Top Ten Places to Learn to Dive in the Maldives

This tiny nation in the middle of the Indian Ocean needs little introduction - home to nearly 1200 islands, each one with a beach more beautiful than the last, the Maldives is a tropical paradise. You’d be hard-pressed to find a larger collection of consistently stunning beaches - where turquoise waves lap over snow-white-sands and hide pristine coral reefs. When it comes to donning your dive-gear for the first time, there are few places better than the Maldives for your first foray into the deep blue. A magnet for anyone with an interest in marine life, the Maldives promises calm waters; incredible visibility, which often exceeds 40 metres; and numerous Atolls and their sheltered lagoons, creating the world’s best ocean swimming pools and diving classrooms. Learn the diving basics in the sandy shallows, before heading to deeper water to see some of the best sights diving can offer - the reefs play host to a myriad of marine life including sharks, eagle rays, turtles and tropical fish galore. With so many resorts scattered throughout the islands, it's hard knowing the best places for beginner divers - luckily we’ve dived them all and know the best places for those just starting out on their diving journey. Here are our top ten places to learn to dive in the magnificent Maldives.
1. Six Senses Laamu

Dominating its own island within an atoll, the remote location of Six Senses Laamu adds to its dive appeal. The epitome of barefoot luxury and home to some of the best diving in the Maldives, the resort offers the perfect blend of onshore luxury and off-shore adventure. Home to a 5-star PADI dive centre and one of the best dive teams in the Maldives, beginners are in safe hands at this centre of diving-excellence. The hotel runs eco-adventure and junior marine-biologist programmes, not to mention the guarantee of having the dive site to yourself while you learn, and the promise of a manta-ray cleaning station when you are ready for deeper waters. World-class instructors and the perfect marine classroom - what more could you want when learning to dive?

2. Soneva Fushi

Located in the Baa Atoll, the Soneva Fushi is an eco-chic jungle hideaway, complete with Robinson-Crusoe-style villas and a stellar dive centre. Beginner divers should head straight to the island's superb Soleni Dive Centre for the best introduction to the underwater world. Learn the basics on the sandy seafloor, in a few feet of water, before heading to the house reef to dive with the tens of thousands of multicoloured fish that call the area home. The resort is great for families too, with the PADI Bubblemaker course offering the perfect taster for children aged eight and above. Did we mention that you can dive with a marine biologist too? Race you there.

3. Angsana Ihuru

Nestled into the North Male Atoll, not far from the airport by speedboat transfer, Angsana Ihuru is surrounded by a house reef and is dotted with charming villas. Close to more than 20 dive sites, the hotel is ideal for both beginners and experts with a marine centre and introductory PADI courses for those looking to make a splash with their first scuba diving experience. The resort's trump card is its house reef - perhaps the best in the whole of the Maldives - which is bursting with life. Once you have completed your introductory sessions, head to slightly deeper water to see 150 different species of fish, turtles, rays, sharks and of course, the colourful coral - as first dives go, this is one you'll never forget. Learn the basics and you'll be ready to dive with the hotel's on-site marine biologist and take a fish identification course in no time.

4. OBLU Helengeli

One of the largest resorts in the Maldives, OBLU Helengeli combines its contemporary style with a laid-back island atmosphere. The resort's on-site dive centre was voted as one of the best dive resorts in the world, so when it comes to diving, this resort has got you covered. Helmed by a passionate and experienced team of guides, the resort's excellent dive centre is the ideal place for beginners to find their 'scuba-legs'. Once you have got the basics in the shallows, head slightly further out, where gin-clear waters lead onto a stunning house reef - an underwater haven bursting with life. We can think of worse ways to start your diving career.

5. Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru

This remote island paradise is paving the way towards sustainable luxury living and it also just so happens to be an excellent place to get started with scuba diving. The bath warm waters, superb visibility and the magnificent array of marine life cater to both novice and experienced divers. If you are looking to learn to dive, the resort's stunning, sheltered lagoon is the perfect place to get started, with an excellent and experienced dive team on-hand to teach you everything there is to know about diving. The resort's Marine Discovery Centre allows guests to join their Maldivian Manta Ray and Coral Reefscaping Projects - plus there is a Fish Lab that the children are bound to love!

6. COMO Maalifushi

Located in the remote south-western Thaa Atoll, COMO Maalifushi is a luxurious collection of villas and suites that stand on stilts over the clear lagoon or are dotted throughout the island's lush foliage. The resort stands alone in it's atoll, which happens to be home to some of the best diving in the Maldives. The hotel's remote location gives guests the opportunity to have dive sites to themselves - something that comes in handy when learning to dive. The hotel's dive team and facilities are second to none, so you'll be in excellent hands for your first few dives.

7. Lux*

This luxurious resort is full of surprises and calls the postcard-perfect island of Dhidhoofinolhu in the South Ari Atoll home. With a reputation for going above and beyond, Lux* is home to an excellent dive centre - perfect for novice divers as well as families with little ones - and also happens to be in the perfect spot for seeing whale sharks on their annual migration. Close to Maamagili, which is where you'll find the whale sharks, the resort is perfect for those looking to interact with marine life. Whether it is diving or snorkelling, there is something for everyone.

8. Park Hyatt Hadahaa

Sitting atop an untouched atoll, surrounded by one of the most beautiful reefs in the tropics, there are few places in the Maldives that are more impressive than the Park Hyatt Hadahaa. With an excellent dive centre and a house reef that is only 50 metres from the shore, it's hard to find another resort where it is this easy to discover the mesmerising underwater world. Beginner divers can learn in the sheltered shallows before heading to the reef to see fish dancing and shimmering in the corals. The location of the reef makes it more accessible to novice divers and snorkelers - allowing divers of every level to witness the remarkable marine life in the area.

9. Mirihi

A tiny tropical paradise, this island resort promises palm-fringed beaches, charming villas and a spectacular house reef. Encircling the island, the reef is easily accessible for novice divers and promises amazing marine encounters with sea turtles, reef sharks, eagle rays and thousands of rainbow-coloured fish. Begin your dive training in the shallows before working your way up to deeper waters. Thanks to the resort's small size, there are very few divers, so you'll get the wonders of the house reef to yourself! For even more marine fun, a short boat ride will take you to the South Ari Atoll Marine Protected Area, where whale sharks and manta rays are regularly spotted throughout the year.

10. Komandoo

Located in the northern Maldives, this adults-only island resort is set beside a stunning lagoon home and surrounded by epic dive sites. Excellent for novice and solo divers, head to the fab dive centre for your introduction to the world of scuba diving. Take your time learning in the shallow waters of the sheltered lagoon before venturing to the amazing house reef. The lack of other resorts in the atoll means that Komandoo's guests get the waters to themselves. If you fancy a day on dry land, the resort is also home to some of the finest beaches around.

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Jacqui is our 'Top Ten Places to Learn to Dive in the Maldives' expert and as a seasoned traveller has the inside track on the most memorable adventures.

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