Scuba diving inVaavu and Meemu Atolls
- Incredible channel dives with plenty of big fish, including sharks
- Home to Fotteyo Falhu, the largest unbroken barrier reef in the Maldives
- Two tranquil atolls with few resorts and minimal boat traffic
- Affordable local island guesthouses and luxury resorts
Spread-out and sparsely populated, Vaavu Atoll and Meemu Atolls both offer truly incredible diving and an authentic Maldivian atmosphere. With just a handful of populated islands between them, these atolls embody tranquillity and tradition, with an obvious love of fishing and music. As two of the least developed atolls in the Maldives, the beaches are often quiet and dive sites empty - perfect for divers looking for a private experience. In fact, Vaavu delivers some of the best channel diving in the Maldives and one of its most exciting night dives, while Meemu is always capable of conjuring up surprise encounters with manta rays and hammerheads.
Diving Vaavu and Meemu Atolls
Hammerhead sharkYear round
Manta RaysYear round
Eagle rayYear round
Schooling reef fishYear round
The underwater topography of the outer reefs here is dominated by large overhangs and a honeycomb of caves and swim-throughs, while the lagoons offer plenty of shallow reefs and thilas that are perfect for inexperienced divers. From May to June mantas rule the waves, while for the rest of the year, strong tidal currents in the channels mean thrilling shark dives with grey reef and whitetip reef sharks, amidst swirling schools of barracuda, snapper and trevally.
Vaavu's best dive sites
Even by Maldives’ standards, Vaavu’s channels are special, and Fotteyo Kandu is considered one of the best dive sites in the Maldives. The narrow channel has swim-throughs, small caves and large overhangs to explore, as well as a drop-off covered in colourful soft corals. The occasional hammerhead is seen, but it is the schools of grey reef and whitetip sharks, large schools of trevally and other big species that brings in the divers. Nearby 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, whitetip reef sharks, tuna and Napoleon wrasse, as well as many colourful reef fish. Manta rays are also seen in the low season when the current is outflowing.
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. A popular dive site, we urge divers to be extremely conscious of their behaviour and surroundings, as it is very easy to kick or accidentally corner the sharks and rays.
Diving in Meemu Atoll
While less well-known, the diving in Meemu is no less exciting, with cave-studded thilas and more current-swept channels teeming with life to explore. The eastern channel of Mulee Kandu is one of this atoll’s highlights, offering long drifts alongside swirling schools of snapper, tuna, trevallies, and more. Mulee Kandu is also one of the best sites in Meemu to dive with manta rays, which circle around numerous cleaning stations here during the southwest monsoon. In the north, a narrow channel known as Malaku Kandu is also well worth a day trip. As you reach the outer reef here, the channel floor drops away abruptly, reaching depths of more than 100-metres and attracting giant trevally, large tuna, and schooling barracuda. Both whitetip and grey reef sharks also gather around the channel entrance, with hammerheads also making appearances in the early morning hours.
Channels, drift and wall dives
Beginner to experienced
Year round, best conditions November to April
10 - 35m+
28 - 29°C
To catch the local ferry to Fulidhoo, time your flight for an arrival at Malé airport prior to 8am on Sunday, Tuesday or Thursday to catch the 10am departure.
Grab a kayak from your resort, or rent one from a guest house, and head out into the lagoons for an explore - you may spot stingrays searching for food.
The high season between December and April is the best time to visit, with great visibility, good currents and dry weather. The wet season and its manta rays visit the atoll between May to July.
- Seaplane transfers only operate during daylight hours.
About Vaavu and Meemu Atolls
Vaavu, or Felidhu as it is also known, is a gem of an atoll located at the easternmost point of the Maldives, less than 70km south from the bustling capital of Malé. The boot-shaped atoll is home to the longest continuous reef in the Maldives, totalling 55-kilometres of unbroken coral. This reef is pierced by several narrow channels that act as magnets for marine life, attracting huge amounts of sharks, schooling fish and plenty of other bigger species. It is these channels that have put Vaavu’s diving on the map as they regularly provide some of the most exciting, adrenaline-fuelled experiences in the Maldives.
Just five of Vaavu’s islands are inhabited and the number of people that call the atoll home is less than 1500, making it the least populated Maldivian atoll. South of Vaavu, Meemu is another scarcely populated atoll, with just nine inhabited islands on the outer reef, and some 30 small uninhabited islands scattered throughout the lagoon. Tourism is also very underdeveloped in these two destinations and guests have just a handful of guesthouses on the local islands and several luxury resorts to choose from. But, what Vaavu and Meemu lack in quantity, they more than make up for in quality. The beautiful islands and laid-back atmosphere offer the chance of a real escape, an opportunity to experience more of the real Maldives - as well as some extraordinary diving.
How to get to Vaavu and Meemu Atolls
How you get to and from Vaavu and Meemu 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 Vaavu’s local island of Fulidhoo, a public speedboat is the most convenient way to get to the island, taking just over an hour. Speedboats leave at 11am every day except Friday. If you are on a budget, a government-run ferry leaves Malé from Villingili terminal three times a week, taking over three hours to reach Fulidhoo. 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.
While plans are underway to build a new airport in Meemu, currently, the easiest way to reach your final destination is via a seaplane transfer from Malé. If you’re staying at one of the resorts, they will generally organise a transfer for you. A local ferry service operates between the inhabited islands on the eastern edge of the atoll.
Seasons and weather
The Maldives experience a tropical monsoonal climate, with two distinct seasons; the dry northeast monsoon (January - April) and the wet southwest monsoon (May - November). 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.
The best time to dive Meemu and Vaavu is during the northeast monsoon, when the visibility is good and the famous eastern channels are at their very best. More mantas can be found in the channels during the wet southwest monsoon, particularly between May and June.
Where to stay
For decades, Vaavu and Meemu were the domain of liveaboards only, as the local islands were closed to tourism. However, following the government’s decision to open up all of the atolls, a number of small resorts have sprung up, offering an alternative to liveaboard tours.
Most of Vaavu’s accommodation options 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. Presently, there are just a couple of resorts in Meemu Atoll, Medhufushi Island Resort and Cinnamon Hakuraa Huraa Maldives, both of which are located near the capital island of Muli.