The island nation of Indonesia straddles the equator between the Indian and Pacific Oceans and lies at the heart of the ‘Coral Triangle’ - the epicentre of the world’s marine biodiversity. Nowhere on earth can visitors experience such a range of spectacular diving - from encounters with huge whale sharks and oceanic manta rays, to muck dives with beautiful Rhinopias and the exceedingly rare psychedelic frogfish.
Separated by the South China Sea, Malaysia is divided into Peninsula Malaysia on the Asian mainland, and East Malaysia in Borneo. Both parts of this fascinating country offer a wealth of different destinations - from beautiful islands and deep jungles, to modern cities and villages steeped in history.
There is nowhere on earth quite like the Maldives. With its pristine white sandy beaches, over-water bungalows and extensive healthy reefs, the Maldives provide front row access to a spectacular abundance of beauty and marine life - including some extraordinary big fish encounters. Comprised of over 26 ring-shaped atolls and more than 1,000 coral islands, the planet’s lowest lying country is the perfect tropical holiday destination and a worthy ‘bucket list’ addition for any discerning diver.
The Philippines is defined by its breathtaking landscapes, diverse marine life, lush rice terraces and mountain slopes, graffiti-splashed jeepneys, and the smiling, friendly people of this island nation. With a unique cultural heritage, experiences here are a world apart from the rest of Southeast Asia and the Philippines is fast becoming the ideal holiday destination for divers, sun worshippers and adrenaline junkies alike.
Thailand has long been a firm favourite of divers who come in search of some of Asia’s most accessible diving and beautiful sites, famed for their colourful coral reefs, abundant marine life, and stunning tropical island scenery. A blend of beauty, ancient traditions, gilded palaces and incredible food, a vacation in amazing Thailand, also means enjoying the gorgeous weather, the great hospitality of the local people, the striking beauty of the land and its fabled white sand beaches.
The Pacific is a vast blue wilderness punctuated by isolated arcs of green - chains of islands that rise from the oceanic depths as towering pinnacles of rock, coral and lush forests. Visitors can dive pristine reefs and historic wrecks, encounter sharks and manta rays, explore the beautiful landscapes and stunning beaches, and immerse themselves in the welcoming cultures. The Pacific is surely the ultimate divers adventure destination.
Fuvahmulah is the ultimate destination if you’re looking for the pelagic encounter of a lifetime – no other place in the Maldives, or even Asia, offers divers the chance to encounter 7 types of sharks in a single day. Lucky visitors can also bump into mola molas, pilot whales and congregations of black oceanic mantas, as well as schools of barracudas, yellowfin tuna, bonitos, sailfish, and much, much more...
Read on and discover why Fuvahmulah is ZuBlu's favourite destination in the Maldives for big fish!
The tiny atoll of Fuvahmulah is the closest to the equator of all the country’s islands and reefs and, with its isolation and unique environment, has earned itself the nickname of the Maldivian Galapagos. Above water Fuvahmulah has freshwater lakes and lush tropical vegetation, but it is the underwater environment that is the real draw as the atoll offers some truly unique diving experiences. Fuvahmulah has over 20 known dive sites, each boasting pristine reefs and drawing large numbers of pelagics, and due to its equatorial location, the diving here isn’t affected by seasonal changes - meaning world-class diving experiences can be had year-round.
The resident tiger sharks first made Fuvahmulah famous, but visitors can also get up-close and personal with thresher sharks, scalloped hammerhead sharks, oceanic whitetip sharks, silvertip sharks, grey reef sharks and whitetip reef sharks. Whale sharks also make an appearance every year as well as black oceanic manta rays. In fact, Fuvahmulah may well be one of the best places in Asia if you want to dive with such a variety of big animals in a wild and relatively unknown destination.
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One of Fuvahmulah’s biggest draws is a dive site known as Tiger Zoo - probably the only dive site in Asia that guarantees tiger shark sightings every day. Tiger sharks are drawn to this area by waste produced from the local fish market meaning sightings are not dependent on seasons, time, or conditions. Divers can be treated with sometimes dozens of sharks boasting lengths of up to 5-meters.
The sharks here are not aggressive but Fuvahmulah Dive’s experienced guides all hold shark speciality certifications, and deliver a comprehensive pre-dive briefing about shark behaviour, and follow all necessary safety rules and requirements. Private dives can be arranged for underwater photographers, providing a personalised service to help capture the perfect shot. Fuvahmulah Dive also offers a photography and videography service to create lasting memories of this unforgettable experience.
Fuvahmulah offers truly unique opportunities to see these elusive creatures. Thresher sharks are deep water fish which regularly move into shallow waters to visit cleaning stations on the reef. A deep dive is often needed to observe these cleaning stations, and the sharks are usually only present during the dim light of early morning, or at dusk. However, at the right time of year in Fuvahmulah, thresher sharks can be found at any time of day, and in much shallower depths of 12 - 15 meters – if you’re lucky, you can even catch them jumping right out of the water.
The thresher sharks at Fuvahmulah frequent several different sites around the atoll and Fuvahmulah Dive School’s guides are experienced in getting guests to the right site at the right time. Sightings of thresher sharks are possible year-round but visitors have a higher chance of spotting them between April - November.
Best time of year - Visit between April - November for the best chance to see them in shallow waters
Solitary hammerheads can be found around Fuvahmulah at any time of year, but sightings are often a case of being in the right place, at the right time. Large schools of scalloped hammerheads are also common around the atoll but sightings rely heavily on the perfect currents. While these conditions can occur during any month of the year, the probability is highest from January - March. Great hammerheads are also found around the atoll but the probability of an encounter is less likely. Hammerhead dives in Fuvahmulah are generally deep and in strong currents, making them suitable for advanced divers only.
Best time of year - Visit between January - March for the best chance to see large schools
Unlike the rest of the Maldivian atolls, there are no reef manta rays around Fuvahmulah. Instead, black oceanic mantas are the most common species, and 80% of sightings of this spectacular species from the Maldives are from this atoll. Individuals can be seen at cleaning stations throughout the year, but for a real treat, visitors should head to Fuvamulah between March - May for the mating season. During this time, hundreds of black oceanic mantas arrive here, creating one of the most unique dive experiences in Asia. The exact timing of this event is hard to predict as conditions fluctuate from year to year.
Best time of year - March - May, although the exact timing is hard to predict
Silvertip sharks are reasonably rare, and are one of the more unique inhabitants of Fuvahmulah. Lucky visitors to the atoll can sometimes see hundreds of these sharks schooling between the months of January - March. Fuvamulah also offers plenty of caves where white-tip reef sharks, and their juveniles, can be found throughout the year, and grey reef sharks are also frequently seen around this remote atoll. Whale sharks visit Fuvahmulah year-round although the probability is higher between December - April, around the time of the north-east monsoon, and with the month of March offering the highest chance of sighting.
Silver-tip sharks - January - March
White-tip reef sharks - Year round
Grey reef sharks - Year round
Whale sharks - December - April
DIVING FUVAHMULAH ATOLL
Fuvahmulah Dive School was the first professional diving school based in Fuvahmulah Atoll and the only one to offer tiger shark encounters in a safe and responsible manner. The dive centre is now run by a team of diving professionals who have all logged thousands of dives exploring and researching Fuvahmulah’s unique marine environment. They pride themselves on providing excellent service to both individuals and groups, and for running tiger shark encounters safely and in a sustainable manner. Every guest is given a comprehensive briefing and explanation of shark behaviour, and the dive guides all have Shark Speciality and Shark Expert certifications – as well as expert knowledge about local conditions.
All international flights to the Maldives use Malé’s International Airport, located on Hulhule, about 2km east of Malé island. Domestic flights and seaplane transfers to resorts also use this airport, although the seaplane terminal is on the far side of the island, requiring a five-minute bus transfer across the runway. There are two scheduled flights to Fuvahmulah every day and flights take just over an hour.
If you have a late flight arrival or if the transfer to your final destination is not available immediately, there are a number of accommodation options in Malé itself. Or you can stay on Hulhumale next to the airport where you will find affordable accommodation and hotel bars serving alcohol which is prohibited in the capital or on local non-resort islands.
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