Best dive sites in the Lhaviyani Atoll on the Maldives

Best dive sites in the Lhaviyani Atoll

We love diving at the best dive sites in the Lhaviyani Atoll in the Maldives

One year ago we left the Maldives for good. For three years we called the Lhaviyani Atoll our home. We often think back to the great time we had and we miss the great diving on the Maldives a lot. We dived in the waters of the Indian Ocean almost every day and we did more than 1000 dives in the Lhaviyani Atoll.

On our recent diving trip to the Komodo National Park in Indonesia we met other divers and we talked about our diving experiences. We were asked about our favourite dive sites in the Lhaviyani Atoll in the Maldives. That’s not an easy question but we try to answer it in this blog post.

We do have favourite dive sites all over the world but that is something for another blog post. In this one you will find our 3 favourite dive sites in the Lhaviyani Atoll.

3 Years Diving Instructor on the Maldives

Before we became diving instructors we had to quit our jobs back home in Switzerland. You think it’s ridiculous to leave a successful career behind? Read more about Marcel decision to swap his successful career as a manager to become a happy diving instructor.

We lived and worked for one year on Kuredu Island and two years on Komandoo Island. Prodivers is the company that runs the dive centres on both of the islands with a professional and experienced dive team. The main advantage of the Lhaviyani Atoll is that there are only a few tourist resorts in the whole atoll. That means that the dive sites are not as crowded as they are in other atolls.

Komandoo Island

Komandoo Island is a small island in the middle of the Indian Ocean.

With more than 45 dive sites we had many options to dive on different spots with our guest. Even after three years diving did not become boring. There is always something to see and after a while we knew where the interesting things are. Some fish are territorial and therefore easy to find as a guide.

Swiss Nomads Top 3 dive sites in the Lhaviyani Atoll

OK, now… here they come. Our three favourite dive sites are:

1. Kuredu Express – The No. 1 dive site for Shark Encounters

The name tells it all or at least most of the times. The dive on Express can be fast or more than that. Express for example. Are you ready to rock? Good.

Kuredu Express is a current dive. The dive site is in a channel where the water is flowing into or out of the atoll, depending on the tides. That’s the reason why there is current and sometimes the current is blowing beyond your imagination. And that’s what we like about this dive site. Currents transport food for big fish.

Due to the shape of the reef and the channel Kuredu Express can be quite tricky to dive and divers should be experienced. There are days where we had to change the dive site because the waves in the channel were too high or the currents not right. With the right conditions it is a fantastic dive. Do you wonder why? Kuredu Express is famous for its shark sightings. We had times where no sharks were around. But we also had times where we had super-close encounters with whole groups of grey reef sharks. For us, sharks are the most amazing animals in the ocean.

As the ocean is not a zoo there is no guarantee to see sharks. No problem because Kuredu Express has a lot more to offer. There are big stingrays, huge napoleon wrasses, a giant grouper – and I mean giant, that one is really GIANT – and there are turtles, leaf fish, honeycomb moray eels, trevally, eagle rays even a group of manta mobulas and a lot more. Be prepared, on a good day you see them all.

Grey reef shark

A close shark encounter is quite common on Kuredu Express. If you see one, don’t forget to breathe.

Pink leaf fish

We love the big stuff but also the small ones living in the big ocean. The pink colour of this leaf fish is super cool.

Honeycomb moray eel

Ordinary moray eels may be boring but have you ever seen a honey comb moray eel? Isn’t she wearing a nice dress?

2. Fushivaru Thila – The Manta Ray Cleaning Station

One of the best dive sites in the Atoll not only for manta ray encounters but also sharks, big napoleons, big schools of snappers, sweet lips, barracudas and a lot more. The great thing about Fushivaru Thila is that you never know what to expect. Sometimes you do a dive on the Thila with a maximum depth of 12 meters and you see everything. BUT the current needs to be right one and the season too, if you are after manta rays. Fushivaru Thila is a cleaning station and the manta rays come here to get cleaned. Sometimes they also com here for feeding and then it’s best to snorkel with these majestic animals. Even if there are no manta rays around, diving on Fushivaru Thila or Fushivaru Kandu, which is the channel, is always worthwhile with the right conditions.

Manta action

W.O.W! Do we need to say more?

Snapper

Don’t cry if you don’t see any Mantas. There is plenty to see on the reef. To dive into a school of snapper is fascinating too.

3. Kuredu Caves – The Turtle Airport

The turtle dive par excellence. Do you love turtles? We do. That’s why Kuredu Caves is on our list too. Kuredu Caves can also be called Turtle Airport. It’s true. On some dives it is a busy airport with many turtles heading up to the surface to catch a breath and heading down again. The dive site is located on the outreef at the backside of Kuredu Island. Because of the shape of the reef the part that is called the Caves is kind of protected. From an aerial view it looks like someone has taken a huge bite out of the reef.

A big number of green sea turtles call that part of the reef their home. It is very popular amongst divers and snorkellers. It’s obvious why because Kuredu Caves is never boring. If you are tired of the turtles you may see a bumphead parrot fish, leaf fish and moray eels or if you are lucky even a school of manta mobulas, some sharks or eagle rays pass by.

Green turtle

Off to catch a breath on the surface.

Bumphead parrot fish

Bumphead parrot fish is the larges species of parrot fish. They can grow to a lengh of about 1.3 meters.

Eagle ray

On outreef dives it’s well worth to keep the eyes peeled for eagle rays in the blue water. We sometimes wonder how many eagle rays we already missed because we did not look back.

We had many fantastic dives on Caves and we never had a dive without seeing at least one turtle. Usually we could count a lot more. So be prepared for an unforgettable turtle dive.

What about a bonus dive site?

Well, there are of course more than three dive sites we would call our favourites. So we add one more to our selection. Number 4 is Anemone Thila.

Anemone Thila is easy to dive, usually. The only difficult thing is to find the Thila because the top reef lies about 14 metres below the surface. Depending on the visibility we were sometimes not able to see Anemone Thila from the Boat. If that was the case we needed to free-dive a few metres. Once the Thila is found a magic world is waiting.

A Thila is a deep lying underwater island and Anemone Thila is one of the special Thilas because it is covered in Anemones. And of course there are many clownfish too. All around the underwater island there is plenty of fish. Huge clouds of glassfish are swimming close to the reef and predators are on the hunt. Mackerels, jackfish and lion fish are hunting the tiny little fishes. It is sensational to observe this spectacle.

Clown fish

Anemone Thila is all about Anemones and clownfish. BUT there is also a lot more to see.

On one dive at Anemone Thila, that was about 1.5 years ago, I was very very lucky to see a dolphin passing by while doing the 3 minute safety stop. That’s the wonderful thing about diving. You never know what you will see. Especially the totally unexpected things are special and something to remember forever.

Dolphins

Dolphins are amazing animals. We were very lucky to see them many times riding in the waves. It’s a wonderful feeling to see dolphins so close.

To be honest, while writing all this I want to go diving right NOW. Is it time to think about the next diving holiday? Do you have a favourite dive site?

PS: You’re not a diver but you want to try it? Did you know that you can do your first breath under water without doing a full course? Read more about diving for beginners. But be prepared, you can get hooked by the awesome feeling of diving.

Green turtle

Diving is the best thing I’ve ever done in my life

10 thoughts on “Best dive sites in the Lhaviyani Atoll on the Maldives

  1. Amazing photos! We are in Lhaviyani atoll right now, on our sailboat. We love snorkeling and diving and are having an amazing time. I’d love to find Fushivaru Thila, but it’s not marked on our charts. Can you help- general location or GPS? thank you so much!

    • Dear Behan
      Thanks for your message. Just checked your blog. Wow, amazing what you are doing. Sailing the world with your children. Wonderful experience.
      Fushivaru Thila is a great divesite. Our favorite. But you have read that on our blog… 😉 We do not have any GPS data but I would recommend to contact Prodivers at Kuredu Island. They may can help you with more information. It’s a divesite we used to go on a regular basis.
      Wishing you all the best and will follow your trip online.
      Cheers from Raja Ampat,
      Reni

      • Reni, I contacted prodivers, although I was not optimistic. Usually our experience with resorts is that they like private yachts like ours to stay away. And, we don’t want them to feel we are encroaching on space with their (well-paying) clients. But Nicole from prodivers responded within HOURS, and was so helpful! We had two more days of stunning underwater experiences in the atoll, and are now working our way south- we have about another month to get to Gan before checking out to Chagos. Thanks again for suggesting I contact the resort!

        • Great! Happy to hear that you had a wonderful time in the Lhaviyani Atoll. And I’m very glad to hear that you contacted Prodivers. We loved to work there and the team is awesome and very helpful. I hoped that you get in touch with them and luckily it turned out like a great idea.

          Wishing you a great trip down to Gam, safe travels & all the best. Will follow your trip and look forward to head more on your blog.

          All the best,
          Reni

  2. Hi there Reni and thanks for your info and descriptions very interesting indeed.
    To me, namely for your reference to the giant grouper at Kuredu Express. Actually some years ago I was used to go often to Palm Neach and I did this wonderful dive a few times, but I could never see any giant groupers in the Maldives…is that relatively easy to see (they are pretty residential animals) ? Which species exactly ? Thanks !!! So much ! Ciao !

    • Hi Elio
      Thanks for you comment and great that you had the opportunity to dive Kuredu Xpress. It’s an amazing dive site.
      We have seen the giant grouper a few times on the corner of the channel at around 25 metres. He was very often there especially with a bit stronger current. Probably because there is more food around then.
      I do not know exactely what species. In my fish ID book it’s just called giant grouper.
      Happy and safe diving and best regards from Raja Ampat,
      Reni

  3. Hi Reni and Marcel,

    What a lovely blog and what an awesome travel experience you’re having. Reading your blog made me nostalgic for Komandoo. We visited in June of this year and had a wonderful time diving with the Pro Divers team. We went to Kuredu Caves and saw the beautiful green sea turtles, including Barney the biggest turtle I’ve ever seen! We also became certified on the underwater scooters to dive the channels to see groups of sharks and were rewarded with sightings of silver tips as well as many many grey reef sharks, awesome dive, but wow what a current! We love Komandoo and are hoping to go back there again next year and I wonder if you would mind if I asked your advice as to when in your opinion was the best time to dive from Komandoo for good visibility and to see the Mantas. There were none there in June and we were told possibly November. So far we’ve only travelled to the Maldives off season due to cost but would love to dive in clearer water and have the opportunity to dive or snorkle with the Mantas. We have been very fortunate to have seen whalesharks in the Red Sea whilst diving and in Mexico whilst snorkeling. More time with the mantas is on the bucket list…..

    I wish your more very happy and safe travels and look forward to reading of your adventures.

    Jill

    • Hi Jill

      Thanks so much for your compliment about our blog. It’s great to hear that you like reading about our adventures.

      Oh well, Komandoo… reading your comment I’m getting nostalgic too 😉 Kuredu Caves is awesome and I miss the big turtles a lot. We are currently in Raja Ampat, fantastic for diving. But we do not have such big turtles as in the Maldives. Really miss them.

      Well, about the Mantas. We were very lucky to see Mantas many times. But no wonder, we were living in the Lhaviyani Atoll for three years. It’s pretty hard to say exactely what time of the year the best would be to see Mantas. The time we’ve been there we had Mantas in dozens in September and also the months of October and November were great to see Mantas. You will find the proof in our blog post: Close encounter with Manta Rays
      Sometimes we had them also beginning of December. Another good month is Mid February and March and sometimes even in April/May. It’s pretty hard to say, really. I personally would plan a vacation in the Maldives in February or March as the visibility is normally the best then. And the chance to see Mantas is there as well.

      Mantas and good visibility does not really match. The Mantas are in the area when there is a lot of plancton in the water, which means the visibility is limited.

      Visibility-wise February, March and beginning of April are usually the best. With the climate change of course this can change as well. Nowadays nothing is guaranteed anymore and hard to predict. But in general the months mentioned above are good and the sea is normally calm too.

      Hope that helps for your holiday planning.

      Should you have more questions, just let me know. I’m happy to help.

      Cheers,
      Reni

      • Hi,
        My wife and I are currently at Komandoo. The visibility is not great. I just read that others dove the Kerudu Caves in June. What a coincidence, we dove the caves this morning! Yes, the turtles where there!
        Is July a good time to visit Raja Ampart?
        Regards,
        Raymond

        • Hi Raymond,

          Great to hear from you. I remember you asking about Komandoo a while ago and now you are there. Hope you like it 🙂

          The dive at Kuredu Caves is one of my favourites. There are so many turtles, leaffishes and sometimes even eagle rays, reefsharks and bumphead parrot fish. Really love that site.

          July is not the best month to visit Raja Ampat as it can be quite windy and the rain possibility is higher than in other months. We currently have very unstable weather now. It’s not particularly bad but it rains almost every day for a few minutes and on some days we have strong winds which causes waves and limited visibility. The best months to visit are usually October until May. But due to climate change it is unpredictable here too.

          Wishing you a fabulous time on Komandoo – and say hi to Elodie & Alexis from the dive centre if you’re still on the Island 🙂

          Best regards,
          Reni

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