Reethi Faru House Reef in Maldives: A Snorkeling Trip Report
We can all agree the Maldives is absolutely gorgeous. Exotic. Pristine beaches. Water so clear you can see straight down to your toes wiggling in the sand. There’s more to the Maldives though than world-class beaches, and that is the vibrant underwater world! Going to the Maldives and not snorkeling is like going to Cambodia and skipping Angkor Wat. It would be unthinkable. Let me take you on an underwater tour of the incredible Reethi Faru house reef.
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Pick a Resort with an Awesome House Reef
WHAT IS A HOUSE REEF
House reef at Reethi Faru Resort in the Maldives
Before I jump into my personal snorkeling experience at Reethi Faru, there is one super important thing to note. If snorkeling is a priority, pick an island resort with a good house reef.
The Maldives is made up of 1,190 islands. There are 160+ resorts, and each resort sits on its own island.
Most of the islands will have drop-dead gorgeous beaches that look like they were featured on a travel agent’s brochure. Not everyone though will have an amazing house reef. Or the island may have good snorkeling but you have to pay for a boat excursion to reach it.
A house reef is a reef you can swim to right from the resort’s shore. You can snorkel to your heart’s content day or night without any added expense.
Choosing a Maldivian resort with an amazing house reef was one of our top priorities.
ATOLLS WITH THE BEST REEFS
You know you want an awesome house reef. Now, how do you know which resort boasts the best reef?
Research the best atolls for snorkeling. An atoll is a coral reef that surrounds a lagoon. I haven’t been to all the atolls, so I won’t claim to be an expert.
However, Trip Savvy does an excellent job summarizing which are the best for Maldives snorkeling.
We choose to set up base in the northern atolls, which include Baa, Lhaviyani, Noonu, and Raa.
An incredibly unique experience in the Baa atoll is to snorkel Hanifaru Bay, a marine-protected UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. This reserve is the premier location to swim with the WORLD’s largest aggregation of manta rays.
From June to November, these graceful creatures swoop in and have a feeding party on the plankton that gets funneled into the channels of the atoll. Sometimes whale sharks even join in on the feast.
We went to the Maldives at the end of December/early January, so we unfortunately missed the manta rays.
Courtesy of Shutterstock: Manta ray
Snorkel Rating of Reethi Faru House Reef
REETHI FARU REPORT CARD
📍 = Raa Atoll
⭐️ = 8.8 Booking.com / 4.6 Google / 4.5 TripAdvisor
Overall Snorkel Rating: 🤿 🤿 🤿 🤿 (🤿 🤿 🤿 🤿 🤿 if Hanifaru Bay is included)
Fish Soup: 🐠 🐠 🐠
Big Marine Life: 🐢
Where’s Waldo Marine Life: 🐙
Unique Snorkel Encounters: Manta Ray Feeding at Hanifaru Bay
My husband and I love to snorkel, so I created my snorkel rating system to help differentiate all the places we have been.
Some of our favorite snorkeling destinations have been the Great Barrier Reef, Belize, Bora Bora, and St. John USVI. You will see all of my snorkeling blog posts will have a snorkel rating.
The Reethi Faru House Reef definitely gets a solid 4/5 snorkel rating.
Please see my SNORKEL RATING KEY to interpret my ratings.
Snorkeling Trip Report of the Reethi Faru Reef
BABY REEF SHARK
Baby black-tipped reef shark
My husband and I were walking along the beach at Reethi Faru and saw this baby blacktip reef shark right at the shoreline. I jumped in to get a quick photo with my GoPro.
This cute little guy was not interested in sticking around and immediately swam away from me. You can see in the photo he was swimming around in pretty shallow water.
We saw a few adult-sized sharks while swimming around our overwater bungalow. They always kept their distance, as did we.
Although I am a little more comfortable around sharks now (we even did cage diving with great white sharks!), my heart still races at the sight of them.
Before I went to the Maldives, of course, I googled “Maldives shark attack” to see if there had been any incidents.
Surprisingly, I found there have been no recorded shark attacks on humans in the Maldives. The theory is the Maldives is situated in a very food-rich area of the Indian Ocean. In other words, the sharks are happy because they have no problems keeping their bellies full.
I like happy sharks!
Oriental sweetlip at Reethi Faru Resort in Maldives
How cool is this fish? Its beautiful body pattern is like a cross between a zebra and a leopard. These fish have puffy swollen lips, hence the name sweetlips.
This was definitely one of my favorite fish species that I saw while we snorkeled in the Maldives.
They are little divas and usually prefer only live food. Supposedly, this tasty fish is considered a delicacy in the Maldives.
BLUE STRIPE SNAPPER
School of blue stripe snapper in the Maldives
These brightly-colored fish with 4 vivid blue stripes love to hang around in groups around coral. We were able to swim quite close to them without scaring them off.
Whitespotted pufferfish in the Maldives
This was yet another beautiful fish we encountered during our Maldives snorkeling adventure.
The whitespotted pufferfish gets its name because of its ability to “puff” itself up by taking water into its stomach when a predator is around. These solitary fish don’t like to be bothered and will usually dart into a hole when approached.
Japan considers puffer fish a delicacy but only certain species. One is prized above the rest: the quite poisonous torafugu or tiger puffer fish.
Its toxin is more poisonous than cyanide! Only certified chefs can prepare and serve this fish. My husband tried fugu at Sushi Toro in Washington DC; luckily he’s still around to tell of the experience.
Butterflyfish in the Maldives
Butterflyfish are gorgeous and have really interesting body patterns and long thin snouts. Many have dark bands across their eyes like a bandit and little dots on their body that could be mistaken as an eye.
This unique pattern often confuses predators, allowing the butterflyfish to escape.
BLACKTAIL & BLUE SURGEONFISH
Blacktail surgeonfish in the Maldives
Don’t mess with a surgeonfish. They have a little spine that sits in a groove on both sides of their body. That spine will pop out like a scalpel if you tick them off. But only if you tick them off.
The surgeonfish is not aggressive and will move away when approached. We saw a lot of these fish during our snorkeling trips in the Maldives!
Maldives snorkeling with a blue surgeonfish
TITAN & ORANGELINED TRIGGERFISH
Titan triggerfish in the Maldives
This is another fish you need to respect. We saw two types of triggerfish: the titan triggerfish (yes, he was a big boy!) and the orangelined triggerfish.
These fish will inflict a nasty bite if you provoke them. The time to be extra careful around them is during mating and nesting season.
Their nest is usually in a sandy area right next to coral. Pretend there is a big cone right above the nest and avoid it. If you venture into it, good luck.
How do you tell if you made the triggerfish mad?
It will suddenly do a face-off with you or roll onto its side to get a better look at you with its beady eyes. The best bet is to swim horizontally away, keeping your fins between you and the fish.
Orangelined triggerfish in the Maldives
Moorish Idol in the Maldives
This shy fish supposedly got its name from the Moors of Africa. It kinda looks like an angel fish.
The graceful Moorish idol has a white long filament-looking crest that sweeps along the body. We didn’t see too many of these beauties. They tend to be solitary or in pairs.
Parrotfish at house reef in the Maldives
This vibrantly colored fish gets its name from its beak-like mouth. And they love to chomp! Their teeth are constantly munching on coral to remove the algae, which they then poop out as sand.
One large parrotfish can produce 1,000 POUNDS of sand a year!
We saw quite a few parrotfish during our Maldives snorkeling trips.
Batfish in the Maldives under our overwater bungalow
It took me forever to identify this fish. Our Longfin Batfish loved to hang around the steps leading down from our overwater bungalow and never wanted to show his face as I snorkeled close to him.
Although this one was playing hard to get, they are supposed to be social, friendly, and quite clever. When threatened, this fish can change color and even flatten itself out on its side in an attempt to look like a flatworm.
I later learned our little friend was a juvenile Longfin Batfish. Adults and juveniles look very different.
Juveniles are characterized by their long dorsal and anal fins that can sometimes look like floating debris or seaweed.
As they turn into adults, their fins shorten and they get a little bony bulge on the forehead.
In my opinion, the kids are more attractive looking than the adults.
Scorpionfish in the Maldives
I am horrible at picking out small creatures and camouflaged fish. My husband, on the other hand, has an amazing eagle eye!
Thanks to him, I had the privilege of seeing my first scorpionfish while snorkeling in the Maldives. They literally blend into their surroundings, waiting for unsuspecting prey.
Scorpionfish have long elongated bodies with little protruding eyes. They have poisonous spines, so be respectful and keep your distance.
Stonefish are the MOST VENOMOUS fish in the world and can look similar to scorpionfish. However, they have more rounded bodies and literally look like a stone.
Unicornfish in the Maldives
You can’t miss this fish! Unicornfish have a huge pointy protrusion coming off their forehead. These playful fish don’t mind getting close. Watch your hands though because this fish also has scalpel-like blades at the base of its tail like their relatives, the surgeonfish.
Goatfish in the Maldives
The goatfish is yet another easy fish to identify. I saw this one on the sandy bottom, using his long chin barbels (or goatee or whiskers) to probe the sand for food. This fish also has a distinctive forked tail.
They can rapidly change color and will turn a pale cream when hanging out in the sand to avoid predators (like in the photo below).
Clownfish in the Maldives
You cannot help but smile and fall in love with this adorable little orange fish as it darts in and out of the sea anemone playing peekaboo.
The clownfish aka Nemo has a symbiotic relationship with the sea anemone. The clownfish uses the sea anemone as a safe haven; in turn, the sea anemone uses the clownfish to clean its tentacles and fend off intruders like the butterflyfish.
The clownfish is protected from the sea anemone’s stinging tentacles by the thick mucous that forms on its body.
Colorful clam in the Maldives
The Maldives has some beautiful giant clams like this bright purple one we passed by snorkeling at Reethi Faru. They feed on algae and can grow quite large.
Reethi Faru House Reef Video
YouTube Video of Snorkeling at Reethi Faru House Reef
Best Time to Snorkel in the Maldives
Overall, the best weather and driest months for snorkeling are January – April.
Snorkeling Gear to Bring
If you flew across the world to the Maldives specifically for snorkeling, you may want to consider investing in the right gear.
There’s nothing worse than a constantly fogging mask or fins that keep digging into your legs.
Get properly fitted.
Here is a list of the travel snorkeling gear I bring on all of my underwater adventures.
I have never seen such an incredible variety of fish! It was certainly worth the 36 hours and 2-stopover plane ride to get there. Make sure to pick a resort with a good house reef and be prepared to immerse yourself in an incredible underwater aquarium.
If you know to know more about the Reethi Faru resort, don’t miss my full review below.
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Have you snorkeled in the Maldives? What were your favorite resorts with a good house reef?
Let me know in the comments below!