Rasdhoo Atoll Diving
This atoll may be tiny but the diving is outstanding, offering three wrecks, cave systems, gorgeous horseshoe reefs and Rasdhoo Atoll’s signature hammerhead shark dives. Dive with over 200 schooling hammerheads, explore deep walls and discover abundant mantas, turtles and colourful macro treasures.
Diving in Rasdhoo Atoll
Rasdhoo Atoll in the Central Atolls is one of the smallest atolls in the Maldives with only 4 islands. The island of Rasdhoo is the only inhabited island and has a permanent population of less than 1000. It is found only 58km north of the capital, Malé. This accessibility to the international airport makes it one of the most popular atolls for diving.
Though it may be small, diving in Rasdhoo Atoll packs a punch! It has 3 wrecks to choose from, cave systems, horseshoe reefs off Madivaru island and a choice of around 5 dive centres on Rasdhoo Island. The most famous dive in this atoll, however, is the chance to dive with hammerhead sharks. They come in from the deep ocean surrounding the atoll and can be seen in schools upward of 200 individuals. This is one of only a few places in the world where you can dive with schooling hammerheads.
Best time to dive
The weather and diving in Rasdhoo Atoll is generally very pleasant all year round. Both the water and air temperatures stay constant and there is always great diving to be had.
The wet season is between April and October. Due to the winds, the visibility reduces slightly but the currents are less fierce and the diving can be easier which is favoured by some divers. The best time to dive here is between October and April. There is less rain, the visibility improves and it is the perfect time to spot manta rays!
Types of diving
Rasdhoo Atoll is unusual in this area because it is surrounded by deep waters - the wall dives on the outside of the atoll have drop-offs down to 200m. This cooler water attracts large pelagic life like manta rays and hammerhead sharks. The wall has gentle currents, but the stronger drifts tend to be in the channels (kandus) within the atoll.
There are three wrecks to choose from, located at 40m, 34m and 7m. If wreck diving is your passion, it may be advisable to get your advanced qualification with deep specification before you come as not all places facilitate dive courses. A highlight is the opportunity to dive the 40m wreck at night!
There is a choice on how to dive in Rasdhoo Atoll. The island of Rasdhoo has 5 dive centres to choose from, some of which also function as dive resorts. As they are dive centres as well, you can stay elsewhere on the island if you wish. One of the best ways to dive here is on a liveaboard. Most liveaboards leave from nearby Malé which means that there is a lot to choose from! They also cater for a variety of budgets and desired trip durations.
What to see
The marine life in Rasdhoo Atoll is typical of the region. Most dive sites offer opportunities to see larger life such as reef sharks, eagle rays, tuna, barracuda, napoleons, stingrays and green and hawksbill turtles. Schools of snapper, jacks, trevally and fusiliers are almost omnipresent. Looking deeper into the reefs will yield more hidden beasts like moray and ribbon eels, lobster and all manner of colourful reef fish. For the really eagle-eyed, there is also the masters of camouflage like ghost pipefish, frogfish and leaf fish. Manta rays can be seen at certain sites from October - April and occasionally whale sharks are sighted to the north.
One of the highlights of Rasdhoo Atoll diving is the opportunity to dive with hammerheads. Early morning dives along the walls will yield a few but that’s not the really amazing bit. On a good day, the hammerheads come schooling out of the deep blue in numbers of over 200. It is one of the last places in the world where this can be seen and it’s not one to miss.
Best places to dive
Hammerhead Point is the best site to see manta rays. It is definitely an advanced dive with a quick descent to 30 meters. An early start is required, being in the water by 6 am is advised for the best show. Even if you don’t see these elusive beasts, you might see tuna, mantas, sharks and sailfish out in the blue to make up for it!
Madivaru Island is a horseshoe-shaped reef, perfect for beginners. You can see a bit of everything here, with eagle, manta and mobula rays, schools of tuna, trevally, jacks, barracuda and snapper, a variety of sharks (including guitar sharks) and even the odd dolphin! Located between 15 and 22 meters, this site will keep everybody happy.
Manta Block is the best place in the atoll to see manta rays and being at 13 meters, it is accessible to all. Though the best chance of sightings is from October - April, there is a chance to see them outside of this window too.
Caves is a great dive site for advanced divers. It features big overhangs and swim throughs to explore. A variety of sharks, like white tip and nurse, frequent the area.