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Scuba Diving in Rasdhoo Atoll

Scuba Diving in Rasdhoo Atoll

2020-06-29 11:20:00

 

Rasdhoo is located 56 km west of Malé, Rasdhoo Atoll is the capital of Alif Alif Atoll – more commonly known as Ari Atoll. The atoll consists of inhabited island Rasdhoo, two private island resorts Kuramathi and Veligandhu, and 2 uninhabited islands Madivaru and Madivaru Finolhu. A great number of liveaboards are coming here as a part of the Central Atolls itinerary.

rasdhoo batfish

When to go

There are two seasons in Maldives: the northeast monsoon (dry season) and the southwest monsoon (wet season). Like most places in the world, with the increasing impact of climate change, the seasons and transitions in the Maldives have become less predictable in recent years.

Northeast monsoon (January – April)

The dry season usually brings blue skies and calm winds. 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. The monsoons dictate the migrations of 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. The visibility can be very poor for some days. It’s impossible to predict it.

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Transfer options to Rasdhoo Atoll

If you are traveling from Velana Airport (main international Airport) to Rasdhoo Atoll you have a number of options.

Seaplane

The quickest, but the most expensive transfer, round way trip is $US 365 per person. It’s possible to travel only from 6:00 am to 16:00. If you’re staying on local island Rasdhoo, extra for speedboat will be applied as well.

Speedboat

Scheduled speedboat. On a daily basis, there are 2 speedboats to/from local island Rasdhoo, price is $US 35 per way per person. If you stay in Kuramathi, they can arrange it as well (cheaper than seaplane).

Private speedboat. On request, price is $US 600 per way, 22 pax capacity. Can be arranged at any time.

Public ferry

The slowest transfer. It takes 2,5 hrs to reach Rasdhoo from Male. You can’t use this transfer if you’re staying in Kuramathi or Veligandu.

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Diving overview

It doesn’t matter your level of experience the scuba diving in Rasdhoo atoll has something to tempt you. There are 19 dive sites, including 5-star dive sites making up plenty variety for a great diving/ snorkeling holiday.

Rasdhoo and Ari Atoll is the place where the best chances of seeing hammerheads are. The season is Jan-Apr, and chances to see is 50/50. These days, it’s possible to see no more than 2-5 sharks. The main reason in water temperature. Hummerheads are preferred cold water, but in Maldives due to climate change temperature is rising.

Two WWII shipwrecks serve as scuba diving attractions in Rasdhoo Atoll and they are popular with photographers.

Between November and April, manta rays slip into the atoll through the northern channel in search of a cleaning station, known as Manta Block. All you need to do is sit back, relax, and enjoy the show.

Madivaru Corner is arguably the atoll’s 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.

Dive sites in Rasdhoo Atoll

Rasdhoo Beyru

Distance: 03 Minutes from Rasdhoo Local Island
Level: Beginners or Advanced Divers
Type: Channel Dive
Current: Small to Medium – can be strong or very strong

A beautiful wall on the south side of Rasdhoo island with three small thilas which are located on the drop-off edge a bit further away from the island wall. Thilas top starts from 18 to 20 meters which is suitable for beginners to experienced divers but the current can be medium to strong.
Napoleon, white-tip reef sharks and grey reef sharks can be seen here regularly. Sometimes sting rays resting on the sandy bottom between 25 to 30 meters deep between the wall and thilas. If you are lucky eagle rays, and on very lucky days mantas !! This is also a great dive spot for macro fans because so many small creatures can be found here!

Rasdhoo Channel

Distance: 03 Minutes from Rasdhoo Local Island
Level: Deep Dive Training or Advanced Divers
Type: Channel Dive
Current: Medium to Strong – can be very strong

Another great dive site for the experienced divers with Deep Dive Training or Advanced level because of the negative entry and the depth! All thilas are already well-colonized on the atoll drop-off edge at the depth between 20 to 25 meters between Kuramathi and Rasdhoo island. On the sandy bottom between the thilas, look for stingrays or white-tip reef sharks. While crossing the channel, almost anything is possible like grey reef sharks, eagle rays, napoleon, dog-tooth tunas, and many more. On some very lucky days, you may see silver-tip reef sharks! However, this dive can be done only when the current runs into the Atoll!

thinadhoo-diving

Holhi Faru

Distance: 05 Minutes from Rasdhoo Local Island
Level: Beginners or Advanced Divers
Type: Wall, Drift
Current: Small to Medium – can be Strong

Outside of Kuramathi, we find 3 bays along the main reef of the island. Each bay is surrounded with coral blocks at different depths between 16 – 25 meters where moray eels and lobsters are not rare. Very often you can see stingrays resting underneath coral blocks. On the sandy bottom, you can find white-tip reef sharks, in the shallow part of the bays black-tip reef sharks – do nor forget to have a look to the blue for a surprise.

Three Palms

Distance: 08 Minutes from Rasdhoo Local Island
Level: Beginners or Advanced Divers
Type: Wall, Drift
Current: Small to Medium – can be Strong

A very nice wall with a reef top starting in shallow water and which can be dived at any depth. Along with the dive, we encounter three big coral blocks in three different areas between 16 – 23 meters, just like « Three Palms ». Anything is possible here, like white-tip reef sharks, stingrays and even more. Eagle rays also like to drift in the current along this wall. Looking down, beautiful sea fans can be seen. If you are lucky sometimes green turtle or hawksbill turtle will come and say Hello.

Bodu Gaa

Distance: 20 Minutes from Rasdhoo Local Island
Level: Beginners or Advanced Divers
Type: Wall, Drift
Current: Small to Medium – can be Strong

Bodu Gaa means Big Stone in Dhivehi. This Bodu Gaa can be seen on the reef top just a few inches below the surface and is fully covered by multi-colored fish. On the wall between 25-28 meters are two sandy areas where it is not rare to meet white-tip reef sharks or stingrays relaxing for the day. Around 25 – 26 meters, a couple of nice coral blocks are well-located on this sandy bottom. These blocks are full of kashmir-snappers, oriental sweet-lips, glass fishes even stingrays are possible underneath any of the coral blocks. When there is some current, eagle rays may show-up.

caves

Caves

Distance: 25 Minutes from Rasdhoo Local Island
Level: Beginners or Advanced Divers
Type: Wall, Drift, Overhangs
Current: Small to Medium – can be Strong

The furthest dive site in the Rasdhoo Atoll which takes about 20 minutes to get to from Rasdhoo/Kurmathi, from Veligandu around 35 mins. This beautiful wall is part of our atoll barrier reef which is connected along the very end of the Kuramathi Sandbank on the South Westside. Very nice reef formation with lots of overhangs between 17 to 30 meters. If you start with the reef on your right shoulder – of course, if you are Deep Dive Training or Advanced level then 30 meters swim-through will be the best to start. Even if you are a beginner you could start within your allowable depth limit and keep drifting because soon you will reach 17 to 20 meters overhang which you can go inside but do not forget to get proper buoyancy under the overhang, otherwise you may hit the ceiling or kick on the sandy bottom which may lead to poor visibility or disturb the stingrays who rest often here! Apart from these two specific overhangs, there are still so many small ones where it is possible to find baby white-tip reef sharks or nurse sharks. It’s great to stay above 20 meters because very often eagle rays pass along the edge of the reef – above your head. Do have a look into the blue for a surprise.

Miyaru Faru

Distance: 30 Minutes from Rasdhoo Local Island
Level: Beginners or Advanced Divers
Type: Wall, Drift, Overhanges
Current: Small to Medium – can be Strong

Another wall dive from the atoll barrier reef, but an easy dive site on the outside of the North of the Atoll. The reef slowly goes down between 3 to 10 meters then a steep wall follows. On the bottom 30 to 40 meters, we often see white-tip reef sharks relaxing. On the reef itself, you can see moray eels, lionfish and for expert eyes even scorpionfish. A nice and easy dive. During manta season even mantas.

Beyru Kandu

Distance: 25 Minutes from Rasdhoo Local Island
Level: Beginners or Advanced Divers
Type: Wall, Drift
Current: Small to Medium – can be Strong

A very nice and easy place to dive for beginners, the reef is a steep wall and goes down to approximately 30 meters. A few coral blocks are to be seen on the reef top where lobsters have their « home sweet home ». Along the wall, small holes with nudibranches, shrimps and more. During your dive look to the blue or reef top often because, if you are lucky,it is possible to see eagle rays or manta rays and even white-tip reef sharks which often come and say hi to you.

Madi Gaa

Distance: 25 Minutes from Rasdhoo Local Island
Level: Beginners or Advanced Divers
Type: Coral Block (Mostly sit on the sandy bottom next to the Coral Block)
Current: Small to Medium – can be Strong

Inside the North Channel, in the manta season (from November to April) there is a good chance of seeing mantas on this dive. A big coral block in 14 m, with the top at 10 m is an attraction for many species of fish. Best is to sit next to the block when mantas are around and watch them circle!

ray

Veligandu North

Distance: 20 Minutes from Rasdhoo Local Island
Level: Beginners or Advanced Divers
Type: Wall, Drift
Current: Small to Medium – can be Strong

This dive site offers a top reef separated by a sandy plateau between 5 to 9 meters’ depth, below is a very nice steep wall dropping to around 25 to 30 meters continuing to the atoll drop-off. Along the wall you can find some overhangs from a depth of 12 to 16 meters in different areas. Sometimes these overhangs are covered by glass fishes, through the glass fishes you may find lobsters or even sting ray resting. Lots of macro stuff possible here. If you look carefully, you may find ghost pipefish and even leaf fish inside the overhangs or at the edge of the overhangs. If Madivaru is the capital of the sharks then Veligandu Noth will be the Capital of the moray eels. Please do not forget to have a look into the blue – sharks and more.

Veligandu Beyru/Veligandu East

Distance: 20 Minutes from Rasdhoo Local Island
Level: Beginners or Advanced Divers
Type: Wall, Drift
Current: Small to Medium – very rare to get Strong

The Outer Reef of Veligandu is a nice steep wall with a reef top coming up to 3 to 5 meters. On the reef plateau, you will find oriental sweet-lips, jack fishes, tunas and sometimes napoleon wrasse. Blue always surprises.

Madivaru Reef

Distance: 05 Minutes from Rasdhoo Local Island
Level: Beginners or Advanced Divers
Type: Wall, Drift
Current: Small to Medium – very rare to get Strong

This wall located on the outside reef near the Island of Madivaru is perfect for a nice and easy drift dive. Also a very good opportunity for beginners to experience dives with medium to strong current. Along the reef, corals are growing nicely and many species of fish can be spotted. Do not forget to turn your head towards the blue where pleasant surprises often appear.

rasdhoo-diving

Madivaru Corner

Distance: 05 Minutes from Rasdhoo Local Island
Level: Beginners or Advanced Divers
Type: Channel Dive
Current: Medium to Strong – can be very strong

A highlight in the Rasdhoo Atoll for many reasons. This reef is located just in front of the island Madivaru and has some superb overhangs between 26 to 30 meters before a breathtaking drop-off. The real beauty of the dive will be when the current runs along the reef on the right shoulder and into the Atoll. Because with this current you don’t have to swim much because most of the time on your dive you just hold onto some dead coral on the drop-off around 18 meters where the breathtaking show begins. Everybody can find here almost anything they are looking for, from macro to big pelagic species like grey reef sharks, white-tip reef sharks, eagle rays, napoleon wrasse, shoals of barracuda, jack fish and even giant travelers and dog-tooth tunas chasing baitfish etc. Always worth a dive. Anything is possible, however, the current can be medium to very strong.

Hammerhead Shark Point

Distance: 05 Minutes Rasdhoo Local Island
Level: Deep Dive Training or Advanced Divers (Good Buoyancy required)
Type: Bluewater dive with no reference
Current: Medium to Strong – can be very strong

Another highlight, an early morning dive to meet the famous Scalloped Hammerhead shark which can only be seen in a few places in the Maldives. A blue-water dive with no reference. In other words, no reef or bottom where the blue plankton let you think you are flying among the stars. Even without sharks an unforgettable experience. Only for experienced divers with Deep Dive Training or Advanced level, of course, good buoyancy control required! NITROX highly recommended.

Reef Explorer (Wreck Dive)

Distance: 05 Minutes from Rasdhoo Local Island
Level: Beginners or Advanced Divers
Type: Wreck Dive
Current: Small to Medium – can be Strong

A 30 meter fishing boat that sank in the Rasdhoo channel that lies on its side on a sandy bottom, surrounded by garden eels and shrimp in a depth of 12-16 meters. Some big groupers have been spotted here, and a few mantas occasionally patrol the area. Good buoyancy control is needed to avoid kicking up sediment which ruins visibility and take care to avoid many metal structures protruding from the wreck and in the sand. Some nice coral blocks around. Look out for the cleaner shrimp and goby pairs in the sand around the wreck.

Kuramathi Queen

Kuramathi Queen (Wreck Dive)

Distance: 08 Minutes from Rasdhoo Local Island
Level: Beginners or Advanced Divers
Type: Wreck Dive
Current: Almost nothing

A well-protected area – just inside the lagoon of Kuramathi. The Kuramathi Queen sits on a sandy bottom, the top of the wreck is at 16 meters, bottom at 20+m. Great for a night dive, very spooky.

Where to stay

There are 3 options to stay: luxury island resort, guest house on Rasdhoo island, diving liveaboards.

Kuramathi Island resort

An emerald jewel in the turquoise Maldivian waters. Acres of luxuriant vegetation. Spectacular beaches tapering into an endless sandbank. On this stunning Maldives island resort, you can stroll along sandy white beaches and dip your toes in the water to cool off on a balmy day. Spend leisurely hours exploring the vibrant reefs or an afternoon of extravagance at the spa. Indulge in dining and wining experiences to suit your every desire.

Price per room starts from $US 390 per night, on a full board basis.

More info and availability.

Veligandu Island Resort

The Veligandu Island Resort and Spa is what holidays to the Maldives are all about – a mix of watersports and flat-out relaxation.

Everything here’s geared towards making the most of the white sands, coral reefs and lagoons. You can hire drones* to capture bird’s eye views of your break. Island picnic trips*, snorkeling sessions and sunset cruises are lined up, too.

Price per room starts from $US 390 per night, on full board basis.

More info and availability.

Shallow Lagoon Rasdhoo

There are 18 guest houses in Rasdhoo and 5 dive centers, so is wide.

Based on my personal experience, Shallow Lagoon Rasdhoo and Dive Rasdhoo diving centure is the best choice. And that’s why

– Shallow Lagoon Rasdhoo is an award winner in 2018;
– Super friendly staff with experience working in resorts. So high-quality service is guaranteed;
– Dive center owner had experience working in different liveaboards and resorts;
– Amazing in-house restaurant with a great variety of local and continental cuisine;
– Shallow Lagoon Rasdhoo has the largest garden area on Rasdhoo;
– Unlimited coffee and tea;
– Own 8 pax capacity speedboat for cruising on nearby islands;
– Really good prices for accommodation, food and diving;
– Free Airport meet and greet service;

More info and availability.

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Liveaboards

There are almost 30 liveaboards operating in Maldives and almost each of them has Rasdhoo in their itinerary. Liveaboard is the best experience for divers as you will visit only the most beautiful dive sites in the area.

My suggestion is Carpe Diem as one of the most affordable liveaboard in the Maldives with European management and long history operating in Maldives.

About Author

Welcome! My name is Alex and since 2015 I have been “sick” with Maldives. In 2016-2017 I lived in Maldives and worked at a local travel agency. I managed to personally visit 15 local islands and 10 resorts.

Since 2017, I have been organizing holidays for couples, families and groups. More than 300+ clients from 60 countries have used my service.

Contact me for a free consultation and help with a personal tour to Maldives!