Scuba diving in North Ari Atoll (Maldives)

Manta Ray | Maldives

Traveling to Maldives is incomplete if one does not scuba dive in the pristine waters of Maldives. The water in Maldives is absolutely divine. It is warm and clear. And a perfect condition to have a relaxed dive. Every resort has its own House Reef and is perfect for all kinds of divers. The last three dives of mine, two dives in Rottnest Island and one dive in Sesimbra, had taken a toll on me and I had thought I would never come out of the anxiety or panic I had during those dives. However, diving at Maldives changed my anxiety and panic.

I stayed at the Ellaidhoo Resort in North Ari Atoll. The resort had its own diving centre and all my dives that I did while in Maldives were through that in-house diving centre ‘Dive and Sail’.

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Scuba diving in Maldives

Diving in House Reef

After diving in House Reef (Ellaidhoo, Maldives), I realised that my body is not made for cold waters. I do not enjoy the cold and hence I had panicked at Rottnest and Sesimbra. The dive in House Reef was absolutely fine and I had no problems whatsoever with my dive. I also realised that the panic that I had during the three previous dives were because of the temperature of the water and not because I had forgotten how to dive.

Marine Life

The marine life was abundant at the House Reef and I saw so many corals and fishes. The corals had formed a wall and there were all kinds, shapes, and colours of corals. And as every diver wants to see, there were so many sharks out there. The White-tip and the black-tip reef sharks were regular visitors at the House Reef.

The main highlight of this dive were the sharks. I saw four of them, three Grey Reef Sharks and one White-tip Reef Shark. An absolutely exciting experience.

Dive centre and cost

  • Dive Centre: Dive and Sail
  • Dive Cost: USD 54 for an Open Water Certified Diver
  • Equipment cost: USD 16

I had an amazing time diving with Dive and Sail guys. They are extremely professional and they take care of their divers. The equipment was in a very good condition and the overall experience was very pleasant.

Dive logistics

  • Dive type: Shore dive
  • Dive site name: House reef
  • Ocean: Calm mostly but there is current underwater
  • Wet suit: Yes
  • Visibility: 12 metres

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Scuba diving in Maldives

Manta Exploration

There are very rare days in life where one feels that the whole world comes together to make their dreams come true. I have told many times, I love ocean and anything that lives underwater. I love Manta Rays. I had seen two Mantas come by when I dived in New Caledonia. It was magical. They had swam by very gently while I struggled to stay in one place in the strong current.

The dive centre ‘Dive and Sail‘ at Ellaidhoo had organised the Manta Exploration tour one morning while I was at the resort. After my dive at House Reef, I had immediately put my name for the Manta exploration. The only catch for this tour was that the boat was leaving at 6 AM, which meant that I had to be awake by 5 AM. Now, not being a morning person, this definitely was my huge concern. Nevertheless, I wanted to do the exploration which meant me cursing myself and getting up in the morning at 5.

The dive centre staff had instructed us to get all our gear set up previous night so they can be boarded onto the boat before we arrived that morning. I had my tray 64 with all the equipment needed. The boat was scheduled for two dives – first one at the Manta Ray cleaning station (Yes, they have their cleaning stations where they come and clean themselves – sounds really cool right?) and the second at a reef and both were the boat dives.

Site & my experience

After 2 hours of boat ride into the Atoll, we reached the first dive site – Manta Kandu. The sea was rough and the weather was not that great that day. In spite of it, the temperature of the water was 29 degrees Celsius. My dive buddy was Athihi, an assistant instructor at the dive centre.

Diving buddy in Maldives

Athihi jumped into the water first and then I followed. After getting a bit comfortable in the water, we descended. Within a few minutes of going underwater, I saw a Manta at quite a distance. I saw other divers close to it and I was jealous. The current was too high for me to have gone ahead without my buddy. So I waited.

My best Manta-Ray moment

A couple of minutes went by and then Athihi took me to the edge of the reef and asked me to hold on to an edge of a coral. This time I was in the front and ahead of everyone else. A Manta came by. And it stopped right in front of me. It was so close to me that I could almost touch it. I refrained as one needs to respect nature and know the distance.

For the next 20 minutes or so, the Manta just stayed there in front of me. There were times where I had to dodge so the tail wouldn’t touch me. It was an absolutely breathtaking moment for me. I had never seen a Manta Ray up so close. Oh, this moment was just so amazing. I crave for such experiences and that day was the day where I was having one, a dream that I had dreamt of all the time. Maybe God was looking after me that day! And maybe the Manta loved me that it came so close to me. I don’t know, but I want to believe both of these two statements are true. I can never forget this experience in my life. It was undoubtedly insane.

Dive centre and cost

  • Company: Dive & Sail
  • Dive Cost: USD 54 for an Open Water Certified Diver
  • Equipment cost: USD 16
  • Boat Cost: USD 45

Dive logistics

  • Dive type: Boat dive
  • Dive site name: Manta Kandu
  • Ocean: Strong current
  • Wet suit: Yes
  • Visibility: 30 metres


I had one hell of a time with these dives especially the Manta dive. It was so beautiful and awesome. All the dives at Maldives were different and each one of them was a unique experience. I would love to go back to Maldives and stay there for a longer time so I can dive and experience this untouched underwater world more. Till then, I can only cherish these memories and look back at my photographs.

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Meet the Mantas in Maldives


Hello! I’m Raksha Nagaraj, the blogger and social media influencer behind Solopassport. I am an Indian girl, based out of Sydney and Bangalore, solo travelling and making memories around the World. I started Solopassport with an idea to encourage female travellers to take that step into solo travelling. My blog mainly focuses on India and Australia adventurous (hiking and diving) and solo travel.

14 thoughts on “Scuba diving in North Ari Atoll (Maldives)

  1. hey Raksha,

    Finally had the time to check our your blog after I got back to Singapore. This is Divya, I met you on the flight to Maldives and back from BLR. very happy to see your post on the Manta Rays you were so keen on seeing. Wishing you more opportunities for close encounters with your beloved marine life.

    As a strange co-incidence… just happened to come across a post of yours on FB with Deepthi Prabhu ( Sydney). Deepthi is my cousin ( mamas daughter) – its a small world after all .

    Am yet to see your posts and Travel logs…. will keep in touch.
    Take care- travel safe.

    1. Hey Divya, What a small world! Yes Deepti is a good friend. Definitely would love to stay in touch. Take care. ❤️

  2. I would love to swim among these giants. You are lucky that the ray stayed around for so long. I love the video.

    1. I fell in love with Manta Rays when I was working on a text book during my corporate life as a Photo Editor. You got so lucky to see them up-close. I really wish to see Manta Ray somedays. Most beautiful sea creature they are.

  3. I can feel your excitement! It is always a pleasure to meet these beautiful creature! Unfortunately manta rays are usually in the currents, like you I am always having a problem advancing. The first time I saw them it was in Komodo national park in Indonesia and there were 6 of them swimming around us. Magical!
    I hope you will get to see them often!

    1. Wow what a beautiful experience. Just seeing the video made me excited. Although I too love the ocean have never ventured underwater. You are motivating me to take the plunge. Malta is such a beautiful creature and so cool. Maldives surely my destination to go to now.Hopefully soon.

  4. We swam with Manta Rays before in Hawaii. It was indeed a very unique experience, like you say. I only snorkeled with them, but my husband also did a night dive and watched the Mantas feed on plankton. Amazing! I’d love to see the Mantas in the Maldives as well.

  5. I’m very envious of your Manta Rey experience. Especially since it wasn’t a fleeting view from a distance, but close and it lasted such a long time. I bet you even had a first thought to hold your breath! But, I can’t believe that your dive buddy instructed you to hold onto the coral because that’s something you should never do. Simply touching coral can kill a whole bed. So in the spirit of maintaining see life for others to enjoy It’s not something that is good for the environment

  6. Getting up close and personal with Manta Ray must be a truly special moment for you. From how you described it, I could tell you are passionate about diving and you had such an amazing time.

  7. Wow! That’s an amazing experience. It is very rare to encounter a manta that close. It is indeed the best day ever. I’m happy for you.

  8. Wow, Raksha! You are so lucky to have seen the Manta Rays in your diving trips. Indeed, it was your best day in life. I am not much of a diver, but very tempted by your video.

I would love to hear your thoughts, please drop a comment!

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