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Dhonveli, also known as Kanuhuura, is a small resort island located only 16 kilometers north of Male. The shallow lagoon fringing the eastern side of the island and the house reef edging its western side provide two very different snorkeling experiences. It allows both beginners and experienced snorkelers to encounter an extraordinary marine life, including several species of sharks, sea turtles, clownfish and stingray above a nice coral reef.

Snorkeling with boxfish in Dhonveli
A yellow boxfish on Dhonveli reef flat.

How to get to Dhonveli snorkeling spot?

Dhonveli is a small resort island only a 25-minute speedboat ride away from Male International Airport. The island is private, and the only way to snorkel it is to book a stay at the Cinnamon Dhonveli Maldives.

Dhonveli snorkeling map

Water entrance for snorkeling Dhonveli

To snorkel the house reef, water entrance is south of the harbor, from the sandy beach located just in front of the Dive Shop. It is also possible to enter the water north to the harbor, next to the Rehendi Restaurant & Bar (see map). To access the lagoon, just swim from the main beach.

Dhonveli snorkeling tips

There are two recommended snorkeling areas in Dhonveli:

1. The lagoon fringing the eastern side of the island (area n.1 on the map above).

It offers a shallow and sheltered area (↨5ft/1.5m), well suited for beginners. The exploration of the lagoon is tide-dependent: during low tide, the water is too shallow and you will not be able to snorkel it. You can check tide times at the dive shop.

Snorkeling the lagoon, you will enjoy beautiful coral formations and a wide array of marine life, including reef fish and moray eels. You can localize on the map above a small area containing the most vivid coral and reef life. If you are lucky, you may spot an eagle ray feeding in the central part of the lagoon, or hawksbill sea turtles, especially around the water bungalows.

Maldive clownfish in Dhonveli
The Maldive clownfish is common at this location.

2. The house reef edging the western side of the island (area n.2 on the map above).

This area is made of a reef flat (↨6 ft/2 m) and a spectacular reef drop-off facing the open sea (↨50ft/15m). Strong currents may occur along the drop-off, and only experienced snorkelers and strong swimmers should explore it. Be careful and check boat traffic when crossing the entrances of the harbor.

The central part of the reef flat (↨6-10ft/2-3m), in front of the Raiyvilla Bar and Coffee Shop and the swimming pool, is where you’ll have the best chances to spot blacktip reef sharks. They are almost always present in the area.

Blacktip reef shark snorkeling Dhonveli
A blacktip reef shark in Dhonveli.

Snorkeling above the drop-off, you will spot a wide array of marine life, from reef fish (lagoon, titan and clown triggerfish, Maldive clownfish, butterflyfish, parrotfish, lionfish…) to bigger creatures such as stingrays (mainly spotted and cowtail stingrays), hawksbill sea turtles, moray eels, eagle ray, and even whitetip sharks.

Restaurants and accommodation in Dhonveli

Cinnamon Island Resort features several bars and restaurants. Most of the guests opt for half or full-board plans.


  • Level required Beginner
  • Maximum depth1.5m in the lagoon, 15m on the reef drop-off
  • Water entranceEasy, from sandy beaches
  • Potential DangersCurrents, boats.
  • Visitor numbersLow
  • Restaurants nearbyYes
  • Public toilets & showersYes

MAP Spot

These snorkeling spots are accessible to beginners and kids. You will enter the water gradually from a beach, or in a less than 3ft. deep area. The sea is generally calm, shallow, with almost no waves or currents. These spots are usually located in marked and/or monitored swimming areas. It is not necessary to swim long distances to discover the sea life.

This level only apply when the spot experiences optimal sea and/or weather conditions. It is not applicable if the sea and/or weather conditions deteriorate, in particular in the presence of rough sea, rain, strong wind, unusual current, large tides, waves and/or swell. You can find more details about the definition of our snorkeling levels on our snorkeling safety page.