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Tauchsafaris in Malé-Atoll
Male Atoll Liveaboard dive sites
Male Atoll is technically termed Kaafu Atoll, but by any name, it is the classic Maldives- best known and explored of all Maldives atolls. Male is divided into North and South Male Atolls, both of which were the first in the country to open to tourism, though the south opened before the north and still sports more resorts and dive sites. North Male has beloved manta cleaning stations, great topography, and a couple coral gardens on par with some of the nicest reefs worldwide. South Male is famous for its kandus, which are channels that bring ripping currents of nutrient-rich water from the open ocean into the atoll, along with big pelagic fish following the food. While sharks are plentiful in both North and South Male, the southern atoll is best known for them. The north, however, is better-preserved and a bit quieter.
In North Male Atoll, Manta Point may be the most famous dive site. Its name speaks for itself- when you visit, get ready to see more mantas than you can keep track of, as well as sharks and other reef denizens. Nowhere else in the Maldives can you jump in the water to see mantas so close to your arrival at an international airport. The other top North Male location is Girifushi Thila, recognized as one of the premier Maldives dive sites. The current here is full-time, so expect a drift dive alongside scenery of colorful soft corals and water full of fish, including rays, sharks, and tuna.
The variety of dive sites in North Male Atoll caters to every taste. One of the best-loved and first-discovered is Banana Reef, which still showcases healthy thickets of branching corals. Along the curve of this banana-shaped reef, giant grouper and morays can be found. A huge school of bannerfish hangs in the current at the edge, and a few incredible caverns call for investigation. In another area, the impressive 100 meter Maldives Victory Wreck, has enjoyed over thirty years of colonization by creatures of the sea. It's lucky there's a line for ascents and descents, because the current can be strong. Once you find your sheltered areas, enjoy the big and small fish and invertebrates that have many this wreck their home.
More sharks are available at Miyaru Faru, where divers watch the blue-water show from the safety of an overhang on the wall. The incoming current at Miyaru Faru brings crystal-clear water and pelagics, including manta rays, eagle rays, tuna, and more. And for inexperienced divers, North Male actually has great sites available. Two stunning dive sites that are relatively free of current are Hans Haas Place with plenty of overhangs and little caves, and Back Faru, which offers good reef and pelagic life in incredibly low-stress conditions.
South Male Atoll's six big channels, or kandus, are not known for coral, but they have amazing pelagic life, big schools of fish, and tons of sharks. Cocoa Thila is one of the most famous South Male dive sites. If you've got the perfect amount of current, you can see rays and all the rest; luckily, there are some dips and caverns in the topography in which divers can rest as they watch the goings-on. Cocoa Thila is a big pinnacle rooted in deep, deep water, and it's located on the perimeter of South Male Atoll. This means you may well be doing a drift dive in the same current that brings in the big ocean life.
Guraidhoo Kandu South is actually many sites under one name. This is a large area that cannot be covered in only one dive, and the variety of its topography adds to the feeling of many different dives sites. Here, divers can submerge on a vertical or horizontal plane, from walls, to flats, to channels, to caves. At Guraidhoo Kandu South, sharks glide along the waterways while tons of different reef denizens enjoy their holes and hiding places. However, for buckets of sharks, it's Embudhoo Kandu that South Male offers at the top of the list. Embudhoo Kandu hosts a healthy population of white tip and grey reef sharks. Its marine protected area was established to make sure that's the case forever.
Besides Cocoa Thila, Kandooma Thila is known as the premier South Male Atoll dive site. At a thin channel along the side of this thila, an intense current brings a crazy amount of activity, including schools of barracuda and other big predators. Kandooma Thila is another dive where current must be dealt with; the pinnacle provides shelter during parts of the dive, but you'll eventually drift into the blue with a marker buoy for the ending. Other South Male dive sites include Vadhoo Caves and Kuda Giri Wreck. At Vadhoo Caves, one cave after another offers the chance to chill with reef inhabitants among a garden of colorful soft corals, while watching sharks glide by in the adjacent open water. At Kuda Giri Wreck, inexperienced divers have a great chance to jump in the water to explore the artificial reef and its inhabitants with little or no current.
The length of liveaboard itineraries in Male Atoll usually ranges from 7 to 10 nights, with a budget from a bit over 200 to 350 euros per night. Male Atoll liveaboards go almost everywhere within the Maldives; there is a tour to fit virtually every diver's particular passions and timeframe. The shortest trips make a loop in the central atolls, sometimes dividing the tours into north-central and south-central options to fit in a bit more of Ari or Baa (to the north), or Vaavu/Meemu (to the south). Check out Scubaspa Ying and Yang, and many other boats, for these classic Maldives itineraries. Larger and larger loops or traverses go farther afield in all directions (example liveaboards include Carpe Vita and Carpe Diem). Liveaboards in Male Atoll are mostly MV yachts and luxury yachts.
The experience level required by Baa Atoll liveaboards range from zero to 100 logged dives, with a certification level of Open Water for some boats and Advanced Open Water for others. Entry level divers can find some offerings around Male, but in general, expect many of the dives to be drifts, especially in the kandus of the southern area.
Male is the main liveaboard departure location in the Maldives and the country's capital city. It is located on the southern edge of North Male Atoll. The main Male liveaboard departure port is Hulhule, next to the Male airport, making it virtually possible to jump off a plane and hop on to a boat. Divers bound for Male Atoll can take direct flights from Dubai, Singapore, and Colombo. Longer international flights from Europe, America, China, India, and Australia are also readily available, often connecting through the airports mentioned above.
Best time to travel
Diving is possible in Male Atoll all year round, but the northeast monsoon from December to May allows the calmest surface conditions and the least rain. However, even during the wetter part of the year, from June to November, Male Atoll receives less downpour than areas farther south in the country. Mantas are present throughout the year. The water temperature usually stays between 26 and 29 C, and visibility between 15 and 30 meters.
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