The Maldives is one of the most popular destinations for snorkelling and scuba diving. You can snorkel almost anywhere in the Maldives, from your hotel or a snorkelling trip closer to the nearby reef. Almost all resorts in the Maldives are located either close to a reef or is itself located in an extensive lagoon or is a combination of both. This makes snorkelling very easy and the most popular water activity. The visibility in the Maldives is fantastic. The year-round water temperature is 20 to 30 degrees Celcius. Beautiful coral plates, striped Snappers, bannerfish, manta rays, dolphins, reef sharks, hawksbill turtles, Napoleons, and squids are some of the species you can spot underwater in the Maldives.
Best Places for Snorkelling in the Maldives
1. Banana Reef
Shaped like a banana, the reef is home to exquisite species. Also called 'Gaathugiri', the reef is home to inordinately beautiful fishes and marine life. You can also spot the Palette Surgeonfish aka Dory from 'Finding Nemo'. The dramatic overhangs and crevices make snorkeling in Maldives even more exciting here. And do not be taken aback to see large schools of bannerfish - sometimes as many as a whopping thousand! If you are lucky, you can also spot the Manta Rays. Other species to spot are the black snapper fish, sharks, barracudas, giant squirrelfish, oriental sweetlips, soldierfish and grub fish.
Location: This beautiful reef is located to the north of Male Atoll inside Kuda Kalhi.
Cost: The snorkelling excursions here start at the rate of MVR 1400.
Best time to snorkel- The best months are from December to May, however, the best snorkelling opportunities are from late May to July.
2. HP Reef
Known as Girifushi Thila locally, the HP Reef is home to a brilliant variety of small reef fish and large pelagic species such as grey reef sharks, eagle rays, tunas, and barracudas. You will be exhilarated by the bands of prismatic hues of soft corals - the reason why it is also known as the Rainbow Reef. Hailed as the soft coral capital of the world, the HP Reef is surely one of the best places for snorkelling in Maldives. It is a Protected Marine Area and you need to be an experienced diver to swim here due to the strong currents.
Location: This amazing reef is located in North Male Atoll.
Cost: The cost to snorkel here at this reef is approximately MVR 925.
Best time to snorkel: December to April is a good time to visit the HP Reef.
3. Manta Point
Another paradise for snorkelling in Maldives is the Manta Point. Also known as Emas Thila, it is about one kilometer long and a gathering point for the mantas. You can also spot schools of masked bannerfish, squirrelfish, spangled emperor fish, and also napoleons and sharks.
Location: Manta Point is just off of Baros island and an hour's sail away from Male.
Cost: Snorkeling at Manta Point usually costs around MVR 1230.
Best time to snorkel: May to November is the best time to spot these creatures since these months witness an increase in the concentration of plankton.
Tips for Snorkelling in Maldives
- Always check the weather conditions. Snorkelling during rains becomes difficult and also a bit risky.
- It is always advisable to bring your own gear and equipment than renting it from the agencies on a daily basis. Buying your own gear is less costly as compared to renting.
- Never venture out alone in the waters. Always snorkel with a partner or in a group.
- Do not touch the coral in the ocean.
- In case you are a beginner, stay close to the shore. You will still be able to sight a number of colorful and lovely fishes.
- Apply sunscreen with SPF 30+ generously (mostly on your back) at least 10-15 minutes prior to snorkeling.