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.
Situated in the far south of the Maldives at 0°17'S, Fuvahmulah lies closer to the equator than any other Maldivian island or atoll. Nicknamed the Maldivian Galapagos, this isolated and relatively unchartered atoll promises pristine reefs, large pelagics such as oceanic reef manta rays and mola mola, as well as big shark diving with thresher sharks, tiger sharks and oceanic whitetip sharks.
- One of the only places in the Maldives for encounters with big sharks and pelagics
- Unique habitat for flora and fauna not seen elsewhere in the Maldives
- Surfing at Thoondu beach, the only Maldivian beach break
With over 20 known dive sites to explore and more being discovered every year, Fuvahmulah’s relatively unknown dive scene, unique location and isolation make it one of the best destinations for exploratory divers in the Maldives. Depending on the currents and monsoon season, visitors have a very good chance to encounter large species such as the oceanic black manta ray, Mola mola and pilot whales, along with huge schools of barracudas, yellowfin tuna, bonitos and sailfish.
However it is the resident tiger sharks that have made Fuvahmulah famous in recent years. These big sharks have played an important role in the local habitat for decades, feeding on the entrails and other fishy remains discarded by fisherman. These magnificent sharks can be seen nearly every day and whilst the sharks are in no way aggressive, the experienced dive guides ensure all necessary safety precautions are taken.
Another exciting possibility while diving in this area are sightings of thresher sharks, a deeper water species that visits the shallows at night to feed, or during the early morning an dusk to visit cleaning stations on the reef. These stunning sharks are frequent visitors to several sites around Fuvahmulah - and the local guides have the best knowledge and experience of getting divers in the right place at the right time to encounter these sharks.
Nestled between Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll and Addu Atoll, Fuvahmulah - meaning “Island of the Areca nut palms” - is the only one-island atoll in the southern part of the Maldives. The atoll’s exposure and isolation has meant it has remained relatively unexplored and the people of the island have developed a distinctive culture and history - even speaking their own dialect known as Mulaku Bas that is quite different from standard Maldivian Dhivehi.
With its proximity to the equator, deep surrounding waters and exposure to the swell of the Indian Ocean, Fuvahmulah’s natural environment has evolved many features that help to make the island unique and to some, more beautiful than any other island. Fuvahmulah’s diverse range of habitats - from tropical woodlands and wetlands to freshwater lakes, marshlands and pebble beaches - are unique to the island and the two freshwater lakes and marshland areas in particular support plant and animal species not found anywhere else in the Maldives. And with its exposed coast, Fuvamulah is also home to the only beach surf break in the Maldives at Thoondu beach.
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.
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.
Flights to Fuvahmulah Atoll from Malé take one hour and ten minutes. There are two scheduled flights a day costing around USD240 return including taxes.
Liveaboards are slowly beginning to offer deep south routes that visit Fuvahmulah, but the easiest option to experience the incredible diving on offer is to enjoy some local hospitality on the island and dive with Farikede Divers, one of the pioneering diving outfits on Fuvamulah.
With the atoll’s proximity to the equator, the monsoon are less pronounced compared to further north in the Maldives and the weather is pretty stable all year round. The dry north-east monsoon usually runs from December to March with the wet south-west monsoon from May to November. Waters are surprisingly cooler in the south of the Maldives, perhaps due to the isolation of the atolls and exposure to deep upwellings. Despite the cold, a thin 3mm wetsuit will suffice for most divers as the water temperature rarely drops below 24°C (75°F).