The standard safe practices of scuba diving are essentially the same the world over. For example not ascending too quickly, never hold your breath, follow the buddy system etc. Standard diving practices in the Maldives are much the same with the exception that the Maldives government has taken some rather interesting additional measures to ensure that scuba diving enjoys a 5 star safety record in this diver’s paradise. Popular opinion goes both ways on this but the fact remains that these measures are working to keep diving safe and, more to the point, that they are the law.
So, in a nutshell, here is what you need to know……
Dives less than 24 hours before flying are prohibited.
Maldives Recreational Diving Guidelaines, Chapter 3, section 4, Paragraph 3
Nobody is permitted to engage in any scuba related activity for at least 24 hours before boarding an aircraft. This helps to prevent even the occasional occurrence of decompression problems related to flying and diving. Please be sure to calculate this buffer into your itinerary when planning your diving trip. Dive centers are actually obliged to take note of your departure date and flight number to make sure that you stay in keeping with this law.
The Maximum depth for all‐recreational diving in the Maldives is 30 meters.
Maldives Recreational Diving Regulation Chapter 2, section 3, Paragraph 1
This is the general maximum limit and only really affects divers who hold technical recreational diving qualifications or deep diver specialty qualifications and who specifically wish to engage in deeper dives. Just to be perfectly clear on this matter, the law does not also mean that suddenly everyone may dive to 30m. Let’s not forget that for DSDs, PADI scuba divers and PADI junior divers under the age of 12 years, the 12m depth limit still applies. Open water divers may dive to 18m and advanced open water divers, rescue divers, divemasters and instructors are qualified to dive up to 30m. So, on the whole, it is only a very small part of the diving community that is limited by this law. It can be argued that the undeniable improvement of diving safety in the Maldives since implementation of this law was worth the sacrifice.
Only no decompression diving is allowed in the Maldives.
Maldives Recreational Diving Regulation Chapter 2, section 4, Paragraph 1
Even though most dive computers these days will calculate a “deco” dive for you, the Maldives is simply the wrong place to try out that function on your shiny new dive computer. Here amongst the atolls decompression diving is strictly prohibited by law. This is the main reason why technical diving and technical diving training has never found a real foothold in these waters. In any case technical diving is a highly specialist activity and should not be taken lightly or engaged in without substantial training and additional equipment. The Maldives offers you plenty of amazing diving sites accessible well within recreational no-stop diving limits. With diving innovations such as Enriched Air Nitrox allowing us even more time underwater without exceeding safe limits, there is little real need to push the envelope anyway.
These are only some of the diving regulations that all divers must abide by when diving in the Maldives. For a full description of diving regulations and guidelines please download a copy of the Maldives Tourism Act from the Maldives Tourism website.