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Diving the Maldives | Baa and North Malé Atolls
Manta at Lankanfinolhu

The scuba diving in Baa Atoll, which lies northwest of North Malé atoll, is incredible. Until a few years ago, this area was pretty much unheard of, but with the discovery of Hanifaru Lagoon, the area became popular.

Heading up to Baa means sailing first through North Malé, location of the international airport. This was the first of the Maldives diving destinations and although proximity to the capital and airport makes it busier than the rest of the country, the diving is still as good as it ever was. Huge schools of fish compete with adorable honeycomb morays for attention. There are mantas and turtles on some dives and a lovely little wreck or two.

The sailing across to Baa can be rough at certain times of year but it's worth it. The geography means the dives tend to be on small, undersea mounds – called thilas – with many caverns and overhangs that are plastered with pretty, pastel soft corals. The dives are colourful and the fish use the caverns for shelter. Smaller critters seen regularly include frogfish and lobsters, popcorn and mantis shrimp and some pretty nudibranchs.

Baa Atoll, Maldives dive photo gallery Scuba diving features

Marine Life Manta rays
moray eels
Seasons All year round
Visibility 10 – 30 metres
Water temperature 25 – 29º C
Deco chambers Bandos, Male
Flights to Malé from across Europe, Singapore or Dubai
Liveaboards The range is expanding and becoming more upmarket but it's worth using operators who are experienced in these waters. There are many island resorts in both atolls.

The Maldives are a justifiably famous dive destination and being on a liveaboard is definitely the best option for scuba divers. Routes are scheduled according to season. There are two distinct monsoon patterns and boats can adjust routes accordingly. You experience far more by sailing from one atoll to another and the distances are shorter than you might expect. The number of dives per day can be limited due to tides and weather and it can be hard for the boats to moor up in appropriate night diving areas. The norm is three a day.

SCUBA DIVING Although many people will travel just to Baa to see Hanifaru Lagoon – us included – there are some unmissable dives sites and nearly all will have a visiting manta or several. The variety of diving makes the trip up to Baa well worth it, especially as you get to experience the highlights of North Malé atoll on the way.
OPINION A few years back we travelled on Maldives Scuba Tours’ Sea Queen. This year we had the chance to return, using her sister boat, Sea Spirit. These traditional, wooden British-owned vessels are sturdy, professionally run and extremely good value for money. It's also worth travelling with such a knowledgable operation. On our first trip with Maldives Scuba Tours, we also noted there was quite a line-up of chefs that do fabulous curries and cakes. And yes, they still do.
.LIVEABOARD .REVIEW Maldives Scuba Tours Sea Spirit
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