Diving holidays in the Maldives and Liveaboard Boats
Discover the best place to dive in the Maldives, as well what time of year to visit this underwater marine paradise.
The Maldives have some excellent coral reefs, but it's the abundance of marine life throughout the islands that sets them apart from other dive destinations. The islands themselves are the visible coral tips of an oceanic volcanic mountain range, which at times plunges to depths of over 3000m. Deep channels separate 26 atolls that run over 800 nautical kilometres north to south.
The relative isolation of the Maldives, far from any landmass, has led to a fabulous variety of marine species. Seasonal oceanic currents have forged channels from the open ocean into all the atolls, supporting an incredibly rich marine ecosystem. Once inside the atoll, the coral reefs, sandbars, islands and lagoons are home to many of the reefs inhabitants, and scuba diving is one of the most popular activities in the Maldives.
Maldives Liveaboard Boats
In order to get the best variety of diving and snorkelling in the Maldives, some visitors opt for a liveaboard experience. This is where you spend time living on a specially adapted boat which takes you to the best dive sites, some of which are only accessible by these types of vessel. This sort of experience used to be much more basic and often associated with a backpacker style of travel, but times have changed. The liveaboard boats in the Maldives come in all shapes, sizes and prices, and range from truly luxurious options complete with their own spas, to larger, busier boats that offer great value for money.
These boats generally take in the North Male Atoll, Baa Atoll, Hanifaru Bay, and Rasdhoo amongst others. The normal length of stay on a Maldives liveaboard boat is between 7 – 12 nights, with the best time to visit being from December to May when the seas are the calmest, water temperatures are a steady 28°C and visibility is an excellent 20 metres. Per night budgets are generally between £200 - £400 per person per night.
Best Time to Visit the Maldives
There are two distinct seasons in the Maldives.
December – April
The North East Monsoon from December through to April represents the Maldivian summer and generally offers drier conditions. Visibility on the Eastern sides of the atolls is excellent throughout this monsoon season. The current, which flows from the North East through the atolls, is typically faster at the start of the monsoon and decreases in power as the season progresses. Divers are more likely to encounter Manta Rays and Whale Sharks at this time of year.
May – November
The South West Monsoon between May and November shifts the focus on diving to the Western sides of the atolls. The current flows from the South West through the atolls exiting out to the North East. Dive sites in the West experience wonderful clear visibility and slightly cooler water temperatures, attracting many of the shark species closer to the surface. During the South West season Manta Rays and Whale Sharks will typically only be found of the Eastern edge of the atolls.
The two equinox months of May and November mark the transition of the Monsoons. Currents can be changeable and there is a slightly higher chance of stormy conditions.
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