Vaavu Atoll Diving
Easily accessible yet one of the quietest atolls, Vaavu Atoll offers exciting channel drift dives and the longest unbroken barrier reef in the Maldives. Mantas, whale sharks and hammerheads are just a few of the numerous marine life highlights found at this small but impressive atoll.
Diving in Vaavu Atoll
Vaavu Atoll, also known as Felidhe, is made up of the Felidhoo Atoll and the small circular Vattaru reef. It is the easternmost point of the Maldives. Located in the Central Atolls and only 64km north of the capital Malé, it is pretty easy to get to. It is one of the smallest and least inhabited atolls, with only 6 of 19 islands inhabited, although two more have opened as resort islands.
Because it is popular for its channel drift diving, not all of the dive sites here are suitable for beginners. It boasts the Fotteyo Falhu which is the longest unbroken barrier reef in the Maldives. It has hugely diverse wildlife in all of its dive sites, with some even offering sightings of giants like manta rays, whale sharks and hammerheads.
Best time to dive
Due to its location in a tropical climate, temperatures are fairly constant all year round and it is always possible to dive. From December to April is the dry season, the perfect weather for a beach holiday. There is minimal rain and wind and the visibility is flawless.
From May to November, there are fewer sunny days, higher winds and more downpours. Luckily though, these showers usually only last a couple of hours. The tidal changes and increased winds bring in plankton blooms. Though it reduces visibility, it does bring in filter feeders like manta rays and whale sharks.
Types of diving
Diving in Vaavu Atoll is diverse. There are deep walls on the outer edges of the reef which allow you to explore caves and overhangs and all the life of the deep blue. The inner kandus (channels) offer drift dives, not always suitable for new divers. The shallow reef dives within the lagoon offer perfect beginner diving, however. There is also world-famous night diving available at Alimatha Jetty which is not to be missed.
There are two dedicated island resorts in which you can dive, though they are at the luxury end of the budget. There is a separate dive centre available on the island of Fulidhoo for those who wish to stay on this more populous island. They also offer dive courses if you would like to try diving for the first time, or expand your skills.
If you are planning on diving a lot, a liveaboard may be the most economical choice. They leave out of Malé most often so you can save on boat transfer as well. Be sure to check the specific liveaboards for price, duration and required certification level before you book. Because of its quiet atmosphere, you will often get to enjoy the dive sites as the only boat.
What to see
Vaavu Atoll may be small, but the marine life is diverse. The famous Fotteyo Kandu has some of the widest variety of marine life for a dive site in the world. The tidal currents pull sharks into the kandus to hunt on the schooling fish found there. On a drift dive, you will float alongside grey and white tip reef sharks, not to mention the schools of snapper, barracuda and giant trevally.
Due to its eastern location, the deep blue often yields large creatures - hammerheads and eagle rays are not unusual sights. During the right season, manta rays will cruise up the kandus and around the barrier reef. Though uncommon, whale sharks have also been sighted here.
The reef dives offer an abundance of reef life, clouds of butterfly and damselfish hover on the reefs. Moray eels, lobster, pipefish and frogfish lie more hidden in the nooks and crannies between rocks and corals. The soft corals here are unparalleled and carpet the floors of the caves and swim-throughs. These provide homes for macro lifelike shrimp and nudibranch, sure to keep photographers happy.
Best places to dive
Vaavu Atoll diving has some of the most unique dive sites in the Maldives. Fotteyo Falhu is the longest unbroken reef in the archipelago, measuring some 50km long.
Fotteyo Kandu is often listed as one of the best dive sites in the Maldives. It consists of a narrow channel, with many swim-throughs, overhangs and caves to explore dotted on the channels’ walls, all covered in stunning soft corals. It is possible to see hammerheads here, with grey and white tip reef sharks frequent visitors as well. Due to its deep profile and often strong currents, it is best suited to at least advanced divers.
Alimatha House Reef has become one of the most famous night diving sites. Blacktips, whiptail and eagle rays were originally drawn to the leavings of fishermen that were thrown back into the water. Though this no longer takes place, the rays and sharks still come in their hundreds in the evenings, making for a stunning experience by torchlight.
In the Dhihevi language, Miyaru means shark - so it’s no surprise than Miyaru Kandu provides some fantastic shark diving. It offers lots of other marine life, like napoleon wrasse, tuna and trevally, but sharks are the stars of the show. With large numbers of grey reef sharks, white tip reef sharks and even the occasional manta ray or hammerhead, this will always be a memorable dive.