What’s never been alive but can come to life? When is a looming fear also a light of hope? I’ve never been good at riddles so, fortunately, the title gives away the answer: Maldives Shipwrecks.
Ships that were originally thought to have been past their prime are now adding to the underwater life in the Maldives as home to plentiful corals and marine fauna. Often referred to as “artificial reefs” they actually display very natural growth on a man-made structure. A shipwreck certainly isn’t something any sailor wants to experience but thanks to these unfortunate circumstances, divers can savor these imposing attractions and the life that swarms around them.
Dive safaris often include wrecks on their dive itineraries; which sites will depend on the route they take. These coral, algae and fish magnets can be found throughout the Maldives in the central, core region as well as in the outer atolls.
Wrecks of the Core Maldives Atolls
The core atolls, those most easily accessible from Male airport, are fortunately also full of interesting dive sites. When it comes to wrecks some of the most popular and vibrant are found in the North and South of the Ari and Male atolls.
North Ari is home to some large submerged sights. Firstly, there is Fesdhoo Wreck and its neighboring thila. This 30-meter long boat sunk in the 80s and is now covered with colorful soft and hard coral. Next, the Halaveli Wreck is an attraction for schools of fish as much as it is for divers. Its 40-meter hull is open for exploration.
In the south of Ari, Machchafushi Island and its shallow house reef share the area with Kudhi Maa Wreck. Stone Fish and multicolored nudibranches bring the wreck to life and after spotting the rare black leaf fish it will seem that much less rare.
In North Male atoll sits one of the most famous wreck sites in the country. The Maldives Victory Wreck has been submerged since 1981 and is now a hot spot for barracudas, fusiliers and sea turtles. While the dive level for the well-known Victory Wreck is considered advanced, the Rannamaari wreck of the atoll has a location and formation that is suitable for all levels. Close to the nearby reef and treasured by the nearby resort, Angsana Ihuru, it recently celebrated its 14th anniversary. The resort arranged a 24-hour dive event to commemorate the milestone at the end of last month.
Heading south in the Male atoll you’ll likely stumble upon the Kuda Giri Wreck with its jacks, trevallys, brown paper scorpionfish, tunas and nudibranches.
Diving Wrecks of the Outer Atolls
In the north and south of the expansive country, beyond the borders of the most visited atolls, are some hidden underwater gems. Many tourists stick to the central atolls around Male but deviating from the usual routes will be worth it.
In the far north, which is accessed by Hanimadhoo Airport, Haa Alifu atoll is among the most secluded regions of this isolated island chain. Here, Maadhoo Wreck is found deep in the sea where leopard sharks are known to frequent. The area has several other dive sites to discover so you can make the trip into a holiday, including a flight over the blue-green lagoons to get some great aerial view photos.
Many famous wrecks are located around Baa and Lhavivani with many ships having run aground on their way to Bengal while passing through Maamakunudhoo Atoll, a route of the ancient sailors. If you are into adventure and mystery, here are some stories of shipwrecks like the Persia Merchant, the Hayston and the George Reid from the 17th and 19th centuries. Due to the currents and surf in Maamakunudhoo there is not much left of the wreckage.
On the other hand, Lhavivani Atoll has a wreck known as The Shipyard – an iconic landmark and a star attraction of the region. The site is made up of two boats, one of which protrudes the water surface. They didn’t sink together but both have been in the channel since the early 80’s.
Skipjack 1 and 2, as the two ships are known, are now grown over and encrusted with colourful hard and soft corals around which divers can see small blennies nesting in the ends of broken pipes, emperor angelfish, anthias, thousands of glassfish and, if you look closely, some well-camouflaged scorpion fish. Stingrays are known to sleep under the wreck and the wreckage itself provides some great photo opportunities with the silhouette of the winch arm visible with sun in the background.
There’s no shortage of wrecks to see in the Maldives. Like a quality French cheese, age adds additional “flavor” to wrecks as the coral thrives and attracts further marine life that take shelter around the revived wreckage. You’ll be sure to discover some wrecks on your liveaboard tour in the Maldives. Check the itineraries and head to the Maldives on one of our value-packed packages.