With year-round warm waters, clear visibility and super-sized marine life, the Indian Ocean is one of our favourites for underwater adventures.
There’s more to diving in the Indian Ocean than spotting shoals of psychedelic fish darting through its glistening waters. Here’s where you can discover mysterious mantas, Sri Lankan shipwrecks and other thrills of the deep.
Best for… manta rays and whale sharks
Baa Atoll, Maldives
Diving in the Maldives is world class and when it comes to marine life, it doesn’t get much better than watching in awe as gentle ocean giants glide by. This is just one of the reasons why we love the UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve of the Baa Atoll – its Hanifaru lagoon is possibly the best place on earth to drift alongside mystical manta rays and whale sharks. While diving is not permitted in this marine-protected area, the snorkelling is so incredible that it tops many diving expeditions. Visit during the monsoon season (June to October) for the best chance of sightings, when the lagoon fills with plankton and becomes the perfect feeding ground.
A couple of our favourite resorts – Finolhu and Milaidhoo Island Maldives – are located in this corner of the Maldives and have diving sites just a short boat ride or even a swim away. Drift the channels and you might spot hammerheads, whale sharks, eagle rays and mantas.
Best for… wreck diving
East Coast, Sri Lanka
Diving in Sri Lanka may not seem like an obvious choice, but there are some rare gems here. The British Naval ship HMS Hermes was the world’s first purpose-built aircraft carrier. During WWII, she was attacked and sank off the east coast of Sri Lanka and for 60 years lay undiscovered, 50 metres beneath the surface. Today the only passengers are the likes of tuna and grouper and it’s one of the world’s most fascinating wreck dives, visited by just a handful of expert technical divers. The access point is from the town of Batticoloa, close to Uga Bay in Passikudah.
Best for… beginners
Blue Bay Marine Park, South Coast, Mauritius
It might be best known for glass-bottom boat trips, but with clear lagoon waters offering visibility of up to 50 metres, depths starting at just six metres and over 50 species of coral from brain coral to cabbage coral, Mauritius’ protected Blue Bay Marine Park offers a gentle introduction to diving in the Indian Ocean. If you’re looking for an accessible alternative to diving in the shallow waters that surround the Maldivian islands, this could be one to consider.
Best for… diving atmosphere
Kuredu Island Resort & Spa and Biyadhoo, Maldives
Most resorts in the Maldives offer excellent diving, but some of the more established islands have a real divers vibe, where it’s less about luxurious rooms and more about living and breathing underwater life. It’s why these islands prove so popular with repeat guests.
Kuredu Island Resort & Spa is home to one of the longest-running diving and snorkelling companies in the Maldives and divers flock here for the easy access to nearly 50 spectacular dive sites.
At Biyadhoo, nearby Maldives diving sites include Manta Point (a manta cleaning station between June and November) and the thrilling Kandooma Thila – a 300 metre-long thila that’s best for experienced divers only due to the strong current, where the main attractions include overhangs, bright soft corals, eagle rays, reef sharks and barracuda.
Best for… turtles
Silhouette & La Digue Islands, Seychelles
There’s something calming – almost therapeutic – about diving with turtles, watching as they elegantly make their way to the ocean’s surface for air. While the Seychelles’ giant Aldabra tortoises often steal the show, green sea and hawksbill turtles nest here and inhabit the surrounding waters. The screensaver-worthy coral reefs around Silhouette Island are a designated national marine park, while green sea turtles live on the very edges of the coral reefs around La Digue.
Best for… cave diving
West Coast, Mauritius
La Cathédrale is a huge beautifully shaped cave that lies 18 metres underwater, where the light pours through from above to give the impression of a majestic cathedral. It’s popular with underwater photographers charmed by the caverns and overhangs, excellent visibility and shoals of angel fish and clown fish. Dolphins have even been spotted here. Flic-en-Flac is the closest town to La Cathédrale, but many of our hand-picked resorts around the island will be able to organise a dive trip here for you.
If you’re inspired to discover the Indian Ocean’s underwater world for yourself, our range of beach holidays include the Maldives, Mauritius, the Seychelles and Sri Lanka.