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.
Rising out of the ocean depths, this tiny atoll has found fame as one of the best location in the Maldives for encounters with hammerhead sharks and for some spectacular dive experiences with manta rays and schooling fish. Take a trip to Rasdhoo and explore deep reef walls and dramatic underwater scenery, relax on beautiful beaches and enjoy the hospitality of our highly recommended resorts and local guesthouses.
- Head out at dawn in search of hammerhead sharks
- Dive Rasdhoo Madivaru dive site with its stunning reef, sharks, eagle rays and schooling fish
- Explore the culture of the local Rasdhoo Island
- Watch manta rays at cleaning stations from November to April
Whatever your level of experience, the scuba diving in Rasdhoo atoll has something to tempt you. Shallow lagoons and gentle reef dives provide some great sites if you are a beginner, whilst exhilarating current-charged channels and dramatic reef landscapes will entice a more advanced diver. And with its resident hammerhead sharks, reliable manta ray season and an unusually-large selection of weird and wonderful smaller critters, Rasdhoo atoll is a great choice if you are looking for a complete dive experience.
Rasdhoo Madivaru is arguably the atolls most famous site. Reaching out across one of the southern channels, a horse-shoe shaped ridge is patrolled by grey reef sharks, whitetip sharks and schools of eagle rays. As you look over the ledge into the depths, large sea fans and black coral can be seen clinging to the wall while thousands of anthias flutter in the current around you. Tucked inside over the lip of the ridge, an expansive sandy bowl is home to whiptail rays, marble rays and patches of garden eels. Returning to the shallows you will be greeted by beautiful corals and schooling reef fish such as oriental sweetlips, fusiliers, goatfish, snappers and many more. Throw in the occasional spotted eagle ray or a school of large barracuda and you have all the ingredients for a near-perfect Maldivian dive experience.
Between November and April, manta rays slip into the atoll through the northern channel in search of a particular coral bommie, known as Manta Block. Here these gentle giants hover over the reef waiting for small cleaner wrasse to pick parasites and detritus from their skin and gills. You can simply sit back, relax and enjoy the show.
The edge of the atoll is marked by steep walls plunging into the depths, most of which make for fantastic dives. At Hammerhead Point, you can head out into the blue at dawn in search of hammerhead sharks, but there is also plenty of interest back towards the reef. The walls have caves to explore, many with sleeping turtles. A search amongst the corals will turn up ghostpipefish, leaf scorpionfish, and frogfish and there are 3 wrecks that have become havens for life. The largest wreck is a fantastic night dive that will keep you busy searching for crabs, shrimp, and octopus all rummaging around the wreck in search of a meal.
Even if you are a hardcore diver, a snorkel around Rasdhoo island is not to be missed. You can simply swim out from the designated bikini beach and or centres can take out to some of the dive sites. Here you’ll have a great chance of seeing turtles, lots of reef fish, eagle rays and even manta rays during the season. Snorkelers have even reported seeing hammerhead sharks up on the surface - although we’ll never guarantee such an amazing encounter!
Located 56 kilometres west of Malé, Rasdhoo Atoll is the capital of Alif Alif Atoll - more commonly known as Ari Atoll. The clam-shaped, 3-island atoll may be small but Rasdhoo has plenty to offer you, both above and below the waves. The island has been settled for hundreds of years and traces of the Maldives’ Buddhist past can be still be found, but today Rasdhoo could easily stand for that archetypal Maldivian island - known for its traditional living and love of fishing, food, and boat building. The small town with its streets lined with brightly painted shops and coral-walls is well worth exploring for a couple of hours - a great way for you to soak up the Maldivian way of life.
If you are traveling from Malé airport to Rasdhoo Atoll you have a number of options. The quickest is to catch one of the regular seaplane that fly between Malé and Rasdhoo. Return flights are roughly US$305 although this may change. The luxury resorts also run their own speedboat transfers costing around US$175 return.
If you are staying on the local Rasdhoo Island, the best option in our opinion is to us one of the scheduled speedboat services from Malé to Rasdhoo that cost US$40 each way. Speak to our travel experts for advice.
If you have a little more time, public ferries depart from Malé to Rasdhoo on Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday at 9am from the Vilingili Ferry Terminal. Tickets cost US$3.50 at the airport ticket counter. You’ll need to ensure your flight arrives by 7:30am at the latest, or you can overnight in Malé.
The return ferry from Rasdhoo to Malé runs on Saturday, Monday and Wednesday and departs Rasdhoo at 11:00am. The ferry arrives in Male by 2:30-2:45pm, so your onward flight should be 4pm or later.
If you have a late flight arrival you can easily stay overnight in Malé itself or on Hulhumale next to the airport where you’ll find affordable accommodation and hotel bars serving alcohol which is prohibited in the capital or on local non-resort islands.
For many years, your only choice of accommodation at Rasdhoo was on the island of Kuramahti to the west of Rasdhoo itself. Today this local island has a number of small resorts and homestay, as well as dive centres. Liveaboards are also a great option for visiting Rasdhoo as you can dive the atoll as part of a cruise exploring Ari atoll.
The Maldives experiences 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.
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.
The award-winning Kuramathi resort at Rasdhoo Atoll is incredibly proactive with its sustainability and conservation efforts. They work closely with the local community and run programmes in the local school to educate the local children about environmental issues, as well as support two employees that manage the efforts to keep the island clean. The Kuramathi Eco Centre, established in 1999, works to spread awareness and education for both guests and locals. The centre ensures guests and locals alike are aware of proper snorkeling and diving standards as well as arranging clean up days, coral planting programs, and research projects