Scuba diving in Ari Atoll

Scuba diving in Ari Atoll

Ari Atoll scuba diving is adventurous, relaxing, sometimes challenging, and always stunning. Diving in Ari Atoll differs from many other dive sites in the Maldives because it doesn't feature long stretches of reef. Instead, dives come in one of three forms - Thila, Kandu or Lagoons. Thilas, or underwater islands both large and small, serve as points for marine life to aggregate. When the island rests inside of Kandu, or channels, divers can experience strong currents. These conditions are perfect for big marine life encounters. Tourism has been steadily growing for the Maldives over the last decade as word gets out among dive circles of the crystal blue waters and pristine marine ecosystems. Many who come here for scuba diving consider the Ari Atoll the best diving in the Maldives, and dives here are featured on many liveaboard tour itineraries for this reason.


Scuba diving the Ari Atoll, though not famous for the colorful coral and bustling tropical fish, brings tons of unique and inviting dive destinations with big pelagic fish and tiny brilliant sea life. Scuba diving in the Ari Atoll is considered to be some of the best diving in the Maldives and surrounding reefs. The swift currents make for marvelous scuba diving because moving water means lots of food, and where there's food, there's lots of life! Nudibranchs, frogfish, leaf fish and countless critters and small marine life are everywhere. Turtles, leopard sharks, nurse sharks, whitetip sharks, hammerheads, mantas, eagle rays, sting rays, barracudas and trevallies and more all benefit from these nutrient rich waters and active marine habitats too. Even a stunningly graceful whale shark can be spotted from time to time.


BROKEN ROCK - Aptly named for a large broken rock in the center of the dive site, Broken Rock ranges in depth from about 40 to 100 feet and has common marine life sightings like the trigger fish, puffer fish, moray eels and napoleon wrasse. Divers enjoy swimming through the channel created by the halves of the broken rock, but should be cautious of the strong currents as to avoid being thrown against the beautiful hard and soft corals formations.

GANGEHI KANDU - At the northern part of the Ari Atoll lies a dive site for advanced scuba diving only. Strong currents can be an issue and should only be attempted when currents are flowing just right. Scuba diving at Ari Atoll's Gangehi Kandu in the Maldives promises some of the most colorful coral reef in the area. Moray eels, mantis shrimp, mantis shrimp and nudibranch entertain divers every bit as much as the gray reef sharks, whitetip reef sharks, leopard sharks and large pelagic species.

HUKRUELI FARU (RANGALI MADIVARU) - If you speak the Maldivian language Dhivehi, you know what to expect on this dive, but for every one else, 'Madi' means you're going to see a lot of 'manta' rays. Scuba diving at Madivaru in the Maldives during the northeast monsoon season will give the best chances for seeing these graceful giants hover in the strong currents and seek out cleaning stations. With a dive site range between 25 and 100 feet, a dive trip to Hukrueli Faru is interesting and varied.

KUDARAH THILA - Thila means 'pinnacle' and scuba diving Kudarah Thila actually includes four pinnacles that may be visited during one dive. The southeast section of this site is a favorite among dives for its biodiversity. Groupers, oriental sweetlips, dart fish, gobies, snapper and trumpet fish dart about the brightly-colored varieties of hard and soft corals. Just outside the reef divers can see gray reef sharks, napoleon fish and sea turtles lingering in the blue.

MAALHOS THILA - The most attractive parts of the dive site at Maalhos Thila lie below 25 meters so the dive is only recommended for experienced divers. Several brilliantly-colored coral heads lie about near 28 meters and harbor much of the life in the area including oriental sweetlips, whitetip reef sharks and blue-lined snappers.

MAAYA THILA - One of the premier dive sites in the Maldives, the underwater world of Maaya Thila's boasts amazing variety and volume of sea life as well as presenting a great opportunity for both day and nighttime scuba diving for divers of all experience levels. An easy dive site, Maya Thila scuba diving is notable for the whitetip reef sharks always lurking about - both day and night. Night dives also bring possibilities of moray eels, turtles, stonefish and the octopus.

MUSHI MAS MINGLE THIA (FISH HEAD OR SHARK THILA) - One of the most popular dive sites in the Maldives, Fish Head was a common shark feeding site among divers prior to being designated by the Maldivian Government as an official Protected Marine Area. Grey reef sharks, whitetips, jacks, tuna and the large, exquisitely patterned napoleon wrasse delight divers. Packs of reef sharks zip past unsuspecting divers in search of their next meal. One of the Maldive's top 10 dive destinations, liveaboard diving is typically preferred here since it's almost unreachable by day boat, or at very least, unpleasant.


Scuba diving in the Ari Atoll in the Maldives is most recommended between January and April when precipitation is rare and days average about 28 degrees Celsius. February to April bring the longest days, calmest seas and best chances for diving with mantas and whale sharks. July to October can have periods of rain and rougher seas, but generally there is never a bad time to go diving in the Ari Atoll as 'rougher' is relative and the tropical islands receives plenty of sunshine year round. Water temperatures also hover around 28 to 29 degrees Celsius year round jumping up to 32 degrees Celsius inside the lagoons.


Scuba diving in the Maldives Ari Atoll is sure to bring strong currents. Most dive sites are drift dives and rarely will you meet back at entry point. Because of these currents, many dives are only recommended for experienced divers, but a divemaster on your liveaboard or dive boat can cater trips to any experience levels on board. There is no shortage of memorable dive sites for any diver level if you seek assistance of local dive professionals.


The most best way to scuba dive the Ari Atoll is from a Maldives Liveaboard. The country's main airport is Male International Airport (MLE) near the capital city of Male on the island of Hulhule. Domestic flights, sea plane or speed boat are the most common ways of island hopping in the Maldives. Several quick 30 minute flights a day are available from Male to Maamigili (VAM) Airport. From there, individual islands are most easily accessible by boat.

Origin: US