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  • Photograph of Whale Shark

    A wonderful Whale Shark by Coke & Som Smith.

    MALDIVES

    Best Wildlife in the Maldives

    Mammals
    Indo-Pacific Bottlenose, Risso's, (Long-snouted) Spinner, (Pantropical) Spotted and Striped Dolphins, Cuvier's Beaked, Short-finned Pilot and Dwarf Sperm Whales, and Indian Flying Fox (ariel subspecies). Also a chance of Blue, Sperm, Pygmy Killer, Blainville's Beaked, Longman's Beaked, Bryde's and Melon-headed Whales, and Common Bottlenose, Fraser's and Rough-toothed Dolphins.

    Reptiles and Fish
    Over a thousand fish species including Whale Shark, Spotted Eagle, Manta and Mobula Rays, stingrays, numerous flying fish and many coral reef fish, Nurse, Blacktip Reef and Whitetip Reef Sharks, and Green and Hawksbill Turtles. Also a chance of Hammerhead Shark and Sailfish.

    Birds
    Grey and Striated (Little) Herons, White-breasted Waterhen, Black-naped, Bridled, Lesser Crested, Great Crested, Saunders's and Sooty Terns, Brown (Common) and Lesser Noddies, and Asian Koel. Also a chance of Lesser Frigatebird (nests on southern atolls), White-tailed Tropicbird (nests on southern atolls), Audubon's (Tropical), Flesh-footed (April) and Wedge-tailed Shearwaters, Bulwer's Petrel, White-bellied Storm Petrel, Crab Plover and White Tern (nests on Gan in the southernmost group of atolls known as Addu, a one-hour flight from Mahe. Gan is connected to neighbouring atolls by causeways, one of which is Hithadhoo, at the end of which it is possible to see White-tailed Tropicbird).

    Invertebrates
    Sea Skater or Ocean Strider (Halobates micans), one of the very few open-ocean insects.

    Best Sites for Wildlife in the Maldives

    Best Times for Wildlife in the Maldives

    Whale Sharks and Manta Rays are most likely to be in the less clear waters where visibility is reduced by plankton blooms on which they feed, so if they are the animals you wish to see the most then it is probably best to choose a tour with an itinerary that includes the west side of the archipelago from December to April and the east side from May to November, particularly late January and mid-October since the drier northeast monsoon season usually lasts from mid-October to February. However, the numbers of Manta Rays in Hanifaru Bay, Baa Atoll, usually peak in August and September during the southwest monsoon which is usually windier and wetter, especially from June to August.

    Recommended Books etc. for the Maldives

    Dive Guide: Maldives by S Harwood and R Bryning. New Holland Publishers, 2009 (Fifth Edition).

    World of Water Wildlife Guide: Maldives by N Coleman. N Coleman's Underwater Geographic, 2006.

    Field Guide to Indian Mammals by V Menon. Helm, 2009.

    Field Guide to the Mammals of the Indian Subcontinent by K K Gurung and R Singh. Helm, 1998.

    Birds of the Indian Subcontinent by R Grimmett, and C and T Inskipp. Helm, 2012.

    A Field Guide to the Birds of the Indian Subcontinent by K Kazmierczak. Helm, 2008.

    Pocket Guide to the Birds of the Indian Subcontinent by R Grimmett, and C and T Inskipp. Helm, 1999.


    Apps etc.

    eGuide to Birds of the Indian Subcontinent.

    Trip Reports for the Maldives

    Many trip reports, some for the Maldives, are posted on the websites listed here. On some of these websites some reports are independent and some are posted by tour companies who organize tours to the Maldives. These tour companies and others also post their own reports on their websites, which are listed under 'Some Organized Tours to the Maldives' below.

    Local Guides and Tours in the Maldives

    The costs of organized tours partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ. If you are travelling independently, employing such local guides will greatly increase your chances of seeing the wildlife you wish to see.


    Accommodation in the Maldives

    Some Organized Tours to the Maldives

    There are many tour companies who organize tours to see mammals, birds, other wildlife and other natural wonders. The cost of these tours vary considerably according to such variables as the airlines used, the number of days the tours last, the number of sites visited, the number of people in the group (an important consideration if you wish to see such wildlife as rainforest mammals and birds), the number of tour leaders, the standard of accommodation and transport, and the percentage profit the company hopes to make. Generally, where the number of days tours last and the number of sites visited are similar, the cheapest tours are those that use the cheapest airlines, accommodation and local transport, that have the largest groups with the least number of leaders, and that make the least amount of profit. The most expensive tours tend to be those which are exceptionally long, use the most expensive accommodation (ridiculously lavish in some cases, even for single nights) and which make the most profit. Some tour costs partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ.

    While tour companies organize tours with set itineraries many also organize custom tours for individuals and private groups who instead of taking a tour with a set itinerary want to follow their own itinerary to suit their own personal tastes, whether it be mammals, birds, other wildlife, other natural wonders or even man-made attractions, or a mixture of them all. Many organized tours with set itineraries are also fast-paced and target as many species as possible, whether they are mammals, birds or other wildlife or everything, which usually leaves little time to enjoy the best sites and individual species, but on a custom tour those taking part can specify the pace and the sites and species they wish to concentrate on. Custom tours also suit people who like to travel with people they already know, rather than with a group of strangers, and people with partners with different interests. Individuals and small groups will almost certainly have to pay more than the price of an organized tour with a set itinerary but a large group of friends may be able to travel for less than the price quoted for a set tour.

    Tour companies who run organized tours or can arrange custom tours to the Maldives include the following.