The scuba diving in Baa Atoll, which lies northwest of North Malé atoll, is incredible. Until a few years ago, this area was pretty much unheard of, but with the discovery of Hanifaru Lagoon, the area became popular.
Heading up to Baa means sailing first through North Malé, location of the international airport. This was the first of the Maldives diving destinations and although proximity to the capital and airport makes it busier than the rest of the country, the diving is still as good as it ever was. Huge schools of fish compete with adorable honeycomb morays for attention. There are mantas and turtles on some dives and a lovely little wreck or two.
The sailing across to Baa can be rough at certain times of year but it's worth it. The geography means the dives tend to be on small, undersea mounds – called thilas – with many caverns and overhangs that are plastered with pretty, pastel soft corals. The dives are colourful and the fish use the caverns for shelter. Smaller critters seen regularly include frogfish and lobsters, popcorn and mantis shrimp and some pretty nudibranchs.