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Liveaboard Diving in Southern Atolls
What To Expect On A Southern Atolls Liveaboard
Maldives liveaboard diving in the Southern Atolls is like taking a step back in time; this area evokes the Central Atolls when they were first discovered by tourism. Dive cruises in the Southern Atolls are likely to have the water all to themselves. The undisturbed marine environment holds everything divers could wish for from a Maldives liveaboard: reef sharks, mantas, big fish, and whale sharks. Southern Atolls dive dhonis are still discovering new sites on these itineraries, so you may have the chance to see the next famous Maldives location before anyone else does.
Southern Atolls Underwater
The currents rushing down Southern Atolls kandus attract big schools of predatory jacks searching for a meal, mantas and eagle rays circling cleaning stations, grey reef sharks patrolling the reef surface, and at a few dive areas, whale sharks sedately gorging on plankton or passing through. There are even some areas with excellent hard coral cover. Experienced divers will be best able to manage the fast currents and enjoy the reef life that abounds along the Southern Atolls' walls, channels, and pinnacles.
Dive Areas Of The Southern Atolls
Thaa Atoll, one of the least-explored areas of the Maldives, is a good Southern Atolls location for whale sharks. But while these gentle giants are rare, some of the other Maldives favorites can be seen regularly, such as schools of eagle rays, and big reef fish like Napoleon wrasse. Healthy corals decorate the craggy wall at the site 7-Up, and nearby, a large garden of gorgonian fans makes a pretty landscape for circling manta rays. The strong currents of Thaa's large kandus ensure that sharks are plentiful, especially whitetips.
Laamu Atoll - With a length of 48 kilometers and no resort, it's exploration is still very much in-progress; if your Southern Atolls dive tour ventures to Laamu's outer reef, prepare to descend at incredible sites that have seen few or no divers before. Big schools of fish like tuna and jacks can be found in Laamu's deep channels. In fact, some say that Laamu tops all the atolls of the country in terms of large schools of fish. While drift-diving these kandus, expect to see whitetip reef sharks and eagle rays as well. The lagoons, some of which are over 70 meters deep, also hold incredible fish biomass.
Meemu Atoll, like in Thaa, whale sharks appear every once in a while, but manta rays can be seen on almost every dive. Mantas and More is one site particularly notable for the frequency of visits from these winged giants. The channels at Meemu are also deep, and their sea life is rich; Meemu divers are virtually ensured of eagle ray and grey reef shark sightings along the atoll's rugged underwater cliffs. Swaying soft corals add color to the caverns and walls of Meemu's thilas, which host a variety of reef fish that attracts tuna and jacks. At Medhufushi Thila, the current even relaxes a bit, allowing a rare opportunity for less experienced divers to jump in the water without stress.
Nilandhe Atoll offers some thrilling diving, wherein the current actually brings you from pinnacle to pinnacle, instead of through a channel. Particularly at the site Jumping Jack, divers can make an underwater traverse from one island to another by "thila-hopping," and each thila maintains its own reef life population, supporting predators like sharks and tuna. In the stretches of blue water between thilas, sharks and schools of eagle rays can be seen. Turtles are plentiful in some areas of Nilandhe, and a marine protected area is placed around five thilas in the middle of a channel to support the abundance of Nilandhe's reef life for perpetuity.
Top Tips for Divers
In the Maldives, a new Green Tax of 6 USD per person per night applies for every tourist in the country. The official language is Maldivian, also called Dhivehi.
Especially with newly-emerging dive areas like the Southern Atolls, staying on top of your research can help you plan your ideal Maldives liveaboard trip. It's worthwhile to check recent reviews by visitors and blogs by local dive shops; this way, you'll know about incredible, newly-discovered destinations, and you'll be able to ask your potential liveaboards if they visit them. If you're excited about the possibility of exploration dives, you may also want to contact your potential liveaboards in advance to find out which ship is most likely to do this experimental sort of dive tourism.
Gear to bring includes your own mask, booties, fins, and dive computer. These are personalized pieces of equipment which we donít recommend renting. An ill-fitting mask or pair of fins can make diving virtually impossible, and a dive computer is your most important piece of safety equipment.
Getting To The Southern Atolls
The Southern Atolls are best dived by Maldives liveaboard; in no other way can you access so many dive sites, often near uninhabited islands or far from land. The length of liveaboard itineraries in the Southern Atolls usually ranges from 7 to 10 nights, with a budget from 200 to a bit over 300 euros per night. Southern Atolls liveaboards sometimes include the Central Atolls, and a few even add the Deep South Atolls in a north-south traverse that crosses a whole half of the archipelago.
The Maldives capital Male is one liveaboard departure location for Southern Atolls liveaboards, accessible by direct flights from Dubai, Singapore, and Colombo. However, there are many other Southern Atolls departure ports, including Kadhoo, Koodoo, Laamu, Medfushi, and Gan (in the deep south). To get to these locations from Male, visitors should take a domestic seaplane; trips are usually around an hour. To reach Male from Europe, America, China, India, and Australia, international flights often connect through the regional airports mentioned above.
Diving the Southern Atolls is possible all year round, even more so than the rest of the Maldives. And during the northeast monsoon from December through May, the conditions are positively ideal, with calm seas and little chance of rain. The water temperature usually stays between 26 and 29 C, and visibility tends to be excellent, between 20 and 30 meters.
Southern Atolls Diving Reviews
- 9.6 Exceptional
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