Home to unrivalled deep sea diving sites, state-of-the-art diving centres and luxury private island resorts, the Maldives is the obvious choice for the ultimate tropical island getaway.
With visibility up to 40-metres, the Maldives offers some of the best deep sea diving on the planet, home to pristine coral reefs full of fish, plunging walls and sweeping channels. But for a long time, access to paradise came with a hefty price tag. Thankfully, in recent years there’s been a rise of affordable, authentic resorts and it’s now possible to experience some of the archipelago’s 1200 islands on a more restrictive budget. Here are seven of the best scuba diving resorts in the Maldives, with options at either end of the spectrum.
Designed with budget-savvy divers in mind, Drop Dive Maldives offers affordable and environmentally-conscious diving in Rasdhoo. The dive centre is dedicated to protecting the marine ecosystems through a dedicated not-for-profit program, while providing world-class diving services and instruction. The SSI dive centre offers 24 different speciality courses, in addition to PADI and ecology training. It may be budget friendly, but it doesn’t stint on amenities, with stylish rooms, a fitness centre and a sun-filled terrace. From $100 per night.
Gangehi Island Resort and Spa
Offering private island paradise, Gangehi Island Resort has the whole place to itself. It’s located in North Ari Atoll, one of the Maldives remotest scuba diving destinations. Plunging channels, drift ray, rare sharks and rays make it a popular destination for pro-divers but it has just as much to offer beginners, thanks to its shallow protected reefs. The resort is bursting with luxury touches, offering spa services, meditation and fine dining in spades. From $220 per night
White Sand Dhigura
For a taste of local island life, White Sand Dhigura is unbeatable. Nestled between two white sand beaches, the resort is situated in South Ari Atoll, which was recently awarded ‘Best Local Island’ by the Maldives Guest House Association. Diving is world-class, with a centre perfectly situated to explore some of the Maldives’ top sites, including Kudarah Thila, Broken Rock and 5 Rocks. Other water sports on offer include jet skiing, kayaking and snorkelling. Guests can enjoy live cooking sessions, night fishing trips and dinners on the rooftop terrace too. From $84 per night.
Bandos Maldives is conveniently located just 10 minutes from the airport, though it couldn’t feel further from it. It boasts one of the longest running dive centres in the country, as well as one of the best house reefs just steps from its private beach. The award-winning dive centre offers a full range of PADI courses, from beginner to divemaster, in multiple languages. The state-of-the-art facility also features air-conditioned classrooms, a library of fish ID and full equipment rental. Back on land, guests can relax at their private spacious villa, indulge in a traditional Maldivian spa or enjoy a sunset dolphin cruise —all within the surrounds of 40 world-class dive sites. From $235 per night
Adaaran Prestige Water Villas
Romantic, secluded and intimate, Adaaran Prestige Water Villas offers 20 spacious villas built in turquoise waters. Each villa is spectacularly well-appointed, with a private butler to cater to your every whim. The diving is as high-end as the accommodation, with a concierge underwater service, SSI courses, and guided day and nighttime adventures on the island’s house reef. Scheduled boat trips hit all the atoll’s best sites, including current-swept channels and bustling cleaning stations known for manta ray sightings. And, if you tire of the sea, there’s a spa, infinity pool and fine dining a plenty. From $895 per night
Fulidhoo Dive School
The island’s only PADI 5-Star Dive Centre, Fulidhoo Dive School is packed with personality. An hour’s speedboat from the capital, Fulidhoo is only 700-metres long and 200-metres wide, located in the heart to channel diving territory. Top-tier diving service is both affordable and environmentally conscious, with free nitrox for certified divers. Experienced instructors teach a full range of PADI courses, from beginner to divemaster. Guests are quickly made to feel at home, with its laid back beach grills and picnics, local cultural dances and tours of the local area. From $60 per night
Fuvahmulah Dive School
For a dive adventure of a lifetime, look no further than Fuvahmulah Dive School. It is the only dive school in the country to offer tiger shark encounters, safely and responsibly. As well as meeting voracious hunters, the dive school offers three dives a day to get up close with thresher sharks, hammerhead sharks and schools of silvertip shark. Combining a warm and friendly atmosphere with five-star comfort and service, the resort offers a slice of real Madivian hospitality and culture. From $340 per night.