There are few things in the world that can be as adventuresome and exhilarating as diving with creatures that measure up to 20 feet in length, with flat and laterally extended heads, shaped in the form of a hammer. Hammerhead sharks are particularly known for their unique, bizarre shaped heads with eyes on either end. Their massive size coupled with their peculiar appearance seems to be something out of a science fiction movie and diving with them in the depths of the seas is a surefire way to get an adrenaline rush. Maldives is a scuba diver's dream destination as the rich wealth of aquatic life under the vast blue is truly immense.
The water around the archipelago is home to more than 20 species of sharks, including the king-sized Hammerhead shark. The aggressive predator is known to travel in schools of ten or more and usually feasts on marine animals such as octopus, squid and other fish, including sharks, but are rarely notorious when it comes to encounters with human beings - thanks to an oddly sized mouth for a creature of its size. They are known to possess special electroreceptors called 'Ampullae of Lorenzini', which help them to sense both electrical and magnetic fields in water to hunt prey.
Hammerheads are the only known species of shark that are both omnivorous and cannibalistic in nature. Maldives is all calm and placid - that is until you experience the energetic life underwater. Scuba diving here in itself is a thrilling experience, but when you add hammerhead sharks in the medley, you automatically knock it up a notch. To get up close and personal with these mysterious, majestic creatures is to imprint an unforgettable memory.
1. Felidhoo Atoll
Felidhoo Atoll is probably the best site in the whole of Maldives to experience the raw wildness of the hammerheads. It is located in the eastern part of the archipelago and is also known to contain the easternmost point of Maldives, Fohtheyobodufushi Island. The capital Male is at a distance 65 kilometres from here, and the journey takes 90 minutes by speedboat (or) 5 hours by a slow boat.
2. Rasdhoo & Kuramathi Island, Alif Alif Atoll (North Ari Atoll)
The inhabited Rasdhoo island along with the less populated Kuramathi island is virgin. It is said to possess some of the best dive centres in the country. The world famous hammerhead shark point is a mere 5-minute boat ride away from Kuramathi island. The island is approximately 60 kilometres from the capital city. Speedboats take 1 hour, and public ferries take close to 3 hours to cover this distance.
3. Veligandu Island, Alif Alif Atoll (North Ari Atoll)
Located at a 5-minute boat ride away from Rasdhoo island, Veligandu is a compact pristine island with an area of just around 20 acres. The Veligandu Island Resort is the only resort on the island, and they conduct scuba diving and snorkelling excursions.
4. Kuredu Island, Lhaviyani Atoll
Known for its rich marine biodiversity, Kuredu island is world class when it comes to adventure sports such as snorkelling and diving. Other than the hammerhead shark, there is also a strong probability of encountering whale sharks, reef sharks, manta rays, and stingrays. Lhaviyani Atoll is the northernmost tourist resort in Maldives, and usually, tourists visit here via flights from Male.
5. Fuvahmulah Atoll
One of the southernmost and smallest atolls in Maldives, Fuvahmulah is an island city famous for crystal clear visibility of the seas surrounding it. It is a hotspot for shark gatherings, namely reef shark, silvertip shark, whale shark and hammerheads. Scuba diving here is best suited for people with at least an intermediate level of experience as the currents here are challenging and less suitable for beginners.
6. Sun Island, Alifu Dhaalu Atoll (South Ari Atoll)
The immaculate crystal clear views of the ocean make Sun island the perfect destination to enjoy the company of hammerhead sharks and whale sharks. These gigantic creatures usually turn up in huge numbers just off the coast. The plus point of scuba diving here is that one does not need prior experience and can be attempted by anyone willing to relish the underwater treasures of the sea.
7. Dhidhoofinolhu, Alifu Dhaalu Atoll (South Ari Atoll)
Dhidhoofinolhu is one of the longest islands in Maldives, measuring 1.8 kilometres by 200 meters. It is possible to witness whale sharks here all year round, along with hammerheads and other species. There are more than 50 world-class dive sites around the island.
8. Maaya Thila, Alif Alif Atoll (North Ari Atoll)
Although Whitetip reef sharks are more in number here, hammerhead sharks also turn up on a regular basis. Stingrays, barracudas, nurse sharks, reef sharks etc. also thrive here. This is one of the best dive sites in Maldives.
9. Guraidhoo Island, South Male Atoll
Located on the eastern corner of the South Male Atoll, the tiny island is one of the best places to encounter sharks and other marine life. Turtle snorkelling is quite famous here. Male is located at a distance of 30 kilometres north of Guraidhoo, and it is accessible only via boat.
Tourism is highly controlled in the Maldives. If you are looking to experience the wonders beneath the surface, it is best to sign up with a liveaboard as they guide you from the start of the excursion to the end. Liveaboard dive cruises are yachts that cater to the needs of serious scuba divers and snorkelers, acting as both, floating hotels and dive centres. They have provisions for beginners and professionals alike. Since many of the best dive sites in Maldives are usually quite distant from one another, a liveaboard cruise is a perfect way to experience more than just one of the fantastic sites available. Island hopping is easy, and the reefs are at your disposal at all times! If diving is your main purpose of visit to Maldives, then liveaboard is the right way to go. Liveaboards get fully booked well in advance, so plan your trip accordingly.
It is also possible to dive at many of these areas while staying on a land-based resort, from where dive centres operate.
Diving in Maldives caters to all levels, but it more suitable for intermediate or divers that have prior experience. This is due to tricky, unpredictable currents and depths that the divers will have to face. Usually, these excursions last for one hour or so. There are also dive sites that are suitable for beginners to experience. So, be mindful to research extensively before you dive into the serene depths of the ocean.
Maldives rarely disappoints, especially when it comes to experiencing the vibrant marine life. With factors such as lush vegetation, state-of-the-art resorts, electrifying marine sports, virgin beaches & azure blue waters coupled with hues of turquoise, there are few destinations in the world that can match the grandeur of this archipelago. Diving here is definitely a delightful experience.
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