Diving and snorkeling in Maldives
Apart from turning the water bungalow into a rock on your honeymoon, the main activity in the Maldives is diving. The atolls are all coral reefs hundreds of kilometres from any major land mass, which means the water clarity is excellent and the underwater life is abundant. Manta rays, sharks, even a few wrecks, whatever you’re looking for, you can find it in the Maldives.
While the diving even in the immediate vicinity of Male is very good on a world scale, visibility and the chance of encountering large pelagic fish increases the further you get to the outer atolls. Many divers opt for liveaboards, which can actually be much cheaper than the high resort fees. Currents vary considerably, being generally low within the atolls, but some strong currents can be found on the sides facing the open sea. The water in the Maldives is warm all year round and a 3 mm shorty or lycra wetsuit is adequate. Diving is possible all year round, but rain, wind and waves are most common during the southwest monsoon period (June-August). The best time to dive is from January to April, when the sea is calm, the sun is shining and visibility can be up to 30m. There are decompression chambers at Bandos in Kaafu(15min from Male), Kuredu in Lhaviyani Atoll and at Kuramathi on Alifu.
The only downside to diving in the Maldives is that it is quite expensive by Asian standards. Prices vary considerably from resort to resort, with specialised dive resorts offering better prices. Generally, a single boat dive with your own equipment costs around 50 USD and 75 USD without. Watch out for surcharges: You may pay extra for boat use, guided dives, larger tanks, etc. On the other hand, safety standards are usually very high, well-maintained equipment and strict adherence to protocol (check dives, maximum depth, use of computers, etc.) are the rule rather than the exception.
Surfing in Maldives
The Maldives is becoming an increasingly popular destination for surfers. Turquoise waters and perfect waves make it an ideal and uncrowded destination for surfers looking for smooth surfing conditions.
The best time to surf in the Maldives is between March and October; the biggest waves are in June, July and August. This paradise is subject to the same swells as Indonesia, with the difference that the higher latitude and south-east orientation offers cooler and less hardcore surfing. The recent O’Neil Deep Blue contests held in the Maldives have placed the Maldives firmly on the world surfing map. While most of the recognised surf breaks are in Male’ Atoll, there is certainly more to discover.
Specialised companies organise tailor-made multi-day boat trips in the region, allowing surfers to easily get from one point to another and maximise their surfing time.