NORTH & CENTRAL ATOLLS
Incl. Hanifaru Bay
North and Central Atolls
incl. Hanifaru Bay in Baa atoll
Start/End Liveaboard: Male/Hulhumale
2-3 dives per day / 7 to 11 nights aboard
Atolls: North Male, Baa, Raa or Lhaviyani, North Ari Atoll
For who: for all, beginner and experienced scuba diving levels, Snorkelers welcome!
Mostly Thilas, few channels possible. Snorkeling in Hanifaru Bay in Baa atoll
Exact routing depends on the weather!
We will choose the best liveaboard routing!
Hanifaru Bay fee per person/visit: 25 USD (not included!)
Hanifaru Bay is a sanctuary for people who love snorkeling with manta rays and whale sharks. This UNESCO biosphere reserve in the Maldives is legally designated as a Marine Protected Area. There are strict regulations in place to protect and preserve this amazing wonder. The whaleshark and Manta season is from May to December. In this period, planktons gets trapped in the funnel-like reef of Hanifaru Bay and concentration of planktons attracts whale sharks and schools of manta rays. At any time there could be over a hundred mantas and several whalesharks feeding off the coral reef. This is the world’s largest feeding station known to exist.
At Hanifaru Bay you can do snorkeling, diving is not permitted any more.
At some point whalesharks and manta population in Hanifaru Bay went to a drastic drop. The creatures might have been disturbed by human intervention. Hence, the regulations are important to keep this amazing wonder preserved.
Formed in 2011, the Manta Trust is a UK registered charity that co-ordinates global mobulid research and conservation efforts. Our team is comprised of a diverse group of researchers, scientists, conservationists, educators and media experts; working together to share and promote knowledge and expertise. Our mission is to conserve mobulid rays, their relatives, and their habitats, through a combination of research, education and collaboration.
The Republic of Maldives has a massive population of reef manta rays (Mobula alfredi)
After 15 years of data collection, we estimate that the total population for this small nation in the middle of the Indian Ocean numbers around 10,000 individuals - making it the largest known population of reef manta rays in the world (by a large margin too!).
The Maldivian reef mantas are year-round residents, migrating across the country’s 26 atolls in tandem with the changing monsoons and the resulting shifts in zooplankton abundance and distribution. These nutrient-rich waters support huge quantities of marine life, and it’s not uncommon to find several dozen manta rays feeding in the shallow surface waters in and around the atolls. At the right time of year, some key sites such as Hanifaru Bay, play host to feeding aggregations of >150 mantas - sometimes with a whale shark or two joining in on the feast.
These spectacular underwater events, coupled with the diversity of marine life across the country, makes the Maldives one of the best dive and snorkel destinations in the world. Every year the number of tourists travelling to the Maldives specifically to swim with charismatic marine megafauna has increased. These animals are therefore highly valued as a tourism resource in the Maldives, generating an estimated USD 8.1 million annually in direct revenue for manta ray tourism alone. This type of tourism has clear significant benefits to the Maldivian economy and for the wider-scale conservation of mantas and the ocean - but as is the case with many natural resources, they continue to be stretched in this developing nation. The negative associated impacts of tourism are increasingly affecting the manta population and their habitat.