cheap diving Maldives - photo of oceanic manta photobombing me and friends while scuba diving

Best Local Island Maldives : Fuvahmulah Island

(Last Updated On: December 9, 2022)
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Fuvahmulah Island

Fuvahmulah is an island and its own atoll, located in the South of the Maldives. The population is approximately 15,000 people and it is known as the only atoll to have one island.  Pronounced more like ‘formula’, it is a local island, not a resort island and therefore Maldivian laws and customs are more applicable here than in resort islands. As on all local islands, alcohol is prohibited and you cannot wear bikinis on the local beaches. However, Fuvahmulah locals are very relaxed and strict dress codes do not apply.  Fuvahmulah is not a well known tourist destination in the Maldives, although it is becoming increasingly popular for its dive sites and marine life.  

oceanic manta scsuba diving
Fuvahmulah – best local island in Maldives for scuba diving with oceanic manta rays

Fuvahmulah Dive Sites

Fuvahmulah is host to a huge range of marine life. In season, you can scuba dive with oceanic manta rays, thresher sharks, tiger sharks and whale sharks. It is also possible to see hammerhead sharks as well as other sharks like oceanic white tips and silver tips at different times of the year and depending how lucky you are. I feel we saw more megafauna in 3 days of diving than most people see in a lifetime.

Tiger Shark Diving Fuvahmulah

Tiger shark diving in Fuvahmulah is famous. It is the best dive site to go tiger shark diving in Maldives. The tiger sharks in Fuvahmulah have been around for a long time. They are used to feeding on the fish carcasses that the fishermen throw off the edge of the harbour at the end of their fishing day. Local dive centres and liveaboards now take advantage of this and feed fish heads to the tiger sharks just before entering the water.

Fuvahmulah Tiger Shark Dive

The ‘tiger zoo’ as the harbour dive site is nicknamed is not without its controversy. Some locals are angered at how this dive site now means that children cannot learn to swim in the safe area near the harbour as they had traditionally always done. Fuvahmulah has strong currents and big waves and other areas are not particularly safe to swim for beginners or young children.

Cheap diving in the Maldives with tiger sharks
Cheap diving in the Maldives with tiger sharks in Fuvahmulah


Fuvahmulah Accommodation

Because it is not a well-developed tourist destination, Fuvahmulah hotels are limited although it is a growing industry. I thoroughly recommend this Fuvahmulah guesthouse that we stayed in. Calyx Grand Fuvahmulah is clean, spacious and the staff are very helful (click here to view Calyx Grand Fuvahmulah on Agoda). Ask your Fuvahmulah dive centre for a pick up as it is a short truck ride to the harbour.

Fuvahmulah Diving – Fuvahmulah Dive Centre

There is a well known dive centre called Fuvahmulah Dive School (FDS) who we considering going with as we had many good recommendations. However, we chose Fuvahmulah Tiger Dive as we booked through a local friend and got very cheap dives because of this. One thing I recommend is asking if the dive school gets big group bookings. Some of the diving can be with big groups of Chinese or Indian divers and you may be expected to join dives with one of these large groups. We travelled as a group of 6 divers and therefore requested our own dive guide which was perfect for us. 


Cost of Diving in Fuvahmulah

Fuvahmulah is one of the cheapest places for budget diving in the Maldives – which makes no sense because the diving is so incredible! Expect to pay upwards from $40 per dive depending on how many dives you are planning to do and if you have your own equipment. As usual with diving packages, the more dives you book, the cheaper the cost of diving.  It is also possible to book Maldives diving package deals, with flights, accommodation and diving all organised for you. However, it is cheaper to book flights, accommodation and diving separately. It is also cheap to dive and travel to Fuvahmulah if you have a Maldives work permit as there are big discounts available.

How to travel to Fuvahmulah from Male, Maldives

Fuvahmulah island is located in the deep South of the Maldives, so you can fly to Fuvahmulah from Male, the capital. The journey takes approximately 45 minutes. At the time of writing, two airlines with a few flights a day fly from Male to Fuvahmulah. While the diving can be cheap, the flights aren’t always so compare different airlines to find a better rate, try Maldivian airline and Fly Me and Manta Air.


Best Dive Site in the Maldives

We spent most of our 8 dives on the same plateau, a dive site called Farikede, about 15 minutes from the harbour by dive boat. In terms of the marine life, it must be one of the best dive sites in the Maldives. We had approximately 30 oceanic manta ray sightings, 26 of which the amazing Manta Trust team managed to ID for us and we added 22 new mantas to their database. Read here for more about Manta Trust and the work they do. We also saw 3 whale sharks, one of whom was new to the Maldives Whaleshark Research Programme and we got to give her a name. On our last day we scuba dived with the biggest whale shark I have ever seen (approx 8-10m) and 2 thresher sharks.

The dive site depth ranges down to about 40m and we saw oceanic manta rays near the surface from the moment we jumped from the boat, all the way down to 40m.  The marine life here seemed extremely curious and mantas and whale sharks circled us multiple times, a true ocean encounter.


Diving in Fuvahmulah : Local Boat Dives

We scuba dived from a slow traditional boat, Maldivians call a ‘Dhoni’. The boat returned to the harbour after every dive so surface intervals are spent on land inbetween dives. A couple of times   Click here for my recommendations of what to take on a dive boat. 

Cheap diving in the Maldives with tiger sharks
Big fans of our dive boat


The best time to dive the Maldives – when to dive in Fuvahmulah

Diving is possible year round in Fuvahmulah. However, most people agree that diving between November and April is the best season for diving because of the chances of oceanic manta rays, whale sharks, thresher sharks and hammerheads. In rainy season, from June onwards the sea gets rough but the chance of hammerheads increases. The tiger shark dive is available year round.


Restaurants and Places to eat in Fuvahmulah

Real Breez restaurant is great because of the large balcony and good food. They serve great local food including vegetarian options and also the Indian cuisine. The cafe by the harbour is also good and it serves local food. I definitely recommend trying Kottu Roshi – a Maldivian twist on the traditional Sri Lankan dish. If you’re vegetarian make sure you say so and make it very clear that being vegetarian includes no meat and no fish as vegetarians are still a relatively new concept to the fish-heavy Maldivian diet. 

Maldives Local Island Travel Tip: Be prepared to wait a LONG time for food. This is not a resort island and we often had to wait over an hour (occasionally 2 hours!) for our food to appear. I recommend adapting to the slower pace of island life and also don’t wait until you are hungry to find a restaurant.


Things to Do in Fuvahmulah

  • Visit Fuvahmulah Thundi – a thundi is a Dhivehi word for the beach at the end of an island. The Fuvahmulah thundi is a large pebble beach on the island which includes a nearby restaurant
  • Visit the lakes – Fuvahmulah is an unusual island in the Maldives because it has freshwater lakes. You can visit and hire kayaks or pedalo boats to spend some time on one of the lakes as part of Fuvahmulah Nature Park.
  • Go to Addu – Addu also has some fantastic diving and it is accessible by boat from Fuvahmulah
  • Hot Spring with Mud Baths – Fuvahmulah has muddy hot springs where you can relax after a day of exciting scuba diving in the ocean

Maldives Liveaboard Diving

It is possible to dive on a liveaboard around Fuvahmulah. As I haven’t dived on a liveaboard I cannot comment on the experience. I will say that we loved being on the island and as the dive sites are all located near the shoreline, it was not necessary to pay for a luxury liveaboard when we could stay in a cheap guesthouse and do budget dives. 

Night Diving in the Maldives

Most Fuvahmulah dive centres do not offer night diving for safety reasons. The currents can be strong and I’d rather not meet a tiger shark at night time!

Liveaboard Maldives : Liveaboard Diving

If you would like to be able to drink alcohol, not worry about being covered up and wearing what you want then consider a liveaboard in Maldives. There are many liveaboard options throughout the Maldives, including Fuvahmulah and is a great option for those who would like everything organised for them and would prefer not to stay on a local island. Click on the link below to compare luxury Maldives liveaboards and budget liveaboards Maldives. 

 

Have you visited Fuvahmulah yet? How was your experience? Where is the best diving in the Maldives for you?

For what to pack for a Maldives trip read my Maldives Packing List guide here

For what to take on a scuba diving holiday or dive boat trip read my Scuba Diving Packing List here

For more cheap diving in Maldives, read this scuba diving Maldives article here

 

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