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 ...
North Malé Atoll is the perfect gateway for those looking for easy access to perhaps the best known and most explored diving area in the Maldives. The atoll is known for its healthy reefs, underwater caves, drop offs and abundant soft and hard coral, as well as encounters with large pelagics such as sharks and manta rays - exceptional underwater experiences all just a short distance from Malé itself. And with a range of luxurious resorts, local islands and white sand beaches, North Malé offers the complete Maldives experience with options to suit every diver’s budget.
North Malé Atoll sees plenty of fish activity and its dive sites are well known for their breathtaking topography, healthy populations of manta rays and sharks, along with eagle rays, Napolean wrasse and stingrays. The infamous Banana Reef is home to thousands of iconic blue-lined snapper, Manta Point will provide an unforgettable manta ray encounter, and at HP Reef and Nassimo Thila visitors will be blown away by the seemingly endless soft coral fields inhabited by large schools of bright coloured anthias. A shipping route through one of the atoll channels also left a few wrecks behind that are now home to some amazingly colourful reefs. Overall, the diversity of marine life and different dive sites means divers of all levels are guaranteed some spectacular experiences.
As the ‘original’ destination for diving in the Maldives, resort dive guides and instructors are local experts and well versed in navigating the ever-changing currents and conditions, maximizing your chances for incredible marine life encounters that North Malé is justifiably famous for.
North Malé Atoll lies right at the heart of the Maldives and is the primary point of entry for international flights. Despite its small size - the atoll is just 58km in length - North Malé is home to plenty of well-explored dive sites, vibrant and healthy coral reef systems, an iconic manta ray cleaning station and idyllic sand banks providing the quintessential Maldivian experience. The atoll is also well-known for its numerous surf breaks that dot the southeastern reefs. Although by far the the busiest atoll in the country, the wealth of established resorts away from Malé offers the perfect mix for all manner of travellers.
All international flights to the Maldives use Malé’s International Airport, located on a separate island, Hulhule, about 2km east of Male’ island. Domestic flights and seaplane transfers to resorts also use this airport, although the seaplane terminal is on the far side of the island and necessitates a free, five-minute bus transfer around the runway.
Due to the proximity of resorts and local islands to the Hulhule airport island, most resorts in North Malé will pick guests up directly from the airport. However, if you are staying on a local island, you may wish to take an affordable local ferry from the Villingili Ferry terminal.
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 Male itself. Alternatively, Hulhumale next to the airport is a good option, with affordable accommodation and hotel bars serving alcohol which is prohibited in the capital or on local non-resort islands.
For detailed information about getting to the Maldives, as well as navigating between atolls, check out our Maldives Travel Advice page.
Given its long association with tourism, North Malé Atoll has a huge selection of accommodation options, from the super-luxurious to home stays. The recent changes in tourism laws opened up a slew of new islands for guests to explore throughout the country and North Malé now has a range of accommodation to match any budget.
The majority of the older resorts are concentrated in the south of the atoll, extending southeast and northwest from Malé itself, as well as along the western side of the atoll. There are also resorts around Meeru - the far eastern point of North Malé - as well as in the far north towards Gaafaru.
With so many different options throughout the atoll, guests can be sure to find something to suit their budget and one that is close to the action - be it whale sharks and mantas, or the surf breaks in the southeast.
The Maldives experience a tropical monsoonal climate, with two distinct seasons; the northeast monsoon (dry season) and southwest monsoon (wet season). Temperatures can range from 25-31°C, with an average year-round temperature around 27°C. Water temperatures are also relatively constant throughout the year at 26-29°C.
Like most places in the world, with the ever-increasing impact of climate change, the seasons and transitions in the Maldives have become less predictable in recent years and more prone to shifting slightly, however the two monsoons still follow similar patterns whenever they arrive:
Northeast monsoon (January – April)
The dry season usually brings blue skies and calm winds - perfect weather a topical holiday. The season runs from January to April with the transition shoulder periods arriving earlier in December or continuing into May. The change to the wet season is usually signified by a wet spell of three or more consecutive days of rainfall along with a shift in wind direction.
Southwest monsoon (May – November)
The wet southwest season generally means more cloudy skies, stronger winds and a greater chance of rough seas. However, you would be unlucky if you had to endure anything other than a few hours of dramatic rain, as most of the storms are relatively short lived and soon blow themselves out.
As is the way in the tropics, rain can occur with little warning however the resorts are normally very good at providing sufficient warning and planning any alternative activities or events accordingly.
Surf (March – October)
North Male has some of the best Maldivian surf breaks. Chicken’s and Cokes are both superb waves offering a left and a right, whilst Lohis is a quality left. Honkeys, Sultans and Jails are also not to be missed.
In general, March, April and May have very clean conditions, June through August provide the potential for the bigger swells, with September and October known for consistent swell with variable wind conditions and any tropical storms starting to dissipate.
From a diver’s perspective, the monsoons dictate the migrations of the large pelagics such as manta rays and whale sharks. With tidal strength and wind direction affecting the movement of plankton, filter-feeders naturally follow the food, so at certain times of the year you are more likely to encounter these animals in specific locations.
We have accounted for these changes in our search tool, but feel free to contact us directly for further insight and assistance in arranging your perfect Maldivian experience at the best locations and at the best time of year.