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Hanifaru Bay, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve

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Maldives is a luxury dream travel destination for most of the people. Dubbed as “Thousand Nation Island” or “The Sunny Side of Life” are quite the closest phrases to define the natural beauty of Maldives.


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Meet & Greet

Welcome to Maldives

When you arrive to Maldives, our staffs will be welcoming you @ Velana Int'l Airport. And we will guide you for whole-your-stay in Maldives.

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Meet & Greet

Welcome to Maldives

When you arrive to Maldives, our staffs will be welcoming you @ Velana Int'l Airport. And we will guide you for whole-your-stay in Maldives.

Meet & Greet

Welcome to Maldives

When you arrive to Maldives, our staffs will be welcoming you @ Velana Int'l Airport. And we will guide you for whole-your-stay in Maldives.



Hanifaru Bay, a manta feeding hotspot in Baa Atoll,  of MALDIVES

Hanifaru bay is the biggest manta feeding hotspot in the world.

The site is a protected marine park and the whole Baa Atoll, where Hanifaru bay lies, has been declared a UNESCO biosphere reserve. This remote atoll is known for having some of the richest coral reef systems in the world.

Why are hundreds of mantas from all over the Maldives attracted to Hanifaru Bay?

The answer lies in a very unique combination of factors. The rare shape of the bay and its geographical position are the first things that play a key role. Hanifaru bay is a long and narrow (channel-like) bay with a dead-end. It serves as a scoop for all the plankton being carried up from the deep sea.

The second factor is the southwest monsoon current in the Indian Ocean. It pushes nutrient-rich water into the western opening of the bay from May through November.

The third and crucial factor is the lunar tide, which pushes against the oceanic current.

So much for the facts, now to understand what exactly is going on. If there is no counter-tide, the mixture of zooplankton is simply washed over the bay into the outside of the atoll.

Logically, at high tide, the plankton should simply be carried to the inside of the atoll, but instead it stays trapped in the bay! Why? Plankton is swept up from the deepest sea and once at the surface, it shies away from daylight and instinctively dives back down.

The combination of oceanic and tidal currents encapsulates a huge amount of zooplankton. One brings it up and the other caps it on top, thus creating a thick soup, on which the filter-feeding giants come to feast.

Finally, the Maldivians (locals) say that it is a blessing and a miracle of Allah – the Almighty – the one and only.

What is unique about the manta behaviour during happy hour?

Manta rays have very peculiar feeding tactics. They feed on the tiniest organisms by filtering tons of water and capturing tropical krill, shrimp, tiny fish, jellyfish and other plankton with their gill rakers. When they hit nutrient-rich waters they perform a backward somersault to stay in the spot for more. This is also called a barrel roll – a strategy that maximises their food intake and saves them energy.

When mantas feed together they form a chain and swim in a row with maws wide-open. The jaw-dropping phenomena that can be observed at Hanifaru Bay is called cyclone feeding. It occurs when more than 50 mantas chain feed and the head of the chain catches the tail. This results is a manta whirlpool.

As a massive concentration of plankton builds up in the bay more mantas join the party. This is when things start getting out of control. When numbers reach 100+, mantas start breaking out of the circle and spiralling in all directions. They seem to lose all sense of coordination, resulting in chaos feeding.

Needless to say, the shrimp cocktail happy hour only lasts for a few short hours. After that the mantas slowly retreat.

Photography tips

  • Leave your flash at home – strobes and lights are not allowed in the marine park so set your camera to daylight.
  • Use a wide-angle or fisheye lens – as the water is very murky, you will want to get as close as possible to compensate for the poor visibility. With a wide-angle lens you will be able to capture the whole scene.
  • Stay shallow – even if you are an excellent freediver, allow for enough ambient light in the plankton soup.
  • Take videos – the feeding spectacle is captured much better in motion than in still images!
  • Try the outer-bay – the water is deeper and visibility is improved by the current.
  • NB: If you are doing commercial photography or videography you will require a license.

Where is Hanifaru Bay?

Hanifaru bay is on the east side of the distant Baa Atoll. It is approximately 115 km north of Male and the Velana International Airport (MLE).

How to get to Baa Atoll?

Depending on where you are staying, you can either take a sea plane directly to your resort or a domestic flight to the Dharavandhoo Airport (DRV) followed by a boat transfer. The flight time is approximately 30 min.

You may contact us for a Booking.

How to go to Hanifaru bay?

Being a marine park, access to the Hanifaru Bay is regulated and happens by means of taxi vessels. These depart every hour from the Dharavandhoo island. This is the main local island in Baa Atoll, where the domestic airport is situated. It lays just 2 km away from Hanifaru. You will need to obtain a visitors token at the Hanifaru Visitor Center. With it you will have a 45-min access to the biosphere reserve. All the profits go to the Baa Atoll Conservation Fund.

You may contact us for a Booking.

Direct access to the Hanifaru Bay is not permitted. Resorts, guest houses and liveaboards, however, can arrange for the visitor tokens and transfers. You can either be dropped off at a designated area outside the bay and then swim to it. Alternatively, you can go to Dharavandhoo and catch the water taxi that will take you to the heart of the action. All visitors need to be accompanied by a certified Hanifaru bay guide.

You may contact us for a Booking.

When is the manta season at Hanifaru bay?

The manta season is considered to be between May and November, during the southwest monsoon current in the Indian Ocean. The best time to visit Hanifaru Bay is between June and early October.

Insider tip: If you want to increase your chances of witnessing the manta madness try to book your stay over a full or new moon. During that time the tides are higher, capturing more plankton in the bay.

Insider tip 2: There are many manta cleaning stations in the Baa Atoll. There you can put your strobe back on and head out for some spectacular diving.

Can you scuba dive at Hanifaru bay?

Scuba diving is no longer permitted at Hanifaru bay, but that doesn’t mean you won’t have an amazing experience swimming with the mantas and whale sharks. As most of the action happens close to the surface you will be amidst the giants and have incredibly close encounters simply by snorkeling.

LET "Hello Maldives Holidays" PLAN YOUR TAILOR-MADE, MIC or Corporate Event's

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Your symposium, conference will be on a flowering jewel among the Maldives island resorts. Cruise along the stunning sapphire lagoons by jet-skii, canoe or catamaran.

Explore the spectacular local scenery and unique culture with excursions to neighboring islands or, simply let the ocean breeze caress you to sleep as you sway gently in your beach hammock.

From invigorating activities to precious tranquility, our Maldivian resort will captivate the heart with extraordinary experiences and unforgettable memories.

for more details and queries, just send us an e-mail: [email protected]

Seaplane Accidents Maldives

Seaplane Accidents - Maldives

Before we begin it’s worth pointing out that travelling by seaplane in the Maldives is safe. They have a great track record and accidents are rare.

Reports going back to 1994 indicate zero fatalities, and only one case involving serious injury.

Over this same period of time millions of people have travelled safely on seaplanes in the Maldives.

All aviation accidents and incidents are investigated by the AICC of the Maldives and we summarise all published reporting below. Whilst this may seem like a significant amount of material at a glance, keep in mind this covers 30 years of aviation!


  • Accident vs Incident
  • Statistics
  • List of Seaplane Accidents & Incidents
  • Summary of Investigation Reports
  • 2023
  • 2021
  • 2020
  • 2017
  • 2015
  • 2013
  • 2012
  • 2010
  • 2009
  • 2008
  • 2004
  • 2001
  • 1994-2000
Accident vs Incident

In aviation accidents are not the same as incidents, but both are reported and investigated to maintain high standards of safety.

Accidents involves at least one of the following: aircraft damage or structural failure, complete loss of the aircraft, or in exceptional cases serious injury or fatality.

Nearly all seaplane accidents in the Maldives receive this classification on the basis of aircraft damage rather than injury. None have involved a fatality.

Incidents are any events which affect or could affect the safety of operation. Serious incidents are those that had a high chance of leading to an accident.


Over the period January 1994 to November 2023:

  • Total Accidents: 16
  • Total Serious Incidents: 3
  • Total Fatalities: 0
  • Total Serious Injuries: 3
  • Total Minor Injuries: 8


In 30 years of seaplane flights there have only been 11 injuries in the Maldives, of which 7 were crew.

In terms of tourists and passengers there have been just 4 injuries in 30 years, of which 3 were minor and 1 was serious.

Of the 16 accidents recorded 11 received this classified on the basis of aircraft damage rather than injury.

List of Seaplane Accidents & Incidents
25 Oct 20238Q-RALIncident (P)
16 May 20238Q-TAQAccident (P)
13 Nov 20218Q-MBCIncident
14 Feb 20218Q-RAEAccident1 Minor
22 Oct 20208Q-TMRIncident
05 Oct 20208Q-TMFAccident2 Minor
24 Feb 20208Q-MVCAccident3 Minor
16 Nov 20178Q-IAGAccident
04 Oct 20178Q-ISBAccident
27th May 20178Q-TMVAccident
2nd Jul 20158Q-MANAccident
2nd Aug 20138Q-TMKAccident
9th Jul 20128Q-TMTAccident
9th Feb 20128Q-MATAccident
10th Mar 20108Q-TMKAccident
2nd Jun 20098Q-MAGAccident2 Minor
14th Jul 20088Q-MASAccident
17th May 20048Q-TMCAccident3 Serious, 1 Minor
19th Feb 20018Q-TMAAccident

(P) – Preliminary Report


Summary of Investigation Reports

A complete overview of all investigation reports from the Maldives Accident Investigation Coordinating Committee involving commercial seaplane flights is presented below.

The first seaplane flights in the Maldives were in 1993 and proved to be significantly safter than the preceding helicopter flights which suffered much more serious consequences in accidents. By 1999 helicopter flights were practically eliminated as seaplane travel took over.

During this period there were very few seaplanes operating compared to today and only a limited number of flights. It’s not that accidents have become more common, there’s simply tens of thousands of flights more per year today.

The Maldives has made significant advances in safety and procedures over it’s 30 year history of seaplane flight. They now boast the largest seaplane fleet and arguably the most experienced seaplane pilots in the world.


25th October 2023: 8Q-RAL

Serious Incident, no injuries.

Based on preliminary report.

Aircraft lost power in its right engine on approach to Malé at 350 feet, causing a sudden right turn and difficulty controlling the aircraft. Pilots were able to land safely on the water with a small bounce, and shortly after shut down the engines. Assisted by a rescue boat the aircraft taxied to a platform for passenger and crew to disembark.


16th May 2023: 8Q-TAQ

Accident, no injuries.

Based on preliminary report.

Aircraft encountered issues upon initial touchdown on water. The aircraft hit a swell during landing, causing a bounce, a drop of the left wing, and subsequent contact with the water. Once stationary, the crew assessed and confirmed damage to the left wing. The aircraft then taxied to a platform, shut down the engines, and passengers disembarked via the main door.


13th November 2021: 8Q-MBC

Serious Incident, no injuries.

Based on preliminary report.

Take-off was aborted due to unexpected aircraft behaviour. Unable to stop, the aircraft shut down its engines and drifted into two water bungalows, sustaining damage but causing no injuries. The aircraft was then towed to a platform where passengers and crew disembarked safely.

14th February 2021: 8Q-RAE

Accident, 1 minor injury to cabin crew.

Flight from Maalifushi to Velana International Airport had an accident upon touchdown. The aircraft touched down on the right-hand float, dug into the water, and turned steeply right before coming to a stop inverted. Although the aircraft was substantially damaged, all six passengers and two pilots evacuated without injury; one cabin crew member sustained minor injuries.


A rise in accidents coincided with global emergence from COVID restrictions. Planes and pilots had been grounded around the world without regular flying. This was not unique to the Maldives.

22nd October 2020: 8Q-TMR

Serious Incident, no injuries.

After a normal touchdown at Sun Siyam IruFushi, an aircraft experienced an uncontrolled left turn during reverse thrust, leading the left wing and propeller to contact an anchored vessel. The incident caused damage to the aircraft’s left wing and propeller blades, as well as to the vessel, but no one was on board the vessel at the time. The Pilot in Command regained control and taxied to a platform, with all passengers and crew disembarking safely without injuries.

5th October 2020: 8Q-TMF

Accident, 2 minor injuries.

During an approach with a left crosswind of about 20 knots at Velana International Airport, an aircraft landing on the ‘North Right’ area rapidly rolled to the right after touchdown, with the right wing dipping into the water. It swerved but settled upright on both floats. The aircraft was taxied to the dock with assistance from a rescue vessel and personnel onshore. All passengers and crew disembarked safely. Minor injuries were reported among the flight and cabin crew, but no passengers were injured.

24th February 2020: 8Q-MBC

Accident, 3 minor injuries including 1 passenger.

An aircraft landing on an unmarked water runway bounced upon touchdown, banked left, and then the right wing dropped, causing the nose to dig into the water. The Pilot in Command’s attempt to go around was unsuccessful. The fuselage, wings, engines, and propellers were substantially damaged, but the floats remained intact, and the aircraft was upright post-accident. It taxied to the mooring with left engine power and dinghy assistance. All occupants evacuated safely, with minor injuries to two crew members and one passenger.


16th November 2017: 8Q-IAG

Accident, no injuries.

Aircraft encountered an accident during take-off from DOR water aerodrome. The aircraft hit a series of sea swells during acceleration, which resulted in both floats detaching and the nose plunging into the water. The engines were shut down by the PIC after the second impact. The detached floats, trapped under the wings, kept the aircraft afloat despite water entering the fuselage. All 12 passengers and 3 crew evacuated without injury.

4th October 2017: 8Q-ISB

Accident, no injuries.

The first officer was flying when the aircraft bounced during landing in a crosswind at Velana International Airport. The captain’s go-around attempt failed, causing the aircraft to flip and crash, landing upside down in shallow water. Despite substantial damage to the aircraft, all passengers and crew escaped without serious injuries.

27th May 2017: 8Q-TMV

Accident, no injuries.

During a landing on the North Right Water Runway, the aircraft bounced off the left float and then, after a second bounce, banked right causing the right wing tip to dip into the water. This led to an abrupt right veer and crash. All passengers and crew evacuated uninjured before the aircraft submerged.


2nd July 2015: 8Q-MAN

Accident, no injuries.

During final approach to land at KUR, at about 400 feet with flaps fully down, the aircraft pitched up and vibrated uncontrollably as the stall warning activated. The PIC’s recovery manoeuvres initially failed, but some control was regained after retracting the flaps. Despite this, the aircraft continued a right turn, lost height, and hit the sea. All 11 passengers and three crew members evacuate uninjured before the aircraft sank.


2nd August 2013: 8Q-TMK

Accident, no injuries.

During a westbound landing approach approved due to westerly winds, the aircraft banked left, losing control and touching down on the left float first. Control was transferred from the co-pilot to the Captain, who noted the aircraft’s significant left turn and wing damage. All passengers disembarked without injuries. The cause of the incident was identified as an unexplained left bank on approach despite facing a headwind.


9th July 2012: 8Q-TMT

Accident, no injuries.

Upon landing, the crew struggled to dock at a fixed platform due to the tailwind and swells. After aborting the first docking attempt, the second attempt led to a collision with the platform when the aircraft moved forward despite full reverse and rudder inputs. The left float and propeller were damaged, and the aircraft eventually became fully submerged. All aboard evacuated safely.

9th February 2012: 8Q-MAT

Accident, no injuries.

On final approach to MLE the co-pilot made a hard landing on the north right water runway due to easterly winds, causing the aircraft to bounce and the right float to dig into the water. The PIC then took over and steadied the aircraft, but the right float detached and became stuck under the fuselage, preventing sinking, while the left float also detached. All aboard evacuated without injury.


10th March 2010: 8Q-TMK

Accident, no injuries.

We were unable to retrieve report 2010-01, (“De Havilland, DHC-6-300, 8Q-TMK, Right wing struck on water at Cocoa Palm/Dhunikolhu Island Resort (Baa Atoll)”), at the time of writing.


2nd June 2009: 8Q-MAG

Accident, 2 minor injuries including 1 passenger.

The aircraft took off from Halaveli for a 40-minute photo flight with good weather conditions. After take-off, the co-pilot gave his seat to a passenger and moved to the cabin.

Whilst CAR Part 15.11 does allow a special exemption for a passenger to take the right hand seat during professional photography flights, both pilots must be at the controls during take-offs and landing.

Once the shots were complete, the PIC began descending in a right bank, keeping the passenger in the first officer’s seat in order to provide further photography opportunities.

Before the PIC could complete the turn, the aircraft struck the water with its right wing/float. The crash broke both wings and detached the left float, while the right float jammed, blocking the co-pilot’s exit and twisting the empennage. All passengers and crew escaped without fatalities from the shallow wreckage.

The investigation attributed the accident to the PIC’s low flying, a passenger in the co-pilot’s seat, and the operator’s inadequate communication of procedural updates.


14th July 2008: 8Q-MAS

Accident, no injuries.

The 8Q-MAS aircraft, with 17 people onboard, departed from Male to Adaaran Club Bathala. Encountering rough seas and strong westerly winds, it struck a swell on landing, veered left, and collided with a moored speed boat, losing its right float and engine. The aircraft sank in shallow water, but all on board safely escaped without fatalities.


17th May 2004: 8Q-TMC

Accident, 3 serious injuries including a passenger, and 1 minor injury.

The most serious seaplane accident in the Maldives and one of the first, there were still no fatalities.

Departing from Male’ International Airport to Velaavaru Resort with 14 passengers, the aircraft experienced a longer-than-normal take-off, struggling to gain height. Nearing a seawall, the captain’s abrupt control pull to avoid the obstacle induced a stall, causing the left float to shear off upon impact with the seawall. This led to the left wing folding upwards and detaching, with the left propeller slicing through the cockpit ceiling. The aircraft then skidded across the ground, losing the right float and propeller, before halting on the mainland runway. The accident resulted in serious injuries to both pilots and one passenger, minor injuries to another passenger, while the rest were unharmed.



19th February 2001: 8Q-TMA

Accident, no injuries.

The aircraft was manoeuvring on the water near the Floating Platform, after landing in the lagoon near Sun Island resort, when it struck another Twin
Otter that was parked against the floating platform. There were no passengers on either aircraft, and no injuries to any of the crew were reported.


There are no accidents involving seaplanes recorded in the Maldives CAA historical archives.



[1] AICC, Maldives Civil Aviation Authority. Preliminary Incident Report 8Q-RAL, retrieved Nov 06, 2023
[8] AICC, Maldives Civil Aviation Authority. Final report on accident to Viking air DHC-6-200, 8Q-IAG aircraft at Dhoores Floating Platform, Maldives, retrieved Nov 06, 2023
[10] AICC, Maldives Civil Aviation Authority. Final report on the accident to Viking Air DHC-6-300, 8Q-TMV at Velana International Airport, Maldives, retrieved Nov 06, 2023
[11] AICC, Maldives Civil Aviation Authority. Final Report on the accident to Viking Air DHC-6-300, 8Q-MAN near Kuredu Resort, Maldives, retrieved Nov 06, 2023
[12] AICC, Maldives Civil Aviation Authority. Twin Otter, 8Q-TMK, at Ibrahim Nasir international Airport, Water Runway, retrieved Nov 06, 2023
[13] AICC, Maldives Civil Aviation Authority. De Havilland, DHC-6-300, 8Q-TMT, Collision with the fixed platform at Condrad(Rangali) South Ari Atoll, retrieved Nov 06, 2023
[14] AICC, Maldives Civil Aviation Authority. Twin Otter, 8Q-MAT, at Ibrahim Nasir international Airport, Water Runway, retrieved Nov 06, 2023
[15] AICC, Maldives Civil Aviation Authority. De Haviland DHC-6-200, 8Q-MAG, Crash at the reef of Halaveli Resort Lagoon, retrieved Nov 06, 2023
[16] AICC, Maldives Civil Aviation Authority. De Haviland DHC-6-300, 8Q-MAS, Collision with a Speedboat at Adaaran Club Bathala, retrieved Nov 06, 2023
[17] AICC, Maldives Civil Aviation Authority. De Havilland DHC-6-300, 8Q-TMC, Collision with Seawall at Male’ International Airport, retrieved Nov 06, 2023
[18] AICC, Maldives Civil Aviation Authority. De Havilland DHC-6-100, 8Q-TMA, Collision with 8Q-TMH at Sun Island, retrieved Nov 06, 2023
[19] AICC, Maldives Civil Aviation Authority. Aircraft Accident History, retrieved Nov 06, 2023


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