Snorkeling in Northern Atolls, Maldives, is special because it is particularly remote, with very few dive boats and resorts so you often get the snorkel sites to yourself, which is a fabulous experience. On the other hand it is also home to the well known Hanifaru Bay which is one of the world's largest feeding stations for Manta Rays and Whale Sharks.
Northern Atolls snorkeling is only accessible by liveaboard, due to the calm waters it is the perfect paradise for all members of the family regardless of your confidence and ability in the water.
5 Snorkeling Cruises in Northern Atolls
- Free Nitrox
Emperor Orion Maldives has 10 cabins & 2 lavish suites onboard. Jacuzzi and massage available. All diving takes place from a large tender dhoni allowing for much greater space on the liveaboard
The Carpe Vita is a 38m yacht with 10 cabins accommodating 20 guests. She visits Kudarah Thila, Manta Point, Maaya Thila, Fish Head, and Machafushi wreck.
- Free Nitrox
The Emperor Virgo is a luxury floating resort. She has eight comfortable cabins with en-suite bathrooms & individual climate control. The Virgo Maldives schedules diving cruises from August through May.Virgo Liveaboard
Marine Life in the Northern Atolls
As a result of its remote, untouched location and the relatively small number of people who visit these sites the marine life is thriving. There are a few soft coral gardens with astonishing biomass and an impressive variety of species. The topography of these atolls is as fascinating as the marine life it supports. A wealth of caves, channels, swim-throughs, overhangs, caves. Certain atolls such as Noonu atoll are a hotspot for grey reef sharks.
Best Snorkel Sites in the Northern Atolls
There are five main atolls to make sure you visit on a snorkel tour to the Northern atolls, Baa Atoll, Lhaviyani Atoll, Raa Atoll, Noonu Atoll and finally the Far North Atolls, to visit all of these allow yourself plenty of time.
Baa Atoll is well known for the Manta Rays, Dhonfaunu Thila which means pillar is a submerged pinnacle, this area is extremely biodiverse it has huge quantities of fish due to its dynamic and exciting topography. It is also the atoll which is home to Hanifaru Bay located on the East side of the atoll the plankton blooms attract in large gatherings of pelagic's, over 200 mantas and whale sharks.
Lhaviyani Atoll, has dramatic walls and channels home to sharks, bannerfish, red-toothed trigger fish, they also attract large pelagics such as Tuna, Barracuda and the beautiful spotted Eagle Rays, which glide gracefully past.
If you do manage to do a snorkel tour around Raa Atoll you will find submerged pinnacles hope to a huge array of fish life, colourful, dynamic and diverse. These pinnacles are a feast for the eyes and an underwater paradise for the photographer.
The best snorkel site for sharks is Noonu Atoll. It has a resident population of Grey Reef Sharks often 20 or more congregate in one area, consisting of both juveniles and adults. There is a famous cleaning station called Orimas Thilo, which attracts these marine creatures. Who swim in patterns over the cleaning station.
The Far North Atolls are particularly serene, you are likely to not see another dive boat throughout your time in this area. The submerged boulders are covered with flourishing hard corals, soft corals thrive on the sides protected from the current. Nutrient rich waters attract reef predators, leopard sharks, white and black tip sharks and mantas. The two main snorkel sites are Haa Alifu Atoll, Haa Dhaalu Atoll topographically brilliant with large pelagics, sharks, fish life and no people, which will leave you feeling breathless.
Best Time to Snorkel in the Northern Atolls
Maldives has a tropical climate, therefore the holiday season and snorkeling is possible throughout the year. December to May you get the North East Monsoon there is a lack of wind so the seas are calm perfect for snorkel trips, with visibility on the Eastern side of the atolls between 20-30meters and on the western side averaging 15-20 meters. The South West monsoon occurs June to November, June and July the skies are slightly cloudier, wind a little stronger and waters choppier.
Water temperatures remain fairly constant all year round, ranging between 26-29 degrees. However, as with other areas of the globe seasons and natural cycles are changing.
How Do I Get to the Northern Atolls
Maldives has an international airport on Hulhule Island which is located 10 minutes by boat from the capital city of Male. The Islands are a 4 hour flight from Singapore, around 13 hours from London, and 3 hours from Dubai. Colombo, the capital city of Sri Lanka, is some 45 minutes flight away. Airlines include Emirates, Sri Lankan Air, Quata Air and Thompson. The majority of liveaboards use Hulhule Islands port as their departure point which is conveniently located near to the airport.