Palm fronds, blue lagoons, glorious white sand beaches, and warm hospitality are enough reasons to go on a Maldives holiday. But the one that tops the list can’t be seen on any of the 1,200 islets in this cluster of atolls on the Indian Ocean. It’s what lies beneath the waves – the Maldives are among the best snorkelling destinations in the world. The coral reefs that surround the atolls teem with an incredible variety of marine life, and the crystal clear waters allow divers to see up to 60 metres around them, promising a memorable experience for adventurers and ocean lovers.
One of the most popular snorkelling sites is the Dhidhoofinolhu Eastern Reef near the South Ari Atoll. The reef gently slopes downward for about five metres before dropping off dramatically into a bottomless blue abyss. Swim with turtles, manta rays, lion fish, and other wild and wonderful marine life. The nearby resorts, such as the White Sands Resort, organize snorkelling safaris that take visitors out to the reef on traditional Maldivian fishing boats.
The Dhidhoofinolhu Inner Lagoon provides easy access to coral gardens running along the eastern side of the South Ari Atoll. Visitors can easily jump into any of the lagoons from the wooden walkway, and find themselves in a stunning world of hard and soft corals, trigger fish, cuttlefish, clams, and octopuses.
Most of the island resorts have a nearby “house reef” where guests can easily go underwater exploring, and are perfect for learning the basics. Most resorts arrange for night snorkelling excursions to catch whales and manta rays sleeping, and there are even a few resorts that have nearby wrecks. All the resorts offer snorkelling lessons for beginners, with equipment for rent.