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Helengeli, a typical Maldives resort island located in Male Atoll, is surrounded by a great house reef and plenty of good places to snorkel. On the reef flat or drifting along the drop-off, you’ll encounter big creatures, such as sharks, rays and turtles, as well as a kaleidoscopic array of reef fish, including anemonefish, butterflyfish and triggerfish.

Crinoids at Helengeli's reef
Huge crinoids are found at the edge of the reef drop-off.

How to get to Helengeli snorkeling spot?

Helengeli Island is located on the north side of Male Atoll. The ultimate way to explore its house reef is to stay at the 4* OBLU NATURE Helengeli, the island’s only resort. To reach the island, just fly to Male and the resort will arrange the 50-minutes boat trip.

Staying in a beach house, you can step into the shallow waters and start exploring the reef whenever you want.

If you don’t stay in Helengeli, day boat trips to the island from the neighboring resorts are also offered.

Helengeli Island snorkeling map

Water entrance for snorkeling Helengeli house reef

Depending on the area you want to explore (see below), you will enter the water from the beach, from a jetty, or from a small harbor. Beach entrance is tide dependent, as at low tide, there’s not enough water on the reef flat to snorkel.

Always get the advice of the lifeguard present at the jetty before entering the water. He will give you the last update about currents and other dangers, as well as indications about the good spots for wildlife.

Helengeli house reef snorkeling exploration tips

The reef is accessible from most parts of the beach, but we especially recommend two itineraries with different entry-exit points.

Itinerary 1 starts from the harbor. Depending on the boat traffic and the tide times, you can enter the water from the harbor itself or from the adjacent beach area. From there, swim around the reef’s south corner and exit the water at the jetty.

The south point is considered hosting the highest numbers of fish, but there are stronger currents in this area and you need to be a confident snorkeler to explore it.

Hawksbill sea turtle in Helengeli
Hawksbill sea turtles are a common sighting at Helengeli’s house reef.

Itinerary 2 starts from the jetty. It is the best and safest water entrance, as it brings you straight to the reef drop-off. From there, follow the reef edge to the north, and snorkel back over the shallow waters to the shore, near The Spice restaurant.

Do not let you drift too far, as strong currents occur a bit up north (see map).

In the recommended snorkeling area, water depth ranges from 1-30ft/0.5-10m, and more after the reef edge. From the beach, there are great corals to explore on the flat, with a depth of 1-6ft/0.5-2m.

This part of the reef is better explored at high tide, as at low tide some parts are not reachable. At the reef drop-off, you will discover amazing cliffs covered with corals.

Maldive anemonefish in Helengeli
The Maldive anemonefish, endemic to the archipelago, is one of the two anemonefish species commonly found in Helengeli.

Helengeli is a great spot for spotting big ocean creatures, with lots of blacktip and whitetip reef sharks, hawksbill sea turtles, spotted eagle rays, cowtail stingrays and giant morays.

The diversity of reef fish is also striking, with two species of clownfish, dozens of butterflyfish, triggerfish, pufferfish, parrotfish, wrasse, sweetlips, and a lot more. The enormous numbers of species but also the density of fish make this place a great snorkeling spot.

Titan triggerfish in Helengeli
Titan triggerfish can be inquisitive (and sometimes aggressive) with snorkelers.

If you have never tried night snorkeling, Helengeli is the right place to live this experience which offers a fully different view of the reef. Lobsters, nurse sharks, lionfish, and a lot more species generally hiding during the day can be spotted.

The resort can also arrange snorkeling trips away from the island.

Restaurants and accommodation nearby

OBLU NATURE Helengeli resort has several bars and restaurants.


  • Level required Beginner
  • Maximum depth10ft/3m on the flat, +10m/30ft after the drop-off
  • Water entranceFrom a jetty or a sandy beach
  • Visitor numbersMedium
  • Access costsCost of a stay at OBLU NATURE Helengeli
  • Restaurants nearbyYes, at OBLU NATURE Helengeli

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.