Best time to visit
Whale sharks, manta cleaning stations, schooling grey reef sharks, colourful soft corals, black and white tip reef sharks, eagle rays, turtles, schooling fish
The South Ari Atoll is well known amongst divers for some of the best dive sites in the Maldives. Combine this with easy access via a short seaplane ride for Male and it is easy to see why it makes an excellent destination for a diving holiday. With over 50 dive sites to choose from and a good range of luxury resorts and liveaboards, diving holidays to the South Ari Atoll come highly recommended and rightly so. Whilst the dive sites can be busier than those in the deep south of the Maldives, marine life is plentiful, topography is varied, manta cleaning stations await and there is even the chance to snorkel with whale sharks.
clownfish & shark
grey reef shark
schooling grey reef sharks
bluestripe & red snapper
One of the highlights of scuba diving in the South Ari Atoll is the opportunity to dive with manta rays. Between December and April (the northeast monsoon) they tend to be seen on the west of the atoll, most notably at Rangali Madivaru, a manta cleaning station where the majestic giants swoop up from the deep ocean to get rid of their parasites. Throughout the rest of the year, they move to the east of the atoll with the southeast monsoon.
Other dive site highlights include Kudhimaa Wreck, purposefully sunk in 1998 and which remains intact with a large amount of marine life now associated with it. Corals, sponges, sea squirts and algae all fight for space on this artificial reef, whilst schooling batfish, pufferfish, boxfish and lionfish hover around the structure. Underwater photographers will be delighted by the macro subjects, including frogfish and nudibranchs to name but a few. Kuda Rah Thila is known for its large over-hangs and an archway, drenched in kaleidoscopic soft corals. Napolean wrasse, schools of blue-striped snapper and turtles are usually seen with the occasional whitetip or grey reef shark cruising by. Seventh Heaven is another dive site not to miss, with yet more overhangs enveloped in soft corals of all colours.