Snorkelling in the Maldives -The Ultimate Guide
A lot of people think that Maldives Island is best explored through diving but snorkelling in the Maldives could also give you an intimate experience with it’s stunning underwater life. WWB Writer, Athirah shares, it’s simply the easiest way to unleash your underwater persona when you travel to the archipelago.
Remember your laptop screen saver? White sandy beaches, blue transparent water, palm-fringed shores… You’ll see it live when you’re in the Maldives.
Picture by Hoodh Ahmed on Unsplash
Spreading hundreds of miles over the Indian Ocean, Maldives Island is completely unspoilt; nothing exceeds the height of a palm tree. The island is famous with house reefs that allow you to snorkel right from your resort doorstep.
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Why go snorkelling in the Maldives?
Because from the small fishes to the larger ones, you don’t have to swim far and deep to see the amazing marine creatures.
Low waters with baby reef sharks and rays
Low waters Maldives snorkelling is enough to entice even the advanced snorkelers. With little waves and strong current, you can still see many small fishes as well as baby reef sharks or rays, although it very much depends on your luck and time of year.
If you want a bit of adventure to snorkeling in Maldives, go at night to increase your chance of bumping into hunting sharks. Sounds scary but they are gentle and harmless – so long as you don’t feed them.
Resorts with house reefs
Almost all resorts in Maldives come with house reefs – an area that’s close to the vertical drop off where corals begin to form a garden, teeming with marine life and colourful fish. House reefs are easily accessed.
Photo by Mohamed Thasneem on Unsplash
Among the best house reef resorts are Diamonds Athuruga, Eriyadu, Vilamendhoo, Bathala and Angsana Ihuru. Snorkelling at these areas could bring you face to face with spectacular predators, turtles, tuna fish, eagle rays and beautiful living corals.
Where you stay important to ensure you fully enjoy Maldives snorkelling. You can choose to:
- Stay next to the house reef around the island.
- Stay at a resort with an extensive blue lagoon around the whole island.
- Stay somewhere with both points combined (a dreamy plan).
All you need to do is don a mask and a pair of fins, ensure you ace your swimming skills and snorkel as often as you wish!
Snorkelling in the Maldives: How to Get There?
Although travelling to the Maldives is pretty straightforward, pre-planning is important. Before booking your flight, make sure you’ve booked your resort because they will advise you of the best island transfer method, timings and cost.
So here goes. Book a flight to Malé International Airport. Once you arrive, find your resort representative. You’ll travel to Maldives Island either by speedboat or seaplane. Remember, there are no public ferries or water taxis available at the airport, so booking your transfers ahead is vital.
Note: Malé International Airport receives international flights except from Australia. Travellers from Australia would have to fly into Singapore first and then transfer to the Maldives.
- From 10 minutes to 2 hours journey, depending on your resort’s location.
- Operates 24 hours a day.
- Much cheaper.
- Faster journey.
- Operates from 6:00 am until 4:30 pm.
- Costly, of course.
What happens if I arrive after sunset?
Stay in Male overnight before leaving for the island the next morning.
What happens if my flight home is early in the morning?
Check with your tour operator that you’ll be given accommodation while you wait for your flight home.
Hot tip: Make sure you get a window seat, get your camera ready to capture the stunning views of the atolls.
Photo by Ibrahim Rifath on Unsplash
Best time to snorkelling in the Maldives
While it’s beautiful all year round, the best snorkeling Maldives usually happens between January through April when the waters are the cleanest and the visibility is superb.
The wettest months would be May through December, but snorkelling is still possible as there are always interesting things to see, nonetheless.
The average annual water temperature is between 20 to 30°C, and in lagoons often reaching 32°C.
Best snorkeling spots in the Maldives
When you go for Maldives snorkeling, which island is the best has always been a tough decision to make. All the islands have great snorkelling spots but try not to miss:
Location: North Male atoll
This banana-shaped reef is home to many exquisite marine creatures, but the highlight of this site is Palette Surgeonfish or popularly known as Dory in Find Nemo. Snorkelling in the Maldives at the right time of the year will increase your chance of finding her… as long as you “just keep swimming!”
Location: North Male atoll
Also known as “Girifushi Thila”, this reef houses a wide array of small reef fish as well as the big guys such as grey reef sharks, eagle rays, tuna, and barracudas. You’ll also find vividly coloured soft corals at this site so don’t forget to bring your underwater camera.
Location: North Male atoll
Photo by Sebastian Pena Lambarri on Unsplash
You won’t experience the best snorkelling in Maldives unless you dip your fins at the Manta Point. But make sure your swimming skill is excellent because you’d want to swim to the bottom, kneel and look up where you’ll see HUGE manta rays passing by. Just relax and let them approach you to say hi!
Whale Shark Point
Location: Southern tip Ari atoll
This plankton-rich area is one of the best places in the world to swim with whale sharks. It is possible to snorkel here throughout the year, but the largest gatherings normally happen between December and April. It’s very easy to admire these gentle giants up close as they’ll swim on the surface of the water. If you happen to see the sharks, respect the rules – don’t touch them.
Best Maldives snorkelling packages
While you can snorkel almost everywhere around the island, you could also book a snorkelling tour which usually includes other activities. Here is a list of recommended snorkelling in Maldives price packages for you:
- Snorkeling in Maldives – 2 hours of snorkelling from USD68 (MYR285) per person.
- Sunset and Dolphin Tour – 5 hours of the tour from USD91 (MYR382) per person.
- Luxury Resort Stay – 5D4N from USD1362 (MYR5717) per person.
- 4 Days Adventure Tour at Guraidhoo Island – 4D3N from USD317 (MYR1330) per person.
- Snorkeling, Boat Trip and Lagoon Tour – 1 hour of the tour from USD36 (MYR151) per person.
What to see during snorkelling in the Maldives?
Maldives’ reefs have great snorkeling depths. With great snorkeling depths, come great marine creatures.
Among the frequent sightings are anemonefish, colourful Giant Clams, Blacktip and Whitetip Reef Sharks, Hawksbill Turtles, Whale Sharks, Eagle Rays, massive schools of brilliant fusiliers, Clown Triggerfish, various interesting butterflyfish and bannerfish, and many octopuses.
If you’re a micro enthusiast but too lazy to dive, the best house reef Maldives has colourful nudibranchs and flamboyant mantis shrimps amongst the corals.
Avoid touching things too much while snorkelling in the Maldives because octopus tends to camouflage themselves into their environment. They’ll turn white (from brown) when afraid and red when angry.
Photo by Ishan @seefromthesky on Unsplash
There’s a shipwreck at Kuredu Resort Maldives for you to explore too, where you’ll see a big napoleon wrasse, surrounded by the resident school of batfish. But you have to master the basics of breath-hold diving before going for this adventure.
Useful tips for snorkelling in the Maldives
- Bring your snorkelling gear to save money – full equipment rental costs around USD8 per day per person excluding taxes.
- Don’t snorkel alone and wear a life jacket if you aren’t a strong swimmer.
- Always check weather conditions.
- Follow the direction of current rather than swimming against.
- Don’t snorkel at prohibited areas.
- Never touch anything in the water.
- Bring enough cash as there’s only one ATM (in Male International Airport).
- Use natural or reef-safe sunscreen because some contain an ingredient that’s destroying coral reefs.
- USD is widely accepted, but you’ll be given change in Maldivian Rufiyaa (MVR).
- Best to use a credit card.
- If you want to exchange your cash dollars at the Bank of Maldives, ensure you have new notes otherwise they’ll be rejected.
- The ATM doesn’t accept Visa cards (use Mastercard).
Things to watch out for in the Maldives
Dress code in Maldives
- All guests are advised to cover up in restaurants and public areas.
- A sarong or anything that doesn’t reveal too much skin is sufficient for women.
- See-through clothing can offend.
- For men, 3/4 or trousers are perfectly acceptable.
- Some islands have specific dress codes, so it’d be best if you check this beforehand.
Everything is expensive
Snorkelling Maldives come with a hefty price because everything is expensive, especially meals and drinks in resorts. There are also additional costs for watersports lessons, equipment, spa treatments and souvenirs/extras from the gift shops. Anything that isn’t part of your package is imposed 10% service charge on top of the published price and 6% Government Tourist Tax.
CHECK your package details before you leave to see what’s included and what’s not.
Things to bring
- Recommended – your snorkelling gear.
- Sufficient cash for the duration of your trip.
Best places to grab food after snorkelling in Maldives
Recommended underwater restaurants:
- Ithaa Undersea Restaurant – European cuisine.
- Subsix – seafood, steak and vegetarian food.
- SEA Restaurant – International gourmet.
- 5.8 Undersea Restaurant – Seafood, European, International, Fusion.
- Minus Six Meters – European cuisine and seafood.
Recommended on-ground restaurants:
- Sea Fire Salt – seafood and steak.
- Just Veg by Atmosphere Kanifushi – vegetarian food.
- Guduguda at The Standard – traditional Maldivian food.
Truth be told, the Maldives, being low lying islands, will be among the first to disappear as sea levels rise due to global warming. As it is today, some parts of the Maldives reefs are experiencing coral bleaching although it still doesn’t change the fact that the islands are pretty much a paradise.
With that being said, go now while you still can. It’s understood that the cost of travelling is usually the main concern, especially if you don’t have a healthy budget for your trip. But little did travellers know, staying on inhabited islands is a great way to explore the best reef in Maldives without spending excessively.
Extend your research a little bit on budget islands such as Maafushi, Dhiffushi, Thulusdhoo and the list goes on… And you’ll be on your way to this dream destination!