Time and time again the name Ari Atoll comes up when searching anything to do with Maldives diving. Take that as a hint – it’s popular for its outstanding dive spots in this secluded country, made up solely of islands and their surrounding ecosystems. This specific group of lagoons should be top on any diver’s destination list.
What makes this particular atoll so appealing is the accessibility to Male atoll (airport access), the sheer number of dive sites that can be seen with mobility of a liveaboard trip, and the unique underwater landscape with clusters of pinnacle reefs and the many channels among the beautiful lagoons. Often sites are specified as located in North or South Ari atoll and the region is perfect for divers looking to make the most of Maldives diving.
Now that you’re eager to know more, here’s the Who, Why, When and How of discovering Ari atoll, nestled in the Indian Ocean, on the mid-western side of the chain of tropical islands known as the Maldives.
Ari Atoll for Who?
Among the 50 plus dive sites of Ari Atoll, also called Alif or Alufu Atoll, the diving is more of the intermediate to advanced level – but that doesn’t mean with the right conditions and instructors that novices can’t dive in Ari. Strong currents are the main reason why the waters can be difficult.
As for who the “locals” are that divers are here to visit, the flora and fauna that call Ari home are some of the larger species like sharks and mantas as well as whale sharks and turtles. Flourishing coral around the many wrecks is also a treat for divers who are happy to dip below 25 meters.
If the general popularity and recommendations aren’t enough, there are plenty of specific highlights among the sites known to Ari.
Firstly, there are many shipwrecks in North Ari Atoll like that of Fesdu Wreck which boasts a 30meter long boat and a thila right beside it. Submerged in the 80s it’s now covered in soft and hard coral, flashing colors of the rainbow all around. The reef starts at 12 meters and the wreck at 23 meters all the way down to 30 meters or so; tons of opportunity for discovery. Another submerged boat, Halaveli Wreck, has openings to be explored and schools of fish around the 40-meter freighter.
Maamigili and Gangehi Maavaru in Ari are known for whale sharks and divers have been known to get up close, swimming alongside these ocean gentle giants. Manta encounters are well known in Ari at cleaning stations like southern sites at Rangali Madivaru (“madi” meaning “ray” in Maldivian Dhivehi language) and Kudarah Thila as well as in the west at Donkalo Thila.
Maaya Thila, Fish Head and Broken Rock are a few of the other famous sites, which have interesting names but even more interesting and fun dive experiences. From sharks to turtles, frogfish, batfish and nudibranchs, the lively atmosphere makes these sites constant head turners and true delights for click happy photographers.
When to Go?
The best chances of seeing whale sharks and mantas are between February to April, but the Maldives climate and marine life is generally abundant throughout the year. As you’ll see below, the best ways to dive the Maldives are available year round.
How to Dive Ari Atoll
The obvious choice to dive as many of Ari’s highlights as possible is by liveaboard. Many of the dive boats hit Ari to take advantage of the great diving, like the Nautilus One and Nautilus Two to name just two. You can find a liveboard boat itineraries to suit your vacation in any month of the year. Another scuba dive enthusiast’s option in the Maldives is the not-so-obvious guesthouse package stay. Located on local islands among the Maldivian people, with connections to local dive experts, most guesthouses have excellent diving excursions to please even the most avid divers. In Ari Atoll, on the island of Omadhoo, one guesthouse called Kuri Inn has just that – access to comfortable accommodation with a high level of customer service, and access to experienced dive instructors and plenty of nearby diving spots.
So whether you choose to come during the manta and shark season or stay on a liveaboard or at a guesthouse, Ari Atoll in the Maldives is a prime scuba dive destination. Get your travel plans started by checking out these packages for liveboards.
Here’s Why you Shouldn’t Miss Ari Atoll in the Maldives is a post from: Maldives Blog
- Channel crossed from north Ari atoll to south Maleâ€™ Atoll.
- Best Diving Sites in Male Atoll (Kaafu), Maldives