that in ancient times islands with volcanoes sank slowly down the ocean and settled the reef corals on top of the circular volcanic cone. The growth of corals could almost keep up with the sinking of the islands, and a huge coral reef began to incur. After the complete disappearance of the island of the atoll ring stayed as the only remaining and is still visible today. At boreholes a in 1842 expressed theory by C. Darwin could be confirmed, but so far not in the Maldives.
Here is more likely suspected that a larger land mass, the so-called Maldivian back, also sank into the sea and could develop a growth of corals here. The round shape explained theories whose truthfulness, however, more on speculation than based on facts. Fact is that the growth of a complete coral reef, no matter what shape it is, takes an enormously long time, the oldest detectable reef needed for this almost 50 million years.
So that an island or an atoll can ever be reached by boat, this ring around the island or even the big atoll ring needs to have a breakthrough somewhere. The previously already mentioned kandus or reef openings are usually already made by nature, but often they had to be enlarged or artificially created. In order to to find this passage even in bad weather or for those who are unfamiliar with this area, they were provided with markings on sometimes very original way. If a boat has passed this mark secure and calm water has been reached.
Male is the economic and political heart of the Maldives and its 105,000 inhabitants live crowded together on an island of about 1.5 square miles. Here reigns the bustle of a vibrant tropical city with noisy markets, crowded harbor full of fishing boats, merchant ships and water taxis. The colorful jumble of local residents, shopkeepers, workers and day trippers from the tourist islands stands in stark contrast to the peaceful tranquility which radiate the other islands of the Maldives. The population of this island grew so quickly that the island had to be artificially enlarged. More than 1/3rd of the island’s current area has been converted from sea.
The 270,000-strong population lives scattered across 200 islands. An independent, homogeneous culture, however, keeps them together. All Maldivians are Muslims and speak the Dhivehi.
What impresses visitors again and again, is the genuine friendliness and polite civility of the islanders. However, although you can hardly find a more peaceful nation anywhere, the Maldivians defend their independence adamantly. They are proud that their idyllic country only once in its entire history was under foreign rule.
A must-see in Malé is its mosques: the Hukuru Miskiiy and the Friday Mosque with its gold cupola can be seen from far away. Also, the fish market and marketplace should not be missed.
In Reefside, one can buy all brands of diving equipment at cheap prices, along with countless souvenir shops. In the shaded garden of the cafe/restaurant “Seagulls”, you can find ice cream specialities, fresh-squeezed fruit juices and fabulous snacks for noshing until the Nautilus Two pulls anchor.
It is hardly surprising that in a country where its territory is 99.5% of water, the sea plays an important key role in the lives of the population. Maldivians have long been known for their seafaring skills. This they represent every day as prove if they control their traditional boats – the dhoni – as water taxis through the treacherous reefs or out to sea.
The arrival on the Maldives takes place at international and domestic flights at Malé International Airport (IATA-Code: MLE). This is in addition to the Gan Airport the only airport, which is currently served internationally on the Maldives.
The airport is located on the island of Hulhulé, which is connected via ferry to the nearby Maldivian capital Malé. The landing at this airport is without doubt an unforgettable experience, because from the air resembles the island more likely an oversized aircraft carrier then as an ordinary Airport. The beautiful islands of the Maldives can already be seen quite some time before landing well and this very impressive angle of view from the air can push up real holiday mood regularly.
The Maldives are one of the most popular destinations for divers: clear, well-heated water and a varied underwater world. With these unique diving conditions each dive is an interesting experience. To meet the high demands of guests high importance is not only attached to an optimal infrastructure. The Maldivian government has established 25 protected areas for the regeneration of nature, which are accessible for divers. These are beautiful but endangered coral reefs, Thilas and reef channels.
Corals have created these unique reefs and atolls in the Indian Ocean. No matter if you dive for the first time on the Maldives or the underwater world is already been known – here every dive is an unforgettable experience. Unique coral formations and colors of the fish living there can enrapture every diver over and over again with enthusiasm.
The best known are the colorful butterfly- and angelfish. A real eye-catcher is the cleaner wrasse – not just when it calls for cleaning by bobbing movements. Also the cleaning itself enables interesting insights into the coexistence in this underwater world: For cleaning larger fish taking a unusual positions. In the open water divers can gaze at the choreography of wonderful fish groups, such as the Acanthuridae. Also puffer fish, turtles and large rays can be observed here often.
Of course also “big fish fans” of our liveaboards get fully at their expense. Depending on the dive site, season, and current, there are manta rays, gray reef sharks, nurse sharks, whale sharks and more to find at your dives.
The North Male Atoll is one of the major atolls of the Maldives. Here you will find Malé, the capital of the archipelago, as well as an international airport on the island of Hulhulé the economic capital of the Maldives.
North Male is one of the most developed tourism atolls. Here you can find a lot of top resorts and a very good infrastructure. In return, the land prices have increased sharply, so that a settlement of the locals on this atoll has been almost impossible due to tourism.
The North Male Atoll has a variety of the best known dive sites in the Maldives. It is also protected thanks to a strait quite well against the monsoon, which has a particularly positive effect on the fishing grounds and calms by the way many holiday divers. In addition to beautiful coral reefs experienced divers can dive also fascinating drop offs along here.
The South Malé Atoll is separated from the North Male Atoll by the Vadu channel. Although the South Malé Atoll is part of the administrative area of the North Male Atoll, there are significantly differences between both.
On the three islands of the atoll you can immerse yourself in the life of the local population. This is especially true for a visit to the the main island Maafushi, on which the ancient cultures and traditions mostly have been preserved. Who wants to retreat from the tourism of the North Male Atoll, is here on a very good address.
Guraidu is another island of the South Malé Atoll. On that island you can take a shopping spree through the streets and come into possession of beautiful souvenirs. Besides the Gulhi, the third inhabited island, the South Malé Atoll offers many holiday islands and uninhabited islands that can partly reached by foot, after passing through some wonderful lagoons.
The South Malé Atoll is excellent for both novice divers, as well as for diving professionals. Even Snorkelers come – thanks to the best visibility in the fascinating dive destinations on the east side of the atoll – entirely at their expense.
Protected from the North Male Atoll, a beautiful and largely untouched coral garden was able to develop wright here. In addition there are swarms of colorful species from different size as well as an impressive plant world. Among the most beautiful diving areas in the South Malé Atoll include big names such as Coral Gardens, Vaadhoo Caves, Cocoa Thila or The Canyon.
Worth seeing is the west of Malé located Ari Atoll, which counts with more than 100 islands the largest in the Maldives. The 10,000 inhabitants of the atoll mainly live from fishing.
Unique diving areas and ideally suitable for tourism islands in the north of the atoll annually attract thousands of holidaymakers, while locals are more likely to be found at the southern islands. This has occurred to an unofficial division between the north and south of the atoll in the past. The small number of locals that are found in the north, lives mainly from tourism, which usually represents a profitable business. Here one finds holiday homes to small and large resorts accommodations in all price ranges. There can be occasionally find holiday homes in the South, but here is fishing the main industry.
The atoll is also enjoying highest popularity due to its excellent scuba diving opportunities. Both beginners and advanced can benefit by the beautiful underwater world. In addition, you can observe numerous manta rays and whale sharks on the west side of the atoll.
Particularly lovely species of corals can be admired on the north side of the atoll. Here you may meet at a dive also mysterious caves, just waiting to be explored. To enjoy this underwater paradise, one goes to the best dive destinations Broken Rock Thila, Omadhoo Thila, Kudarah Thila, or Tinfushi Thila. Another highlight is a visit to the uninhabited island. Excursions to this destinations will be offered as a part of our dive trips.
Just 3 miles north of the North Male Atoll is the little Gaafaru Atoll, consisting of the islands Gaafaru and Velifaru. The two atolls are separated by the Gaafaru channel.
On the eastern located island Gaafaru live about 1000 inhabitants. The main economic activity is fishing here. The locals at Velifaru are rather scarce. For this, the island fascinates with a unique reef to explore, in which divers can explore various wrecks.
Who wants to experience diving trips far away from the tourism, should consider a visit to the Felidhu Atoll. The locals living here mainly from tuna fishing and are regarded as very hospitable. In the center of the atoll there are many small uninhabited islands that invite of an exploratory tour.
Facing the South of the atoll is the reef Vattaru, which offers excellent diving. The further dive sites are mostly located in the outer coral reefs and provide habitat for gray reef sharks, whale sharks and manta rays. The reefs of the atoll Felidhu known to be very steep drop off into the sea.
A highlight of a visit to the Felidhu Atoll is a dive in Fotteyo Kandu area. It is regarded as one of the world’s best underwater worlds. Occasionally, you may even discover various big sharks here.
Near by the Felidhu Atoll you can find the Wataru Atoll with a total of 35 islands, of which only one third is inhabited. The coexistence of the different ethnic groups can not be described without reason as a form of tribes here, because the number of members is rarely more than 100.
Muli is the most important island of the atoll. Here the inhabitants are living from fishing. This is also the case on the neighboring islands Kolhufushi and Mulaku, in addition there are grown fruits. Also this atoll offers its guests beautiful and pristine coral reefs.