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.
Vaavu Atoll embodies tranquility and tradition. Its many small islands embrace a more traditional Maldivian lifestyle with an obvious love of fishing and music, and as the smallest and least commercialized atolls in the Maldives, the beaches are often deserted and dive sites empty - perfect for divers looking for that private experience. Yet this isolated paradise is capable of delivering exhilarating underwater experiences with some of the best channel diving in the Maldives and one of it's most exciting night dives with dozens of blacktips, nurse sharks and whiptail rays.
- Incredible channel dives with great marine diversity and plenty of big fish
- Home to Fotteyo Falhu - the largest unbroken barrier reef in the Maldives
- A tranquil atoll with few resorts and minimal boat traffic
- Affordable local island guest houses and the excellent Padi 5 star Fulidhoo Dive
The reefs on the eastern side of the atoll are thriving and positively packed with life, providing an opportunity for some truly exciting diving - even by Maldives’ standards, Vaavu’s channels are very special indeed. From May to June mantas rule the waves while for the rest of the year, strong tidal currents can mean thrilling shark dives with grey reef and white tip reef sharks amidst swirling schools of barracuda, snapper and trevally.
The underwater topography of the outer reef and channels is dominated by large overhangs and a honeycomb of caves, as well as swim-throughs carpeted in soft corals, while the inside of the atoll has plenty of small, shallow reefs that are perfect for the inexperienced diver to enjoy schools of reef fish. From beginners to the most experienced diver, Vaavu has sites that will appeal to all abilities and preferences.
In recent years, a night dive at Alimatha jetty has attracted a lot of attention with its large numbers of blacktip sharks, nurse sharks and whiptail rays. Originally the sharks and rays were attracted by fish carcasses discarded by local fishermen, but has now evolved into a daily feeding frenzy of marine life with underwater crowds of divers and their torches. Although an iconic dive site on a liveaboard itinerary, we urge everyone to be extremely conscious of their behaviour and surroundings underwater, as it is very easy to kick, bash, or accidentally corner the sharks and rays.
Fotteyo Kandu is considered one of the best dive sites in the Maldives. The narrow channel has swim-through’s, small caves and large overhangs to explore, as well as a drop-off covered in colourful soft corals. Schooling hammerhead sharks are always possible, along with grey reef and white tip sharks, and large schools of trevally and sweetlips. With both a deep dive profile and strong currents, this dive is for advanced divers only.
Miyaru Kandu, which translates to ‘Shark Channel’ certainly lives up to its name. A huge variety of marine life can be seen here, including tuna, large schools of grey reef sharks, white tip reef sharks, tuna and Napoleon wrasse, as well as many colourful reef fish. Manta rays are also common when the current is outflowing. An underwater photographer's paradise! Last but not least, Kunaavashi Kandu or Second Channel is another incredible site that offers beautiful soft corals and encounters with several different rays including squadrons of spotted eagle rays and big marbled stingrays.
Vaavu, or Felidhe as it is also known, is a true gem of an atoll located at the easternmost point of the Maldives, 75km south of the bustling capital of Malé. The boot-shaped atoll is home to both the longest reef in the Maldives, totalling 55 kilometres of unbroken coral, as well as narrow channels that attract huge amounts of fish life and plenty of bigger animals - ideal conditions for some adrenalin-fuelled diving for beginners and more experienced divers alike. Throw in the beautiful islands, peaceful atmosphere and the occasional whale shark and manta, and you have the perfect ingredients for one of the Maldive’s top destinations.
How you get to and from Vaavu Atoll is very much dependent on where you are staying and your budget.
If you are staying at one of the resort islands, your resort will pick you up directly from Malé airport as part of the package. We’ll help reserve this transfer when making your booking.
If you are staying on the local island of Fulidhoo, a speedboat is the most convenient way to get to the island. A one-way ticket from Male will cost about US$50 and the journey will take just over an hour. Speedboats leave at 11am every day except Friday, normally from the jetty called Muizzu Neru near Mary Brown Restaurant. Let us know when making your booking and we can help you reserve a seat on a speedboat.
If you are on a budget, a government-run ferry leaves Malé from Vilingili terminal three times a week, taking 3.5 hours to reach Fulidhoo. It costs approximately US$4 for a one-way ticket and stops in Maafushi Island in South Male Atoll along the way. Departures are on Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. If you can, time your flight arrival at Malé airport prior to 8am or, if you are in Malé the day before, you can buy a ticket when they go on sale at 3pm. It is worth pre-purchasing a ticket to ensure a spot. The return ferry from Fulidhoo to Malé leaves at 11am on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays, also stopping in Maafushi.
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.
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.
Vaavu was for many decades the domain of liveaboards only, as the local islands were closed to tourism. However, following the government of the Maldives decision to open up all of the atolls, a number of small resorts have sprung up around Vaavu, offering an alternative to boat tours. Most are small and are located in the north or northeast of the atoll. We would recommend Fulidhoo Dive, located on Fulidhoo Island in the north of the atoll.
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SOUTH MALÉ ATOLLCentral Atolls
Best time to visit: Year round, December to May best for the channel dives
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- Excellent surf breaks and shallow reefs for snorkeling