Banana Reef Dive Site
Type of Dive Site: Wall / Thila (Pinnacle)
Location: North Male Atoll
Best Time to Dive: All year sound
GPS Position: 04.15000, 73.32000
Depth Range: 5m – 30m
Coral Growth: Excellent
Features: Caves, overhangs and coral heads
Fish Life: Abundant
Experience Level: Novice
Dive Site Map - Banana Reef - Gaathugiri
Diving Hints and Currents:
The Maldives dive site Gaathugiri, also known as Banana Reef, gets its name from the shape of the island when viewed from above. It is one of the oldest dive sites in the Maldives, one of the first to be discovered. It is located to the west of Club Med, inside Kuda Kalhi, and one of the most northern of the two reefs.
Dive photo of train gobi in Banana Reef
On the eastern side of the reef at around 15 meters you will often find a school of up to 1000 schooling bannerfish.
These fish in the Maldives have long dorsal fins and vertical black and white stripes, and tend to always occupy the same area. Sometimes the congregations are so dense that scuba divers can barely see through the whirling masses. It is around this area that you will also find large morays, usually coiling around the green coral trees.
The numerous caves at Banana Reef dive site are a popular stop off for divers on holiday to the Maldives, and in these caves you will find all kinds of exotic fish. The caves contain several species of grouper fish, and in certain areas the fish have even become quite tame due to frequent fish feeding.
Additionally, you will find pufferfish, smaller species of wrasse and big schools of fusilier; particularly the smaller striped fusilier, moon fusilier and blue dash fusilier.
The western end of the dive site Banana reef - Gaathugiri boasts a semi-circular wall that drops steeply to 25 meters. Here lies a large cave, between 10 to 15 meters, containing a plethora of marine life, like the squirrelfish, soldierfish and Maldivian grubfish. A little deeper you will find a smaller cave, known to be frequented by morays and grouper fish.
When there are strong currents, this concave wall generates quite the phenomenon; swirling down currents which are known to shake up even experienced divers - this is known as the "washing machine". Be wary if you are caught up in the "washing machine", do not fight it, simply stay close to the reef and ride it out into calmer waters. It is usually during the north-east monsoon when spring tides clash with the north easterly winds, creating extremely powerful currents from the east.
Amazing marine photo of a scorpion head at Banana Reef, North Male Atoll, Maldives
The best area for diving in Banana Reef is widely known to be along the north eastern end, where you will find majestic rock faces, colossal caves, deep gutters and precipitous overhangs. The marine life is just as breathtaking under water as the landscape, with the area often frequented by sharks, barracudas, trevally and black snapper fish.
On the reef top you can find some of the greatest table coral seen in North Male Atoll, and upon the cliffs and ledges between three and ten meters is some dazzling coral and colorful sponges. Around this area is also where the most sharks are spotted, predominantly grey reef sharks.
Banana Reef was the first dive site to ever be discovered in the Maldives and is still among the best. The best diving at this site is on the banana-shaped area in the northeastern where there are caves, gutters and overhangs filled with fish life and soft coral. Spend as much time as possible near the coral heads; if you begin the dive with your left shoulder to the reef, this is an excellent way to observe the area. At Banana Reef, you are likely to see many fish, including Oriental Sweetlips, Giant Squirrelfish, Bannerfish and many other species that congregate in this spot. When the currents are strong, underwater turbulence can be experienced near the near the large overhang. Stay near the wall and don’t let the current push you away. A surface balloon is necessary as boat traffic can be heavy at times.
More Popular Maldives Dive Sites:
- Broken Rock
- Cocoa Corner
- Dhevana Kandu - Miyaru Kandu