Alif Alif Atoll Diving

Offering year-round mantas and whale sharks, plus schooling hammerheads, Alif Alif Atoll’s marine megafauna make it a perennial favourite with divers. Discover everything from easy-going reef drift dives to challenging deeper sites and exceptionally strong currents dives whilst you’re there.


Diving in Alif Alif Atoll

Diving in Alif Alif Atoll (North Ari Atoll) is diverse and possible for all levels. Located in the southern Central Maldives, it enjoys year-round diving and an exciting opportunity to dive with pelagic giants like manta rays and whale sharks all year round. It is the most open to tourism and is considered the best diving in the Maldives by many. As there is a lot of choices, no matter if you prefer a liveaboard, dive resort or dive centre, there will be something to suit your needs here. It also includes the small Rasdhoo Atoll to the north, which is famous for its schooling hammerhead encounters.

Best time to dive

Alif Alif Atoll diving is available all year round, though conditions can change significantly throughout the year. December to April are the best conditions for diving. The winds are gentle and warm and the rains are at their lowest so your holiday will have uninterrupted sunshine. These conditions mean that the waters are calm and clear, allowing for over 40m visibility. The only downside to diving at this time of year is that because it is the busiest season, prices are at their highest. 

During the rainy season, from May to November, conditions change. There is still plenty of sunlight, but short and intense rain showers become more frequent and the winds pick up. These conditions sometimes mean that some dive centres do not operate in June, so check before you travel. On the other hand, the winds blow in plankton from the deep oceans which attract filter feeders like manta rays and whale sharks. The prices can also go down because there are fewer tourists. 

Types of diving

Diving in Alif Alif Atoll can be challenging at times but there is something on offer for all divers. The drift dives along reefs and thilas tend to be gentle and suitable for those who have little experience with drift diving. Overhangs and caves, usually found deeper on the reefs provide a playground for the more advanced diver. For the truly adventurous, and suitably experienced, the kandu drift dives can provide very strong currents. These currents yield large pelagic life which follows the smaller fish into the channels. 

There are over 10 resort islands to choose from, most of which have a dive centre. There are also dive centres on some of the other, larger inhabited islands Ukulhas and Mathiveri. Dive courses are possible at any of these, some advanced courses may even be doable from a liveaboard. Liveaboards might be the best way to see all the dive sites and are also often the most economical way of diving. Some may have minimum requirements though, so check before you book.

What to see

Compared to the reefs of other atolls, Alif Alif Atoll is not famed for its bright corals. Despite this, there is still lots to see on the reefs. Macro hunters will find nudibranch and shrimp galore amongst the rocks and corals. The masters of disguise frogfish, leaf fish and stonefish are present in abundance. 

The real treats to see though, are the giant pelagic creatures. It is one of the only places in the Maldives with sightings of Whale Sharks and Manta Rays all year round, though they are more common during the monsoon months. Sightings of eagle rays, grey reef sharks, turtles and guitar sharks are all common too. Due to its proximity with Rasdhoo Atoll, hammerheads are frequent visitors, sometimes in huge, impressive schools. 

Best places to dive

Alif Alif Atoll offers so many dive sites to choose from that you might struggle to fit them all in! 

Maaya Thila is one of the most popular dive sites in the Maldives. Stretching from 6 to 30 meters, it can be catered to all but the currents can be variable. Deeper, it features overhangs and a swim through covered in black coral. It is a popular site for night diving due to the sheer number of fish, drawn to your torch beam. The only negative is that, due to its popularity, it can be crowded and some of the coral is damaged by divers.

Fish Head or Shark Point has marine protected status and is a fantastic place for spotting sharks! It is a long speedboat journey so it is best suited for liveaboards. The pinnacle offers black coral trees with up to 20 grey reef sharks swimming amongst the caves. 

Fesdu Wreck sits on a 30 meters sandy bottom and offers a combination dive of a wreck and small but stunning thila. The wreck has become home to a variety of fish life including morays, scorpionfish and frogfish. It is possible to penetrate this wreck but as the inside has become coated in corals, it is not advised in case the coral is damaged. 

A dive site that is not technically on Alif Alif, but nearby Rasdhoo Atoll has to be mentioned. Hammerhead Point is one of the only locations in the world where you can see schooling hammerheads and is well worth the journey.