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20 Best Dive Sites in the Maldives in 2023

Diving in The Maldives

With warm, crystal clear waters, white-sand beaches, and island after island to discover and explore, the Maldives is a scuba lover’s paradise.

This archipelago nation in the Indian Ocean is comprised of 26 atolls and more than 1200 islands, of which only 200 or so are inhabited.

Under the turquoise water’s surface, a wealth of marine biodiversity greets visitors. From large pelagics such as sharks and manta rays to tiny, hidden nudibranchs and shrimp, no matter what your diving passion is, you’re sure to find it here.

While you can dive in the Maldives year-round, for the best conditions and more mantas and whale sharks, plan your trip in February, March, or April.


Wondering which sites to tick off your Maldives bucket list? Here’s our pick of the bunch.

The 20 Best Dive sites in Maldives?

Recommended Level
Dive Type

Maaya Thila

One of the most popular dives in the Maldives and often featured in world top-ten lists, Maaya Thila’s reputation exists for good reason. The world-class pinnacle is teeming with life including turtles, frogfish, and sharks. Combine wow-moment marine life with awesome geographic features and you have an idea of what to expect.

The reef itself spans about 80m/252ft diameter (small enough that divers can explore most of it in one go, currents permitting) and starts at just 6m/20ft deep. The wall slopes down to around 30m/98ft deep, making it suitable for beginners and advanced divers alike.

Things to see

The big drawcard here is the white-tip reef sharks. On a good day, up to 20 of these sharks patrol the reef. Also circling the pinnacle looking for food are grey reef sharks and the occasional guitar shark.

Take your camera because the caves and overhangs on Maaya Thila house giant frogfish, up to 30cm/11” long. Divers can also spot Moorish idols, turtles, mantas, triggerfish, barracuda, nudibranchs and much much more.

Cocoa Thila

Situated on the eastern edge of South Male Atoll is Cocoa Thila. This pinnacle stretches to a whopping 400m/1312ft and slopes down to a drop-off 30m/98ft deep. Strong currents make this site better suited to advanced and experienced divers but those same currents are responsible for the wide variety of marine life found here.

Geographic features include craggy overhangs, ravines, and crevices, all of which provide a brief respite from the current. Divers should keep their eyes on the blue — that’s where the magic happens.

Things to see

The pelagics love a current so expect schools of tuna and trevally in the deeper blue water. Eagle rays flying past in formation and grey reef sharks are also a possibility. Not to mention the odd turtle here and there.

A little closer to the reef, rock cod, fusiliers, sweetlips, and snapper hang in large groups, only breaking formation when divers get a bit too close.

Alimatha Jetty

Like Maaya Thila, this site on Vaavu Atoll is a great spot for a night dive. Thanks to the Alimatha Resort kitchen’s practice of cleaning fish on the jetty, local marine life now congregates under the planks hoping for an effortless feed.

While one has to question the validity and eco-credentials of this, it must be said that being under the jetty at night is spectacular. Our top tip is to do this dive in the offseason, during peak season, you’ll see just as many divers as you will fish and sharks. A shallow dive, with a max depth of 15m/49ft, this is a suitable site for bold beginners.

Things to see

Nurse sharks, giant trevallies and marble rays cruise around and between divers, whipping themselves into a feeding frenzy. Sometimes, the creatures even bump divers accidentally because of their excitement.

Kandooma Thila

At around 300m/985ft long, this submerged island sitting around 12m/40ft under the surface may take you a couple of trips to fully explore. Most dive centers and liveaboards focus their attention on the north and west walls. Here, divers can explore Jack’s Corner, a well-loved cave at 24m/78ft carpeted in soft corals.

Exploring the rocky outcrops off the main island is worthwhile too as numerous green sea turtles come here to take a rest or have some lunch. Currents can be strong so this site is better for advanced and experienced divers.

Things to see

Apart from the green sea turtles, the current, which largely results from the island’s position at the base of a channel, draws in all sorts of larger marine life. Like many sites in the Maldives, you can expect a few sharks, maybe a manta or two in the blue and eagle rays. The coral here is spectacular and deserves as much attention as the marine life.

Macro photographers who find shelter from the current by the cave entry should keep an eye on the soft corals, lots of life hides in these.

Banana Reef

In many ways, Banana Reef on North Male Atoll is the Maldives dive. It is one of the first sites that started attracting visitors and divers from around the world and it offers a sample of everything that makes diving in the Maldives great: corals, caves, big fish, and overhangs.

We love Banana Reef because it’s accessible to all, even snorkelers can get their fins wet at this relatively sheltered site. The reef starts at just 5m/16ft and drops to a maximum of 35m/114ft. Along the sloping walls, divers find deep crevices, cracks, and excellent coral cover.

Things to see

All those hiding holes on the reef make good homes for moray eels while sharks and groupers tend to hang out in the blue close to the reef. Jacks congregate en masse and snapper and wrasse dart in and out of the corals. Napoleons are frequently spotted here, too.

Another thing you should expect to see on Banana is people. This site’s accessibility is the same thing that makes it so popular with day-trippers, divers, and snorkelers.

Fish Head

Fish Head, also known as Shark Point and Mushimasmingili Thila, is widely known as one of the very best shark dives in the Maldives. It’s also one of those bucket-list dives that many scuba travelers have on their must-dive list.

Although this pinnacle is small and reaches down to just 36m/118ft, the walls are encrusted with corals and sport enough overhangs and caves to warrant several dives here. Because the sharks were once fed here (thankfully, a tradition that has now ended) up to 20 grey reef sharks patrol the reef at any one time. Fish head gives divers a chance to see these creatures up close and personal.

Things to see

Apart from the sharks, Fish Head is packed with prolific marine life including schooling fusiliers, trevally, barracuda, and huge Napoleon wrasse.

Coral aficionados will love the sea fans and black corals while those looking to find Nemo will revel in the anemone city at the top of the reef.

Hammerhead Point

This demanding dive holds great rewards for experienced divers — the chance to be in the water with dozens of schooling hammerheads. Unlike their larger, solitary cousins, scalloped hammerheads group together in the Maldives’ waters.

The outer reef is situated in Rasdhoo Atoll and the clear waters drop sharply down to around 200m/650ft. Divers willing to tackle the currents here are in the perfect spot to see any passing pelagic life. Most often, this dive is run early in the morning for the best chance of seeing the sharks.

Things to see

Schooling or scalloped hammerheads are the main attraction here but manta rays, grey reef sharks, and giant trevally also grace the drop off on occasion.

Bathala Thila

This long but narrow underwater island in the middle of Ari Atoll is a must-dive for the macro photographer. It’s also a great dive to spot giant trevally and jacks hunting and hanging out in the current.

The currents can be strong, especially during a tidal change but this draws in the huge school of fusiliers who make this site their home. What divers really come to Bathala for though is the smaller stuff.

Things to see

Nudibranchs, flatworms, slugs, sea hares, shrimp, and more mean macro lovers will be in their element. On the north side, hiding around 15 to 20 meters deep, rare and reclusive leaf fish can also be found.

Manta Point

No best-of-the-Maldives list is complete without Manta Point (not to be confused with Manta Point in Nusa Penida, Indonesia). This famous manta cleaning station is a drawcard for divers around the world who flock here to see the gentle giants. The reef itself is excellent as well, so there’s something for everyone.

Emas Thila, the local name, runs about one kilometer long and during the north-east monsoon season, the rays congregate at 15 to 30 meters (49-98ft) on the north-west side of the submerged island. The gently sloping reef gives way to a sheer drop off but it’s at around 20m/65ft where all the action is. Elsewhere on the reef, crevices, channels, and caves hide a wealth of marine life.

Things to see

Apart from mantas, divers can spot vibrant soft corals, sea whips, dog-tooth tuna, Napoleon wrasse, sharks, and trevally. Keep an eye out for schools of sweetlips, red bass, masked bannerfish, and emperor fish on the reef. The occasional turtle cruises past, too.

Kuda Giri Wreck

While the Maldives may be best known for large pelagic life and all the whale sharks and mantas you can point your camera at, there a few wrecks here too.

We like Kuda Giri because it’s an accessible dive that suits beginners and those looking for a respite from the big currents on most Maldivian dive sites. The intact steel hull of this cargo ship sits tilted on its side and provides a home to all sorts of interesting creatures.

Things to see

On the decks, you’ll find a carpet comprised of lots of colorful sponges and sea squirts. Glassfish, gobies, batfish, and frogfish are some of the smaller creatures while turtles and humphead wrasse are also present. The neighboring pinnacle often houses octopuses and the occasional leaf fish.

Rainbow Reef

Also known as HP Reef and Girifushi Thila, this famous drift dive in the northern Maldives is named for the vibrant soft corals that adorn the walls. Among the many soft corals, divers will also find large gorgonian fans and tunicates.

For many, Rainbow Reef is a site that requires more than one dive to properly explore all the overhangs, swim-throughs, and caves. One popular feature is the aptly named ‘chimney’ running from 10 to 24 meters (32-78ft).

Things to see

In the blue, eagle rays, tuna, barracuda, and grey reef sharks can be seen. Closer to the reef itself and taking harbor in the many crevices are octopuses, moray eels, lionfish, angelfish, snappers, and jacks.

Hanifaru Bay

The plankton-rich waters in this bay draw in both manta rays and whale sharks, making it one of the few places in the world where visitors can be in the water with large numbers of each of these creatures at the same time.

We’ve included Hanifaru Bay because between December and May is really is a magical place to visit. However, you won’t be needing a tank just snorkeling gear as diving in the bay is now prohibited by the Maldivian government. This doesn’t make a trip to the bay less of an experience, though.

Things to see

Apart from a lot of manta rays and whale sharks (as if that wasn’t enough) grey reef sharks and stingrays also use the bay as their Maldives nursery ground.

Fotteyo Kandu

A narrow but deep channel on the eastern side of Vaavu Atoll, Fotteyo Kandu is a favorite among dive guides and instructors working in the Maldives because it’s always a people pleaser.

The dramatic caverns, overhangs, swim-throughs, and caves make for an exciting dive. Plus, the channel is home to a wealth of interesting marine creatures. The current can be strong but beginners with a high comfort level should be easily capable of making this dive.

Things to see

Large potato and coral groupers lurk in the dark overhangs or sit in the current looking for a meal. Hammerheads might be around at the beginning of the channel or the occasional dolphin could pass by. Divers can also see eagle rays, sharks, and titan triggerfish — one creature they might be less excited about.

The Victory Wreck

In 1981, a 100-meter-long cargo ship from Singapore sank after hitting Hulhule Reef. The captain, anticipating a safe passage decided to follow another vessel but made a critical error. Now the wreck of the Victory rests between 12 and 35 meters (39-114ft) and is home to a thriving reef system.

Because the wreck is located in a channel, the currents can be kicking. However, the ship offers some shelter while divers are exploring. The wreck was closed for three years but is now diveable again.

Things to see

Macro photographers love the Victory for its ghost pipefish and nudibranchs. The hull is encrusted with corals of all kinds so macro critters have plenty of places to hide. Bigger creatures include turtles, pufferfish, batfish, and schooling fusiliers.

Vadhoo Caves

Want to combine a drift dive with an exploration of deep overhangs and a large cave? Vadhoo is the site to visit for that. Along the northern wall, a series of caves and crevices are open to divers as the current pushes them along. Depths vary from 7 to 40 meters (22-131ft) so there are spots to examine at all levels.

The dive usually ends at a colorful reef where smaller crevices hide macro critters, the perfect place for a safety stop. This site is best reserved for divers with excellent buoyancy control.

Things to see

Look out for unicornfish, soldierfish, and turtles in the overhangs and keep an eye on the entrances as tuna, white-tip reef sharks, and eagle rays often swim past.

Sun Island

The Maldives is one of the best places in the world to see whale sharks, and Sun Island is one of the best sites in the Maldives to spot these gentle giants. No scuba experience is necessary as Sun Island is open to both snorkelers and divers.

The island’s southern side is open to the Indian Ocean and has a shallow plateau at 5 to 10 meters (16-32ft), the ideal spot to wait for the sharks to pass by. Try to get here in the week before a full moon for the best chance of seeing the creatures.

Things to see 

If whale sharks aren’t enough of a drawcard, the occasional manta, shark, or turtle is also likely to pass by the plateau in the deeper water.

Kuredu Express

As you might have guessed from the name, Kuredu Express is a fast drift dive. Located on Lhaviyani Atoll, the site features a sandy channel and a reef with good spots to hang out at different levels, perfect for stopping to watch the pelagic life pass.

At just 5m/16ft deep on the reef’s top and dropping down to around 35m/114ft, the site offers lots of areas to explore and some pretty impressive marine life.

Things to see

The fast-flowing Maldivian waters house grey sharks, dog-tooth tuna, and Napoleon wrasse. Look out for the schooling jacks, snapper, and butterflyfish closer to the walls. On the reef’s edges, leaf fish can be seen.

Fuvahmulah Atoll

If you’re feeling adventurous, Fuvahmulah, a single-island atoll in the far south of the Maldives will reward your efforts with some unparalleled shark diving. Like the Galapagos and Cocoa, this island near the equator is swarming with large pelagic life.

All the dive sites here are still being discovered and, so far at least, this island is not well known. We suspect that will change soon as more and more divers discover how epic the diving is.

Things to see

Tiger sharks, mola mola, oceanic whitetips, threshers, hammerheads, reef sharks, and much more much this island a pelagic lover’s dream.

Embudhoo Kandu

Not too far northeast of South Male Atoll is the Embudhoo channel, the best location to spot sharks in this atoll.

Divers generally drop to 30m/98ft on the south side to shark watch. That’s not the only attraction here, the current also pushes past caverns and caves coated in soft corals and sponges. The dive is best on the incoming tide when the two-kilometer drift is exciting and can run quite fast.

Things to see

The marine protectorate area is home is populations of both white and grey-tip reef sharks. Napoleon wrasse and eagle rays also pass in the blue while closer to the reef, turtles, octopuses, morays and schooling snapper can be found.

Fesdhoo Lagoon

Fesdhoo is known for its visiting manta rays and liveaboard boat captains know it. Often dived at night, the vessels moor and then use high powered lights to attract plankton to the surface. In turn, the plankton attracts mantas.

Divers hover in the shallow water as the rays bump and glide over their heads to feed on the riches. Check with your dive center or liveaboard before making this night dive as at certain times of the year, the site can be a bit crowded.

What are your favorite dive sites in the Maldives? Did we miss anything important?

Drop us a comment below and let us know why you love diving in the Maldives!


Frequently asked questions

What are the best places to Dive in the Maldives?

There are a lot of extraordinary places to dive in the Maldives.

These are some of our favorites:

  1. Maaya Thila
  2. Cocoa Thila
  3. Alimatha Jetty
  4. Kandooma Thila
  5. Banana Reef

Take a look at all 20 sites to Dive in the Maldives.

What are the best Dive sites in the Maldives for beginners?

These are some of the best dive sites for beginners in the Maldives:

  1. Maaya Thila
  2. Alimatha Jetty
  3. Banana Reef
  4. Kuda Giri Wreck
  5. Hanifaru Bay

See more great dive sites in our Maldives Dive Guide.


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Steve Ozark
Steve Ozark

Did coral reefs survive anywhere in Maldives? Where is best in the Northern Atolls for whale shark and turtles around the full moon? Thank You!

Torben Lonne
Torben Lonne

It really depends on the resort, but most will try to go to the best spots. But, the liveaboards have the advantage of reaching spots further away and can therefore give a more unique dive experience.

Reply to 

Hi. Do the dive resorts take you to the same spots a live board goes to. I would like to do a dive resort. I want to know if they go to other spots or hit some of the best sites in Maldives.
Thank you

Torben Lonne
Torben Lonne
Reply to 

Hi Steve,

Fortunately, yes there are still corals in the Maldives (or they were there last I was there). How long will you be there, can you do more days of diving or just one?