Maldives is one of the world’s leading diving destinations right up there with the Red Sea, Great Barrier Reef, Caymans, and Belize. But which is the top resort for diving among this top destination. Certainly a subject for much debate and hair-splitting. Picking out out a premier site over the 90,000 square kilometres of atolls would be a bit of a tall order.
TripAdvisor Forums have also discussed this topic and offer a range of other nominations with a particular fondness for the South Ari atoll. But the most prominent consensus pick appears to be ‘Fotteyo Kandu’ in the Felidhoo Atoll. Tim Godfrey’s book on the Maldives, ‘Dive Maldives’, describes in his full page review of the site (page 115) which includes the pictures featured here…
- “An excellent dive regarded by many divers as the best site in the Maldives. It is a photographers’ paradise and a mecca for marine biologists. This is a dive with many possibilities.”
The dive travel site appropriately named ‘Maldives Dive Travel’ also anoints it #1in its own top 5 list with this compelling description…
- “Many scuba divers consider Fotteyo Kandu to be the best Maldives dive site and it is also rated among the top 5 dive sites in the world. The mouth of the channel is exposed to the ocean and during north east monsoon when the currents are incoming, a good variety of fish species gather at the entrance to the channel. Animals commonly spotted at Fotteyo Kandu include Gray Reef Shark patrolling the channel mouth, Jack and Tuna in the deeper water, schools of Midnight Snappers and Red Snapper form in huge groups. The wall features caves, overhangs and swim-throughs at different depths. These caves and overhangs are filled with colourful yellow color like soft coral, deeper caves and overhangs are filled with huge bushes of black corals. The Thila in the middle of the channel entrance is the best place to do the safety stop. A surface balloon is a must at Fotteyo Kandu.”
Two resorts are in the Felidhoo atoll for those seeking out Fotteyo, Dhiggiri and Alimatha, but Alimatha gets the nod because it about 4 kilometres closer to the site.
If Maaya Thila is the ‘White Tip Reef Shark Capital of the Maldives’, the Fish Head dive site is renowned as the ‘Grey Reef Shark Capital’. And if you want to check it out, the Chaaya Reef Elliadhoo resort is your closest dive centre. Tim Godfrey describes Fish Head in his book ‘Dive Maldives’…
- “The presence of a large school of grey reef sharks, combined with the favourable underwater scenery and the wide variety of marine life, have given this reef the reputation as being among the ten best dive sites in the world.”
Given the omnipresent reefs that literally define the Maldives and the shallows around them, it is no surprise that the Maldives are littered with ship wrecks for divers to explore. But the best locale has to be ‘The Shipyard’ off Kuredu in the Faadhippolhu Atoll. It has not one, but two wrecks at the site including the ‘Skipjack II’ which has sunk vertically so that its bow is sticking out about the top of the water (see above). It is located on the east side of Felivaru Kandu with a depth from 1 to 30 metres.
From Tim Godfrey’s book on diving in the Maldives ‘Dive Maldives’…
“This ship was the mother ship for the Felivaru fish factory and spent some years permanently moored to the jetty at Felivaru. In 1985, it was decided that old Japanese ship was of no further use so it was stripped of anything of value and towed out to sea where it was to be scuttled. Kuredu Island Resort tried to purchase the ship for a new dive site, but the authorities decided against it. In the end, they got their shipwreck for no charge. While it was being towed out to sea, workers began cutting holes in the ship’s hull in preparation for sinking. However, the ship caught fire and because of the danger from chemicals and the fear of an explosion, it was cut loose…The second wreck was also in use at the fish factory and was scuttled at the same location. It too was in a vertical position until 1992 when a storm caused it to settle on the sea floor.”
My wife, our son Chase and I dove ‘Hammerhead Point’ when we visited Kuramathi Village a few years ago. You get up extremely early around 6:00 am and you go off the dive boat in the middle of the deep channel. You descend to 30 metres where you are still quite a ways off the bottom pretty much suspended in the middle of vast blueness. And you wait for the hammerheads.
Now no dive is a sure thing and Rasdhoo Divers are very open that the hammerheads can be hit or miss. So the three of us were just suspended there for the full 40 minutes of our dive trying not to be too bored. It was a bit reminiscent of that Family Guy bit where they go on vacation to Purgatory (minute 6:57). But my colleague Philippa went on the same dive and said that it was amazing seeing lots of these eerie, prehistoric looking creatures.
Tim Godfrey’s ‘Dive Maldives’ is focused on diving, but also has excellent general history, geography and background. The islands may look like plots of sand with a few palm trees, but they actually have a fair amount of diversity. In the picture above from his book, Godfrey outlines some of the key parts of a Maldive atoll island along with its Dhivehi name which are words you will come across often especially in the names of different places (ie. thila, giri, fary, finolhu, fushi).