Scuba Diving in the Maldives - Liveaboards and Resorts

It's always been a dream of mine to visit the Maldives and honestly I never thought it would happen. Most of the time when someone comes here, it's for a honeymoon where they're spending $2,000 a night for a resort and sometimes up to an insane $60,000 for a water villa. The funny thing is, I actually lived on a similar resort island before I became a digital nomad and while I was still working as a divemaster in Borneo. I was based on a tiny island called Mabul near the world famous dive site Sipadan. But now that I've spent two weeks in the Maldives, I can honestly say, wow. The fish life and underwater world they have here is magical. No where else I've seen has such clear, blue azul waters, powdery white sand beaches and this much variety of ocean life.

The nice thing about being on a liveaboard is that we can get reef hop from island to island and see much more than you would if you were staying at a single resort and diving nearby there the entire week. A dive hack would be to stay at one resort for no more than 5 days at a time, moving from island to island to get both a change of above land scenery so you don't get bored of paradise, but also so you can see different parts of the country and the various ocean life underneath. I chose to do this trip on a 12 day liveaboard, but I understand why 1/3 of the guests decided to stay 5-7 more days at a resort to relax, enjoy the beach, and do a bit more diving before they went home. If I was here on honeymoon or was in a long term relationship, i'd be happy to enjoy the resort life with my girlfriend for a few days before flying home. In this post, i'm going to share with you what I saw, some tips about internet connectivity, wifi, sim cards, data, resorts and liveaboards, to help you plan your future trip to the beautiful islands of the Maldives.

Diving in Maldives

The best dive season is stated to be from December - March or even sometimes stated at December - April. However, in reality, the weather is often unpredictable, and the driest months and the best underwater visibility is actually in the months of January-February, and sometimes it's also good a month prior or after. Before coming on this trip, I had read it as starting in December 1st, the best diving season would start, but I was unlucky and even on December 20th it was still murky for most dives. However, that being said, we still had some amazing dives and on the few times we did have good visibility where we could see 20m (65ft) or more, it was incredible.

However on most days the visibility was closer to 8-12m (20-40ft) making some of the dive sites unremarkable, even though I'm sure that during the right season they could have been amazing. But still, the night dives we had, the few chance lucky dives with excellent, vis, and even the standard days where we had around 10-15m sight we still had some really amazing encounters. The water temperature was always between 28-29c (82f) which meant I was able to dive in just a rash guard and board shorts which makes getting ready for dives much easier. Below are some of the videos I made from my favorite dives in the Maldives, check them out and see what can be experienced! Here's a map of where we went.

With the crew and other guests aboard the Blue Voyager

Fish Tank - Kaafu Atoll

This unique dive site in the Maldives called Fish Tank is one of the best dive sites I've ever been to in the world with by far the most amount of fish anywhere. It's located below Chicken Island which is a tuna processing factory where they throw away the leftover carcasses of the Tuna Fish into the water each day, giving the fish life there a ton of food to eat.

It's a bit of an unnatural dive as the fish are fed, but it's amazing nonetheless! Definitely takes first place in terms of sheer numbers of fish life seen on one dive.

P.S. Remember that in the Maldives everyone diving is required to have a dive computer. I bought a cheap Mares Puck before I came as it was almost the same price as renting one for 12 days.

Manta Ray Night Dive - Fesdu Lagoon 

This was a super cool experience not to be missed. Make sure you bring an underwater torch with you before you go on the trip. You can also rent them on the boat, but in general you'll get a brighter torch for your money if you buy something ahead of this like this one, just make sure it's rechargeable so you're not throwing away tons of batteries.

Big thanks to Andrew for letting me borrow one of this underwater video lights for the night dives as well as his GoPro red filter for the day dives when I accidently lost mine!

This night dive was incredible, if you've never seen Manta Rays up close, it's like being on another planet.

Nurse Shark Night Dive - Alimatha

Another mind blowing night dive was at the Alimatha house reef with hundreds of nurse sharks, some measuring up to 3m (9ft) in length which was crazy to see. Both of these night dives are a must see when you're diving the central atolls of the Maldives.

Just make sure you look up as even though we only had around 5 nurse sharks swimming in front of us at anytime, there were hundreds passing just behind or above us.

P.S. if you're curious what underwater camera I used to make all of these videos, it's a cheap simple GoPro Hero+ LCD which is the only GoPro that allows you to go 30m without a seperate case or underwater housing! 

Dolphins and Whale Sharks - Snorkeling

Honestly I've never been a fan of chasing down dolphins or sharks on a boat just to jump in, scare them off, then repeat the process over and over until everyone and everything is exhausted. The good news however, is unlike snorkeling companies or dolphin tours that don't spend the time to educate the participants, with Blue O Two we did a workshop and briefing the morning of and night before on the proper way to interact with these animals to both keep them around longer as well as not stress or scare them.

We were super lucky to have seen Dolphins swimming past our boat many days after a dive, but what was really amazing was on one of the last days, having them hang around for almost an hour. After my dive I simply put on my fins and mask, jumped in, and swam over to them then back to our liveaboard. It was amazing. Check out the footage that I got underwater, and the footage my friend Victoria got on the boat that we spliced in together.

Also featured is the footage from snorkeling with a juvenile whale shark just a few days before. I've been fortunate enough to have seen them scuba diving before which was a mind blowing experience, but seeing them snorkeling is also a fun first experience if you haven't done it before.

Best of Maldives Central

The final video is all of the footage from the rest of the dives and is a good representation of what diving in Maldives, at least in the central atolls is like. We didn't have the best visibility the entire trip but still saw some amazing fish life, all summed up here. This was originally a 35 minute minute video as it contained so much footage, not even including the other four videos I already edited and uploaded prior!

I guess that best sums up doing a 12 day liveaboard in the Maldives. There's so much to see, and even if not every single dive is a highlight dive, you'll be guaranteed to have your mind blown enough times, especially if you get lucky with the visibility to have it be the best dive trip or at least the most diverse of your life. 

This trip was aboard the Maldives Master also known as the Blue Voyager and booked through Dive the World which is actually a company I do some UX Marketing and website conversion optimization for as well as recomend as they're the only company that will happy talk to you on the phone, live chat or email and answer all of your questions.

Resorts and Malé 

My original plan was to either come a few days early or stay a few days later to check out the rest of the Maldives, or at least the capital city of Malé since I was coming anyways.  But to be honest, Maldives really is a honeymoon couples kind of place and there isn't that much if anything to do here aside from laying on the beach, and scuba diving. After 12 days seeing islands and being underwater, it was enough, and unless I was dating someone seriously and my girlfriend wanted to either come on the liveaboard with me or meet me at the Maldives afterwards to hang out on a resort for a few days, I wasn't planning to do it solo as there was no point.

Also the nice thing about doing the central atolls is that the liveaboard starts and ends at Malé airport (MLE) which means you don't need to deal with taking a seaplane or a long speed boat ride to another island. However, many of the couples on the trip stayed a few days afterwards and I'd highly recomend that if this is your vacation and you want to relax a bit more as on the liveaboard, we were only able to get off the boat once to visit a small sandbar, tiny island. 

Check out the following resorts when you come, prices start on sale sometimes as low as $121 a night, but average in the $250-$300 a night range.

Cheapest Resort Option: Equator Village Resort 
Best Value for Nice Resort: Kuredu Island Resort and Spa
Exceptional Resort: Furaveri Island Resort and Spa
Good Overall Choice: Smartline Eriyadu
Top All Inclusive: Lily Beach Resort & Spa

Find the Above resorts and prices on Agoda 

At Lily Beach Resort: Maldives

Best Luxury Resorts: $1,000-$3,000 a night

Baros Maldives
Six Senses Laamu
LUX South Ari Atoll
Gili Lankanfushi
Four Seasons Kuda Huraa
Constance Halaveli
One&Only Reethi Rah

Check out the resorts and prices here

At the One and Only: Maldives

Wifi and SIM Cards

Yes I know, most people who go to the Maldives are trying to get away from work and wifi. But for the new generation of location independent entrepreneurs and digital nomads, our work/life balance consists of traveling or living aboard 11 months of the year and working when we want, where we want. The only two people on the liveaboard who did any work on the the trip was my buddy Tung and I who both work online. The nice thing is, we didn't skip any dives or anything important to work. We'd simply skip the after work Gin and Tonic or Beer in the lounge and clear out our email inboxes. That means that both of us were able to pay for our entire trips and make some extra money while on vacation while others had to save up or pay it off later.

This also means that unlike people who go back to traditional jobs and find themselves having to catch up to an inbox full of things to do, I was able to leave the maldives with inbox zero and really get to relax. I know working online isn't for everyone, and I can see why if you've been used to working 40+ hours a week for months if not years before this trip, you'd want to completely unwind for a week, but for us, I actually get recharged physically by spending a day or an afternoon working on the computer on projects I love and the ability to do that between or after dives is amazing. Plus a lot of the "work" was just editing and uploading my dive videos online which is something I'd do for free anyways as I really genuinely love sharing the experience. 

In my experience the Wifi on board the liveaboard only worked 10% of the time, and with 30 people sharing it, the only time it would really work decently was early in the morning when no one was on it. If you just need to sync email once a day or send a whatsapp message to tell your family you're alive, it's fine to use. But for everyone else, I'd highly recomend buying a SIM card at the airport. They're $30 for 14 days and give you 17GB of data, or they have a $15 option for 7 days as well. I never thought I'd use 17gb in two weeks but I ended up using almost all of it as I was uploading dive videos to youtube, photos, checking facebook, and sharing my data with other people on the boat to check theirs. My 4G would work 85% of the time which was good enough to do everything I needed. In general if you are near an island with a cell tower, you'll have good reception. You'll lose it when you're driving between islands or far away. Before booking a resort, ask them to send you a screenshot of a speed test. Some resorts refuse to have cell towers on their island so double check before hand. 

Don't expect 4G on this deserted island =)

Private island day trip: Sandbar in the Maldives

Overall Thoughts on Maldives

It was a great trip and the Maldives is a really special and unique set of islands unlike anywhere else on the world. With the sea levels rising, there's a chance that this island nation might completely disappear in 5-10 years so go now while you can still enjoy it. Skip the capital of Malé all together, aside from the airport, there's no anything to see on the island. I almost stayed there for a night just to see for myself, but luckily during our last day of the liveaboard, we got to go onto the island to explore for a few hours. One of the other guests had previously been so he showed us around, and aside from a small fruit and fish market by the pier, there really isn't anything to see or any reason to visit the capital island.

Local Maldivian food is actually quite good, with their traditional breakfast called Mas Huni which is Tuna, onion, coconut, and chili all finely chopped and mixed together and eaten with roshi chapati which is similar to a flat naan or tortilla. Lunch and dinner is usually fish or chicken curry and rice, both really good as well. But my favorite dishes was dahl or curry lentils served with rice on board. Pork is illegal in this Muslim country so there was no bacon or sausages for the trip. Alcohol is also technically illegal and you can't bring it in, even from duty free, but you can buy it on board the ship or at any western resort.

But really the reason to come to to Maldives is for beautiful photos on white sand beaches, and for scuba diving. The snorkeling here is decent as well, but really for the best experience, you'll want to learn to dive either before, or during your trip here. Hop on a liveaboard if you already have 30+ dives and your advanced certification. Check out listen 213 of Travel Like a Boss Podcast for and interview with our dive guide as well as some of the guests on which dive sites around the world are the best and what it's like in the Maldives.

Warm Regards,

Johnny FD

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  1. Where's the best place you've been scuba diving? Comment here!

  2. I've only done a little snorkeling Johnny. Best place was probably Hawaii.

    Great videos! Thanks for the virtual experience.

  3. Eye-popping Johnny! I never dove but the visibility of water in Savusavu, Fiji was bananas. I lived about 150 meters above the bay and could see the floor, no problems. Even if we're talking 5-10 feet of water depth, that is beyond insane. The Maldives looks as clear to me.


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