Gnaviyani Atoll Diving
Washed by strong currents and surrounded by very deep waters, Gnaviyani Atoll’s diving is thrilling, offering pelagic encounters that include oceanic mantas, thresher sharks, Mola mola, whale sharks, hammerheads and more. This challenging dive destination is ideal for advanced divers looking for a unique Maldives experience.
Diving in Gnaviyani Atoll
Gnaviyani Atoll, or more commonly Fuvahmulah, is the second most southerly atoll in the Maldives. It is unique in its structure as a single island - which has freshwater lagoons and diverse life. Its size and shape mean there are only a few dive sites to choose from but they offer some of the best diving in the world.
The recently developed harbour and airport are bringing in more tourists but this island and its reefs are still largely untouched. The proximity to very deep water mean that large pelagic encounters are the norm here - you can see oceanic manta rays, thresher sharks, mola mola, whale sharks and hammerheads, all on the same dive. These dive sites rival the Galapagos and Cocos Island for these encounters and make the challenging diving worth it.
Best time to dive
Gnaviyani Atoll diving is available all year round but there are seasons which provide better conditions. The dry season from December to April has low, warm winds and minimal rainfall. The long hours of sunshine and the still, clear waters make this the perfect time for a diving holiday.
The rainy season is from June to November. Though the conditions still provide plenty of sunshine, the increased rainfall and the changing direction of the wind means that the water will become choppier. Diving will still be fantastic but some liveaboards may not operate when the weather is bad, so check beforehand.
Types of diving
There are limited sites on which to dive on Gnaviyani Atoll. There is only 1 dive centre and no dive resorts available, there are few options on where to stay. One of the best ways to dive Gnaviyani Atoll is by choosing a liveaboard. Not only is it the most economical choice, but it means you can see more.
The diving in Gnaviyani Atoll is challenging. The strong currents and proximity to deep (1000m+) make these dives only suitable for very advanced divers, some sources say over 100 dives are required. The walls and reefs can have ripping currents, and even when they don’t, hanging above a drop into kilometres of deep blue water can be intimidating for even for the most experienced divers.
What to see
The reefs in Gnaviyani Atoll are notably untouched and beautiful - with a healthy reef ecosystem to go with them. Though the corals and fish may draw in some to this southern atoll, the real prize is the big fish. All diving here opens onto the deep blue, giving you marine life encounters that are found nowhere else in the world. Giant oceanic manta rays loiter here for a few weeks every April, for no known reason. Tiger sharks (visible on almost every dive), threshers, huge hammerheads, whale sharks, oceanic whitetips and even mola-mola are spotted here regularly. The normally exciting grey reef sharks and white tip reef sharks pale in comparison to their big brothers.
Best places to dive
Because it is only a single island, there are only two main dive sites - Raazwa Faru (Fuvahmulah South) and Thoondu Beach (Fuvahmulah North).
Thoondu Reef gentle sloped from 5 to 35 meters - before dropping dramatically into the blue. The reef life is abundant, with colourful macro and fish life to make any divers day. Unfortunately, nothing on the reef is as exciting as what is happening in the blue. Hanging in the water, you can see huge pelagic life swimming past you. Manta rays of all sizes swoop by with hammerheads, oceanic whitetips and thresher sharks coming by to make sure they don’t miss anything. Raazwa Fura in the South is mostly unexplored but offers a very similar dive profile and marine animal encounters as Thoondu Reef.
Tiger Zoo is a dive site where you can see tiger sharks all year round. The sharks average 2 - 4 meters in length and it is certainly not a dive for the faint-hearted! Over a dozen known tiger sharks swim around here, some of them even have names. Kneeling on the sandy floor and watching these ocean giants soar above you is unforgettable.