Scuba diving in the Maldives
There can’t be many visitors to the Maldive Islands, in the Indian Ocean, who don’t spend at least some time diving. This independent archipelago is the smallest Asian country, yet attracts around 800,000 visitors each year, due to its famously idyllic beaches and the quality of its scuba diving.
The beauty of the Maldives
Consisting of over 1000 coral reefs, the Maldives is probably as close to paradise as a place can be, with soft, white, sandy beaches, clear, blue, warm water, palm trees and a perfect holiday climate. The sea life of the Maldives is diverse and exotic, including such wonders as parrotfish, manta rays, clownfish and sea snakes as well as several species of turtle, including the green and leatherback turtles.
Types of diving
Because diving is the main attraction for holidaymakers, there are dive operators in all of the Maldives tourist centres and even many liveaboard diving providers: operators who both live and work on their boats. Diving packages tend to encompass four kinds of destination: reef, lagoon, kandu and thila.
- Coral reefs make up the majority of the Maldives and each dive centre tends to have its own area of reef.
- A lagoon is basically a saltwater lake, which is a good place for the inexperienced.
- A kandu is the channel between each atoll, which teems with life.
- A thila is a submerged island, which tends to have interesting inhabitants, although it also often has very strong currents.
The currents around the Maldives are generally moderate to strong, due to the geography of the archipelago, but dives are supervised by experts and anyone going scuba diving must be certified to Open Water level by the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI). Boat dives are included in any package, but those wishing to dive unsupervised must have at least 40 logged dives for safety purposes.
Holidaymakers who aren’t regular divers can hire the best equipment for their purposes in the Maldives; even the liveaboard crafts have rental equipment and can be a great way to visit several destinations. There are effectively two seasons. The Maldives’ summer diving season runs from December to April, with water temperatures of around 30 degrees Celsius, dry weather and strong currents, then from May to December, the water is cooler and the weather less predictable with a greater likelihood of rain, but diving conditions are still excellent. With visibility at its best on the west during winter and on the east during summer, so the only rule when visiting is to pick a resort that is on the best side for that season.