Destination Fact File
One of the best places to see large pelagics. From hammerheads to mantas the ‘atoll is your oyster’
Ari Atoll is separated into North and South atolls, each of which offers a very distinctive experience for divers. There is not a lot of difference between the north and south atolls, as they are both made up in a very similar way. The only real differences are that South Ari is a bit more suited to beginner and novice divers due to the fact that the currents are not as strong at many of the dive sites and there are a couple of sheltered sites ideal for training. With whale shark sighting slightly more frequent in the south channels could be another reason to stay here as well as the famous Madivaru site more commonly known as Manta Point. All of these dive sites are accessible from Vilamendhoo and Angaga Resorts, which are only a 25 minute seaplane journey from the international airport on Male.
However, North Ari Atoll is definitely not the lesser of the two atoll areas. With world famous dive sites such as Maaya Thila, the Fesdu Wreck and Fish Head each and every dive will leave you with a beaming smile from ear to ear. The large pelagic fish, such as manta rays, reef and hammerhead sharks, eagle rays and barracuda love to sit in the currents found streaming through the many channels found in this area. With hammerhead sightings in both North and South Ari the diving here will have even the most experienced of diver excited. You can access all of these unmissable dive sites from Chaaya Reef Ellaidhoo, Velidu Island Resort, Velingandu Island Resort and Vilamendhoo Island Resort which are only a 20 minute seaplane journey from Male airport.
Ari Atoll Top Dive Sites:
Hammerhead Point is located at Rasdhoo Atoll north east of Ari Atoll and it is quite often a favourite on customers doing a liveaboard in the area. The site name is referred to the impressive schools scalloped weaving heads that often appear in the morning on the channel's outside corner just offshore from the island of Madivaru.
Angaga Thila located south Aril Atol is famous for the grey reef sharks that patrol the area when there is current. If you are lucky you will find stonefish, snails and cleaning crabs on the reef top.
Broken Rock is about 80 metres long site with a canyon that cuts through the diameter of the thila. The canyon is about 3 metres wide and 10 metres deep slicing the reef from south east to north west. The top of the reef is 14 metres and the canyon reaches a maximum depth of 24 metres. Swimming through this 50 metre long canyon is one of the highlights.
One of the best dive sites to explore as a night dive is Maaya Thila. Here you can encounter turtles and octopus resting inside caves and with white tip reef sharks being particularly common in this area you may even encounter a shark hunt, however they are normally seen asleep on the reef floor. The contrast between the dark waters and your dive light will make this experience all the more vibrant and exciting.