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Vilamendhoo, a small resort island located on Ari Atoll’s southwest area, is a great gateway for 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 sea life including sharks, turtles, rays, clownfish and parrotfish.
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, transfer to the island is included in the cost of the stay. Make sure of this point when booking.
You can enter the water anywhere you like around the island, as it is entirely fringed by a coral reef. When the 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 times. Depending on the dominant water current, entering the water at one point and getting off at another can help reduce physical effort. You can inquire about tide times and currents at the diving center.
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 area 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 and pufferfish can be seen amongst dozens of other tropical species. Small blacktip reef sharks also gather in certain areas of the coral flat, notably around the Asian Wok restaurant (see map, area marked “sharks zone”).
There are nice sightinga opportunities on the coral flat, but the reef drop-off is the place where sea life truly abounds. 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, and many more.
Radial firefish, false stonefish 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.
Coral health is variable on the drop-off. The island’s southwestern side (south of the water villas, see map above) remains the best-preserved area.
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.
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.
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Snorkeling spots are part of a wild environment and their aspect can be significantly altered by weather, seasons, sea conditions, human impact and climate events (storms, hurricanes, seawater-warming episodes…). The consequences can be an alteration of the seabed (coral bleaching, coral destruction, and invasive seagrass), a poor underwater visibility, or a decrease of the sea life present in the area. Snorkeling Report makes every effort to ensure that all the information displayed on this website is accurate and up-to-date, but no guarantee is given that the underwater visibility and seabed aspect will be exactly as described on this page the day you will snorkel the spot. If you recently snorkeled this area and noticed some changes compared to the information contained on this page, please contact us.
The data contained in this website is for general information purposes only, and is not legal advice. It is intended to provide snorkelers with the information that will enable them to engage in safe and enjoyable snorkeling, and it is not meant as a substitute for swim level, physical condition, experience, or local knowledge. Remember that all marine activities, including snorkeling, are potentially dangerous, and that you enter the water at your own risk. You must take an individual weather, sea conditions and hazards assessment before entering the water. If snorkeling conditions are degraded, postpone your snorkeling or select an alternate site. Know and obey local laws and regulations, including regulated areas, protected species, wildlife interaction and dive flag laws.
Open sea area visited by whale sharks and manta rays
Resort island with reef drop off and turtles
Resort island with reef drop off, sharks, rays and turtles
Resort island with seagrass beds and reef drop off, sharks and turtles
Reef drop off with colorful fish
Free shore access
Resort island fringed by coral reefs with rays, turtles and reef fish