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The mountainous island of Taiwan is utterly safe for traveling and a great place to meet some of the friendliest people on our planet. The variety of food and different tastes are exceptional.

Exceptional, beautiful, and fascinating: Taiwan! The mountainous island is utterly safe for traveling and a great place to meet some of the friendliest people on our planet. Read our season tips as well as a complete guide with tips for every spectacular place in Taiwan!

When is the best time? You can travel to Taiwan throughout the year but consider typhoons are likely to happen from July to October. The driest months are from November to April. These are the best months to travel around the entire island. During summer (July and August) Taiwan is overrun by the Taiwanese. 

Weather Overview

Fast changing weather in the Taroko Gorge
Taroko Gorge

First of all, if traveling to Taiwan, you have to consider that rain is common throughout the year. There is much more precipitation on the east side due to the high mountain range. Most rainfall occurs from May to October. In these months Taiwan gets hit by typhoons regularly, especially in the east and in the central mountain range.

Breakwater on the east coast of Taiwan
Breakwater on the East Coast

The northern part of Taiwan and the Taipei area are several degrees colder than the south like in Kaohsiung and Kenting. Being there for quite a while, we learned that the weather forecast gives you an indication, but often it's better than predicted especially in the drier season from November to April. Find more weather details here: Monthly Weather Taipei - Taiwan NorthMonthly Weather Tainan - Taiwan South
 

Spectacular Sunrise and Sunset

In Taiwan, you can experience stunning sunsets and sunrises. We give you insider tips for the popular spots and show you the hidden gems as well. Just mesmerizing!

Alishan National Forest Recreation Area

View from Alishan
View from Alishan

Alishan is famous but also an extremely crowded spot to view the sunrise. If you depend on public transport, it's one of the view sunrise spots where you can get to. However, it's utterly crowded which makes it hard to enjoy the sunrise. You can't watch the sunrise in Alishan only on the 2.489 m high Zushan mountain. Take the sunrise train which runs just once from the Alishan station early morning. If the train is not fully booked, you can get tickets from 1 pm to 4.30 pm the day before. The departure of the train depends on the time of the sunrise. Each afternoon at 4.30 pm the exact time will be mentioned. Ask at your hotel reception for the departure time. When booking the hotel ask them to make a reservation for the sunrise train for you the next morning. It's a short ride up almost to the summit of Zushan. To catch the train, you have to get up very early between 4 and 5 am. It's a bit of a hassle during the sunrise, but you can take an amazing picture.

Akishan Shuttle Bus

The rest of the day shuttle buses are offered but only every 2 hours. 9/11/13/15. The Zushan area is also beautiful in the daytime, and the views are awesome. Take the sunrise train or the bus later in the day to the top and walk back through the forest to Alishan. Consider frequently the clouds already roll in before midday. Therefore, it may happen that you are covered in clouds from midday onward. 

Tip: Stay in Alishan if you want to watch the sunrise otherwise you have to get up in the middle of the night. ll the hotels here are fully booked very far in advance, although most of them are not outstanding. The best one perfectly located in Alishan is the Alishan Hotel ****.

The Alishan Hotel
Alishan Hotel

An excellent budget option is the Legendary Bed and Breakfast in Fenqihu. The owners; Mr. and Mrs. You walk an extra mile for you. We prefer Fenqihu which is much quieter and located close to the Dadongshan Trail.

More information and details about Alishan and Fenqihu can be found in our detailed description of the Central Mountain Range. 

More Beautiful Sunrise and Sunset Places Without Crowds

Besides Alishan there are even more outstanding locations in Taiwan to experience a gorgeous sunrise above the horizon or a mesmerizing sunset in the evening. Let us show you the best ones:

  • Linzhi Mountain
    Yushan National Park

    Linzhi Mountain is not far from Alishan already in the Yushan National Park is still one of the hidden gems. You can either come here for the sunrise or just early morning to watch the spectacular Alishan Mountain Range and the highest peak with 3.952 m Yushan or Jade Mountain. The Linzhi Mountain Loop Trail is roughly 7 km long and takes 3 1/2 hours. It's an easy and well-marked 1/2 day hike. Due to the high elevation, you may watch the sea of clouds before midday. Parking at Takaka Visitor Center. The visitor center is closed every second Tuesday each month. Bring water and a sandwich. There is just a restaurant but no shop. Takaka Visitor Center Google Maps
     
  • Dadongshan or Dadong Mountain
    Dadongshan Trail close to Fenqihu - Trail Map
    Spectacular hike and views without any crowds can be experienced from Dadongshan or Dadong Mountain. It's already part of the Alishan National Scenic Area and close to Fenqihu. Here you can watch a stellar sunrise with fewer people on the 1.976 m high Dadongshan or Dadong summit. It’s an hour drive west of Alishan. The climb is roughly 2 km up one way, and it may take up to an hour. The trail can be slippery and muddy. Watch the roots and stairs along the path. During summer be aware of thunderstorms in the afternoon. Mosquitos occur here at this time of the year. Winter can be pretty chilly. When you reach the viewing platform, you can see the highest mountain of Taiwan Mount Yushan on a clear day; during winter covered in snow. Mount Yushan also called Jade Mountain is 3.952 m high above sea level. Also here frequently clouds roll in at midday and spoil the breathtaking view. hen we hiked the trail we ended up in fog. However, you walk through lush vegetation full of life and we enjoyed the mystic atmosphere. You can either hike the short circular trail or add another one. Have a look at the hiking map of Dadongshan. Dadongshan Trailhead and Parking Google Maps
     
  • Hehuanshan
    Sunrise at Hehuan Mountain

    Hehuanshan near Taroko Gorge with a height of 3000 m is an excellent spot for the sunrise. You can already watch the sunrise from your hotel room, or you climb to one of the summits of Hehuan Mountain. For detailed information read our article about Hehuanshan at Sunrise.
     
  • Eryanping Trail
    Eryanping Trail along tea plantations to the second outlook for the sunset
    Popular by locals, not so much by foreign visitors, is the Eryanping Trail through tea plantations between Longmei and Shizhuo.  The area has the perfect climate to grow tea due to dense fog and cool temperatures in the afternoon like at Alishan. The Oolong - high mountain tea grows mainly at an altitude of 900-1200 m. It's a short steep trail up mostly on steps leading to two outlooks. Parking is available at the trailhead, and there are restrooms as well. Nice farm stalls and six fresh waffles for a less than 1,50 € are offered.  Eryanping Trail Google Maps
     
  • Guanwu
    Guanwu Sunset
    We also watched a beautiful sunset at Guanwu where you can get to by car. It's 5 minutes walk to the viewing platform only. Guanwu is also excellent for hiking and famous for two thousand years old giant Formosan Cypresses. Detailed information in our Guanwu National Forest article. 

     
Cherry Blossom and Sakura Season

Cherry Blossom in Alishan

This is the most famous time of the year in Taiwan. Depending on the elevation level it usually takes place between the end of February until mid-April. The most popular places are Yangmingshan and the Wuji Tianyuan Temple, Wulai Waterfall, Sun Moon Lake and, Alishan. All these places get utterly crowded, especially during the weekend.
 

Season Details

Before we dive into our adventure experiences and ideas for your next visit, let us give you a detailed season overview. What to expect in terms of climate, highlights, and crowds:

March - April - May (Spring)

Rhododendron in bloom in May

In terms of weather March and April are often sunny while heavy rainfall starts in May. March has pleasant temps above 20°C but not too hot. Temps are Increasing in April and May, as it's already hot with high humidity. However, rain showers can always occur. March and April are perfect months if you'd like to see Taiwan in full bloom. In April and May, we highly recommend visiting Guanwu for the rhododendrons.

June - July - August (Summer)

Summer

Temps are above 30°C, and it's not a pleasant time. During the Computex in June, the biggest IT Show in Asia, it's heavily crowded in Taipei. July and August is the peak season because the residents go on vacation. Many Taiwanese travel either to the cooler mountains or to the sea. Often to Kenting in the south to escape the heat. Expect high humidity and lots of precipitation. These are the wettest months on the entire island and typhoons can occur.

September - October - November (Autumn)

Taiwan during Autumn

There is still lots of rain until the end of October and typhoons are likely to occur until the end of September. October gets drier but not on the east side. November is one of the driest months with pleasant temperatures above 20°C, but it's often cloudy in the north. We can't recommend traveling in September, due to the rainfall. October and November are much better and not very crowded except Taipei.

December - January - February (Winter)

Tea plantations during winter close to Alishan

The temps in winter are still pleasant at day time roughly around 20°C and sometimes slightly below. The temperatures in the mountains are pretty chilly during the night from December to March. In January and February, the peaks are often covered with snow. Snow is something special for the Taiwanese and many of them travel to higher elevations like Hehuanshan or Alishan.
 

Avoiding the Crowds

Famous sights in Taiwan are often pretty crowded

So many regions of Taiwan are still overlooked by travelers from non-Asian countries. Of course, the famous attractions in Taipei like the World Trade Center or the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall as well as Taroko Gorge, Alishan, and Kenting are popular and crowded. In general, Taipei is extremely busy during the summer between July and August and from the end of December until early January. Weekends are always super busy. The Taiwanese have very few holidays. That's the reason for the very crowded weekends almost everywhere on the entire island. It tends to get busy from Friday midday onwards. Even worse is Xitou, which is busy even on weekdays due to retired hiking people. However, the hinterland and not well-known places by tourists are just visited by residents. What did we do to dodge the crowds? We went on adventures and deep into nature. Particularly on weekends to get away from the masses. That's how we shared beautiful nature with very few people only. Tip for the famous spots: If you'd like to visit the popular places, get there early in the morning to dodge the most crowds.

A Great Place
TW Taiwan
5

The main tourist attraction of Vanuatu is the Mount Yasur volcano 361 m high and easily accessible. Erupting for more than 800 years already up to 500 times each day.

With 500 explosions each day and being one of the most accessible volcanos it’s a must to visit Mount Yasur if visiting Vanuatu. There is increasing activity from May onwards during the drier season due to colder night temps. Tanna Island is a rip-off, however, it’s worth coming here for Yasur! Continue reading to figure out your best time for this once in a lifetime adventure, our 7 must-know tips; 1) Volcano Activity and Accessibility 2) Weather 3) Crowds 4) Where to Stay and Where Not 5) What to Wear and Bring 6) Transport 7) Things to Do on Tanna Island.

Yasur Volcano Activity and Accessibility

The activity is monitored to protect the local people and tourists. The Mount Yasur Volcano is a high-risk area. There is a permanent exclusion zone which is prohibited from entering. Volcano activity is scaled into five levels. Already level three is severe and dangerous. Since the end of 2015, the activity is at level 2. In June 2018 an ash plume was up to 1.5 km / 5000 feet high. November 2019: Strong explosions occur. Be aware of the risk when visiting Yasur.

  • Level 1
    It's a couple of years ago that this level occurred.
  • Level 2
    This is a fascinating and thrilling level, but risky as well. It's not recommended to visit the volcano with kids for safety reasons. There is already a risk to get hit by lava bombs. The fiery eruptions are getting stronger during the dry season and colder nights temps from May onwards. Colder temps increase the activity. Nearby houses get shaken by some of the stronger eruptions which are terrifying loud, especially during the night.
  • Level 3 and Level 4
    Ash plumes may get thrown to the other side of the volcano to the huge ash plain where you pass the volcano by 4 WD Jeep. If this happens the village, the eastern side, and the Yasur Volcano are not accessible.

Check the recent activity of Mount Yasur

Mount Yasur eruption at the crater rim
Weather / Climate

Usually, there is a dry and a wet season on Tanna Island, Vanuatu but Mount Yasur has its own microclimate. Rain occurs throughout the year due to the many eruptions and ash clouds. During the dry season, it often rains in the night or morning. The wet season lasts from November until April. Day temps are around 30°C. while nights are still pleasant around 20°C. During the dry season, day temps range between the mid to high 20s and night temps are colder on average between 14°C to 18°C.

Visiting Time and Crowds

Tours to the crater rim are offered from dawn till dusk.

  • The morning tour starts very early in darkness around 4 am without the ceremony. Pro: very view people come so early to experience the active volcano. You experience the active volcano with its fiery lava in darkness and with daylight as well. Con: Showers occur quite often.
  • During the day lots of day-trippers come here but still bearable. Pro: You can stay on one of the other islands as well. Con.: It’s impressive but not as spectacular as during the evening. The glow is most breathtaking in pitch darkness.
  • The tour in the evening starts around 4 pm with a ceremony before you drive up to Mount Yasur. You arrive shortly before sunset; when it gets dark, it is just mind-blowing. Con.: It can get crowded between 40-80 people. You should experience at least one tour in the evening.
     

People walking to the Mount Yasur outlook along the crater rim

Volcano
VU Vanuatu
5

Vanuatu is a group of 83 islands mostly undeveloped. Although Santo and Efate have a tourist infrastructure, paved roads, and electricity you may end up in a region without this common amenities.

Land Diving where the New Zealander AJ Hackett got inspired for Bungee Jumping. It’s a custom which takes part from the first Saturday in April until the last Saturday in June, 13 times in 2018. There is limited space only and flights fill up quickly. Advanced booking is recommended. Only very few airlines offer this trip. We did our booking 6 months in advance. Regarding the weather Pentecost experiences much precipitation until late April. May gets drier and June is the best choice if you like to watch these breathtaking dives.

Land Diving Pentecost Island - Last dive on the highest level

Weather 

Pentecost has a tropical climate. It’s warm throughout the year and gets hot and humid during the rainy season with temps above 30°C. The season lasts from November to March officially, but the wettest months are January to April. The dry season lasts until October. Occasional rain showers occur. The western side of Pentecost experiences more rain. Cyclones are more likely to happen between January and March. The category 5 monster; Cyclone Pam hit Vanuatu in March 2015. It was the worst natural disaster ever. 

Crowds 

Usually, the Land Diving is held for 30-40 people but the audiences increase if it’s presented for a cruise ship. There is much space for everybody to sit and stand around the diving tower. Due to a limited number of seats and flights available you will always sit in the first row to attend this cultural spectacle from an ancient time.

Pentecost Land Diving - groups are small up to 40 people

A Great Place
VU Vanuatu
5

Milford Sound is part of the Fjordland National Park, and the whole region became World Heritage Site in 1990. The Fjordland was formed by glaciers hundreds of thousands of years ago.

The best time to visit Milford Sound without the crowds and enough daylight is on a morning cruise tour around 10 am. The best season is autumn as temps are mild (9-14°C). To experience this wet place with a sunny blue sky, you must monitor the weather forecast a couple of days before you visit.

Milford Sound is just mesmerizing and also one of the wettest regions on earth with up to 9 meters of rain each year. It's one of the most visited places in South New Zealand. Depending on the season you plan to come, we provide you with lots of useful tips. Continue reading to get the insights we got told by local rangers or get answers to your questions by using our quick navigation (most popular are the 7 Must-Know Tips):

  1. Essential Cruise Tour Tips
  2. Driving Tips from Te Anau
  3. Monthly Weather & Crowds | Best Times
  4. Hotel Booking Tips
  5. Scenic Flight & More Cruise Tours
  6. 7 Must-Know Tips Before You Visit
  7. A Perfect Day | Milford Itinerary
  8. Hikes and Walks

 

Milford experiences a minimum of 200 days of rain, 7 meters of rain on average each year. One of the few places where rainfall is measured in meters. Usually, it rains 2 days in 3. In 2017 the precipitation was even 9 meters, and on the opposite, the summer in 2018 was pretty dry even accompanied by forest fires. Nevertheless, rain occurs quite often throughout the year. With a high amount of rainfall, the fjord is full of awesome temporary waterfalls, and the existing ones are at its peak. It’s spectacular when waterfalls thunder down from the cliffs.

Milford Sound - Waterfall after rainfall

We wanted to experience the sound on a clear day, and we did. We just monitored the weather forecast and booked our tour just two days before. We drove 10 hours from Christchurch to Te Anau and another two for the 120 km from Te Anau the next morning before sunrise. Yep, that sounds a little crazy, but we got rewarded with fantastic views and a sunny blue sky. It was worth the strenuous drive.

 
Essential Cruise Tour Tips (Crowds & Booking)

Crowds at Milford at midday

Milford is the most popular place in New Zealand with more than 500.000 visitors each year. If you like to go on a cruise at midday advanced booking is recommended. These tours are frequently fully booked, that's why you must book these in advance, regardless of the season!  During peak season, every tour should be pre-booked. In shoulder and low season, you may book the early morning and afternoon tours on the spot, as they are less crowded.  Our favorite cruise is this one: Milford Sound Nature Cruise. To make sure you get on a cruise we recommend, book at least one or two days before. There are different tours being offered at different times. The first starts around 8.30 am, but at this time of the day, there is still not enough light for taking a good picture in the sound. It improves a lot an hour later. However, you should always arrive early at Milford Sound. Why? Read on below:


How to Get to Milford Sound (With Tips for the Drive)

Homer Tunnel to Milford Sound
Homer Tunnel

You should (or must) drive from Te Anau to Milford Sound: Google Maps - Te Anau <> Milford Sound. It's one of the most gorgeous drives we've done! Start early and arrive around 8 latest 8.30 am at Milford Sound parking from December to March. This ensures you don’t need to park far away and have to take the shuttle to get close. The shuttle is offered at the busiest time of the year only. The two different parking areas fill up soon.

Milford Bus and Car Parking

It takes about 1 hour 45 minutes from Te Anau very early in the morning.  If you start later schedule two hours minimum for the drive plus half an hour for the shuttle. The sunrise in the morning and the sunset on the way back were breath-taking. Keep in mind there isn’t any gas station or fuel stop along the Milford road just an un-manned in Milford. Between May and November, snow chains are required. The Homer Tunnel at an altitude of 945 m above sea level is just one narrow single lane, 1.2 km long, and traffic is controlled by a traffic light.

Update March 1 for the Hiking Season in 2020

Due to significant damage from the weather event, the Milford Track was closed.  A part of the Milford Track called Southern Milford-Mackinnon Experience got reopened. Walkers have to depart from Glade Wharf in Te Anau. This hike lasts three days and two nights. The last part of the Milford Track is closed for the rest of the hiking season; too much got destroyed. It takes lots of time to repair the last 7 km of the track. Unfortunately, the entire Routeburn Track is closed for the rest of the season, too. The track needs considerable repair work. Day visits to the sound are not affected. Most of the day hikes are open to the public.

Milford Sound Weather & Crowds (Seasons/Months)

Read our detailed Milford Sound weather guide for every season and month below. We also included information about peak tourist times with possible crowds and less busy periods. 

Spring (September/October - November)

Milford Sound in Spring

It’s still chilly in the night, but days tend to be warmer and longer. It’s the shoulder season, less crowded and overrun. There are hundreds of waterfalls gush down from rocky cliffs due to the spring rain and the melting snow. The countryside is covered with wildflowers. In November and December, the rata and the pohutukawa trees are in full bloom. These trees are also called Christmas trees. Mountains are still snow-capped. The Fiordland Crested Penguin can be seen until November or December by the latest raising the cheeks.

Summer (December - February)

Milford Sound during summer rain

December and January have the highest amount of precipitation but these months are also the warmest and busiest. The average temp is almost 20°C, and it can increase up to 28°C. In turns of sun and rain, the humidity is quite high. The Christmas Trees are in bloom until December. A shuttle service from the overflow parking is offered from December to March.

Autumn (March-April)

Milford Sound during the beginning of Fall

Crowds thin a little bit out and the shoulder season starts around mid-March. There are still many hours of daylight. The temps may be still close to 20°C at daytime. Nights become already chilly. It's the best time of the year for hiking. Waterfalls are not at their peak. There is a slightly higher chance to experience Milford on a clear day as we did at the end of March.

Winter (May - August/September) 

Milford Sound during winter

That's the low season, and it’s less busy. Snow is common on the road to the Milford Sound, especially in higher altitudes. This makes the mountains even more photogenic. Seals and especially penguins are more active during colder temps. The Fjordland crested penguin comes to the same beach for mating each year. They lay their eggs in August and cheeks fled between November and December. The downside the road to the sound can be closed due to avalanche warnings although the roads are accessible. Often the rangers get asked for the reason for closing the way. There is a team monitoring the mountains and snowfields if they ascertain a high risk for an avalanche the only route to the sound can be closed for days. Hiking isn't possible everywhere. Avalanche-prone bridges get removed to prevent destroying by flooding or debris avalanches. The average daily temp is around 4°C. This makes the cruises pretty cold outside on the deck. Most of the ships offer indoor and outdoor seating and viewing area.

A Great Place
NZ New Zealand
5

Liuqiu Island is just 4 km long and 2 km wide best explored with a rental scooter. It looks like that the island can be super busy during the peak season.

Around the island of Xiao Liuqiu (Xiaoliuqiu or Lambai Island) green sea turtles are often spotted. You might be wondering: How can I spot these fascinating creatures up close? Check out our detailed tips:

Tides
  • During high tide: They come closer to the shore to feed on seaweed. You can even watch them from the shoreline while they are feeding. The sea can be quite rough, and you should be an experienced snorkeler or diver if you go by yourselves at some places. There are also several small beaches where you get easily into the sea.
    Green Sea Turtle spotted from the shore during high tide
     
  • During low tide: it’s easier to get into the sea, and snorkel tours are offered at Vase Rock. You will be supplied with a wetsuit, shoes, snorkel gear and life jacket. You stay together with the instructor and other snorkelers either holding a rope or lifebelt. It seems that there are fewer turtles around.
    Guided snorkel tours at Vase Rock Liuqiu Island
     
Weather of Southern Taiwan

It a tropical climate with warm temps and occasionally rain in winter often a heavy downpour in the afternoon. Summer is hot and humid and the south-west monsoon season lasts from May to September. Typically, typhoons occur from July to September. Weather for Taiwan

How to Avoid Crowds

Weekends are always super busy, and summer is the peak season in Taiwan. It’s boiling hot, and people come to the island for the beautiful beaches and sea. Midweek is much quieter, and in the morning it's still tranquil.

Green Sea Turtle at Xiao Liuqiu

Check out complete Taiwan Guide from 2019 – Must know destinations and tips

Turtles
TW Taiwan
5

The Maldives are roughly 1.200 islands with 26 Atolls. The islands are one of the best places to see whale sharks and manta rays a well as massive amount of sea life.

The Maldives is a spectacular destination for sightings of manta rays and whale sharks. However, you need to know where and when to spot them. In general, from November until April a higher number of manta rays can be spotted on the western side of the Maldive atolls. From May to October on the eastern side of the atolls, due to the high plankton concentration.

 

Read our detailed atoll tips below (Addu, South Ari, Baa/Hanifaru), where sightings are almost guaranteed. Tip: In case you're not interested in diving or snorkeling these sections are super helpful for every traveler: Weather Details - Island Transfer Tips - Resort and Guest Houses Explained. Now, jump directly to your preferred section via our quick navigation:

  1. Top 3 Atolls for Manta Rays & Whale Sharks
  2. Climate and Weather in the Maldives
  3. The Best Inns & Resorts for Whale Sharks & Manta
  4. Island Transfer Tips (General Tips)  
  5. Swimming with Whale Shark (5 Tips)
  6. Resorts & Guest Houses Explained (General Tips) 


General Tip for Saving Money: Always look for the best guesthouse, inn and resort deals. Our preferred accommodation service for the Maldives is booking.com: Maldives Accommodation Deals, Tips and Reviews (Tip: Bookmark this link as it's really useful). Make sure to book well in advance if possible. During the wet season (see below) prices are significantly lower!

Video Tip: Check out this amazing video on YouTube by Lukas Walter: Manta Rays - Whale Sharks: Diving in the deep south of the Maldives

Excursion Types (Diving and Snorkeling)

Usually, you can spot manta rays and whale sharks on diving excursions as well as on a snorkeling / swimming tour. Diving operators in the resorts and guest houses offer both types and take you to the sites with their boats. While the snorkeling tours are often popular and better suited for swimming with whale sharks and seeing them up close, diving is perfect for being close to both sea creatures (an excecption is Hanifura Bay - see below). However, many diving operators (centers) offer mixed tours. That means: The boat takes you to the diving site where divers as well as snorkelers get off the boat. Of course, you will not only see whale sharks and manta rays, also dolphins, sea turtles, schools of tropical fish and other fascinating ocean life.

 
 
Manta Rays   Addu Atoll
  • Manta Rays: Excellent (year-round)
  • Whale Sharks: Not really
  • Diving or Snorkeling: Both. However, you need to dive to spot the manta rays (snorkeling only for other fish, turtles, coral reefs)
  • Where to Stay: Accommodation Tips


Manta Ray (Maldives) by Ian Griffiths, CC BY
The Addu Atoll (also Addu City) is the southernmost atoll in the Maldives and shaped like a heart. It's an exceptional scuba diving destination. Here, you can spot manta rays year round. In fact, it's manta heaven and not long ago in 2015/16 it was still kind of a hidden gem for seeing manta rays! The Addu Atoll is the only location in the Maldives where mantas rays with over 5 meter of wingspan are known to exist. You can also dive at the Maldives biggest wreck 'British Loyalty'. Besides manta rays, you will encounter eagle rays, sharks, turtles and generally big fish all year around. Please keep in mind that mantas are perfect to spot for divers here, but not if you're snorkeling. Certain aspects like the currents make it difficult. It's possible to spot a manta here while snorkeling, but it's not very likely. 
 

Whale Sharks & Manta Rays South Ari Atoll
  • Whale Sharks: Excellent (year-round)
  • Manta Rays: Good (October - May)
  • Diving or Snorkeling: Both
  • Where to Stay: Accommodation Tips


Whale Shark (Maldives) by Tchami, CC BY-SA
South Ari (also Alifu Dhaalu Atoll) is one of the best places for spotting whale sharks. The sightings are excellent year-round with a peak time from August to November. Also, encounters with big pelagic fish are guaranteed most of the time in South Ari Atoll. In terms of water conditions, the best time is from December to May, even better from January - April (see below: Diving). You may also spot manta rays in South Ari during the northeast monsoon from September/October to May (the peak viewing time is February - April). In other months it's really hard to find manta rays here. 
 

Whale Sharks & Manta Rays Baa Atoll – Hanifaru Bay
  • Manta Rays: Excellent (May/June - October/November)
  • Whale Sharks: Good (May/June - October/November)
  • Diving or Snorkeling: No diving in Hanifaru Bay! Only snorkeling allowed.
  • Where to Stay: Accommodation Tips


Manta Ray and Whale Shark in the Maldives
Another outstanding place to spot whale sharks and up to 200 manta rays feeding is the Hanifaru Bay in Baa Atoll. The best time for sightings here is between May and November (some divers even recommend late July to early October): During these months the South West Monsoon causes a massive build-up of plankton, drawing in hundreds of whale sharks and manta rays. Hanifaru is an uninhabited island, and the bay is smaller than a football field. But still, it's the largest known manta feeding station on our planet! In 2009 the area became a marine protected area where fishing and boating is restricted. Diving is not permitted in Hanifaru Bay anymore! And there is a strict control for snorkeling with a limit of 5 boats and 80 visitors which are allowed to spend a maximum of 45 minutes in the Hanifaru Bay. However, diving operators still take you to other diving sites with a great chance of seeing Manta Rays at Baa Atoll of course (just not in Hanifaru Bay).

 
Climate/Weather

Weather in the Maldives is determined by a tropical climate. That means it's warm and humid. However, the high humidity is bearable because of the gentle and steady sea breeze. Regardless of the two monsoon seasons and the distance between north and south (about 800 km), the temperatures are quite stable. Throughout the year and the whole region, the highs reach 31°C (89°F), and the lows hover around 25°C (77°F). That means, temperatures can vary slightly depending on the season, but it's safe to say that they remain consistent year-round between 26°C (79°F) and 29°C (84°F).  More interesting is the rainfall:

Of course, in the wet season it looks like there might be a lot of rain. However, rain showers are often brief and the sun is back within 1-2 hours. While 2 days of rain in a row can happen, it is unlikely that it will rain for a full week. Usually your trip won't be spoiled in the wet season! Read our season overview below for more details about the rain during the monsoons. Rainy days are also slightly different in terms of the region: In the dry season, the southern part (Addu Atoll) receives as twice as much rain than the northern and central part (Malé). For example 10 rainy days instead of 5 in February. But this only applies to the months between January and March/April. In other months it's pretty much the same for most regions. Also keep in mind, that these are usually brief rain showers. Another important aspect is the water temperature: It remains stable between 28°C and 30°C (82 - 86°F) during the whole year. Although water temperature, as well as the general temperature, don't vary a lot, the two monsoons bring different weather conditions in terms of rain and wind:

 
  • Dry Season (North East Monsoon / Winter): The dry season starts in November/December and lasts until April. It is influenced by the winter monsoon. At the beginning and at the end of the dry season expect a little more rain. The driest months are January, February, and March, but brief showers can occur. The northern and the central region experience the 'full dry season' while the southern part of the Maldives gets a little more rain during these months. The dry season also brings calm seas and either clear skies slightly clouded with beautiful formations. There is also significantly less wind, and the sea is often extremely flat.
  • Wet Season (South West Monsoon / Summer): The rainy season usually starts in May (sometimes in late April) and lasts until September/October. It's influenced by the summer monsoon. In October it's getting slightly better, and November is often more or less safe. Weather can change quickly in the wet season and without the slightest signs of warning. Darker, rainy and very windy periods can be very short, but heavy rain, storm and a rough sea for a couple of days in a row are possible. However, even with more cloudy days and more rainfall in the wet season, the sun shines on average for 7 hours each day. The wet season is the best time for surfing and really impressive sunsets.

Sea Conditions for Diving/Snorkeling

The best months for diving and snorkeling are in the dry season from December/January to April/May during the Northeast Monsoon: The sea is calm, and the visibility is good. During the wet season, you could experience a rough sea, rain and less visibility due to the plankton. However, some divers visit in the wet season because: a) It's less busy and there is also more underwater life going on. b) Rain can be heavy at times but is often brief. On some days the visibility is as good as in dry season. c) In certain areas (see above: Hanifaru Bay) the best time to spot whale sharks and manta rays is during the wet season. In the end, it's a matter of personal preference. Many would only go in the dry season, and others prefer the rainy season with lower rates and less traffic. There are some interesting reports and opinions in this TripAdvisor topic:  Maldives Diving - Low Season vs High Season


Tourists/Seasons

Peak Season Dry Season 
Mid-December to March and in August (school holiday) the prices are at their highest.

Shoulder Season 
April except for Easter and the first half of December after the low season. In December the rates also start to climb.

Low Season | Wet Season 
May until July and September until November with lower prices and attractive offers. Several resorts are closed from May to September. 

Underwater
MV Maldives