Ari Atoll

If there is a snorkeling paradise on earth, it is perhaps in the Maldives. The Ari Atoll, recognised as one of the best atolls in the archipelago for diving (with the Baa Atoll), conforms to the stereotype: here a lagoon of warm, crystal-clear water awaits you, with pure white sandy beaches and thousands of fish swimming above coral reefs of a rare beauty.

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The Ari Atoll is a large oval lagoon scattered with islands and reefs, some 30 minutes by plane from Malé, the capital. Made up of 82 islands, only 36 of which are inhabited and 26 are "resort islands", this is one of the biggest of the 22 atolls in the Maldives. The Ari atoll is the second most visited in the country, after the Malé atoll.
Along with the Baa Atoll, it is the most famous atoll in the Maldives for the quality of the sea bed and the variety of its underwater life. It is particularly renowned as the best place in the archipelago for seeing whale sharks.

Snorkeling Report Ari Atoll Maldives
Coral reefs and beach at Ari Atoll

If you want to snorkel in the Ari Atoll, you will need to stay (for the day or longer) on one of the many islands (or resort islands) in the lagoon. Among the most renowned for snorkeling are Maafushivaru, Vilamendhoo, Bathala, Velidhu, Kandolhu or Mirihi.

Almost all the snorkeling spots in the Maldives are in the small atolls, often adjoining an island and always surrounded by a circular coral reef, with the outer slope the more interesting one to explore. The coral, which rise to the surface of the water, literally "drops" towards the ocean depths in a wealth of colours and shapes. The outer slopes of the atolls are open onto the ocean, and are a chance to see underwater life from the reef and the deep sea. During your excursions, you will come across manta rays, blacktip reef sharks, clownfish in their anemones, angelfish, green turtles and hawksbill sea turtles, and shoals of hundreds of surgeonfish... In all, 70 species of coral and over 700 species of fish await you in the Maldives reefs.
When to go to Ari Atoll?

In the Maldives, the year is divided into two seasons determined by the monsoons. The north-eastern monsoon, from December to April, corresponds to the dry season. This is the best period for snorkeling, because the sunshine is exceptional, but it also corresponds to the peak tourist season (high visitor numbers and high prices). The south-western monsoon, from May to November, corresponds to the rainy season. Rains and storms are brief but intense, and are sometimes accompanied by very strong winds.

All through the year, average temperatures vary between 79 and 93°F (26 and 34°C), with more heat in the dry season. With a water temperature permanently around 82°F (28°C), the Maldives have ideal conditions for snorkeling all the year round.

CDC Atoll Ari EN

Where to spot them?

Manta ray

On many spots, including Velidhu

Blacktip reef shark

On many spots, including Velidhu

Spotted eagle ray

On many spots, including Velidhu

Blueface angelfish

On many spots, including Velidhu

Maldive anemonefish

On many spots, including Velidhu

Allard’s clownfish

On many spots, including Velidhu

Indian Ocean oriental sweetlips

On all spots

Powder blue tang

On all spots, in large schools at Velidhu

Lagoon triggerfish

On all spots

Sixbar wrasse

On all spots