Sandbank is literally paradise on earth, an oasis of calm and beauty that can be found in the middle of the sea. It creates a perfect combination between amazing nature and a wonderful panorama. You will arrive here by boat
Hanifaru Bay – diving lovers, admirers of the beauty of underwater world and people who search for new, surreal experiences should definitely not miss the fascinating Hanifaru Bay, which is one of the most beautiful places in the water kingdom, when visiting the Maldives.
Hanifaru Bay Maldives used to be a popular spot for fishermen, but it soon became clear that what lies beneath the surface is nowhere else on the planet. Near the Baa atoll there is a specific place where a huge amount of plankton is produced and it is behind this that huge numbers of gigantic manta rays, fish very similar to stingrays, resembling the flight of birds with a “wingspan” of six to nine meters and also whalesharks, regularly arrive here. Those who want to see these animals up close and literally feel their touch have a unique opportunity to experience the unseen in Hanifaru Bay.
Hanifaru Bay attracts tourists especially from June to November, when numerous groups of giant manta rays come here to feed. But this is far from the only attraction of this breathtaking location, and you can snorkel here all year round. There is always a lot to see here.
Hanifaru Bay and its surroundings at Baa Atoll boast one of the most extensive and numerous populations of underwater animals in the world, and the biodiversity here is truly incredible. Around 1,200 species of fish and 250 species of coral live here. All this beauty is hidden just a little below the sea level, and sometimes you only need to sink to a depth of three meters to become part of this unique world hidden in the warm sea around the Maldives.
Not everyone who wants to can come to Hanifaru Bay. Access to this UNESCO biosphere reserve (established in 2011) is strictly guarded, various restrictions apply and all visitors must strictly observe them. Animals come first here, and visitors must not disturb them in any way in their natural environment.
That’s why classic diving is prohibited here, and even motorboats are not allowed here – they stay on the edge of Hanifaru Bay, and snorkelling divers then head out on their own for incredible experiences. They weave through a tangle of plankton, struggle with reduced visibility, and then find themselves in the middle of an incredible number of manta rays, which resemble giants floating through endless space. Manta rays are completely harmless and also very friendly, they almost touch people and definitely want to show them in all their magnificence.
If you love diving and would like to visit the Hanifaru Bay Marine Reserve, it is not difficult at all. Go on vacation to the Maldives, specifically to the Baa Atoll or its immediate surroundings. It is an archipelago of 75 tiny atolls and islets, which are largely uninhabited, with a total of only about 12,000 inhabitants, but about 350,000 tourists come here every year.
In order to go diving with manta rays and giant sharks, you need to go to the visitor center on Eydhafushi Island or inquire about this possibility directly at your hotel. Groups of divers with experienced guides then go to Hanifaru Bay on boats that dock at the border of the protection zone. Once the approaching manta rays are spotted, divers can dive into the water and swim after them. It’s an area of several hundred meters, so the group can spread out very well. Manta rays can be filmed and photographed, but only without a flash. It is forbidden to approach them less than three meters, but the animals themselves sometimes do not respect these prohibitions and swim to see the new guests much closer.
The entire excursion is limited to 45 minutes of time, which is not much, but due to the great interest in this unique location, it is necessary to give space to other people as well. Despite the short time, it is a lifelong experience that you will remember very vividly for a long time.
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