Dream of swimming with whale sharks in Maldives?
Want a truly unforgettable life time experience and at the same time, tick-off one of the biggest bucket list items in the Maldives?
Looking for the best Maldives resorts for swimming with whale sharks, or the top local islands?
Want to know when is the best time to swim with whale sharks in Maldives?
Come explore the pristine waters that surround Maldives’ dreamy, tropical islands. Colourful reefs and vibrant corals teem with marine life, including dolphins, turtles, eagle rays, sting rays, manta rays and, the majestic giants of the sea… WHALE SHARKS. Swimming with whale sharks in Maldives is one of the most popular reasons travellers visit the islands & make memories that will remain with them forever.
BEST TIME TO SWIM WITH WHALE SHARKS IN MALDIVES?
Maldives is a nation positioned in the Indian Ocean composed of 26 ring-shaped atolls, which are made up of more than 1,000 coral islands. Maldives is famous for its tropical beaches, blue lagoons, its extensive reefs and… for the amazing opportunity to swim with whale sharks in Maldives, year round! If you wish to go swimming with whale sharks in Maldives, Indulge Maldives can assist you in choosing the right area of Maldives to visit, so you can site these beautiful creatures year-round.
BEST PLACES FOR SWIMMING WITH WHALE SHARKS IN MALDIVES:
#1. SOUTH ARI ATOLL
In 2009, the Maldivian government declared South Ari Atoll as a protected marine area. The best place for swimming with whale sharks in Maldives, and most likely the best place in the world to see whale sharks all year round, is South Ari Atoll. The incredibly clear waters of this region offer idyllic opportunities and conditions to swim with whale sharks in Maldives in their natural environment. South Ari Atoll is abundant with plankton and showcases some of the most famous snorkelling and scuba diving sites in Maldives.
#2. HANIFARU BAY, BAA ATOLL – UNESCO WORLD BIOSPHERE RESERVE
Hanifaru Bay lies int he Baa Atoll and covers an area of 1,200 km² – smaller than the size of a football field. It’s famous for its annual gathering of manta rays and whale sharks between the months of June to November. Hundreds of mantas come to this spot to feed, when the currents bring plankton and krill and whale sharks come here to mate.
In 2009, the government declared Hanifaru Bay a marine protected area and in 2011, it was further protected by being included in the UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve, basically, meaning fishing and boating is restricted. Manta rays gather here in huge numbers to feed on plankton, and it is one of the greatest phenomena in the world to see. You MUST go with a guide as there is no diving inside the Bay, only snorkelling is prohibited.
BEST LOCAL ISLANDS TO SWIM WITH WHALE SHARKS IN MALDIVES:
1. DHIGURAH LOCAL ISLAND (SOUTH ARI ATOLL)
Part of the South Ari Atoll, Dhigurah Island is regarded as one of the most beautiful islands in all of Maldives. Long stretches of white sandy beaches, thick palm tree plantations and sandbanks will draw you to this heavenly, tropical paradise.
In the local language of Dhivehi, Dhigurah Island is translated as ‘Long Island’. A large area of the island isn’t populated and is still in its wilderness state. It also has a large sandbank tip perfect for travellers to relax.
Located 2 hours from Malé International Airport via a spectacular speedboat ride – adventurous fun itself! We can arrange your island transfers via speedboat for you or can arrange you a combined 30 minute domestic flight (with amazing aerial views) and a 15 minute speedboat ride.
When you swim with whale sharks in Maldives at Dhigurah Island, you have a true Maldivian experience; cruising the island’s waters and marine park on a ‘dhoni’, a traditional local slow boat. Whale sharks in Dhigurah are wild and free – they are not fed or chased – so you’ll be sure to spot them in their natural habitat in this famous whale shark renowned area.
STAY AT WHITE SAND DHIGURAH OR BLISS DHIGURAH
Are you keen to explore the Maldivian culture/way of life while staying at a local guest house in Dhigurah Island? We recommend staying at White Sand Dhigurah or Bliss Dhigurah, which offers the best opportunities to go swim with whale sharks in Maldives, with qualified, Maldivian local guides.
Our 3 NIGHT WHALE SHARK & MANTA PACKAGE at White Sand Dhigurah pairs you with the experienced local guides of Oceanholic Divers, a 5-star PADI dive school operated by the White Sand Dhigurah team. The qualified Maldivian guides have grown up on the island and have highly valuable local knowledge. They can inform you about the habits, behaviours and best sighting opportunities for swimming with whale sharks in Maldives. Seize your best opportunity to encounter these amazing creatures with expert guides from the dive school.
Following your swim with the whale sharks in Maldives, you will want to discover more about these majestic creatures! You can do this at the Maldivian Whale Shark Research Centre (MWSRC), which just happens to be located on Dhigurah Island.
The MWSR Program is a charity that carries out whale shark research and fosters community focused conservation, through research and community mobilisation, in the Maldives. It was founded on the aim of understanding the population dynamics of whale sharks in the Maldives and how this fits into the species’ existence in the wider world. Many aspects of the whale shark’s life and history in these waters remain a mystery and so the team is doing important research, including tagging and identification by unique spot patterns.
2. DHARAVANDHOO ISLAND (BAA ATOLL)
Beautiful Dharavandhoo is an inhabited island with world-class dive sites. It is located in the heart of Baa Atoll, just 10 minutes via speedboat from Hanifaru Bay, UNESCO’s only marine biosphere reserve in the Maldives, which is protected by law. Dharavandoo is the perfect destination to dive or swim with whale sharks in Maldives.
Liquid Salt Divers at Dharavandhoo provide guiding services to swim with whale sharks in Maldives plus to discover Hanifaru Bay during the manta season. Being a certified PADI 5-Star Dive Centre, they offer dive courses from beginners through to professionals with international and multilingual dive instructors. They use dedicated dive ‘dhoni’ and speedboats for exploring the incredible nearby diving sites. As well as swimming with whale sharks and mantas, discover the colourful fish, corals and marine life in the stunning Baa Atoll.
STAY AT KIHA BEACH HOTEL
We recommend staying at Kiha Beach Hotel at Dharavandhoo Island, a four-star local island property, if you plan to stay at Dharavandhoo and wish to go swimming with whale sharks in Maldives.
10 BEST MALDIVES RESORTS FOR WHALE SHARKS:
#1. LUX* SOUTH ARI ATOLL (SOUTH ARI ATOLL)
If you’re looking for the best Maldives resorts for whale sharks, LUX * South Ari Atoll is our number one choice! Nestled on the longest resort island in Maldives, Dhidhoofinolhu Island boasts 4km of tropical, white sands. This incredible five-star resort offers you the opportunity to enjoy world-class dive sites, literally on the resort’s door step. Outside of the house reef travellers will find uncharted oceans, perfect for swimming with whale sharks in Maldives.
LUX* South Ari Atoll is the best Maldives resort for whale sharks as it is the closest resort to the South Ari Atoll marine park. Being a 5 minute boat ride to the dive sites, means you can be the first boat on the scene when whale sharks are present in the area on a particular day. LUX* South Ari Atoll has a PADI-certified dive centre and experienced guides to ensure you have the best possible experience.
#2. VILAMENDHOO ISLAND RESORT (SOUTH ARI ATOLL)
Vilamendhoo Island Resort is designed to provide you with the best diving experience. This 4.5-star resort offers authentic experiences, outstanding hospitality and a strong dedication to preserving marine ecology. Vilamendhoo Island Resort is sheltered alongside a blue turquoise lagoon, bursting with lush tropical vegetation and encircled by a white sandy beach.
Located just 15 minutes by boat to the whale shark sites, this South Ari Atoll resort has an on-site integrated 5-star PADI certified Dive Centre that organises daily trips for visitors to the most famous dive sites in the area.
#3. LILY BEACH RESORT & SPA (SOUTH ARI ATOLL)
Located on the private island of Huvahendhoo in South Ari Atoll, Lily Beach Resort & Spa is a 5-star resort located slightly further away from the whale shark sites than other resorts, however, it provides excellent premium, all inclusive stay packages. It’s possible to snorkel everyday here as this resort has a great house reef!
#4. SUN ISLAND (SOUTH ARI ATOLL)
Staying at Sun Island will put you at the second closest resort to see whale sharks in South Ari Atoll. This 4-star resort is a great way to experience all that Maldives resorts have to offer, at an affordable price. Expect modern comfortable villas in tropical surrounds, vibrant beaches and a great water sports centre.
#5. DUSIT THANI (BAA ATOLL)
Discover the speciality of Thai hospitality in the Maldives! The beautiful 5-star Dusit Thani Maldives is the second closest resort in Baa Atoll to Hanifaru Bay – just five minutes away, making it one of the best Maldives resorts for whale sharks. This five-star property has a huge choice of nine villa categories, varying from luxurious beach villas with private pools, beach residences and two bedroom over-water pavilions.
Situated just 25 minutes via sea plane or 30 minutes by domestic flight combined with a 10 minute speedboat journey will transport you to the luxurious surrounds of Dusit Thani Maldives. Underwater enthusiasts will enjoy discovering the great house reef & complimentary snorkel hire.
#6. AMILLA FUSHI (BAA ATOLL)
Stay in ultra luxury at the 5-star Amilla Fushi Resort in Baa Atoll – one of the best Maldives resorts for whale sharks. Amilla Fushi Resort is the third closest resort in Baa Atoll to Hanifaru Bay – just 10 minutes by boat. Here you will encounter beautiful whale sharks, gain knowledge from the resident Marine Biologist & have your own personal Dive Butler!
To top it all off another highlight is the 30-minute picturesque sea plane flight over the incredible isles of Baa Atoll – another unforgettable experience! Alternatively a 30 minute flight from Malé International Airport to Dharavandhoo Domestic Airport plus a spectacular 15 minute speedboat ride will have you relaxing in this luxurious resort.
#7. SONEVA FUSHI (BAA ATOLL)
Soneva Fushi is a super high end 5-star resort is in the perfect location – only 10km from Hanifaru Bay where you can experience swimming with whale sharks in Maldives. Soneva Fushi is possibly the most unique and environmentally conscious of all resorts in Maldives, Baa Atoll.
All 1-9 bedroom, 57 villas are constructed from sustainable materials and positioned on their own dreamy, private stretch of beach – many with incredible shaped private pools and some have private waterslides.
#8. VAKKARU MALDIVES (BAA ATOLL)
A breath-taking 25 minute seaplane flight will have you arriving at this relatively new 5-star resort in Baa Atoll; another contender for best Maldives resorts for whale sharks. Opened in 2018, Vakkaru Maldives boasts 125 superb, beach over-water villas and suites. Modern, earthy & sustainable practices are at Vakkau Maldives’ core. Guides, from the on-site Splash water sports centre, will take you on the 27km trip to Hanifaru Bay, swim with whale sharks in Maldives.
#9. COCO PALM DHUNI KOLHI (BAA ATOLL)
A 5-star luxury eco resort perched in the south of Baa Atoll, travellers can reach Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu by a 40 minute picturesque sea plane flight. There is great snorkelling and a magnificent reef on the island.
Daily excursions to Hanifaru Bay from Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu, for your once in a life time swimming with whale sharks in Maldives experience, run between July to November.
#10. FINOLHU (BAA ATOLL)
Just a 40 minute picturesque sea plane flight will put you at one of Maldives most vibrant & hip islands… with its chic-retro feels; Finolhu Maldives.
Finolhu Maldives is 5-star resort is home of the beach bubble tent, along with The Cove Club Spa, with 10 pastel-coloured treatment huts, each celebrating an iconic diva of the 60s and 70s. Located 28 km south of Hanifaru Bay in Baa Atoll, we can organise a visit with your own personal ‘Dive Butler’ who doubles as a Marine Biologist and knows the sites and perfect conditions for sighting whale sharks.
COST OF SWIMMING WITH WHALE SHARKS IN MALDIVES:
Wish to fulfil your ultimate dream of getting to swim with whale sharks in Maldives? Tick off this once in a life time experience from your bucket list. Our prices are the most affordable in Maldives:
- Local Islands: from $75pp for a 2-3 hour snorkelling excursion with all equipment & water supplied or dive with whale sharks in Maldives from $90 .
- Resorts: $180 per person for 2-3 hours of snorkelling / diving.
WHALE SHARK FACTS:
Whale sharks or Rhincodon typus (scientific name) are slow-moving, filter-feeders and are the largest known fish species. These gentle giants swim at an average speed of 4.8 km/hour (3 mph) and are very unassuming creatures. The largest individual has been confirmed as being 18.8 m (62 ft) in length.
Wondering where to swim with whale sharks? These beautiful creatures are found in open waters of tropical ocean and are rarely found in waters below 21 °C (70 °F). Being solo creatures, our Indulge Maldives travellers can expect swim with around 1 or 2 whale sharks in Maldives at a time. It’s important to remember they are wild creatures, so there is no 100% guarantee of swimming with them on a certain day or time…. but whale sharks in Maldives are sighted here most days!
Rhincodon typus are filter feeders, (i.e. the largest fish known on the planet eats the smallest creatures of the sea) feeding only on plankton and very small fish. Many of our guests ask ‘do whale sharks have teeth, are whale sharks dangerous and is swimming with whale sharks safe?’ Although they do have enormous mouths, filled with thousands of tiny teeth, it might come as a surprise to you that they are completely harmless and majestic sea creatures – whale sharks are not at all harmful to humans.
Did you know? The females produce eggs and the young hatch inside the mother, instead of in the water like most fish. Then, the female gives birth to about 300 live babies.
11 TIPS FOR SWIMMING WITH A WHALE SHARK
Please remember when you encounter the truly unforgettable life time experience these tips for swimming with a whale shark in Maldives:
- Always keep to one side of the whale shark and stay at least 1.5m away.
- Always stay calm. Sudden movements can scare a whale shark away and it will dive down deep and disappear into the depths. Whale sharks in Maldives can dive to a depth of more than 1000m.
- Do not touch or hold the animal’s tail when swimming with whale shark in Maldives, as its huge tail can potentially harm you, unintentionally, if you approach it. Whale sharks are also vulnerable to infection from too much contact as they are not commonly exposed to the bacteria humans have on their skin.
- When swimming with whale sharks in Maldives, please remember to keep your distance for your own safety and for the creature’s well-being.
- Importantly, do not swim across a whale shark’s mouth area as it is an enormous space you do not want to end up in. They do not bite or chew even though they have 3000 tiny teeth.
- Whale sharks are naturally-friendly and are not harmful to humans. They are slow moving, swim at an average speed of 4.8 km/hour (3 mph) and are very docile fish.
- Turn off your flash on your camera as this can be alarming and harmful to the whale shark and may cause it to dive down deep.
- Swimming with whale sharks in Maldives is never a 100% certain guarantee as they are wild and free creatures of the underwater kingdom. We recommend you allow enough time in your holiday itinerary in case you don’t see them the first time round.
- Consider bringing your own equipment such as masks, flippers, snorkel etc when swimming with whale sharks in Maldives.
- Don’t forget to bring a Go-Pro or your underwater camera with a hand strap when swimming with whale sharks in Maldives. Capture your amazing encounters with the graceful whale sharks, other sea life and idyllic island beach photos.
- Be ready to jump off the boat and go swimming with whale sharks in Maldives at any given moment. Plunge into the beautiful warm, crystal clear waters for your own unique swimming encounter!
There is no better underwater adventure than the swimming with whale sharks in Maldives and seeing these majestic giants of the sea up close and personal for yourself, in the popular island destination of the Maldives. These memories will remain with you forever!