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Boat in the Maldives

Ultimate Maldives: A Snorkeling & Diving Adventure

Example 13 Day Cruise aboard Orion (ZE)
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Cruise through the lesser-traveled southern Maldives aboard the 20-guest Orion to witness pristine reefs teeming with healthy populations of kaleidoscopic fish. Taking you deep into the undersea world of one of the Earth’s most jaw-droppingly gorgeous places, this cruise offers two to three dive or snorkel excursions daily, with several opportunities to search for nocturnal species during night dives. Search for large pelagic species and explore the fascinating underwater topography—a dramatic landscape of thilas, pinnacles and submerged coral structures enveloped in brilliant corals and sea fans, and kandus, deep channels that run between atoll and coral-terraced reef. Meet the hospitable residents of tiny, traditional fishing villages and attend a thrilling Bodu Beru drum and dance performance.

Day-by-Day Summary

Day 1 : Malé, Maldives
Day 2 : Malé, Maldives
Day 3 : Malé | Laamu Atoll | Embark Orion
Day 4 : Laamu Atoll
Days 5-6 : Thaa Atoll
Days 7-8 : Meemu Atoll
Day 9 : Vaataru Atoll
Days 10-11 : Vaavu Atoll
Day 12 : South Malé Atoll
Day 13 : Malé | Disembark


  • Cruise through the lesser-traveled southern Maldives to pristine reefs
  • Search for a variety of large pelagic species, including whale sharks
  • Enjoy two to three dive or snorkel excursions daily
  • Meet the hospitable residents of tiny, traditional fishing villages


Orion (ZE)

Places Visited


Trip Type

  • Small Ship

Activity Level


Trip Snapshots

Boat in the Maldives Our dive crew from Caye Caulker Secluded white sand beach Exotic fish A snorkeler explorers the ocean floor around Madagascar.

Day 1 Malé, Maldives

Arrive in Malé and transfer to Hulhule Island Hotel for overnight.

Day 2 Malé, Maldives

After a morning at leisure, join a half-day tour of Malé, the Maldives’ buzzing island capital—a mélange of high-rise buildings, lively markets, and busy streets. Return to the hotel for a welcome reception and dinner.

Day 3 Malé | Laamu Atoll | Embark Orion

  • Ship
  • 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Transfer to the airport for your short mid-morning flight to Laamu Atoll. Upon arrival embark the Orion with a chance to settle in. Laamu is a relatively unexplored area characterized by deep passages and strong currents—ideal conditions for attracting sharks, rays, jacks, and tuna. Enjoy an orientation snorkel or dive before returning to the ship for dinner, and perhaps enjoy a cocktail in the dramatic observation lounge.

Day 4 Laamu Atoll

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
The largest atoll in the Maldives, Laamu is rimmed by barrier reef topped by islands. Enjoy a full day of snorkeling or diving—the sheer wall drop at Isdhoo is definitely worth the challenge and schools of neon blue and yellow fusiliers are often seen during a shallow dive at Fushi Kandu. Giant barracudas, large potato groupers, and Napoleon wrasses can all be found at Maabhaidhoo Kandu. 

Day 5-6 Thaa Atoll

  • Ship
  • 2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
Expect manta ray encounters at Gorgonian Gardens and search for ghost pipefish hidden in the colorful coral during a night dive. Schooling fish and jacks attract numerous white-tip reef sharks at Olhugiri Kandu. Observe loads of pelagics on a drift dive at Dhiffushi Kandu, and the wall dive at Buruni Valley features amazing bottom topography. The following morning, get up early for a sunrise dive at Hammerhead-Dhiyamighili north corner. The timid hammerheads only come near the surface when the water is still cool and, while encounters aren’t guaranteed, you’re definitely in for the experience of a lifetime. Other dives include Kalhufahala Giri—one of the best hard coral reefs in the area. This evening search for the world’s largest fish—the whale shark. These gentle giants can reach more than 20 feet in length and are thrilling to behold. 

Day 7-8 Meemu Atoll

  • Ship
  • 2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
Another atoll with little tourist activity, Meemu Atoll presents the chance to dive rarely-visited, unspoiled sites. Mulaku Kandu channel is peppered with submerged pinnacles covered in soft coral. A drift dive with the incoming current at Vanhuravalhi Kandu reveals patrolling gray reef sharks, schooling jacks, and the occasional sailfish. Expect plenty of action at Maduwari Kandu where the ocean and lagoon meet. Dolphins are often sighted along Meddhufushi Thila, which is suitable for divers of all levels. Kurali Beyru offers a pleasant drift dive, while “Mantas and More” is more than aptly named. You can also dive the Kurali Channel along a beautiful steep wall where turtles are often spotted. Land-based discoveries include the old cemetery and village on Rahmandhoo and historical mosque on Kolhufushi. 

Day 9 Vaataru Atoll

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
With only one channel, one island and a few sandbanks, Vaataru Atoll provides a sense of utter remoteness. Relish the luxury of isolation as you dive Rakheedhoo Corner, a deep channel with caves and stunning overhangs that are swarming with sharks, Napoleon wrasses, barracudas, and, with luck, hammerhead sharks. Another great dive lies ahead this afternoon at Vaataru Kandu, noted for its soft corals, crinoidae (feather coral), and plentiful fish and rays. There is also a sand bank and small deserted island for some relaxing beach time.

Day 10-11 Vaavu Atoll

  • Ship
  • 2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
The smallest and one of the least commercialized atolls in the Maldives, Vaavu Atoll offers superb sites for both snorkelers and divers alike. The warms waters are teeming with fish and larger marine life, which you can discover on a number of excursions over the next two days. Explore the aptly named “Shark Channel” and Devana Kandu, which is home to squadrons of spotted eagle rays and huge marbled stingrays. Other options include a wall dive along the outer reef and a night dive in search of nurse sharks that can grow upwards of ten feet long. A vast collection of marine life, small caves, and colorful coral make Fotteyo Kandu one of the most interesting dive sites in the Maldives. Step ashore on a deserted sand bank for beachcombing and a delicious beach barbecue under the stars.  

Day 12 South Malé Atoll

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
South Malé Atoll is considered one of the best diving sites in the world, with vast schools of pelagic fish and plenty of soft corals. Watch gray reef and white-tip sharks as they patrol teardrop-shaped Kandooma Thila; investigate the Kandooma caves, two of the largest in the Maldives; and explore the topographically diverse Guraidhoo Kandu, which offers outstanding photographic opportunities. After dinner, attend a thrilling Bodu Beru drum and dance performance.  

Day 13 Malé | Disembark

Disembark this morning and check in to day rooms at Hulhule Island Hotel with the afternoon at leisure to relax. Transfer to the airport this evening for your independent flight.

Orion (ZE)


Per person starting at
Category 1 - Orion (ZE)
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Category 1
Lower Deck category 1 staterooms range from 135 - 175 square feet, with portholes.
Category 2 - Orion (ZE)
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Category 2
Upper Deck category 2 staterooms range from 150 - 160 square feet and feature large windows.
Category 3 - Orion (ZE)
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Category 3
The category 3 stateroom is approximately 185 square feet and features portholes.
Suite - Orion (ZE)
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The suite is approximately 190 square feet with two large picture windows and a balcony with Jacuzzi.


  • All gratuities
  • Accommodations in hotel and on board the Orion as outlined in the itinerary
  • All onboard meals and group meals ashore, including soft drinks, beer, and wine with lunch and dinner
  • Arrival and departure transfers on group dates
  • Services of the expedition staff, including lectures, briefings, slide/film shows
  • All group activities and excursions
  • Landing and port fees
  • Medical expense coverage and emergency evacuation insurance
  • Domestic flight from Malé to Laamu Atoll

  • All air transportation (except as listed above)
  • Excess baggage charges; airport arrival and departure taxes
  • Transfers for independent arrivals and departures
  • Travel insurance
  • Scuba diving equipment
  • Passport and/or visa fees
  • Items of a personal nature such as laundry, bar charges, alcoholic beverages except as listed
  • E-mail/Internet/fax/telephone charges


  • 10 Breakfasts, 10 Lunches, 11 Dinners
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Erin Correia
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The trip might have been the absolute best of our lifetime (thus far). We particularly want to commend our guide Peter in the Guilin area-he was so incredibly attentive, energetic, enthusiastic-and absolutely dedicated to ensuring that our meals were 100% vegetarian.
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