Central Atolls Snorkeling
Central Atolls Snorkeling
Snorkeling in Central Atolls, Maldives is an unforgettable experience. The Maldives are a low-lying island country, averaging 1.5meters above sea level, situated in the Indian Ocean of the coast of South West of India and Sri Lanka. The Maldives consist of a total of twenty six atolls, divided into three main areas, the Central Atolls, Northern Atolls and Southern Atolls, each has an array of snorkelling sites. Depending on what you wish to view underwater and the remoteness of your location will decide which part of the Maldives you wish to explore.
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Marine Life in the Central Atolls
The Central Atolls are renowned for its large marine life, which attracts lots of underwater photographers from across the globe as the chances of encountering megafauna are high. The currents are often drift currents, which makes viewing the atolls from a liveaboard recommended as this allows easy access to all areas.
Large Pelagics such as Manta Rays and Whale Sharks frequent certain areas, providing mass feeding spectacles such as the one which occurs at Hanifaru Bay. The topography is also dynamic providing habitat for certain shark species such as the Grey Reef Shark and there is an abundance of fish life.
Best Snorkel Sites in the Central Atolls
The Central Atolls consist of four main atolls which snorkelers frequent, all have their own unique character.
One of the first Atolls to be discovered was North Male Atoll. Today it remains one of the most popular atolls for snorkelers and divers to explore. North Male Atoll is famed for a site known as Gaathugiri which has an extremely impressive topography, including a variety of caves, drop-offs, overhangs and steep reef walls. Home to an abundance of marine life, Banana reef is a reef to visit it is home to sharks, squirrelfish and much more.
The South Male Atoll is situated close to North Male Atoll and also hosts an array of breathtaking sites to explore. The South Male Atoll, is renowned for its network of channels the Eastern wall has 6 deep channels which bring to the surface nutrient rich waters. These nutritious waters attract in an abundance of life, large schools of fish alongside numerous species of large pelagics. There is also a wreck to be explored Kudu Gin.
A snorkel tour at Felidhoo/Felideh Atoll, is unspoilt. This beautiful atoll boasts Fotteyo Falhu which is the largest unbroken barrier reef in the Maldives. At 50 km long and the easternmost point of the Maldives archipelago, it is home to many thrilling shark sites. Some of the sharks you may encounter are grey and white tip reef sharks and if you are extremely lucky a Hammerhead might appear. There is also the possibility of encountering Giant Trevally and Black-Blotched and Tahitian Sting-rays.
One of the best snorkel sites for viewing Manta Rays can be found at Rasdhoo Atoll. Spectacular reefs, warm waters, many shark species, including hammerheads, mantas, turtles, napoleons, barracuda, trevally and tuna as well as many smaller, but no less interesting inhabitants of the reef. The abundance of marine life is astounding. Another very popular place to snorkel is at Madivaru, a stunning remote picnic island just east of Rasdhoo.
Best Time to Snorkel in the Central Atolls
The 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 15-20meters. The South West monsoon occurs June to November, skies are slightly cloudier, wind a little stronger.
Water temperatures remain fairly constant all year round, ranging between 26-29°C. However, as with other areas of the globe seasons and natural cycles are changing.
How Do I Get to the Central Atolls
Maldives has an international airport on Hulhule Island which is located 10 minuites 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.