Great Dive Sites in the Indian Ocean: Nosy Tanikely, Madagascar and Ari Atoll, the Maldives

Some of the worlds best dive locations are in the Indian Ocean which has excellent conditions and good visibility. Nosy Tanikely Marine Park, Madagascar and Ari Atoll in the Maldives are both protected areas and perfect for scuba diving.

Nosy Tanikely, Madagascar: With an average minimum water temperature of 68°F, low salinity and a huge variety of aquatic life, the Indian Ocean has some of the worlds most ideal and spectacular locations for recreational scuba divers. Nosy Tanikely is an island off the north coast of Madagascar that is situated in an archeological preserve, called Nosy Tanikely Marine Park. Nosy Tanikely, which means Tanikely Island, is only a 10 minute journey by boat from the mainland and is surrounded by many other islands.

Divers enter the ocean from the main beach which is located on the eastern side of the island. This dive is perfect for inexperienced divers as the currents are weak and the maximum depth is 70 ft. The dive route from the shore is a combination of coral expanse intermitted by sandy shoals, with depths of 13ft to 66 ft. At the deepest parts of the dive you might see guitarfish resting on the sea bed. The guitarfish are large and from behind almost resemble nurse sharks. At the barrier reef you can see large turtles and schools of twospot snapper. Other species of snapper can be seen as well as scorpion fish and sweetlips. Also not to be missed are large brightly colored species of starfish that are typically found near Madagascar and Western Australia.

Above; a view of Nosy Tanikely from Madagascar and below a sweetlips fish.

The Maldives: Ari Atoll: At the southern most point of the Ari Atoll are two dive spots curiously named, Lucky Hell and Lucky Hell 2. The location, which is part of a marine sanctuary, is known to divers for its multicolored coral platforms, including soft coral, known as thilas, which are the most spectacular in the Maldives. The reef has three plateaus, before descending to the abyss, at 43ft, 83ft and 116ft. Near the reef it is possible to see deep sea predators including stingrays ( although difficult to see) nurse sharks, barracuda’s, coral fish and jacks. Other fish that live at shallower depths, and take refuge below the reefs to avoid bright sunlight, are morays, sweet lips, husband fish, scorpion fish and black jacks. Divers might also spot grey or whitetip reef shark, and manta rays, silhouetted above them. Whale sharks have also been known to frequent the reef.

Above; the beach at Ari Atoll. A school of fusiliers and below, blue surgeonfish.  

The best time to dive at Ari Atoll is from December to April as this is when the maximum visibility of 140 ft can be achieved. The current can be strong and divers need to take care not to drift too far. However, because of this problem Maldives scuba diving regulations requires that divers are attached to inflatable buoy markers. This way boat crews are always aware of a divers position and depth, if a diver dives below 16 ft. Divers are also required to a wear a Buoyancy Control Device or BCD.

All images from flickr.com with creative commons licence and from commons.wikimedia.com.

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Desertriders Excursion
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Lauren Axelrod
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