The Indian Monsoon Current that flows through the Maldives has created water flows rich in plankton between the islands, fostering the growth of a diverse marine ecosystem. However, the low-lying coral reefs are especially susceptible to the impacts of climate change, including rising sea levels. Additionally, the warm waters surrounding the islands attract a significant number of divers from around the globe. With all this in mind, diving regulations in the Maldives are quite strict.
There are two distinct seasons in the Maldives. The drier season (from December to April) is characterized by the Northeast Monsoon and a current that flows from the northeast to the southwest. However, during full moon, the tide – which runs from the west when the tide rises and from the east when the tide falls – can affect the flow, causing the current to change direction. In the drier season, the current is generally faster at the start of the monsoon and slow down as the season progresses. The water temperature remains relatively constant throughout the region, averaging around 28°C. Underwater visibility is excellent on the east side of the atolls but decreases on the western side.
In turn, the rainy season (from May to November) is characterized by the Southwest Monsoon and a current that flows in the opposite direction, from the southwest to the northeast. The sea can be rougher during this period, and the water temperature on the west side of the atolls is slightly lower. Additionally, underwater visibility is better on west side of the atolls compared to the east side. During the transitional periods of the monsoon (May and November), the currents can be changeable, making the conditions of the water surface, water temperature, and the underwater visibility unpredictable.
Maldives is home to the world’s largest known population of reef manta rays. It is more probable to encounter these majestic creatures, as well as whale sharks, in waters with reduced visibility. Additionally, the shark species in the atolls tend to swim closer to the surface when the water temperature is slightly lower than usual. The sighting of giant sea turtles is also common in the area. Furthermore, visitors can explore a diverse array of hard and soft corals, an impressive spectrum of fish species, a wide variety of crustaceans, and a range of colorful sponges.
The Maldives offers a variety of captivating diving opportunities suitable for divers of different experience level. Skilled divers can immerse themselves in fast-flowing currents that attract a diverse array of marine life. Meanwhile, less experienced divers can explore the more sheltered coral reefs. Even snorkeling in the shallow waters along an island resort’s shoreline can provide exciting and memorable moments.