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What wildlife is in the Maldives?

Get more inspiration

You may not immediately consider the Maldives for a wildlife holiday, but this tropical paradise has plenty of natural scenery and incredible creatures.

Maldives holidays are famous for luxurious overwater villas offering serene spa treatments amongst sun-baked sands. However, there’s more to this breathtaking archipelago than beach days and luxury resorts. The light blue waters of the Indian Ocean boast thriving marine ecosystems, while on land, you’ll spot intriguing wildlife like fruit bats, geckos and skinks.

What’s the best way to see the Maldives’ wildlife? Many visitors choose an aquatic scuba diving or snorkelling tour, a boat trip, or a tailor-made nature escape. Before you jet off, how about learning more about the world-famous wildlife?

UNDERWATER WORLDS. WHY NOT?

Home to an array of marine life just metres from the resorts, strap on your snorkelling gear before exploring seemingly endless underwater worlds. With over 1,000 fish species, we can’t predict what you’ll encounter during your dive. From tiny, vivid creatures swimming through coral reefs to giant hunters – underwater wildlife in the Maldives is truly diverse. The Indian Ocean’s plentiful waters offer everything from clownfish and butterflyfish to sweetlips and snappers - even the fish names are fascinating!

The Maldives is a glorious destination all year round, but if you’re hoping for clear wildlife sightings, December to March is the best time to visit.

SNORKELING AND DIVING? DODDLE.

Whether diving or snorkelling in the Maldives’ underwater worlds, the South Ari Atoll is a fantastic place to see outstanding ocean life.

Excitingly, most Maldivian resorts have their own diving centres with PADI open-water training, so whether you’re a snorkelling beginner or a deep-diving expert, you’ll enjoy striking colours, textures and dazzling creatures. The Maldives’ best diving spots are home to many reefs, which protect millions of species and act as natural barriers against erosion.

SEA TURTLES, MANTA RAYS, WHALES

Four of the Maldives’ main underwater attractions are sea turtles, manta rays, whales, and sharks. The most aesthetically pleasing of all are the seven species of sea turtles, including the green and hawksbill turtles. For guaranteed sightings, we recommend visiting the Lhaviyani Atoll.

Manta Rays are elegant creatures renowned for their distinct, long, thin tales and angel-like wings. You’ll have no trouble spotting these creatures for most of the year as they feed off plankton gliding effortlessly through the water. But again, if you’re looking for calm conditions while whale spotting, it’s best to visit between December and May. An impressive 14 different whale species call these waters their home, including the humpback and minke whales, and even the giant blue whale is also known to appear!

SWIMMING WITH SHARKS? SAY YES

Swimming with sharks is a popular activity on a Maldives holiday and perhaps a once-in-a-lifetime experience for some. The islands’ waters have many types of sharks, including hammerhead and whale sharks. The latter of these jaw-dropping animals is, in fact, a shark and not a whale; they are filter feeders that neither bite nor chew. But which atoll is best for whale shark sightings? Add the shark-tacular South Ari Atoll to your to-do list.

ON-LAND WONDERS

Often overlooked, the Maldives’ on-land animals are just as mesmerising as its sea creatures. Usually found clinging to plants or swooping from treetops during the evening, flying foxes - fruit bats - are a common sighting.

Keep your eyes peeled, and you’ll see colourful, land-based lizards scurrying around the resorts – including the distinctive Maldivian house gecko and the Oriental Garden Lizard. And that’s not all, as the Maldives also has a varied insect population – butterflies, dragonflies, beetles, millipedes, and centipedes appear in the islands’ most vegetated areas.

Keep your eyes peeled for the array of tropical birds, including white-breasted waterhens, house crows, and pond herons.

A BLOOMIN’ GREAT HOLIDAY

These tropical islands are filled with flora and fauna and bordered by pretty corals. The atolls are home to over 300 plant species. The National Flower of the Maldives is the striking rosa polyantha, so prepare to glimpse its bright pink hues growing beautifully in exotic gardens. Another variety is the tropical coconut palm trees. Although they’re found in many tropical destinations, these trees hold a particular significance here, as the cocos nucifera is the Maldives’ National Tree. The fan flower, the frangipani, and the beach hibiscus are other flower varieties you’ll find blossoming here.

MAL-DIVE IN!

From on-land adventures to scuba diving in the Maldives, there are many ways to experience incredible wildlife and scenery. Looking for easy access to fluorescent underwater worlds of coral and sea life? Book your stay at a resort with its very own house reef—Coco Palm Bodu Hithi, LUXE* North Male Atoll, and OBLU by Atmosphere at Helengeli are all favourites. Perhaps you’re a diving novice? Not a problem. Maldives’ hotels often offer an on-site diving centre where experienced instructors teach you how to dive.

If you want to learn more about the islands’ animals, Meeru Island Resort and Spa have an in-house marine biologist who runs regular workshops. Alternatively, embark on a guided walk or learn more about the islands’ sustainability efforts by getting involved in a resort’s conversation programs.

READY TO GO WILD FOR THE MALDIVES?

When it comes to tropical natural beauty, there’s nowhere like the Indian Ocean’s idyllic islands. From diving holidays in the Maldives to land-based beauties, the wildlife holiday of a lifetime awaits you. Want more Maldives wanderlust? Read our ultimate guide to the Maldives. Call our Travel Specialists or visit us in-store—we’ll help you plan your dream holiday.

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