The Maldives is located smack in the middle of the Indian Ocean, making it the perfect vacation destination for couples who value privacy. While luxury stays over azure waters are one of the biggest draws of this country, there are countless water-based activities to keep visitors engaged. Maldives snorkelling tours are at the forefront of seaside exploration.
The versatility of snorkelling in the Maldives will astound any traveller. One can snorkel right under one’s over water villa in a private island, explore the house reef of any public island, by signing up for an all-inclusive Maldives vacation package. For a luxurious experience you can even stay on a liveaboard to go on multiple snorkelling dives spread over many days!
Snorkeling, Sandbank & Sunset Cruise TripFrom: $160.00
3 Point Snorkeling Tour in MaldivesFrom: $100.00
Full Day South Malé Local Island Hopping TripFrom: $260.00
Full Day North Malé Local Island Hopping TripFrom: $200.00
Snorkel in the sparkling blue sea with crystal clear water gently breaking on the pure white sands with gracefully swaying palms. Cool sea breeze whispering in the background, the lush greenery and a wide variety of flora and fauna made Maldives an ideal honeymoon destination.
Maldives’ weather remains quite balanced round the year. This makes it possible to snorkel whenever you visit this island nation. However, the best time of the year to visit the Maldives is November to January, which is the dry season. The scarcity of rain makes these months a time of great underwater visibility.
Take a look at some of the best snorkelling tours and dive sites in The Maldives.
#1 Coral Garden Maldives Snorkelling Tour
Suitable for snorkelling beginners, Coral Garden is a protected dive site with a minimum depth of 3 metres. The coral blocks have a gentle slope leading to a depth of 20 metres.
This dive site is highly recommended for those who want to see a lot of marine diversity just below the water surface. You can see both hard and soft corals here, along with other underwater beings such as schooling snapper, stingrays, moray eels and green turtles.
A snorkelling tour in the Coral Garden can easily be extended to include a sandbank dining experience on the nearest Maldivian island of Kuredu which is just 5 minutes away. Even if you happen to be on the isle of Komandoo, you can take a short 30-minute boat ride to Coral Garden to enjoy its reefs.
3 Point Snorkeling Tour in MaldivesFrom: $100.00
#2 Bodu Giri Maldives Snorkelling Tour
The Maldives is home to about 1,200 little islands, each combining to form a cluster called an atoll. Since most of this region is rich in marine biodiversity, you can only imagine the countless snorkelling dive sites that must exist here! Bodu Giri is one such site which is great not only for its shallow corals but also vibrant shoals.
Bodu Giri is about 150 km away from Male, the capital of The Maldives. Nevertheless, the world’s smallest capital is only a short seaplane ride away from most of the distance isles. The top reef at Bodu Giri is just 3 metres from the sea level. If you carry an underwater camera such as GoPro, you should be able to take amazing shots of the smallest folds in the corals with the help of a compatible gimbal.
Keep your eyes peeled for colourful marine species such as the big-nose unicorn fish, the butterfly fish, the napoleon wrasse, coral groupers, painted rock lobsters and the moorish idol fish. As you snorkel, you can also sight tunas, oriental sweet lips, blue-fin jacks, blue-striped snappers, neon fusiliers and yellow-back fusiliers.
Located in Maldives’ Lhaviyani Atoll, Bodu Giri’s abundance of coral columns is a result of its unique location which is protected from strong water currents. The underwater island is also able to sustain schooling fish. Do not miss the coordinated swimming display as you watch certain schools where each fish synchronizes its movement with the others.
#3 Huravalhi Maldives Snorkelling Tour
Huravalhi is another island that is a part of the Lhaviyani Atoll in The Maldives. You can either choose to stay at the opulent Huravalhi Island Resort or visit this island from any other Maldivian island on a yacht, a traditional dhoni or a speedboat. Around this island is a sheltered dive spot called Aquarium, which presents amazing half day tours to each and every one.
Aptly named, this place lets you experience an aquarium from the inside as you put on your snorkelling mask and swim away in search of exotic fish and enigmatic corals. The reef growth extends from as deep as 20 metres to a shallow 3 metres from the sea level. This popular diving spot in Maldives is perfect for beginners who are not accustomed to water currents.
If you are a fan of sharks, you will be excited to spot the guitar shark quite easily at Aquarium. Interestingly, these sharks clean their bodies by rubbing off any grime on a coral block. Don’t forget to take videos of unusual underwater activities of the marine life that occur here.
Turtles are not found everywhere, but Huravalhi Island is lucky to have some Hawksbill turtles that live off the sponge and algae that grow on the coral reef in Aquarium. You might also be able to see an octopus or two if you are lucky. These eight-legged organisms generally remain in hiding, but sightings are not impossible. Most easily visible are humpback snappers and blue striped snappers which are schooling fish that travel in groups.
#4 Kuda Giri Maldives Snorkelling Tour
One of the most popular snorkelling sites in The Maldives is Kuda Giri. This underwater island has an awe-inspiring collection of tube corals, sponges, starfish and orange cup corals. With an underwater visibility of 5 metres to 15 metres, one will find the waters quite clear as compared to other dive sites. If you have never snorkelled before, book a full day trip with the experts to do this in a safe and fun atmosphere.
Located in the South Male Atoll, Kuda Giri is easily accessible from the islands of Dhigufinolhu, Maafushi and Fihalhohi. This underwater island is rather small in area, but dense in its concentration of marine life. The table corals at the top are just 3 metres deep, making it well worth a dive even for snorkelers who are just starting out.
Among the numerous water fauna one can spot at Kuda Giri, scorpion fish, clownfish and green turtle are the most common. You might have to be patient to sight moray eels which often hide in the crevices of the coral walls. Triggerfish, wrasses, batfish, shrimp, glassfish and gobies can also be seen underwater. Shrimps and gobies often dwell together, the former harvesting sand for its home and the latter keeping a guard on it.
December to May happens to be the best time to snorkel at Kuda Giri which sees bouts of rain and choppy seas from June to November. The waters are usually warm and comfortable for staying underwater for a long time. However, if you are planning to snorkel in the evening or early mornings when the sun is not so warm yet, you should wear thermally insulated swimwear to keep you from getting the chills.
#5 Nakolhu Giri Maldives Snorkelling Tour
Located in Faadhippolhu Atoll, or Lhaviyani Atoll, as it is more commonly known, Nakolhu Giri is a fantastic choice for spotting reef octopi. You can witness a unique phenomenon that the octopus uses to camouflage. It not only changes its colour but also shapes in an attempt to hide in the reef.
As you begin to snorkel at Nakolhu Giri, you will come across a flurry of glass fish. Sharpen your observation to sight mantis shrimps, crabs, ribbon eels and more. The top reef is 3 metres deep, a manageable depth for first-time snorkelers. The reef itself is in the formation of a wall in certain parts of this dive site.
#6 The Shipyard Photo Shoot & Snorkelling Tour
A unique underwater attraction in the Lhaviyani Atoll is The Shipyard. This snorkelling site is home to two shipwrecks, only one of which is accessible while snorkelling. You can see the other wrecked ship lying at the seabed at a depth of 21 metres from the sea level.
The Shipyard is a fantastic photo shoot location in The Maldives as one of the vessels is positioned vertically, making the bow jut out of the surface of the Indian Ocean. Both the wrecks are over 40 years old and well covered by corals now that so many decades have passed, besides the strong currents that have fuelled their rapid growth.
Most Maldives day tours include an option to explore the Shipyard with dedicated snorkelling time and photography sessions underwater. The snorkelling instructors are skilled at underwater photography and they ensure that each participant gets a chance to be individually photographed against the upright wrecked ship.
You can also appreciate the marine diversity of the Arabian Sea as you come across grey reef sharks, yellow sweeper schools, Napoleon wrasses, nurse sharks, butterfly fish, morays and damsels. Other sightings possible here are of stingrays, blennies, scorpion fish, emperor angelfish, glassfish and anthias.
Best Season to Snorkel in Maldives
Favourable conditions like high visibility and moderate temperature of the water makes Maldives a favourite destination for Snorkelling. The visibility of the water is especially good during the months of March and April just prior to the onset of the wet monsoon. It is up to 15 – 40 metres (50 – 130 feet).
The temperature of water, on an average is 25°C (77°F), thus making snorkelling much more enjoyable. Maldivian islands boast of varied and rich flora and fauna. There are around 70 different species of colourful coral reefs and more than 700 species of fishes and other aqua marine creatures constituting the aquatic life inside Indian Ocean.
The Maldives is like a paradise, not only because of its surroundings overland, but also because of the colourful mix of underwater fauna that the country is blessed to have. Snorkelling gives every traveller a glimpse into the mysteries of exotic life forms.
One can choose to explore deeper and take up scuba diving in the future, especially to see the pristine coral columns, beds and walls farther below. However, the unassuming charm and ease of snorkelling keeps visitors returning for more adventures in this island nation.