The Noonu Atoll offers diving for all levels of experience but is better suited to intermediate divers. If you’re staying on the atoll, then beginners will have the opportunity to progress and experience the thrill of challenging drift dives.
Located on the outer reef of the atoll’s southern tip is the Raafushi dive – suitable for all levels. The top of the reef is 10-15 feet (3-5 meters) deep and drops off to 39-46 feet (12-14 meters). Expect nudibranchs, and redtoothed triggerfish with their distinctive red teeth that look like incisors. As you navigate the reef’s long crack, you might see a nocturnal nurse shark having a snooze.
Intermediate divers can head to the Christmas Rock. This dive’s moniker comes from its circular shaped thila (submerged island). Its highest point is found at a depth of 46 feet (14 meters). As you navigate the rock, you might see whitetip reef sharks - it's as though their dorsal fins have been sprinkled with snow. Look out for stingrays resting in the overhangs.
Orimas Thila offers a deeper dive for advanced divers. The thila is found at 46 feet (14 meters) and drops off to 98 feet (30 meters). The dive’s highlight are the grey reef sharks. These predators can be found in groups of up to twenty, and the thila also functions as a nursery. Expect to see larger females protecting their juveniles. Rays, leopard and guitar sharks may also be about.
The atoll's big attraction are the grey reef sharks but also expect leopard sharks and guitar sharks – the guitar’s neck is the shark, and the guitar’s body is the ray.
You will also see sting rays, spotted eagle rays, barracuda, jack fish, morays, schooling blue-stripped snapper and turtles.
The table corals can be substantial, and you’ll find oriental sweet lips and puffer fish around them. Iridescent mantis shrimps shyly emerge from holes, and nudibranchs splatter the reefs with vibrant colors.
Anyone reading your dive log will be impressed.
For better readability of the table, pass into the landscape mode.
Most likely sightingsPossible sightings
The Noonu Atoll, also known as the Southern Miladhunmadulu Atoll or Miladhunmadulu Dhekunuburi, is located in the Maldives’ northern region. Only thirteen of its islands are inhabited.
The Maldives’ tropical climate is defined by two monsoons. From December to March the north-east monsoon brings drier weather, and wetter conditions arrive during the south-west monsoon, which runs from May to November. Regardless of when you visit, the air temperature is consistently 84° C (29° C), and the warm water is 75° F (24° C) and above.
The archaeological site on the island of Landhoo was discovered by a Norwegian explorer who attributed it to the Redin – people that feature in Maldivian folklore. Historical evidence would suggest otherwise. After a visit to the site, allow your own imagination to complete your own story.
The atoll’s accommodation options are mid-range to luxury. Plankton levels increase during the south-west monsoon and visibility decreases. This low season is a great time to find discounted rates at the resorts. Many liveaboards visit the atoll; if diving is your main objective, they are good value for money.
An authentic insight into Maldivian life is easily accessible on the inhabited islands. The only stress you’ll find on Noonu will come from shark encounters.
If you’re not looking to relax then you can windsurf, kitesurf or learn how to sail. If the winds are low, which they often are during the dry monsoon, then paddle across the lagoons in a sea kayak.
After your visit to explore authentic village life on an island, let the locals show you how to fish for tuna using the pole and line technique.
You can arrange a trip to an uninhabited island, take shade under a palm tree, and listen to the ocean as you practice drawing the many grey reef sharks you’ll have seen. You can even add their marks from mating.
Male Ibrahim Nasir International Airport is well served by direct charter flights from Western Europe, but direct scheduled flights are rarer – it may require a lay-over in the Middle East first.
If you’re staying on the Noonu Atoll, then you will transfer by seaplane (45 minutes) upon arrival in Male.