If you are Dreaming of discovering the marvelous underwater world of the Maldives, here is an essential and complete Guide to Snorkeling.
Put on your snorkeling equipment and let’s go under the sea
The Maldives are a Honeypot for those who want to go underwater and explore the extraordinary world that lies beneath.
Snorkeling is doable in almost all resorts, with some being Paradise with their rich reefs located at a few steps from your villa.
Discover the The Best Maldives Resorts for Snorkeling we’ve seen to find your perfect Resort.
If you are a diver or want to dive in Maldives for the first time, head up to my my special Maldives Diving section for more.
Snorkeling Maldives Summary
- Is snorkeling safe in the Maldives?
- Snorkeling in Maldives: What you need to Know Before You Go
Some Atolls are better than others, but the diving site diversity is so huge that the only “difficulty” resides in the Resort choice…and the budget of course.
Note for Divers : refer to this Diver interview Series for more.
Before guiding you underwater I need to answer one of the most common question about Snorkeling in Maldives :
Is snorkeling safe in the Maldives?
Yes, snorkeling is very safe in Maldives.
You will have to follow some advices and tips from your Dive Center or your snorkeling guide before you go explore.
Put your snorkeling gear and
GO explore !
Snorkeling in Maldives: What you need to Know Before You Go
My essential tips and advices
Where can I snorkel in Maldives?
You can snorkel everywhere in Maldives just as diving. But not always directly from the island shores.
Sometimes, you have to take a boat to go on a snorkeling trip. In 99%, it is a paying excursion.
In Maldives there are 3 types of Island Resorts :
The 3 Maldives Island Types for snorkeling. Illustration
TYPE 1. Close-by House-Reef everywhere around the island.
= Extraordinary snorkeling
TYPE 2. Huge blue lagoon everywhere around the island.
= No snorkeling
TYPE 3. Close-by house-reef + a wide Lagoon.
= Great snorkeling + Sailing
You will Love
Who can snorkel in Maldives ?
Because you have a huge opportunity to start and explore in calm and crystal clear waters. The Maldives are such a beautiful and endless natural Aquarium.
No need to go far and deep to experience these wonders and get dazzled.
Maldives offer a fantastic visibility and have some of the clearest waters on Earth with all year round water temperature at 20°-30°C (68°-86°F), and lagoons often reaching 32°C (90°F).
According to the resorts, it can be just at a step off your villa, close to the Island shores, just walking in the lagoon.
Which kind of snorkeler are you?
FIND OUT WITH A IF…
1 – If you are not a swimmer then just put your mask on, walk a few steps inside the lagoon and bend down to look inside the water…you’ll probably spot some life around. No waves, no danger, even for the smallest and oldest ones.
2 – If it is your first time, you can already start to enjoy these beautiful sceneries by simply having a mask and fins and wading your way along the surface of the waters.
3 – If you’re a bit more comfortable, just grab your gear composed of 1 mask, a pair of fins, a snorkel tube and according to the circumstances ( physical condition, age, currents ) a snorkeling vest. Just go in, alternate between floating and swimming and look.
Explore, dive in, practice your apnea !
What Can I see Underwater ?
In Maldives ? Practically everything.
The Species. General view.
The variety of sea species is too big to be listed here. But some days, you will meet or see from afar some Dolphins, Rays, Reef sharks, Hawksbill Turtles, stunning coral plates in some resorts ( a rare beauty nowadays ) , Morays, Napoleons, reef fishes of all colours and sizes, alone or in groups, micro creatures, squids…there is so much to see down there.
Fishes and Species : The big ones
Big bold fish and mammal species are legend and common in Maldives.
We all dream of seeing sharks, manta rays, whale sharks or dolphins to name the most wanted ones.
It is not guaranteed, but it will eventually happen.
Common encounter on Maldives reefs and in lagoons : Black Tip Reef shark
Sharks are common in Maldives and you will be able to observe many different species.
In Maldives, the most common one is the Black Tip and White Tip Reef sharks that you will see wandering on the reefs, sometimes in the lagoon or under your water villa.
Other shark species can be seen, but mostly during diving. The Black Tip and White Tip sharks will be your likely encounter during snorkeling.
They are everywhere. Shy, not dangerous ( they remain sharks. Do NOT FEED THEM ) and amazing.
If you are willing to try a little adventure : Night snorkeling will be an exciting moment, they all come out to hunt at dusk.
Common Maldives Sharks : White tip shark VS Black Tip Shark
White Tip Shark
Look at the shark dorsal tip here and below.
Can you spot the difference?
Black Tip Shark
Maldives Video. Baby Sharks hunting
Manta encounter during snorkeling in Maldives
The legendary Manta’s are mostly encountered during specific seasons in some atolls.
They migrate to follow the planktons, their main food.
During our winter times ( from December to April ) they will be found in the western side of Maldives.
The rest of the year manta rays live on the eastern side of the Maldives.
BAA Atoll, the most famous place to see Manta’s, is extremely popular for having the best world’s spot to swim with them : Hanifaru Bay.
Hanifaru is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and the largest known manta feeding aggregation site in the world. Mantas gather at Hanifaru when the South West Monsoon, generally from May until November.
Whale Shark encounter in Maldives during a snorkeling session
The Maldives is one of the few places on Earth where Whale sharks can be encountered all year round.
The Maldives have several Whale Shark official sanctuaries.
The best Atolls in Maldives to see Whale Sharks are BAA Atoll and South Ari for the 2 most famous ones. Some atolls don’t have Whale Sharks like Noonu in the North or a few like in Faafu Atoll.
In Maldives, you will have more chances to see whale sharks if you Scuba Dive, but if you are really lucky, at the best time and at the best spot, you might be lucky enough to meet one.
See Whale Sharks in BAA
Fishes and Species : The Medium and small ones
Again, the variety of sea species in Maldives is too big to be listed here, I would need to write a book. There are thousands of species of fish in Maldives…It is a PARADISE.
DO NOT TOUCH ANYTHING !
CORAL INCLUDED !
During your snorkeling sessions that you should do as many times as you can, you will see almost all tropical fishes and sea creatures you can dream of. Some of them are dangerous but most of them are not.
- Moray eels,
- Clown fishes,
- Trigger fish,
Say HI to the turtle !
In the more shallow waters you will also see plenty of small and sometimes bigger creatures. It’s a lot about luck and moments. Remember : There is no appointment.
General Snorkeling Tips & Advices
1/ Good snorkeling skills are recommended if you plan to snorkel around an Island that has a close-by reef. Moderate to strong currents can be expected according to the island and season.
Before going for an exploration : Please visit the resort Dive Center and follow the panels for exits and current warnings.
2/ Apply a liberal dose of sunscreen ( mostly on your back ) about 10-20 minutes prior to snorkel -Choose an SPF of at least 30.
The ideal is to have a rash guard shirt, made for the water and protecting against ultraviolet sun rays.
However a white tee-shirt will do if necessary (that helped us several times). Chose it tight to be able to swim and move comfortably.
“The Green Note” about sun block cream :
An Eco-friendly biodegradable sunscreen is a MUST.
What is good for your body is also good for living Corals.
3/ Pay a double attention to children. Keep them close to you, eventually hand-by-hand for the youngest or the ones who cannot swim well -yet and protect them well from the Sun too ( suncream + T-shirt).
A snorkeling vest is strongly advised if you plan to snorkel on the resort house reef.
4/ If you want to save money and feel comfy try to save space for your snorkeling gear in your suitcase.
All resorts have snorkeling equipment but it will cost you around 8 USD per day/ per person (exc.taxes).
Make the math for a couple or a family if you plan to snorkel several days, it can save you a lot of money.
Some resorts provide snorkeling for free !
The 2 Rules of a
responsible Snorkeler – Diver
DO NOT TOUCH what you see.
DO NOT STEP on Corals.
40 grams of courage. Maldives have such a fragile ecosystem
More content on Snorkeling & Diving in Maldives.
You will find more information on the following articles…
North Male Atoll Scuba Diving Guide.
The Essential and the main Dive Sites not to be missed
– I’ve had the chance to interview many of these Resort Dive centre Managers.
Discover their Interviews here or scroll the gallery hereunder for more.
We’ve roamed the Maldives for 20 years and have stayed in some of the best Resorts for snorkeling.
I share here with you my List of the Best Islands to stay if you Dream of discovering the marvelous underwater world of the Maldives