Like most Maldives atolls, Noonu Atoll is just the name for an administrative area. Actually, it makes up the southern region of the country's largest natural atoll, Miladhunmadulu. Noonu is Southern Miladhunmadulu Atoll, with Shaviyani being the central area of Miladhunmadulu atoll, and Haa Dhaalu & Haa Alif making up the far north.
Noonu is considered to be the best place in The Maldives for luxurious resorts, many of which are 5+ stars. There are 71 islands in Noonu, but only 13 are inhabited. Noonu covers a large area and, unlike most other Maldives atolls, many of the islands are spread out far from one another. This means that the channels between the islands don't have such strong currents. The result is less-condensed reefs and marine life, which makes it harder to spot large marine life that swims in open sea, and takes longer to travel from one dive site to another. However, there are many excellent dive sites at Noonu Atoll, spread out across the lagoon that is nearly 40 kilometres across. and if you're on a Maldives diving liveaboard, the boat can cruise between dive sites during your surface interval.
Orimas Thila in the centre of the lagoon on the western side is by far the best & most-popular dive site at Noonu Atoll. Here you can expect to see large numbers of Grey Reef Sharks which is a wonderful highlight for your Maldives liveaboard diving safari. A good dive guide will position your group just down current from the sharks, where you can rest carefully on the sand or hold gently to a rock (not the coral!) and watch the sharks in action. But the sharks are just one of lots of other species here, large & small. The dive site is deeper than 30 metres, but Maldives regulations limit recreational diving to this depth. This dive site is a 'must' for anyone coming to Noonu Atoll for diving.
Christmas Tree Rock is the next most popular dive site in Noonu Atoll. Locally, it's known as Vavathi Kurohli Thila and it's located in the southwest of the lagoon. This dive site is interesting for and gets its name from the shape of the reef, which is a submerged pinnacle that goes down in widening ledges, in the shape of a Christmas Tree. Whitetip Reef Sharks can be found resting under overhangs or in crevices during the day. Even without fish, this dive site is worth visiting for its topography.
A selection of some of the remaining many dive sites at Noonu Atoll
In general, diving at Noonu Atoll on a Maldives liveaboard diving safari is suitable for most levels of scuba diver, but the operators usually select the dive sites better suited to Advanced, experienced or intermediate divers. If you're staying in a resort there, you can learn to dive at easier sites, but this is expensive. Our advice is to join a Northern Atolls liveaboard cruise if you have 50 or more logged dives and Advanced certification or higher.
You can dive most of the year at Noonu Atoll, although some resorts close during June, and liveaboard operators visit during just a few months per year. The Maldives' high season is January to April, when sea & weather conditions are best.
Noonu Atoll is mainly reef dives, around farus (mini atolls) & thilas (submerged pinnacels), and through kandus (channels between islands).
Noonu is the southern part of Miladhunmiladulu Atoll, which is the largest natural atoll in The Maldives and makes up most of the northern region of the country.
You first need to fly into Malé International Airport (MLE) and then the next leg of your journey depends on your plans. We advise joining Maldives diving liveaboards which usually depart from & return to Malé, but some use domestic airports in the north.
All levels can dive at Noonu Atoll, but please note that new & inexperienced divers normally dive from resorts, not from liveaboards. Liveaboard operators normally require you be experienced and/or have Advanced certification.
Although The Maldives are famous for sightings of Manta Rays & Whale Sharks, these large filter feeders are not as common at Noonu as they are at other atolls. However, they do pass by from time to time. Expect to see large shoals of many species of reef fish, plus medium-size sharks. The reefs here are very healthy and covered in life of all shapes and sizes.
Noonu is a quiet area, making up the southern part of the country's largest natural atoll. There are some of the most luxurious Maldives resorts here at Noonu. The islands are more spread out than most other atolls, which means there are fewer famous channels that diving in the Maldives is renowned for. It's known for lots of huge shoals of reef fish, plus Grey & Whitetip Reef Sharks.