The Banana Reef was the first dive site to be discovered in the Maldives. This banana shaped, protected region is situated in the North Male Atoll and ranges in depth from 5 to 30m, so it is popular for beginners and advanced divers alike.
The Banana Reef has become world renown for a number of reasons. It has amazing and unexpected landscapes such as a now famous pinnacle, as well as dramatic cliffs, overhangs and caves. The coral is bright and vivid. Explosions of colour make for an amazing underwater experience – bold yellow, various shades of pink, rose red, luminous green and lavender lilac marine invertebrate gather in their flamboyant communities, attracting a variety of equally as colourful fish.
It’s very popular for divers and snorkelers, eager to see both known and unexpected fellow swimmers. Barracuda, grouper and sharks will be hard to miss, but angel fish and parrot fish, and other smaller predators lurk in crevices of the Banana Reef waiting for their prey to pass by. The landscape is magnificent – different size plants, unusual textures, rocks and shells – shrubs and ferns – some look like spaghetti, others like fungi – all with a spot in this special place.
The fish who make this their home are varied and known by quirky and attractive names – Oriental sweetlips is a distinct fish with its black and yellow stripy body and spotted tail. Its name is clearly from a pair of pursed lips carefully painted in gentle pink. Squirrel and soldier fish are closely related – distinctive eyes, shiny scales, often orange and striped, they are members of the ray-finned fish family. Reef sharks, morays and stingray eels may be seen hanging out on the ocean floor, lazing around until something attractive or tasty lures them from their sandy bed. Giant clams, blowfish and Napoleon wrasse – you will meet some or all of them in these warm colourful waters.
Now that you are absolutely determined to put the Banana Reef on your Maldives itinerary, here is some of the practical advice that you must bear in mind. Safety first. Do be careful to use a reputable tour or diving guide who has sufficient safety and dive equipment for your excursion. Sometimes, the currents are strong, so a surface balloon is recommended. The best mode of transport is by speedboat with a guide. It is not far from the islands to the south of the North Male Atoll, so is easily accessible. Its proximity to these islands is the reason it was the first dive site discovered in the Maldives. Dive operators offer night dives, where seeing the incredible archipelago after dark is an experience on its own. If you have not got an underwater camera, you will be able to hire one.
The memories of visiting the Banana Reef will last a lifetime.