North and South Male atolls consists of more than 80 low coral islands, some 13 of which are inhabited and more than 40 are resort islands. Each island is a snorkeling spot on its own, most of them being fringed by house reefs, reef drop-off or lagoons, and readily accessible from the shore. With crystal-clear, blue waters, Male Atolls offer the chance to snorkel with a host of tropical reef fish and to get an up-close and personal look at manta rays, sharks and turtles just below the surface of the Indian Ocean.
It is widely considered that the resort islands scattered in the atolls offer the best snorkeling in the Maldives. Nearly 50 resort islands, most of them with house reef and/or lagoon close by, can be found in the North and South Male atolls.
On these private islands, only accessible to guests, you will snorkel just a footstep from your room. Baros, Vabbinfaru, and Angsana (all three located in North Male Atoll, and with stunning house reefs) are considered as the best resort islands in the area for snorkeling, but you can snorkel around almost all islands of the atoll.
Furanafushi, Kanuhuraa (Dhonveli), Kuda Huraa, Kanifinolhu, and Giraavaru are the closest to Male airport and are reachable in a less than 20 minutes boat ride from the capital city. In South Male Atoll, Biyadhoo Island and Embudu Island are both great resort-island options for snorkelers.
The inhabited islands offer very few shore snorkeling opportunities, most of them being limited to Dhiffushi, Himmafushi, and Huraa islands, in North Male Atoll.
If you are staying in the main inhabited islands, some local companies offer snorkeling day tours departing by boat from Male or Hulhumale. The cost of most of the day tours ranges between $60 and 100 per person and generally allows you to snorkel 2 to 3 spots only accessible by boat.
The Maldives hosts one of the world’s most diverse marine ecosystems, with reefs teeming with fish, turtles, invertebrates and colorful coral. It is also one of the very best destinations for snorkeling with large marine creatures, such as manta rays, blacktip and whitetip sharks, and whale sharks.
In the Maldives, the year is divided into two seasons determined by the monsoons. The northeastern 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 southwestern 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 has ideal conditions for snorkeling all year round.
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On all spots; very common in Dhonveli
On all spots
On reef drop-offs, for example in Dhonveli
Resort island with reef drop off, sharks, rays and turtles
Level: Resort nearby
Resort island with seagrass beds and reef drop off, sharks and turtles
Reef flat and drop off with sharks, turtles and colorful fish
Resort island fringed by coral reefs with rays, turtles and reef fish
Patch reefs with colorful fish
Fringing coral reef with colorful fish
Level: Free shore access
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