North Male - South Male - Felidhe Atoll - Ari Atoll
8 Days 7 Nights
Diving North Male' Atoll
The sea bed east of Male atoll shelves steeply to 2000 metres and to the west less steeply to over 300 metres. The presence of deep, clear waters all around the atoll means excellent visibility, especially with ingoing currents. Pelagics such as barracuda, trevally and tuna, and big schools of fusilier, snapper and sharks all congregate at the entrance to the channels, attracted by the movement of water and the food sources carried with them . Depths inside the atoll are generally 40 to 50 metres and the bottom is mostly sand. There are many shallow water reefs inside the atoll and those just below the surface are clearly defined by sharp contrasts in water colour. Most of the diving in North Male’ atoll is in the channels, or Kandus through the outer barrier reef of the atoll. There are around 20 channels on the eastern side and 16 on the west. Drift diving is the most common method of diving. The channels on the western side are generally wider, some with big thilas across the openings. The greatest concentration of diving is in the southern end of the atoll where many of the resorts are located. This was the first area to be dived when resorts began springing up in 1972. Some of the finest sites are to be found here and although many of them have been heavily dived, in general, the sites remain in good condition.
Most divers tend steer away from the populated island of Male because of the heavy boat traffic. The reefs in the north of North Male atoll are less frequently dived than those to the south and with an absence of any island between Helengeli and Meerufenfushi - a distance of 20km - a sense of isolation and freedom make the dives in this north region even more memorable.
Diving South Male' Atoll
North and South Male’ Atolls are seperated by the Vaadhoo Kanduwith a depth of 500 metres through which current streams can be very strong, attaining a rate of four knots or more. There are many popular dive sites with many spectacular dropoffs and caves along both sides of this channel. South Male’ Atoll has six channels on the eastern side, most of which provide excellent long drift dives, and 12 channels on the western side. There is one main channel - velassaru Kandu - in the north and another - Hathikolhu kandu - in the south. The eastern side of the atoll is characterised by two long reefs, the 14.5 km long Maadhoo Falhu and the 10.5 km long Fushidhiggaru Falhu, which is the most easterly point of the atoll. Depths inside the atoll are mostly betwenn 35 and 45 metres.
Diving North Ari Atoll Atoll
Ari Atoll has depths of around 300 metres on the eastern side, while on the west depths drop quickly to over 2000 metres. Rasdhoo is connected to the northeast part of Ari by a submarine plateau with depths from 183 metres to 274 metres. Depths within Rasdhoo Atoll are to 35 metres while in Ari depths are mostly between 35 metres and 55 metres but reaching up to 80 metres in one part. Ari Atoll has no long stretch of barreer reef and all faces of the encircling reef have many passages into the atoll, except the south face which has one break. The inside of the atoll is much encumbered with coral reefs, many of them dry at low tide, but the atoll has many thilas, for which the atoll is famous. Most of the thilas have interesting coral reefs that appear naturally designed to protect the atoll from the firce seas that prevail during the south-west monsoon. Heavy waves have pounded the west side breaking off chunks of coral rock and in some place long channels more than a metre deep have been cut into the reefs. On the eastern side the reefs are smaller with many more entrances, and as they do not get the heavy ocean swell of the western side, the corals tend to be more fragile.
Diving South Ari Atoll Atoll
South Ari Atoll has many excellent thilas, both within the atoll and in the channels. There are also four wreck dives. One of the feature area is the Dhigurashu Kandu, where the thilas spring up from the outer rim of the atoll like 10 pins in a bowling alley. There are around 12 thilas in the 4.5 km wide channel of which only handful are frequently dived. Some are quite deep and hard to find and the frequent swift currents and choppy seas can make diving conditions hazardous. Only experienced divers with knowledgeable boatmen should attempt the diving here at these times. The southern outside reef in the vicinity of Ariyadu Kandu, has become famous for the regular all-year round appearance of whale sharks. Mantas and sharks are also prevalent at many locations, with Madivaru being the most documented site for mantas.
Felidhe Atoll is more isolated and less developed than the other tourist atolls. It has excellent scuba diving and snorkelling, remote uninhabited islands, sandbanks and the islanders are friendly and hospitable. For these reasons Felidhe Atoll is a popular destination for safari dhonis and memorable trips and excellent diving is guaranteed. There are not many thila dives in this atoll, with most of the diving being in the 26 channels on the eastern side. These channels are mostly long and deep and suitable for advanced divers. Many have narrow entrances and when travelling down the eastern side of the atoll they can easily be passed unnoticed. On the outside of most of the channels, the reef plunges sharply to very deep depths, usually from the outside rim at around 35 metres. During the rock diving season of the north-east monsoon, the current flows inside the channels on the eastern side more often than it flows out, resulting in exhilarating, clear water diving, ideal for viewing sharks and pelagic fish. The channels on the western side, are not as exciting as those on the east, however with the current mainly flowing out of the atoll during the north-east monsoon, these locations have the advantage of attracting manta rays to feed on the zooplankton-rich waters. At the south end of the atoll near the island of Hingaahura is the remains of the Pioneer, which was wrecked on this reef on May 13 1958. The ship was on her way from Colombo to Male’ when she ran aground.