The Northern Maldives have started with liveaboard diving cruises in recent years. The Islands are not as developed as much as the Ari atoll and Southern Atolls. But the dive site is non the less plentiful and has some spectacular marine life and coral gardens.
The dive sites can be challenging with drift dives in the strong Indian Ocean currents, and most liveaboards will expect experienced divers to join this dive safari.
Liveaboards that cruise the Northern atolls of the Maldives do this combined with the Central atolls or stay up North for the entire dive safari. In the last case, this would be that you need to book a domestic flight.
The Northern part of the Maldives houses more than 1200 species of reef fish and 250 species of corals. Of course, you can see the usual marine life that you expect on a dive safari in the Maldives with Manta Rays, Whale sharks, reef sharks, and other shark species.
But in these parts, more macro dives are here as well, with dive sites where you can see ghost pipefish, Frogfish, leaffish, fire gobies, seahorses, and plenty of shrimps and nudibranchs.
Another marine life here is green turtles, hawksbill turtles, and guitarfish.
Nelivaru Thila, Kunfundahoo island
Nelivaru Thila has excellent dive conditions throughout the year, but you will have the best chance to see manta rays during the Southwest monsoon. The pinnacle’s top is only 5 meters, making it possible to make your safety stop while enjoying a manta show.
The best parts of the dive site are the Southwest parts and east side of the thila; here, you can find several overhangs with plenty of fish life from small critters such as ghost pipefish and larger marine life such as manta rays and stingrays.
Dhonfanu thila, Baa Atoll
Dhonfanu thila is. The smaller pinnacle covered in excellent hard corals on the top of the reef is between 7 and 10 meters. The walls drop down to 20 meters and provide you with some beautiful soft corals and overhangs. When descending to 30 meters, expect to see stingrays.
During the dive, you also can see giant trevally, tuna, and blue-striped snappers on some occasions; manta rays will be there.
Dhigali Haa, Baa Atoll
Dhigali Haa is a marine protected area in the Northern Maldives. The reef is long and narrow, colorful with high biodiversity. The top of the reef starts between 12 – 16 meters and slopes down to 32 meters. Red-encrusting coralline algae are numerous.
It still is famous for encounters with schools of barracuda and plenty of turtles. Unfortunately, sightings of reef sharks have declined in recent years.
Labyrinth, Baa Atoll
The labyrinth is a medium-sized pinnacle that, during the centuries, has slowly been crumbling. Thereby making some amazing tunnels and canyons in the reef.
The big eye-catcher on this dive site is the massive schools of fish and beautiful hard and soft corals. Don’t be surprised when you get followed by a large school of batfish that are a curious bunch during your dive.
You can see other marine life here: grey reef sharks, napoleon wrasses, eagle rays, and groupers.
Sola Corner, Raa Atoll
Sola corner is a spectacular dive site that provides you with some fantastic diving. This manta cleaning station has a plateau that is surrounded by deep sloping reefs.
Where the reef starts at 10 meters, the manta cleaning station is at 15 meters. Here you can hang around and wait for manta rays to appear. On some occasions, 7-8 manta rays will be there at one time.
The reef is covered with some beautiful hard coral where you can find reef fish, shrimps, ghost pipefish, scorpionfish, turtles, and reef sharks.
Hanifaru Bay, Baa Atoll
Although you can not count Hanifaru Bay as a dive site as only snorkeling is allowed, you can not miss it during a northern atoll itinerary. Here you have the chance to snorkel with manta rays and whale sharks.
When you time it correctly, you can witness up to 200 manta rays feeding on plankton-rich waters in the bay.
Christmas Tree Rock, Noonu Atoll
Christmas tree rock is a stunning dive site that is in the shape of a Christmas tree. The pinnacle has plenty of overhangs and is very colorful with some beautiful corals.
Under the overhangs, you often see stingrays rest and blue striped snappers hang around in the current. At the deeper parts of the dive site, you often see whitetip reef sharks appear.
For macro lovers, pay attention to the reefs as numerous nudibranchs are on this thila.
Shipyard, lhaviyani atoll
“shipyard” is a famous dive site at lhaviyani atoll where scuba divers can enjoy two wrecks during a single dive. Skipjack ii is the bigger wreck of the two and sticks about 5 meters/16 feet above the water. It was initially planned to be sunk between the Baa Atoll and lhaviyani as an artificial reef, but it caught fire and sunk during the towing.
The smaller wreck was captured by the Maldivian government and used for cargo transporter, but in 1984 the ship started leaking, and before Felivaru was reached, it sunk to a maximum depth of 30 meters.
Diving the Northern Atolls is possible all year apart for June. in the months December till May you will have the calm seas and beautiful weather whereas July until November is more the monsoon season where you can expect rain.
From August until November is the best time to visit the Northern Atolls, where you can see the mantas and whale sharks in plenty feeding from the plankton. The water temperature is 27 to 30°C; for most divers, a 3mm Shorty would be sufficient to stay warm during your dive.
Most of the Northern Maldives liveaboard itineraries depart and disembark from North Male on a 7-10 nights cruise.
Flights can be taken directly to the international airport in Nort Male from Dubai, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, and other major airports.
However, some of the dive trips will depart from the Baa Atoll, Haa Dhalu, or Hanimadhoo; for these itineraries, you will need to book an additional domestic flight.
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