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The southern tip of Ari Atoll, known as Whale Shark Point, is one of the best places in the world to swim with whale sharks. This area, where plankton and nutrients abound, attracts dozens of whale sharks all year round. If you stay in the south of Ari Atoll, all the hotels can organize this tour.

Snorkeling with whale sharks in South Ari Atoll
The whale shark is the biggest fish species currently living on Earth.

How to go snorkeling at Whale Shark Point

Whale Shark Point is a large area extending along the southern tip of Ari Atoll, facing the inhabited islands of Maamigili and Fenfushi, and the resort island of Sun Island. This spot is only reached with boat tours, which can be organized from most of the southern atoll islands. You’ll have the choice between full-day or half-day tours.

Half-day tours are generally organized in the morning, so it is often recommended to choose a day trip, and thus be able to enjoy the quieter afternoon (more sharks and fewer people in the water). Prices are variable, on average around $100 per person for the day.

Whale Shark Point snorkeling map

Water entrance for snorkeling Whale Shark Point

Most of the boats look for sharks from the surface. Once spotted, you’ll be invited to enter the water and start swimming along with them

Swimming with whale sharks at Whale Shark Point

Whale Shark Point is a large area, almost 10km long, that edges the southern tip of Ari Atoll. Once on site, your captain will start looking for whale sharks while sailing slowly in the area. As soon as a shark is seen, the guide will tell snorkelers to don their snorkeling gear and quickly jump into the water.

Once at the side of this giant of the seas, always respect the whale sharks spotting rules (a briefing will be given to you on the boat during the journey). It is notably totally forbidden to touch sharks.

Snorkeling with whale sharks in South Ari Atoll
Whale sharks are spotted just under the surface of the sea or a few meters below.

Sharks are often quietly swimming just on the surface of the water, which makes them very easy to observe and photograph.

Whale Shark Point is one of the best places in the world to swim with whale sharks. They are present throughout the year in these plankton-rich areas, but the largest gatherings are observed between December and April.

Be aware that although you are likely to find whale sharks during your tour, sometimes you do not see them at all. Some guides estimate that whale sharks are only spotted during 3 out of 4 tours on average over the year.

Snorkeling with manta ray in South Ari Atoll
Manta Rays are Whale Shark Point’s other attraction.

This spot is also famous for the presence of manta rays during the northeast monsoon, with a peak between February and April. As with whale sharks, rays are spotted from the boat, then you will be invited to join them in the water.

Another famous spot for whale shark watching around Ari Atoll is Dhigurah Island, located 12km northeast of Maamigili.

Restaurants and accommodation nearby

Day tours include lunch and refreshments. Check when booking.


  • Level required Intermediate
  • Maximum depth>33ft/10m
  • Water entranceFrom a boat
  • Visitor numbersMedium to high
  • Access costsSnorkeling tour price (approx. $100pp. for the day)

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.