Maldives is known for its white sandy beaches surrounded with turquoise lagoons, blue water of Indian Ocean and luxurious overwater villas. Blue water and colourful coral gardens beneath the Indian Ocean also hosts a colourful 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 that is 25°C (77°F) on an 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
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 snorkeling 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-metre-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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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 snorkeling in the Maldives
Diving / snorkeling 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
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 a 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 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 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, 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 snorkeling 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.
Things to keep in mind during Maldives Shark tour
- Refrain from touching the sharks.
- Maintain safe distance; about 5-8 meters should be fine.
- Avoid flash photography.
- Basic swimming skills are beneficial.
- Swim beside the sharks; do not obstruct their path.
- Avoid diving / snorkeling 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
Maldives has 26 sharks including whale sharks, grey reef sharks and zebra sharks.
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.
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.
Shark attacks are rare. So, if you take precautions, you’ll be safe.
Maldives shark snorkeling is suitable for anyone who knows how to swim. Diving, however, should be undertaken only by the experienced swimmers. Most resorts offer Maldives whale shark excursions to their guests, and you can also book guided tours with Samudra Maldives.
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. And 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.