Incredible Snorkeling in the Maldives: Everything You Need to Know

Snorkeling is one of my favorite activities in the Maldives. On our recent trip to Soneva Fushi, we saw everything from sea turtles to sharks (yes, sharks), but they are reef sharks and want nothing to do with us. The country’s exciting underwater ecosystem should be your first favorite spot when visiting. The ecosystem is naturally embellished by the country’s 22 atolls and nearly 1,200 coral islands. Each resort offers snorkeling. You can depart from the beach instead of a planned boat trip if you choose one with an accessible reef.

This article is here to let you know everything about snorkeling in the Maldives, from the fish you’ll see to the perfect time to visit.

Everything you need to know about snorkeling in the Maldives

Is it worth snorkeling in the Maldives?

Wait until you see the Maldives underwater! Not only worth it but the best place to snorkel. These are breathtaking sights for someone who believes that overwater bungalows and white sandy beaches are the only tourist traps in the Maldives. Small and large aquatic species live on countless kilometers of reefs. There are corals in shades of blue, pink, black and red.

Many marine reef and living coral reef ecosystem recovery facilities are teeming with marine life. The Maldives are Asia’s premier snorkeling destination. And for its shimmering shallow lagoons and reefs near resorts, the Maldives offers excellent snorkeling opportunities.

What will you see?

Several of the purest oceans on earth are found in this self-contained archipelago of islands in the middle of the Indian Ocean. The easiest way to see the underwater delights of the Maldives is to snorkel. One of the best water sports in the Maldives, the same activity allows visitors to swim with several different species of fish like angelfish, sea turtles, white tip sharks, reef fish and moray eels.

The reef in the Maldives is of exceptional quality and the underwater visibility at the private island resorts is so good that you won’t need a professional camera.

The best part!

The best part about snorkeling in the Maldives is that the reef is usually so close to shore. So you swim maybe 20ft and there it is, the giant drop off with amazing fish and beautiful deep blue water.

Fish to watch

Snorkeling in the Malidives is very safe, in fact it’s probably the safest I’ve ever felt while snorkeling. That being said, just like snorkeling elsewhere, you need to be aware of your surroundings. Yes, as I said above, there are sharks, but they are reef sharks that want nothing to do with humans.

Just beware if you see a few sharks near a group of fish, you could get caught while they are feeding. The other fish to watch out for is the triggerfish. The triggerfish defends the coral and will chase and bite you if provoked. Their teeth can chew through coral, so the bite can cause serious damage.

Maldives Snorkeling Destinations

Many public and private resorts in the Maldives offer snorkeling opportunities. Mata points, beautiful and colorful walls covered with coral reefs can be seen on these destinations, and they include:

snorkeling in maldives

Southern Atolls

The southern atolls of Laamu, Meemu, Thaa and Vaavu offer many unspoilt snorkeling spots. The sites consist of healthy coral reef systems and fascinating marine life. The central part of the 66 islands of Thaa Atoll is uninhabited. Therefore, the only resort you can find here is COMO Maalifushi.

The captivating Vaavu Atoll is known for its incredible channel diving. Here you are likely to see swarms of sharks. Furthermore, you will also find the longest uninterrupted reef in the Maldives (Fotteyo Falhu). Fulidhoo Dive is centrally located and adjacent to the well-known Alimathaa Night Dive and Miyaru Kandu dive sites.

The northern atolls

Baa, Lhaviyani, Noonu and Raa are among the northern atolls. One of the biggest draws in this region is Hanifaru Bay, located in Baa Atoll. It is the most important historical site in the world for the feeding of manta rays. It is also considered the most important UNESCO biosphere reserve in the world. From May to November, months known for the southwest monsoon, large numbers of manta rays and whale sharks congregate here to feed on the plankton.

Snorkeling is the only activity now that diving is prohibited! In Baa Atoll, the reefs of Reethi Beach Resort and Vakkaru Resort are the best and most decent places for your stay.

If you are planning to swim with gray reef sharks in Noonu Atoll near Orimas Thila, this should be your choice.

Snorkelers should never miss visiting Lhaviyani Atoll for its assortment of fifty coral reefs, including wrecks, channels and walls covered with vibrant reefs. Two ships have sunk at the site of the famous shipyard, one of which has its bow sticking out of the water. The northern atolls are near Kuredu Island Resort.

Far North Atolls

The far northern atolls can be reached in 45 minutes. It is possible if you take a domestic flight. The site is rewarded with pristine reefs, exquisite corals, sunken rocks, shallower and deeper channels, shipwrecks and abundant marine life. If you are planning to go snorkeling in a place not frequented by tourists, the Far North Atolls are the best choice.

The main snorkeling spots in this remote area are Haa Alifu Atoll and Haa Dhaalu Atoll. On the nearby inhabited islands, a few plush private guesthouses and resorts will always favor your budget.

North Male Atoll

The Maldives’ most extensive coral reef system and ancient scuba diving sites are found on the North Male Atoll. This includes the capital, Male. The North Male Atoll was the first to be identified. Also, it is still highly regarded and is also known for its banana shape; hence, it is called a Banana Reef (also known as Gaathugiri).

Divers of all levels can enjoy its shallow and deep areas. Cliffs, caves, vibrant corals and a wealth of different aquatic life make up the stunning topography. From the island of Hulhumale, you can reach it by boat.

Many companies, including Dive Club Maldives, offer day trips. Kurumba and Bandos are the resorts found on the islands. North Make Atoll has excellent home reefs considered the best for snorkeling. Another well-known dive site nearby is Lankan Manta Point, where Manta Rays congregate from May to November for small fish to clean their skin.

At Helengeli Thila, an underwater peak in the far northeast of North Malé Atoll, marine life is also abundant.

Plus, you can easily access the intriguing shipwrecks of North Malé Atoll. A freighter named Victory sank in 1981. It is located between Malé and Hulhumale, southwest of Hulhule Airport Island. North of Baros, the spectacular reef of Angsana Ihuru also has a wonderful reef for snorkeling. It’s a wreck in itself. An old sand dredging vessel named Rannamaari was deliberately sunk there in 1999.

South Male Atoll

Southern snorkelers in the Maldives enjoy the thrilling and calm topography of Malé Atoll. The area has many caverns and the 6 main thilas are home to significant marine life including many species of sharks. The best snorkeling site is Cocoa Thila (Cocoa Corner). It is a huge deep water pillar in the middle of the Kandooma channel with many ravines.

While Vadhoo Caves are home to a collection of aquatic life hiding from the strong current, Guraidhoo Kandu South or Guraidhoo Corner is renowned for its varied topography. Between the islands of Maafushi and Dhigufinolhu, the wreck of Kuda Giri is accessible to novice snorkelers.

South Ari Atoll

Have you ever thought of swimming with whale sharks, the biggest fish in the ocean? South Ari Atoll is one of the best places to consider doing this! You will find whale sharks on the outer reef, especially in the Maamigili Marine Protected Area near the southern end of the atoll.

These surprisingly calm fish can be seen all year round. From May to November, they visit Dhidhdhoo Beyru Feru more frequently than any other place. Sun Island Reef is excellent for watching whale sharks. Snorkelers are also welcome to have fun there.

Vilamendhoo Island Resort, Lily Beach Resort, Diamonds Athuruga and Spa and Mirihi Island Resort are other luxury resorts with long, expansive reefs that are excellent for snorkeling.

The best wreck in Ari Atoll is the intact Kudhimaa wreck. It is near Machchafushi Island, where the Centara Grand Island Resort & Spa is located. Snorkelers also visit South Ari Atoll for manta rays. From December to May, you can observe them being cleaned by tiny feeder fish. This happens at Madivaru Manta Point (south side of Rangali Kandu).

North Ari Atoll

The attractive west of Male is Ari Atoll, often referred to as Alif or Alifu Atoll. Given its accessibility and abundance of dive and snorkel sites filled with large reef fish, it has always been considered a paradise for divers and snorkelers. The atoll’s terrain includes thilas instead of vast lengths of coral reef.

Compared to South Ari Atoll, dive locations in North Ari Atoll are often more technically complex. The best known place is the iconic Maaya Thila, located northwest of the island of Ukulhas. This place offers you the best night dives in the world and an incredible chance to swim with sharks. Another beautiful dive site with a variety of marine life is the Fish Head site. This site is located southeast of Mushimasmingili Thila. At Hammerhead Point, experienced divers can also spot elusive hammerhead sharks.

Kandolhu Island Resort’s reef is considered one of the best in the Maldives for divers. It is twice the size of this small island and goes around it. A fantastic reef with many channels and corals is located on the island of Sandies Bathala.

What is the best season to see the snorkeling excursion?

snorkeling in maldives

The Maldives is an all-season snorkeling destination. However, the optimal time to visit the Maldives for snorkeling is during the northeast monsoon. This period corresponds to the dry season from December to April. However, as this is the busiest travel period in the Maldives, hotel costs are the highest. Between December and April, there will be plenty of sunshine and a few light raindrops.

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