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Ukulhas is a small inhabited island located at Ari Atoll’s northern edge. It is a good option for those seeking free shore access snorkeling. The drop-off extending on more than 650m at the island’s western side offer nice snorkeling only a short swim from the shore. A wide variety of tropical fish, small sharks, and even sometimes sea turtles await just underneath the water surface.

Bikini Beach, Ukulhas
Ukulhas boasts a perfect white-sand beach, giving access to a nice coral reef.

How to get to Ukulhas snorkeling spot?

Ukulhas is an inhabited island located at the northwestern edge of Ari Atoll, about 1:20 hour by speed boat from Male and the international airport. The whole island is surrounded by a coral reef, but the best snorkeling area is located off the southwestern coast. The island is so small (less than 1km large) that you can easily walk to this spot from anywhere.

Ukulhas Island snorkeling map, Ari Atoll

Water entrance for snorkeling Ukulhas

Enter the water wherever you like from the beautiful sandy beach, in front of the exploration area (see map above).

Ukulhas snorkeling exploration tips

The recommended snorkeling area extends over 650 m along the beach located on the island’s southwestern coast. Water is quieter along this shoreline oriented towards the lagoon, and the reef is particularly easy to access from the beach.

Be careful not to get too close to the southernmost point of the island, it is more exposed to waves and currents and close to the mangrove swamp. Expect a rougher sea and clouded water. The snorkel area is limited at its northern end by a small boat channel (see map) and the power generator providing electricity for the whole island (listen to its noise: you won’t miss it).

Singapore parrotfish in Ukulhas
The Singapore parrotfish is one of the most colorful fish you may spot at Ukulhas reef.

The reef drop-off is located 70 to 120 m from the beach, depending on the location. The reef flat is shallow, especially during low tides (water depth not exceeding 2 ft/0.7m). The seabed is teeming with fish just a few dozen meters from the beach, but don’t hesitate to swim further and reach the gentle drop-off (↕6-30ft/2-8m) where underwater life is more vibrant.

A great diversity of fish species can be spotted on the reef. Clown triggerfish, powder blue tang, and Maldive anemonefish sheltering in their anemones are some of the most beautiful, among hundreds of other species. Many parrotfish also dwell on the reef, as well as small groups of big-eye breams, convict tangs, and even small blacktip reef sharks.

Maldive anemonefish in its sea anemone in Ukulhas
On the reef drop-off, look for magnificent sea anemones, the only sea anemone inhabited by Maldive anemonefish.

Restaurants and accommodation in Ukulhas

Ukulhas is an inhabited island with about 20 hotels and guesthouses, and a dozen of bars and restaurants.

 

  • Level required Beginner
  • Maximum depth6ft/2m on the reef flat, 26ft/8m past the drop off
  • Water entranceFrom a sandy beach
  • LifeguardNo
  • Visitor numbersMedium
  • Access costsFree
  • Restaurants nearbyYes

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.