With over 1200 islands, you’ve got plenty of opportunities for beach time in the Maldives. But that’s only a fraction of what the islands have to offer. Almost 99% of the country is underwater and it’s a seriously beautiful patch of ocean with clear turquoise waters, coral reefs and tropical fish. So make sure you get out and explore the attractions off-shore on your Maldives escape, with one of these great watersport options.
In contrast to the lazy pace onshore, there’s a lot going on underwater in the Maldives. There are over 1000 marine species in the reefs, from sharks to turtles. High visibility and warm waters make it a great place to dive, though the water’s not as clear during the April to October monsoon. Most resorts have dive schools and coral reefs just offshore, making them ideal for beginners, or if you want to get out to the remote sites you can join a liveaboard boat trip. In many dive sites, you can just drift along, carried by the Indian Monsoon Current, as sea creatures swim right by you. Among the Maldives’ top diving spots is Fotteyo Kandu in Vaavu Atoll, with fast currents and schools of sharks, or Banana Reef on North Male Atoll, with steep drop-offs and overhangs providing homes to fish, rays and moray eels.
The Maldives isn’t the most obvious surf spot, but from March to October a growing group of visitors – as well as local surfers – hit the waves off the islands. There’s a mixture of left and right reef breaks, with the biggest swells reaching 3-8 feet when the Southern Monsoon hits between June and August. The most well-known surf spots are at the north and south end of the Male Atoll. Some breaks you can access straight off the shore from the islands, but for others, you need to get there by boat. If you want to get away from the crowds you can also sign up for a specialist surf cruise or ‘surfari’, which travels out to the distant atolls.
The Maldives is a great spot for windsurfing, whatever your skill level. For most of the year the light winds and flat water making it perfect for beginners. But between May and October, the monsoon winds pick up for something a bit more exhilarating. Many of the resorts offer lessons or equipment to hire if you want to give it a try and the warm water means you won’t need a wetsuit. The best spots for windsurfing are the islands which are surrounded by a large, shallow lagoon rather than ones where the coral reefs are close to the shore.
If you’re looking for a bit more speed, head out to the water on a jet ski. Many Maldives resorts now use new-style ‘water scooters’ which are light, easy to manoeuvre and produce low noise and emissions, so you don’t have to worry about damaging the environment. You can hire them for a few hours or join in a guided jet ski safari. These are a great alternative to boat trips for an island-hopping tour to deserted beaches and top snorkelling spots.
That’s just the start of the options to keep you occupied the water in the Maldives – there’s a constantly growing list of watersports available. There are the sedate, relaxing options like kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding, or the more extreme like parasailing, waterskiing, wakeboarding or kiteboarding – a mixture between surfing and kiting. Whichever you choose, the watery world of the Maldives is an experience you won’t forget.