Vilamendhoo is a small hotel island located on Ari Atoll’s south-west area, and a choice destination for those willing to practice snorkeling in the Maldives. This spot will fulfill many snorkelers’ dreams: a shallow reef flat ideal for beginners, coral drop-offs easily accessible from the beach, and wonderful aquatic life within reach: sharks, turtles, rays, clownfish and parrotfish abound all around the island.

How to get there?

Vilamendhoo is a hotel island, which means it is exclusively dedicated to those staying at Vilamendhoo Island Resort & Spa. From Male, it can be accessed either by boat or by hydroplane (25 minutes flight). Most of the time, transportation to the island is included in the global sojourn price. Make sure of this point when booking.

Snorkeling with hawksbill sea turtle at Vilamendhoo
Hawksbill sea turtles can be spotted all around the island, sometimes just under the surface of the sea.

Water entrance

You can enter the water anywhere you like around the island, as it is entirely fringed by a coral reef. When tide is high, you can enter the water directly from the beach. Low tide, however, doesn’t leave enough water depth to allow snorkeling on the reef flat. Luckily, 11 accesses have been carved in coral around the island. Those narrow channels allow swimming access to the drop-off at all time. Depending on the dominant water current, entering the water at one point and getting off at another can help reducing physical effort. You can inquire about tide times and currents at the diving center.

Vilamendhoo snorkeling map, Maldives

Exploration

Vilamendhoo boasts excellent snorkeling possibilities, along its north shore as well as its south side. The reef profile is the same throughout the island: leaving from the shore, you will swim over a reef flat (shallow and 30 to 150m large depending on the areas) until you reach the drop-off, literally dropping sharply over the deep blue.

The reef flat is easily accessible and very shallow (↕1-3ft/0.4-1m), making it a perfect place for beginners. If the seabed is at first sandy, corals appear in more and more numbers as one gets close to the drop-off. Schools of parrotfish, sixbar wrasses, rabbitfish (including brownspotted and bluespotted spinefoot) and pufferfish can be seen amongst dozens of other tropical species. Young blacktip reef sharks also gather on certain areas of the coral flat, notably around the Asian Wok restaurant (see map, area marked “sharks zone”).

Clark anemone fish at Vilamendhoo's reef
Clark anemonefish in their sea anemone can be seen on Vilamendhoo’s reef drop off.

There are nice observation opportunities on the coral flat, but the reef drop-off is the place where wildlife abounds most. Swimming along the reef’s edge, you will maximize your chances to spot two clownfish species (Clark’s anemonefish and Maldives anemonefish), but also triggerfish, butterflyfish, porcupinefish… Red lionfish, devil scorpionfish and moray eels sometimes hide underneath coral formations and inside rock crevices. As this area is open to the ocean, you might also spot bigger species such as spotted eagle rays, sharks (both blacktip and whitetip sharks) and sea turtles.

School of parrotfish in Vilamendhoo
Huge schools of parrotfish are often spotted on the shallow reef flat.

Coral health is variable on the drop-off. The island’s south-western side (south of the water villas, see map above) remains the best-preserved area.

Restaurants and accommodation

Most of the time, meals are included in the cost of the stay at Vilamendhoo Island Resort & Spa. An Asian restaurant (Asian Wok) is located at the island’s easternmost point.

 

  • Level required Intermediary
  • Maximum depth3ft/1m on the reef flat, >65ft/20m on the drop off
  • Water entranceEasy, from sandy beaches and small channels carved in the reef flat
  • LifeguardScorpionfish, moray eels, jellyfish
  • Visitor numbersLow
  • Access costsOnly opened to resort's guests
  • Restaurants nearbyYes
  • Public toilets & showersYes

MAP Spot

These spots are accessible to anyone with basic snorkeling skills, and feeling comfortable in the water and with his snorkeling gear. You will enter the water from the shore (beach, pontoon, ladder, rocks) or from a boat. The water height in the sea entrance area is reasonable, but you will not necessarily be within your depth. Moderate currents can occur in the area, even when the sea conditions are good. The distance to swim to reach the most interesting snorkeling areas of the spot does not exceed 200 meters.

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.