Full Day Whale Shark Tour in Maldives

Sharks in Maldives (Types, Season, Swimming, Attacks & Safety)

Maldives is known for its white sandy beaches surrounded with turquoise lagoons, blue water of the Indian Ocean and luxurious overwater villas. Blue water and colorful coral gardens beneath the Indian Ocean also host a colorful and exotic aquatic wildlife. This marine life includes manta rays, turtles, and sharks.

And the adventure of swimming with sharks pulls many tourists and other water activity lovers to Maldives. You can see plenty of sharks during reef snorkelling and night diving.

In fact, the territorial water around the country has been turned into Maldives shark sanctuary. And the country has around 30 types of sharks including scalloped hammerhead sharks, tiger sharks and whale sharks. The ongoing whale shark research and conservation programme also has helped in developing shark tourism in Maldives.

The water here has a high level of visibility making it easier to have a clearer view of the exotic creatures. The visibility of water in the Maldives is 15 – 40 metres (50 – 130 feet). You will experience the maximum visibility during the months of March and April just prior to the onset of the wet monsoon.

The temperature of water is moderate, 25°C (77°F) on average. Along with all these, the island offers amazing facilities for the sport making it much easier and hassle free to try out the same. You also have the facility offered by all top Maldives resorts and hotels that take you to different sites by dive boats.

You can spot sharks all year round, and swimming alongside them in the colourful marine ecosystem of Maldives is an exhilarating experience. And here’s everything you need to know to plan for a thrilling Maldives sharks tour.

Types of Sharks in Maldives

Black Tips Sharks in Maldives
Black Tips Sharks in Maldives (Image credit: photoripey)

Maldives sharks list includes scalloped hammerhead sharks, tiger sharks, whale sharks, grey reef sharks, silky sharks and 20+ other shark species. And of these shark types, Maldives whale sharks are the most popular.

The whale sharks are the largest fishes in the waters of Maldives, and one of the top attractions of the country. People from all over the world enjoy Maldives whale shark diving and snorkelling tours. And these sharks have played a prominent role in the growing popularity of shark tours in the Maldives.

Adult whale sharks in the area grow up to 10-meter-long in general. But despite their enormous size, they are harmless to humans. You can even play with the baby whale sharks. They feed on zooplanktons and the small fish species around. And as long as they don’t consider you a threat, you would be fine swimming with them. So, make sure not to disturb them.

Among the other popular Maldives shark types are –

Scalloped Hammerhead Sharks

The scalloped hammerhead sharks are rare shark species found in deep waters. The rounded and scalloped heads are a distinctive characteristic of these sharks. They feed on fishes like rays and other sharks. Rasdhoo Madivaru is one of the diving points where you can spot them, both inshore and offshore.

 Blacktip Reef Sharks

The blacktip reef sharks are shallow-water sharks which feed on fish and other animals such as octopuses and shrimps. While adult sharks are found around the reefs, young ones can be seen swimming near the shore. They are harmless, and you can find them swimming close to the shore with exposed blacktip dorsal fins.

Whitetip Reef Sharks

The whitetip reef sharks are among the commonest sharks you can spot during your dives. They are small, with a long body, and they eat octopuses and other fishes. They’re shy and harmless, and you can recognise them by the distinct white tips on their dorsal fins. You might find them resting on top of each other near many thilas.

Grey Reef Sharks

The grey reef sharks are another common species of sharks you can see during Maldives sharks diving. You can find them in the shallow waters near beaches, and they mainly feed on fish. They are aggressive and dominate other sharks in the reef. You can notice them in groups often.

Nurse Sharks

The nurse sharks are shark species found on the bottom of reefs. They seek shelter during the day and come out to hunt during the night. They feed on small fishes and lobsters. You can observe them during night diving tours. These sharks are harmless, but they have poor eyesight and hunt by smell. So, try to stay away from these.

Tiger Sharks

The tiger sharks are not too aggressive, but make sure you dive along with guides. The experienced guides will make sure that it will be both safe, and also conducted in a responsible manner. You will find them in abundance along the deep reefs of Fuvahmulah atoll.

Zebra Sharks

The zebra sharks, also known as leopard sharks, are one of the uncommon sightings in the Maldives. Adult zebra sharks have dark spots on their body while the young ones have stripes. They’re mostly found resting in the sands, and they come out to hunt in the dark. They live on molluscs, crustaceans, and small bony fishes.

Guitar Sharks

The guitar sharks, or guitar fishes, fall in the category of rays, but they’ve tails like sharks. They are hard to come across, but you can identify them by their distinguished triangular head. They live near the sandy bottoms, feeding on clams, crabs and worms.

Swimming with Sharks in the Maldives

Swimming & Snorkelling with Sharks in the Maldives
Swimming & Snorkelling with Sharks in the Maldives (courtesy: michalporebiak)

When you’re in the Maldives, swimming with sharks is an exquisite experience. Many resorts and hotels in Maldives have in-house activity planners to help you live the dream. And you can also book a full day tour or half day tour with Samudra Maldives.

Shark swimming activities are carried out in the open sea, instead of cages and enclosures. And you would need some serious swimming skills to keep up with the Maldives sharks. But even non-swimmers can enjoy swimming with whale sharks and other sharks. Swimmers will be at advantage though to race along with the sharks in the water.

Most sharks near Maldives are friendly, and incidents of shark attacks are rare. But encounters with Maldives tiger sharks and nurse sharks might turn deadly if precautions aren’t taken.

Shark snorkelling in the Maldives

Diving / snorkelling with whale sharks is a must thing to do while in the Maldives. Not all friendly sharks swim near the surface. So, you’ll need to book an experience allowing you to dive in the sea, and explore sharks like grey reef sharks or whitetip reef sharks.

 Night Diving with sharks in the Maldives

You can also enjoy diving with Maldives sharks at night, especially with the Nurse Sharks. They come out as night sets in. Many resorts in the Maldives also host shark feeding sessions and manta ray feeding activities during the evening hours.

Liveaboard Diving in the Maldives

Maldives liveaboard holidays are the best way to enjoy Maldives shark diving. Instead of staying at a resort, you can tour around the atolls in Maldives and enjoy the underwater experience in all the best diving locations around.

Best Time to See Whale Sharks of Maldives

Whale Sharks in Maldives
Whale Sharks in Maldives (Image credit: sebaspenalambarri)

You can watch these Maldives great white sharks throughout the year. But it’s best to visit Maldives from December to May. The water is calm and warm, and you get better visibility than other times of the year.

So, December to May can qualify to be the Maldives whale shark season.

You can also watch many whale sharks during September – October, but the ocean might be rough and climatic conditions are not favourable for a shark tour.

Best Diving Locations to Spot Whale Sharks in Maldives

With Maldives being regarded as a shark sanctuary, you will get swimming opportunities with Maldives’ friendly sharks around most resorts. However, some diving points in Maldives have a better chance of spotting those giant fishes than others.

 Baa Atoll

Baa Atoll has many locations to spot manta rays and whale sharks in Maldives waters. Hanifaru Bay is the most sought-after place during the wet season, from June to October. The place attracts many whale sharks and other shark species. It is also known as the Maldives shark feeding station. The diversity of dive sites at Baa Atoll makes it suitable for all divers.

 Rasdhoo Atoll

Rasdhoo Atoll, too, has some of the best dive sites to swim with sharks in the Maldives. Rasdhoo Madivaru is known for Maldives hammerhead sharks, and it is popularly called Hammerhead Point. But you can also spot other marine life creatures including grey reef sharks, stingrays and turtles. Most dive sites in Rasdhoo Atoll are suitable for less experienced divers, but some are deep too.

South Ari Atoll

South Ari Atoll is the best Maldives whale shark point. Shark diving and snorkelling tours are organised throughout the year. And the reefs around Sun Island and Rangali Island are known for sighting manta rays and whale sharks. You can even find turtles, dolphins and other sharks of Maldives in the area.

Why no Shark attacks in Maldives?

While beachgoers, swimmers and divers are concerned about shark attacks, such incidents are rare in the Maldives. There have been no shark attacks recorded in recent years.

Here are a few reasons why there are no shark attacks in Maldives –

  • Non-aggressiveness of sharks –

Maldives sharks are primarily non-aggressive. Many sharks are friendly and have no issue with you swimming alongside them. The reef sharks are often shy and indifferent to humans. Even aggressive species like whale sharks and tiger sharks usually swim away. As long as they don’t see you as a threat, they won’t attack you.

  • Natural coral barriers around islands –

Maldives has a natural coral barrier around each island that prevents sharks from coming too close to the shore. Additionally, they’re a natural habitat for various marine life, enough for sharks to feed on. Also, the Maldivian waters are shallow. So, the larger sharks are far from the shores, in deeper waters.

  • Established security regulations –

Maldives has established guidelines and regulations for tourists to ensure their safety. You’re advised not to engage in feeding or touching sharks. Trained guides also play a crucial role in ensuring the safety of tourists during snorkelling and diving. Guides are trained in safety and first aid before they can lead tours. They ensure that tourists are safe from potential dangers in the sea.

Sharks attack only when they see humans as a threat. As long as you maintain a reasonable distance, you’ll be safe. But keep in mind that sharks have poor vision. They rely on their strong sense of smell. If they smell fish or blood, they’ll follow it. So, avoid swimming, snorkelling or diving with a lot of fish or with an open wound. Sharks could mistakenly consider you, their food.

Things to keep in mind during Maldives Shark tour

  • Refrain from touching the sharks.
  • Maintain a safe distance; about 5-8 metres should be fine.
  • Avoid flash photography.
  • Basic swimming skills are beneficial.
  • Swim beside the sharks; do not obstruct their path.
  • Avoid diving / snorkelling near the resorts during shark feeding.
  • Be with your group at all times.
  • Apply Eco-friendly waterproof lotions before going underwater.

FAQs about Maldives Sharks

Sharks in Maldives
Sharks in Maldives (courtesy: michalporebiak)
Are there sharks in the Maldives?

Yes, the Maldives are home to wide species of sharks, including some of the world’s most prominent and sought-after species such as the tiger shark, whale shark, hammerhead shark, and blacktip reef shark.

What type of sharks are there in the Maldives?

Maldives has over 26 shark species. Some of the iconic sharks found in the Maldives include: whale shark, blacktip reef shark, grey reef shark, tiger shark, leopard shark, scalloped hammerhead, nurse shark, zebra shark, whitetip reef shark, smooth hammerhead silky shark, silvertip shark, tawny nurse shark, oceanic whitetip shark, bluespotted ribbontail ray, moorish idol, giant oceanic manta ray, bignose unicornfish, sliteye shark, sicklefin lemon shark, bignose shark, spot-tail shark, round ribbontail ray and many more.

Which sharks can be seen during Maldives whale shark tours?

Blacktip reef sharks, whitetip reef sharks and grey reef sharks are among the most common Maldives shark species. You can also spot nurse sharks, zebra sharks and hammerhead sharks around some locations.

Are sharks in the Maldives dangerous?

Most sharks in Maldivian archipelago are friendly and harmless, and the excursions are carried out in the open sea with experienced guides. But precautions are necessary.

Are there shark attacks in the Maldives?

Shark attacks are rare. So, if you take precautions, you’ll be safe.

Who can swim with sharks in the Maldives?

Maldives shark snorkelling is suitable for anyone who knows how to swim. Diving, however, should be undertaken only by experienced swimmers. Most resorts offer Maldives whale shark excursions to their guests, and you can also book guided tours with Samudra Maldives.

Is it safe to swim in the Maldives with sharks?

Yes, it is normally safe to swim with sharks in the Maldives. The majority of sharks found in the area are non-aggressive and do not pose a threat to humans. However, it is most important to always exercise caution and follow the Maldives local guidelines when swimming with sharks.

Is it possible to see whale sharks in the Maldives?

Yes, the Maldives is one of the best places in the world to see whale sharks. These gentle giants can be found in the waters surrounding the Maldives all year-round. There are a number of tours and excursions from Samudra Maldives that offer tourists the opportunity to swim with them.

What types of reef sharks can be found in the Maldives?

The Islands of the Maldives is home to several species of reef sharks, including the blacktip reef shark, white-tip reef shark, grey reef shark, nurse shark, and leopard shark. These sharks are typically found in shallow waters around coral reefs and lagoons. While they may appear intimidating, reef sharks are generally non-aggressive and pose little to no threat to humans.

How to reach the Maldives?

Although Maldives is an island country, travelling by sea to the Maldives isn’t common. You can find cruise ships stopping there, but the best way to reach Maldives is by Air.

Maldives Velana International Airport, earlier known as Ibrahim Nasir International Airport, is the main airport of Maldives. It connects Maldives to international destinations in Europe and Southeast Asia, including India, Hong Kong and Bangkok. The airport is on Hulhule island near the capital city, Malé.

Seasonal charter flights also arrive from many European countries and gulf countries to Male International Airport.

Once you reach the airport, you can get on seaplanes, speed boats or local ferries to get to your destination island. Local dhoni boats are available at the airport too. Resorts and Maldives tour operators can also arrange pickups by seaplanes or motorboats.