Guidelines for Scuba Diving in the Maldives
Before heading to the Maldives for the scuba diving holiday of a lifetime, be sure you’re familiar with the Maldivian diving guidelines, ensuring a safe, happy holiday! Download the entire Maldives Recreational Diving Regulation guide here!
1. Planning the Dive
1) It is essential to “PLAN YOUR DIVE AND DIVE YOUR PLAN”. Dive centres must be aware of any changes to the dive plan of the dive boat and divers.
2. Weather Checks
1) It is recommended that dive centres keep aware of local weather conditions and inform divers of any special conditions at each dive site prior to the dive.
3. Low-Risk Conditions
1) Maximum depth of dive site does not exceed 20 m
2) Swell and/or wave height does not exceed 0.5 m
3) Current is nil to slight (diver can swim against it with minimum exertion)
4) Underwater visibility is greater than 4 m
5) Dive starts and ends in full daylight
4. Prohibited Dives
1) Decompression dives
2) Dives deeper than 30 m
3) Dives less than 24 hours before flying(a pressurised aircraft)
4) Dives in restricted /no dive areas (Refer SECTION 10: DIVING RESTRICTED AREAS)
5. Diver Qualifications
1) A diver must present the following documents to the dive centre:
a) Dive certification card from a recognised agency that allows the person to dive
without supervision in open water.
b) Log book validating open water diving experience of at least 900 minutes, excluding
c) Medical certificate dated within 12 months of diving or self-declaration stating that
the person is fit to scuba dive.
d) Completed diver registration form at the dive centre.
e) An orientation dive may be required for persons who have not dived within the last 3
months. The dive centre may impose restrictions on a diver’s activities on the basis of
his/her logged experience.
6. Dive Tables and Computers
1) Use of dive tables and dive computers are highly recommended for all divers.
2) Dive tables must be available at the dive base for divers to workout their dives
7. Dive Flag
1) The wide transport activities around the islands in the Maldives make it essential that divers mark their presence clearly. Therefore, any boat with divers operating from it must always display signals by day or night to inform other boat users. In the
Maldives the daytime signal for divers is the International Code Flag “A” (white and blue split flag) approved by the Ministry of Tourism as an indication of a submerged diver. The flag must be at least 750mm in length and 600mm in width.
2) Dive flag can be used anywhere where divers are diving and should always be displayed by dive boats when it has divers in the water. The use of dive flag is to signal any boat, jet-ski or anybody else in the vicinity that divers are underneath and hence should keep distance, or take care when approaching.
8. Diving from Boats
1) For all dives away from the dive centre, it is recommended that a person with the following qualifications and experience remains on the surface during diving operations:
a) A boat driving/captains license from the Ministry of Transport & Civil
Aviation and with significant experience.
b) Dive Centre staff with adequate knowledge of the dive location or other
person approved by the Base Leader.
c) First aid certificate.
d) Oxygen resuscitation and therapy certificate or PADI /DAN Oxygen Provider Course.
9. Cylinder Pressure Testing
1) Those who are professionally engaged in the filling of compressed air are forbidden to fill cylinders that have not been hydrostatic pressure tested within the last two years. Persons employed by dive centres to fill cylinders (such as compressor boys) must be
made aware of these regulation.
10. Diving in Restricted Areas
1) Generally diving is fairly free in Maldives, but in the vicinity of closed national security installations diving is not permitted. These areas are not always marked on maps, hence it is recommended that divers consult the Coast Guard/ Ministry of Defence & National Security or the Ministry of Tourism in advance, to find out about possible restrictions.
2) All the above stated are valid for the whole of Maldives. Other restricted areas are;
a) Ports, traffic route accesses, passages and alike. Permission has to be obtained from the Maldives Ports Authority / harbour authorities before attempting to dive in designated commercial harbours and ports.
b) Vicinity of areas under the Ministry of Defence & National Security and near maritime vessels.
c) In the atolls where tourism is undeveloped (outside the tourism zone), except in designated dive sites.
11. Diving Wrecks and Underwater Artefacts
1) Maldives being a seafaring nation, it is expected that there will be many wrecks among the atolls. The imperative rule for wreck diving is: “Look but don’t touch!” Those who do not observe this rule are not only damaging the underwater wrecks, but are also obstructing future wreck diving in the Maldives. This rule applies not only to wrecks, but also to any separate objects found under water.
2) Should you discover an underwater object the correct procedure is to mark the spot and then report to the National Centre for Linguistics and Historical Research and the Ministry of Finance and Treasury. A list of wrecks is available from the Ministry of
12. Protection of Underwater Cultural Monuments
1) Nothing should be taken out from the sea, and particularly this prohibition refers to cultural monuments. Please contact the National Centre for Linguistics & Historical Research and the Ministry of Finance & Treasury should you find any.
2) Damaging and extracting cultural monuments is prohibited, as well as taking the same abroad. Underwater archaeological researches may be performed only with permits issued by the Maldivian government authorities, and the procedure is NOT covered
under these regulations.
13. Environment Protection
1) As responsible divers, reasonable care should be taken to protect the marine environment, its associated living organisms and their habitats. Divers should be briefed by the dive instructor on responsible behaviour whilst diving, such as buoyancy control, avoiding damage to corals and physical contact with marine animals. Shark feeding is NOT permitted for the divers and the dive centre staff alike.
2) Activities that are detrimental to marine protected areas and protected species and their habitats are prohibited under the Environment Protection & Preservation Act (Act No. 4/93) of Maldives. Marine Protected Areas are living marine aquariums.
Look but don’t touch is the message in these areas, and ONLY permitted activities can take place. Protected areas, as their name suggests, are there to protect typical areas of the coral reef system, and its resident fish and other animals, in as near to a pristine
condition as possible.
3) Permit to dive in marine protected areas may be required. Please check before you venture.
14. Damage Due to Anchoring
1) Dive boats are not allowed to anchor on dive sites. Drift boat diving is the norm in Maldives. Boat anchors destroy fish habitats especially corals and even sea-grass beds. If anchoring is required for any reason, prevent reef damage by anchoring in sandy areas or using mooring buoys.
15. Diving in Bait Fishery Areas
1) Bait fishing is an important activity for the traditional pole and line tuna fishery in the Maldives. Hence, occasionally divers may encounter fishermen collecting bait. In order to reduce conflict between local fishermen, diving should be avoided in the
same area whilst fishermen are engaged in bait fishing. Any such conflicts should be reported to the Ministry of Tourism through the responsible dive centre as soon as possible. Dive centres should also keep divers informed of these traditional economic activities in the country.
16. Diving for Commercial Fishing & Marine Research
1) Diving for marine resources and marine research are not covered under these regulations. Permission should be obtained from the concerned government authorities before engaging in such activities.
17. Confiscation of Equipment
1) The Maldivian legislation provides the Police the right to confiscate objects unlawfully taken up as well as equipment in cases where a diver has applied his or her equipment illegally.