The dive sites scattered around the Maldives are some of the best in the world, teeming with underwater life and vibrant coral—and boasting excellent visibility. Banana Reef, a North Male Atoll spot that owes its name to its curved shape, was one of the first places to put the Maldives on the map for divers. The protected marine area is marked by cliffs and overhangs, sheltering the barracudas, snappers, and groupers below. The reef is also set up for snorkeling, and even those swimming near the surface will be able to see schools of fish, sharks, and manta rays.

Banana Reef lies around 15 minutes away from the artificial island of Hulhumalé and has a little bit of everything in it. Also known as “Gaathugiri”, this reef lies just inside Kuda Kalhi, and on the West of Club Med. It is easily accessible by boat which is usually anchored a distance away. Diving is practical throughout the year thanks to the pleasant climate enjoyed by the Maldivian islands.

Ranging from a depth of 5 to 30 meters, the dive itself is extremely interesting to nature lovers with its overhangs and pinnacles. The reef stretches over a length of around 300 meters from North-East to South, and lie near islands such as Club Med, Kurumba and Fullmoon Island. Banana Reef has a rare combination of a fragile reef and strong current, making it hard to anchor nearby. Floats are usually used to get there.

Not far away from Banana Reef, across the corner, is a berg that is perfect to enjoy a bit of diving through the coral garden. Some shallow caves lie in the reef wall on the North-Eastern side of the reef, which are also worth exploring. In fact, to this side lie many spectacular caves, rocks, precipitous overhangs and canyons that are almost as gorgeous as the reef itself.

Shimmering clear water, gorgeous coral reefs, and white sand beaches – the Maldives is a virtual heaven on earth. Shaped like a banana when seen from above, the amazing Banana Reef in Maldives draws scuba divers from far and wide. The fish are far from scared of photographers, creating some of the best underwater shots the world has ever seen. Stumble upon the spectacular landscape to enjoy your leisure time at its best and feel some adrenaline rush while partaking in activities like snorkelling in Banana Reef.

Located near Hulhumale Island, Banana Reef was, in fact, the first dive site to be discovered in the Maldives, and no matter how many other dive sites are discovered, this one continues to be the most popular. Colourful coral formations are the core attraction, along with a huge variety of fish such as bannerfish, sweetlips and squirrelfish.

 

Flora And Fauna in Banana Reef 

As soon as you lower your head into this blue underworld, you will be greeted by prolific and vivaciously coloured coral beds. Find fan-shaped boulders and a plethora of anemones decorating the piled-up stones on the seabed. The colours are in mesmerising shades of purple, lilac, violet, flaming orange, deep maroon, indigo, sky blue and bright yellow! 

The coral growths are mainly soft corals, anemones and gorgonians and these invite a plethora of exotic and mind-numbingly beautiful fish. While the anemones themselves house thousands of tiny anemone fish, you will also find the emperor angelfish, the puffers and the unicorns. You can also anticipate seeing lionfish, barracudas and groupers.

Say hello to the large schools of bannerfish that swim close by you in thousands or even more at a time! Bannerfish has beautiful vertical black and white striped patterns on their bodies along with long, dorsal fins. The mass of these fish together is so overpowering that you will feel the current of the water move as they do!

Grouper fish, another beauty you will find here, can be found in the caves and deep corals and will be accompanied by wrasse and other different kinds of fusilier, which include the blue dash and its striped versions. Don't forget the black snapper fish, barracudas, giant squirrelfish, oriental sweetlips, soldierfish and grub fish and many other mesmerizingly beautiful yet strongly fierce fish that call this reef their home.

It is best to get here early in the morning, by 9:00 AM so that you are not bothered by the troublesome heat. The session is about 30 mins long, a 30-minute window to experience paradise. You should take about 3-4 hours to finish the whole activity, including travel times. The Banana Reef is accessible by speed boats which can be hired from the coast.

 

Best time to visit Banana Reef

November to April is the best time to visit Banana Reef as it’s the summer season there. Not only does the water stay clear and the visibility is great, but also many rare-seen marine creatures return to Banana Reef in abundance during this period, catering to a perfect “diving holiday”. All the more, there is no bad time to visit Banana Reef as the Maldives enjoys tropical weather all year round, with the temperature slightly decreasing to 24°C in the monsoon season. Even if it rains, and the weather is suitable, you can still grab your masks or surfing board and go scuba diving or surfing.

 

How to reach Banana Reef

Banana Reef is nearly 7 km away from Hukhumale beach in Male Island. Since Male is very well connected to the Valena international airport, there should be no trouble reaching Male. From there, a lot of ferries and boats offer rides to reach Banana Reef. If you want some privacy, you can opt for a private ferry or a seaplane. Even yacht services are available. If you have a budget to stick to, you can opt for a public ferry or cargo boat ride.


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