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This 8-day cruise aboard a chartered liveaboard vessel visits the beautiful Central Atolls of the Maldives in search of cetaceans and other marine life, accompanied by marine biologist guide Dr Charles Anderson

On this small group tour, we will look for whales and dolphins, and enjoy snorkelling on colourful coral reefs that are home to rich marine life. If lucky, we may even have a chance to swim with magnificent manta rays – which some consider to be the wildlife highlight of a lifetime. 

The Maldives possess an incredibly rich variety of cetacean life, which we hope to encounter on our voyage. The diversity of species can be astonishing: Risso’s, bottlenose and spinner dolphins, and short-finned pilot, and dwarf sperm whales are all regulars and, with luck, we may see Longman’s beaked whale. 

The itinerary is deliberately designed to be flexible, so we can make the most of our wildlife sightings.

Typical itinerary

  1. Day 1: Depart the UK on an overnight flight to Malé

  2. Day 2: Arrive Malé and transfer to liveaboard

    Transfer from the airport to board our vessel, the MV Ari Queen, home for the next seven nights. We set sail soon after midday and with luck can enjoy our first cetacean sighting while still in sight of the airport!

    Tonight we anchor in a sheltered location within one of the atolls for an orientation talk.

  3. Days 3-7 : Whale, dolphin and birdwatching around the atolls

    Each day we sail while searching for cetaceans, with opportunities to swim, snorkel or visit the various atolls.

    The Central Atolls are incredibly rich in whales and dolphins. The diversity of species can be astonishing: Risso’s, bottlenose and spinner dolphins, and short-finned pilot and dwarf sperm whales are all regulars, and with luck we may even see Longman’s beaked whale. 

    We sail by day, and anchor early each evening in a sheltered lagoon.

    Depending on our location there should be opportunities to snorkel or visit the island, while after dark the top deck offers stunning views of the night sky. Each evening, tour leader and marine biologist, Dr Charles Anderson, presents an informative illustrated talk.

  4. Day 8: Whale and dolphin watching off Malé Atoll

    We enjoy a final full day of whale and dolphin watching, before anchoring near Malé for a farewell dinner and final night on board.
  5. Day 9: Transfer to Malé airport and depart for the UK

    Depart Malé on an overnight flight back to the UK, or extend your stay in the Maldives at the beautiful Bandos Island Resort.
  6. Day 10: Arrive UK

Key info

  • Duration and price including flights from/to UK: 10 days from £2,845 pp
  • Single supplement: From £1,215
  • Group size: 16
  • Departures: Please contact us for departure date details.
  • Included in the price/package:
    • Flights from the UK
    • Transfers
    • 7 nights liveaboard
    • All meals

Expert leader

Dr Charles Anderson

Photo of Dr Charles Anderson

Dr Charles Anderson is a professional marine biologist who has lived and worked in the Maldives since 1983.

He is the foremost authority on both cetaceans and fishes in the Maldives, and the pioneer of whale and dolphin watching there. In addition to numerous scientific papers, he has published a series of six guides to the marine life of the islands. He is an accomplished underwater photographer, and normally presents a series of evening slide shows on marine life during the course of his trips.

Featured location:

Central Atolls

The central region comprises Malé and Ari atolls, Felidhoo, Faafu and the smaller Rasdhoo Atoll. It is the most popular area for both dive resorts and liveaboards, with excellent shore diving from house reefs and large pelagics on drift dives.

  • Ideal for viewing: whale shark, grey reef shark, napoleon wrasse, spotted eagle ray, reef manta ray
  • Excellent for: Liveaboard diving, Resort based diving, Shark diving, Whale shark, Manta ray, Learn to dive, Shore diving, Snorkelling, Underwater photography
This itinerary is available on the liveaboard shown below. Please contact us for further recommendations.

MV Ari Queen

The Ari Queen is a comfortable liveaboard accommodating up to 16 passengers. She make a perfect base for snorkelling, relaxing and enjoying the fascinating marine life around the islands.