North Ari Atoll is a very popular diving area in The Maldives, and for good reason. Its location and the make-up & quantity of islands & thilas ensures plenty of exciting dive sites. In 1984 Ari Atoll was separated into two administrative zones, North & South Ari. The capital/main city of North Ari is Rasdhoo, a mini-atoll just to the north of Ari Atoll, and almost directly west of the country's main international airport, which is just 60 km. away. In addition to Rasdhoo, the northernmost part of North Ari Atoll is Thoddoo. This very small island was among the last of The Maldives' societies to move from Buddhism to Islam. The southernmost island of North Ari Atoll is Himandhoo. Any islands south of Himandhoo are in South Ari Atoll.
North Ari Atoll is also known as Alif alif Atoll & Ari Atholu Uthuruburi). Due to its close proximity to the airport and Male Atoll, as well as the makeup of the islands, it is one of the most developed atolls in The Maldives, and one which gets the most tourists visiting its resorts.
Diving in this area is excellent and possible for all levels of diver certification and experience. However, some dive sites are only suitable for more experienced divers, due to depth and potential currents. In addition to 'house reefs' at most resorts, there are plenty of other dive sites, which include a couple of wrecks, sloping reefs and drop-offs, but most of the dives are drifting along the kandus (channels between thilas, which are underwater islands). The large quantity of excellent diving sites around North Ari Atoll enables liveaboard boats to find somewhere for the guests to enjoy great scuba diving but without too many people in the water.
It's generally regarded that the best dive sites of North Ari Atoll include Maaya Thila, Fish Head, Ukulhas Thila and Radhoo Madivaru. But the list of dive sites is very long, and includes the following and more! Fesdu Wreck, Miyaruga Thila, Havza Thila, Maalhoss Thila, Rasdhoo Atoll, Bathala(a), (Kari) Beyru, Bodu Gah, Kuramathi Wreck, Halaveli Wreck and many more.
You can dive all year round at North Ari Atoll, but the driest months with the calmest sea & best visibility is January to late April / early May. June & July are the wettest periods but diving is still possible, and there's sunshine and long dry periods between storms. August to November has limited visibility but is also the best time to dive with Manta Rays.
Most of the dives are drift dives in the channels (kandus) between the islands (thilas). But there are a few wrecks, and plenty of reefs, including house reefs.
North Ari is the northern half of Ari Atoll, with Himandhoo its southernmost island, and includes Rasdhoo (mini) Atoll and Thoddoo, which is furthest north.
Visit The Maldives by international flight, arriving at Male Airport, then join a liveaboard cruise. these normally leave in the evenings at the weekend.
Many of the dive sites are 'house reefs' where you can go from the beach in front of your resort straight into the sea. But the best dive sites are more remote, and the best way to enjoy diving at North Ari Atoll is by liveaboard cruise. On these trips, you spend most of your time on the main ship, but dive from the support vessels, known locally as dhonis.
Any certified scuba diver can dive at North Ari Atoll. In fact, you can even learn to dive there. However, many dive sites require you to be certified to Advanced level (30m.) with 50 or more logged dives.
The marine life you can see at North Ari Atoll is varied, abundant and healthy. The Indian Ocean currents continuously feed the reef and its visits throughout the year. From the smallest nudibranch to Whale Sharks, Manta Rays & even Hammerhead Sharks from time to time, there's always something good to see when diving at North Ari Atoll.
Diving in The Maldives is on many divers' bucket lists. North Ari Atoll, is included in many liveaboard's itineraries. Being located on the west side of the country, the marine life and make-up of the islands are slightly different from other atolls, including Male. It is one of the best places to dive in The Maldives. There are a few diving wrecks there, and Maaya Thila is regarded by many as the best dive site in Ari Atoll, or even the whole country.