Northern Atolls Diving
Imagine exploring over 100 miles of quiet atolls with pristine reefs, crystal-clear waters and few dive crowds. Add a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve that hosts hundreds of feeding mantas, plus submerged pinnacles and numerous sharks for a taste of the incredible Northern Atolls.
A UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve and famous manta hotspot, Baa Atoll is a classic dive destination offering some of the best marine megafauna encounters in the world. Dive in to discover hundreds of feeding mantas, swim with whale sharks or just enjoy the numerous easy reef dives on offer.
Tucked away in the north, Haa Dhaalu Atoll has underwater landscapes ideal for new divers plus classic Maldivian reef life, large tuna and plenty of sharks. A stunning ‘cathedral’ dive site and some of the best coral formations in the Maldives make this atoll well worth visiting.
Pretty coral gardens, soaring pinnacles, caverns and overhangs are just a few of the dive landscapes on offer at diverse Raa Atoll. This peaceful Maldivian gem is quieter than most of the resort islands, offering corals teeming with macro life and the ever graceful manta rays.
Diving in the Northern Atolls
The Northern Atolls of the Maldives are an excellent choice for your next diving holiday - whether that is on a liveaboard or at a dive resort or centre. Northern Atolls diving delivers stunning tropical reef diving, in a quieter environment than the Southern Atolls. With excellent visibility and warm water all year round, it is a dream dive destination.
It comprises of the Baa, Raa, Lhaviyani, Haa Alif, Shaviyani, Haa Dhaalu and Noonu atolls, the region spans over 100 miles. Dive resorts and dive centres can be found in all the atolls but there is a wider selection on the busier islands of the Baa, Raa and Lhaviyani Atolls. They are much less busy than the southern atolls. For this reason, there is a slightly smaller selection of liveaboards available - but you are often the only boat at the dive site!
Scuba diving in the Northern Atolls offers diving suitable for all levels, making it perfect for diving courses. Within the lagoons and thilas, the conditions are usually calm with little to no current. Diving the channels offers some more challenging drift dives depending on the tides which may appeal to more advanced divers. There is also cave and wreck diving for those wishing to expand their diving skill set.
Almost all dive sites have beautifully coloured hard and soft corals, clouds of reef fish and larger pelagic life like turtles, giant trevally and sharks. During the summer months of the monsoon, manta rays and whale sharks are frequent visitors which draw in divers from all over the world.
Best places to dive
Each Atoll has its own unique diving, learn a little more about what each has to offer:
Baa Atoll is famed for its manta ray and whale shark encounters and is a dream to dive. There is an abundance of diving for all levels and features famous manta cleaning stations like Dhonfaru Thila.
Lhaviyani is one of the more populous atolls, there are over 50 dive sites to explore. From wreck diving at the Shipyard to channel diving with grey reef sharks and eagle rays - you definitely won’t get bored!
Noonu Atoll boasts a wide selection of dive resorts. It’s also an excellent place to see grey reef sharks - Orimas Thila sometimes has over 20 at a time, ranging from juveniles to impressive adults.
Raa Atoll is known for its many submerged pinnacles, or thilas. It offers clouds of reef fish and manta ray cleaning stations from July to September, as well as whale shark sightings.
Haa Alif Atoll offers wide shallow channels, perfect for beginners to experience drift dives. It also boasts several famous dive sites including the Filadhoo Wreck and the Ihavandhoo channel where mantas come to be cleaned. Anemone Thila has leopard sharks hiding from the current and napoleon wrasse hunting with yellow fin trevally.
One of the most famous dive sites in Haa Dhaalu Atoll is Theefarido Thila. This wall is protected by the current, leading to impressive formations of coral. Other beautiful dive sites exist such as the advanced “Heaven and Hell”.
One of the least explored Atolls in the Maldives, Shaviyani Atoll still has some excellent scuba diving. Lupo Thila has eagle rays, tuna, trevally, barracuda, multiple species of shark including the rare (and bizarre looking!) guitar shark.