The Maldives has become one of the world’s best scuba diving destinations because of the white sand beaches, coral reefs, clear warm waters, numerous scuba diving sites and rich marine life, This is the best well-known route in Maldives but at the same time the one that offers best and most varied dives.
Most holiday resorts in the Maldives have a scuba diving facility and there are a number of liveaboard operators offering scuba diving cruise holidays that take guests to many dive sites all over the Maldives, one of the bestis the Blue Force One. Many scuba divers are keen to dive in the Maldives because of the presence of whale sharks, manta rays, eagle rays, reef sharks, hammerhead sharks and moray eels, as well as many smaller fish and coral species.
In 1998, the Maldives were severely damaged and much of the coral was bleached by El Niño. The coral have almost returned to their pre-tsunami condition.
The Maldives has been growing in popularity as a scuba diving destination since the 1970s when the number of resorts began to increase and people began discovering the Maldives as a holiday destination. Nowadays, the Maldives seen as one of the world’s finest scuba diving destinations, together with such destinations as Australia, Belize, Egypt, Indonesia and Thailand.
Tourist arrivals to the Maldives have been growing steadily for the past ten years, with the exception of 2005 (the year after the tsunami), when the numbers dropped. Around 700,000 tourists visit the Maldives each year (2008), 15% of whom go to the Maldives specifically to scuba dive. Other people go to the Maldives for other reasons but decide to scuba dive while they are there.
Climate change has severely impacted coral reefs around the World as been widely reported such as the effects of the El Nino in late 1990s, according to some around 60%-80% of the corals have been bleached in several areas in the World including the Great Barrier Reef and the Maldives reefs. Reports have also looked at the socio-economic impact on the environment as a result of mass tourism expansion in the Maldives,.
Nurse Sharks (Ginglymostoma cirratum) taken on a night dive in Alimatha Maldives
The Maldives offers different types of dives, but most all are characterised by medium to strong currents.
A Thila is an underwater island. The Thila that are within a Kandu are usually the diving spots with the strongest currents but also the most diverse sea life.
Kandu are the diving spots around the border of the atoll. These are the places where when the tides changes, the water flows in and out of the atoll. Those are the best places to do drift dives and where you can see large pelagic fish.
Each island in the Maldives has its own lagoon, usually not very deep. They can reach around 20 meters in depth and are mostly sandy. Those places are protected from the current, making them an ideal spot to conduct diving classes. They do not generally offer much in the way of sea life.
The Maldives comprises mainly open water, with only 1% of the country being land-based. The land is spread over 1,192 islets, each of which forms part of an atoll. In total, there are 26 atolls in the Maldives. The following atolls are home to some of the most popular dive sites.