Hanifaru Bay is one of the Best Places to Swim With Whale Sharks in the Maldives
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10 Best Places to Swim With Whale Sharks in the Maldives

Whale sharks are the biggest fish in the world and found in limited locations, including the Maldives. whale sharks found in the Maldives are smaller compared to other destinations in the world, but it’s one of the best places for swimming with whale sharks. Whale shark season in the Maldives varies depending on where you are in the country. Furthermore, some areas have whale sharks all year while others are limited to a couple of months. Here are the ten best places to swim with whale sharks in the Maldives.

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North Male Atoll

North Male Atoll whale shark point is one of the Best Places to Swim With Whale Sharks in the Maldives

The North Male Atoll, or North Kaafu, is the most popular area to swim with Maldives whale sharks. Male is the capital and hub for tourism in the country. This atoll has easy access from the main city, making it a huge draw for visitors looking to swim with the majestic underwater creatures.

Although it’s one of the busiest areas for whale shark diving, the North Male Atoll still has one of the best reefs in the country. You’ll be able to swim around the coral reef and witness a shipwreck of a Singaporean cargo from many decades ago.

Whale Sharks in the North Male Atoll are best seen from May to November. There is an abundance of them here, relative to other locations around the Maldives thanks to its proximity to the Ari Atoll. There are many dive sites and local dive centers in Male for finding gear and tours to encounter the whale sharks. So, this is one of the best sites to Swim With Whale Sharks in the Maldives

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Dhigurah Island

Dhigurah Island is one of the Best Places to Swim With Whale Sharks in the Maldives

Dhigurah Island creates a mini-community around swimming with whale sharks. The small island is located approximately 110 kilometers south of Male. The small strip of land still has a few guesthouses and accommodations, most likely filled with other divers in search of the whale shark. Snorkeling and diving are the favorite activities to do here, and most of the people visit specifically for that reason. Dive centers on the island provide visitors with information and equipment for exploring the reefs just off its shores.

Dhigurah Island is a remote location but has an abundance of whale sharks that can be seen throughout the year. Boats from other islands can be seen making their way here because of the high chance of encountering whale sharks. Boats here tend to work together for swimming with whale sharks. When one boat comes across a whale shark, other boats are signaled so that all explorers get a chance at the rare lifetime experience of swimming with them.

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Rasdhoo Atoll

Rasdhoo Atoll is one of the Best Places to Swim With Whale Sharks in the Maldives

The Rasdhoo Atoll is the second largest atoll in the Maldives. One of the major draws to the atoll is diving. The atoll is recognized as one of the best diving locations in the Maldives with very distinct underwater structures and landmarks worth exploring. Divers at the Rasdhoo Atoll have frequently come across whale sharks swimming in the area. It’s a place known for its exotic water creatures, including hammerhead sharks. The deep reefs make it ideal for diving, and you’ll need to go to extreme depths for seeing the wonders of the atoll. Whale sharks can be seen here all year round.

Hanifaru Bay

Hanifaru Bay is one of the Best Places to Swim With Whale Sharks in the Maldives

Hanifaru Bay is well known amongst snorkeling enthusiasts for swimming with whale sharks. The bay is a protected area by the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, preserving the underwater life due to past disturbances. The coral reef in Hanifaru Bay stretches a total of 1300 meters. A section of the reef, approximately 600 meters long, is where whale sharks are common. During May to December, plankton is present in the reef, the main diet of the whale sharks. It’s considered the world’s largest feeding station for plankton.

During the peak whale shark season, you can see multiple whale sharks at once. Because it’s a protected area, there are many regulations to swimming with whale sharks here. Specific rules include swimming distance, photo restraints, and even how many visitors are allowed at one time. Visitor tokens are required which can be obtained from the Hanifaru Visitor Center. Hanifaru Bay is considered one of the best place to swim With Whale Sharks in the Maldives

Angafaru

Angafaru is one of the Best Places to Swim With Whale Sharks in the Maldives

Adjacent to Hanifaru Bay is Angafaru, another excellent location for encountering whale sharks in the Maldives. Angafaru is included in the Baa Atoll, which is protected by the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. This region of the Maldives is one of three protected areas for diving with whale sharks. Many of the whale sharks that you see in Hanifaru will be seen in Angafaru.

Angafaru is located southwest of Kihaadhoo Island. The area is characterized by its rich marine life and one of the most diverse coral reefs in the country. Thanks to plankton feeding, May to December is the best time to visit Angafaru for swimming with whale sharks. Other marine life can also be seen such as manta rays, dolphins, and turtles. Many resorts have been developed in this region based on the whale shark attraction. They can provide many resources for swimming with the big fish.

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Royal Island

Royal Island is one of the Best Places to Swim With Whale Sharks in the Maldives

Royal Island is a secluded island located nearby Hanifaru Bay. Just like the bay, Royal Island is encompassed within the protected region of the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. The reserve makes it another excellent location for discovering whale sharks swimming nearby the island. One of the best parts of the island is that it has a local resort. The Royal Island resort gives easy access to the waters for exploring the depths for the whale sharks. Tours can be booked at the resort and boats chartered for going out into the water to swim with the fish. Thanks to the reserve, the marine life here is abundant so you’ll encounter much more than just whale sharks.

South Ari Atoll

When searching for the best places to find Maldives whale sharks, many people will point you directly to the South Ari Atoll. The atoll, also called Alifu Dhaalu Atoll, is the second most popular destination in the Maldives for encountering the creatures. Unlike the North Male Atoll, whale sharks are present all year long. The peak season lasts from August to November where there is also a lot of manta ray present.

The South Air Atoll has perfect conditions for keeping the whale sharks around for the entire year. The coral reef surrounding the atoll is an excellent habitat for feeding and living for the giant fish. Diving and snorkeling are allowed in the region, giving you the best opportunities for swimming with the whale sharks no matter what depth you encounter them.

Sun Island

Sun Island is one of the Best Places to Swim With Whale Sharks in the Maldives

Sun Island is located in the southernmost reef of the South Ari Atoll. It’s a unique location for spotting whale sharks, being one of the most consistent of all sites in the Maldives. Whale sharks at Sun Island can be seen all year long, although there are more favorable months than others.

Sun Island is the perfect location for swimming with whale sharks. The waters only have a depth of five to ten meters, making it very easy to spot them even from the surface. Not all locations in the Maldives allow you to snorkel and dive with whale sharks, but both of these activities are permitted at Sun Island. The Sun Island resort was established with the popularity of the location for whale sharks. It’s the closest resort to the dive spot, and whale shark excursions are by far the most frequented tour provided by the resort.

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Rangali Island

Hilton Maldives is one of the Best Places to Swim With Whale Sharks in the Maldives

In case you were unsuccessful in seeing whale sharks at Sun Island, its neighbor, Rangali Island is a great alternative for trying your luck. Many people travel between the islands respectively if the fish aren’t present at the other. Whale sharks can be spotted here at any point during the year, so it’s just based on your luck if they will be at this location on the day that you decide to visit.

The major advantage of swimming with whale sharks at Rangali Island is the Maldives Whale Shark Research Programme (MWSRP). The MWSRP operates to support whale shark research and tours. And they also provide conservation efforts for whale sharks in the Maldives. Research volunteers are available to conduct tours to the coral reef sites surrounding the island. The benefit to tours with the organization is that they are very knowledgeable of specific times in the day and locations for increasing your odds of swimming with the whale sharks.

Maamigilibeyru

Maamigilibeyru is one the Best Places to Swim With Whale Sharks in the Maldives

Maamigilibeyru is a special place for whale shark swimming. It’s a favorite dive site for visitors that just happens also to be a common area for whale sharks to hang around. Maamigilibeyru is located at the edge of South Ari Atoll, where whale sharks are easily seen throughout the entire year.

You’ll discover the Whale Shark Inn when you visit this location, a resort explicitly established for catering to tourists interests in swimming with whale sharks. The inn provides several tours and excursions for venturing out into the ocean for whale shark encounters. It’s a remote location that allows the whale sharks to roam freely, a significant reason why so many of them can be seen here.

Boats take visitors on day trips fully prepared with equipment for diving alongside the fish. Camera equipment is allowed for underwater photography of the whale sharks.

The Maldives is a well known destination around the world for whale shark enthusiasts. It’s one of the best places to swim with whale sharks at any time during the year. If you’re interested in whale sharks, the Maldives should definitely be on your bucket list. Which of these locations would you choose to dive into first?

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