Why Is Maldives Water So Clear?

The Maldives Islands boast numerous luxury resorts and draw visitors from all over the world looking for the perfect beach holiday surrounded by soft white sand and crystal-clear waters. But what exactly makes the Maldives water so clear? Let’s find out!

The Maldives is surrounded by coral reefs that act as barriers resulting in calmer water free from stirred-up sediments. Maldives water is also clearer because it is free from algae and other pollutants. The warmer climate prevents algae from growing, causing Maldives water to be crystal clear. 

The Maldives is considered to have some of the most transparent water, making it an excellent diving and snorkeling destination. What causes the water to be so clear? This article examines why Maldives Islands are so famous for their fantastic clear water. Read on to find out!  

Why are Maldives Islands Waters Crystal Clear?

Maldives Islands in the Indian Ocean is home to 1,200 stunning islands with the clearest water on earth. Crystal clear water is found around all the Maldives islands because coral reefs protect the islands, which act as barriers from the open sea, keeping the water around the islands perfectly calm and clear.

When waves reach the shore, they are already calm and do not create churning patterns that stir up the water around the islands.

Because the natural sediments in the ocean water don’t get stirred up, the water around the Maldives stays clear. The ocean’s water moves from west to east as the earth spins, and this movement creates a phenomenon known as upwelling; because of this upwelling, some beaches have murky waters.

This happens when warmer surface waters move out to sea; in return, cold water moves to shore. The colder ocean water is rich in natural sediments, living organisms, phytoplankton, zooplankton, and sand particles that make the ocean water murky.

Because the Maldives Islands are so well protected from the open ocean, the water stays crystal clear and calm. The warmer climate around the islands also prevents algae from growing and contributes to clear water.

Rivers also carry sand, mud, and organic sediments into the ocean, causing it to be murky when large amounts of sediment from eroding riverbeds rush into the sea.

Weather conditions also directly affect water clarity; when storms flood dirt into rivers, mudding the water. Ocean water is clearer where no river run-offs occur. As the Maldives does not have any natural rivers flowing into the sea, the water is not contaminated by river run-offs making it crystal clear.

Sediments in the Ocean Water Can Affect the Clarity

The number of sediments in the ocean water directly affects the clarity. Sediment pollution is the leading cause of murky ocean water. The higher the natural deposits in the ocean water around a beach, the less clear the water.

Fine sand particles and silt can make the water murkier as ocean currents and waves quickly stir them up. These finer sediments can stay afloat for longer along certain coasts, while heavier, coarser sediments like pieces of dead coral reefs and shells are more difficult to stir up and stay afloat.

Algae in Ocean Water Can Affect Ocean Water Clarity

The nutrients feed the development of single-celled plants called algae or phytoplankton; these organisms can make ocean water murky. Typically, algae are a good thing; plankton is the base of the food web in all oceans. However, if there are too many algae growing, it can be harmful to the environment.

Algae are not good or bad but essential to the earth because algae produce the oxygen needed to sustain life. However, if too many algae grow at once, it can harm marine life, people, and the environment. The murkier ocean water, the higher the nutrients than crystal clear ocean water. 

The water around the Maldives Islands is clearer than other beaches because of the absence of plankton. Tropical ocean water has little plankton compared to other ocean waters; thus, it is clearer.

Protected By Coral Reefs

Coral reefs protect the Maldives Islands and, like other tropical ocean areas, contains warm, clear water. The water is clear due to the lack of upwelling, plankton, and natural sediments.

Tropical ocean water is almost sterile compared to nutrient-filled ocean waters in other regions. This starkly contrasts with the widespread belief that tropical ocean waters are high in biological productivity. Marine life has evolved in many ways to capture food to flourish in nutrient-poor tropical waters.

Coral reefs are the most successful solution to this problem. Coral reefs are living structures made by coral animals adapted to grow and survive in tropical waters.

As coral reefs grow, they provide fish and other marine life safety. Coral reefs attract all kinds of marine life. Smaller fish on the reef attract bigger fish and sharks, creating a healthy ecosystem around the islands.

Coral reefs around the Maldives Islands protect marine life and protect the shore from upwelling. Coral reefs around the Maldives play an integral part in the clear waters around the Maldives Islands.

Light Scatters in the Ocean

The clarity of Maldives Islands water seems so clear because the light scatters, and water absorbs specific colors on the color spectrum. The sand around the Maldives Islands is almost pure white, and the water is shallow, which makes the water seem clearer too.

Most people think the ocean is blue, which might be true for most of the world’s oceans. However, pure water is crystal clear, but when it is very deep, and there is a lot of water, no light can reflect off the ocean bottom, and the water will seem dark navy blue.

The ocean seems so clear because of scattering and light absorption. The yellow, orange, green, and red wavelengths of light are absorbed faster in water molecules leaving violets and blue wavelengths behind, so the remaining light we see is blue. Almost all sunlight that hits the water is absorbed, except close to the shoreline.

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White Sand of the Maldives

Most holidaymakers who spend their days snorkeling on the Maldives Islands will tell you about the almost pure white sand.

The soft white sands of Maldives make the water seem crystal clear and have an exciting story behind it. Parrotfish make the famous white-sand beaches of Maldives.

Parrotfish bite algae from coral with their parrot-like mouths and grind the inedible calcium-carbonate reef material in their guts. When the coral doesn’t get digested by the parrotfish, it is excreted as tiny grains that get washed ashore, forming pristine white beach sand.

There are around ninety different parrotfish species throughout the world found in shallow tropical oceans. These fish are primarily herbivorous grazers that help maintain the function of coral reefs by eating algae that might harm coral.

Visitors who see Parrotfish while snorkeling around the clear waters in the Maldives will know that they are continuously chewing coral sediments that will get excreted as white sand. Parrotfish are often affectionally called living sand machines.

Parrotfish are typically found near rocky coats, coral reefs, and seagrass beds and are great contributors to bioerosion, forming little islands of white sand. 

Scientists found that almost 70% of the sand on white sandy beaches in the Maldives has been excreted by parrotfish. A fully grown parrotfish can expel over a ton of white sand a year.

Crystal Clear Beaches and Lakes

The world’s most transparent water is in the Maldives, famous for its turquoise-blue waters so clear and translucent it often seems as if the sailboats around the islands are floating in mid-air.

The Maldives Islands are number one in our list of clear water beaches; however, there are several other beaches with crystal clear water. The soft white sand is necessary on every beach holiday, but what good is silky white sand without crystal-clear water?

Just like perfect beach sand, water bodies are not all created equal. Natural filters like limestone and coral reefs can make some beaches appear clearer than others. Here, we’ve rounded up the world’s clearest breathtaking crystal waters for your next beach holiday.

  • Ambergris Caye, Belize – is the largest island in Belize and home to the world’s second-largest coral reef ecosystem.
  • Aitutaki Lagoon, Cook Islands -is in the Cook Islands with the clearest waters. Aitutaki lagoon is famous for its overwater bungalows that offer guests an unrivaled, spectacular view of the clear ocean from their rooms.
  • Blue Lagoon, Iceland – is a natural wonder, and the clear blue watercolor is reflected from the silica in the water when exposed to direct sunlight.
  • Cala Macarelleta, Menorca, Spain – is one of Menorca’s most popular beaches, connected by a hiking trail for tourists who want to explore. The crystal-clear water in this stunning bay is perfect for swimming and snorkeling.
  • Egremnoi, Greece – is a secluded beach on the southwestern coast of Lefkada, Greece, with exceptionally clear waters excellent for snorkeling, scuba diving, or swimming. The protected and secluded location keeps the waters so calm and clear. 
  • Exuma, Bahamas – consists of an archipelago of 365 islands divided into Great Exuma, where tourists can swim, snorkel, and scuba dive in the most translucent waters. It feels like you are swimming in an infinity pool.
  • Five Flower Lake, China – is in China’s Jiuzhaigou National Park. Because the lake’s crystal-clear water reflects beautifully in the sun, it’s affectionally compared to a peacock’s feathers.
  • Hanauma Bay, Oahu, Hawaii – voted one of the most popular beaches with crystal clear waters perfect for snorkeling and scuba diving.
  • Knip Beach, Curacao – surrounded by coral reefs, this lovely beach has pristine white beaches and crystal-clear water. Explore the many coral reefs around the Caribbean beach.
  • Lampedusa, Sicily, Italyis the most stunning and biggest of the Italian Pelagie Islands in the Mediterranean, with translucent shimmering water. Rabbit Beach is the island’s most famous spot for swimming and is surrounded by spectacular limestone cliffs.
  • Manini’owali Beach, Big Island, Hawaii – a hidden small white-sand beach with crystal clear water. This secluded beach can be challenging to reach but worth the effort. 
  • Palawan, Philippines – Palawan is an archipelago of more than 1,700 islands with crystal clear waters and pristine white beaches.
  • Peyto Lake, Alberta, Canada – is in Banff National Park in Canada. The crystal clear, almost blue water originates from a large glacier that flows into the lake in the summer, creating spectacular clear water.
  • Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia – is famous for its sixteen terraced lakes and clear waterfalls. Tourists can reach the lakes through many hiking trails winding through spectacular scenery to enjoy the crystal-clear waters.
  • Trunk Bay, St. John, Virgin Islands – is St. John’s most famous beach, perfect for snorkeling in its crystal-clear waters. 


The Maldives is famous for its pristine white sand beaches, clear ocean water, and serene islands. The Maldives is an excellent holiday destination with breathtaking scenes complete with crystal clear waters and abundant marine life.

Swimming in the crystal-clear water in the Maldives is a magical experience. The shallow translucent water surrounding the islands has an exceptional level of clarity; you could think you are in a hotel pool. The Maldives water is clear for several reasons.

Maldives waters are crystal-clear because they are protected by many coral reefs that prevent upwelling that can stir up natural sediments that would make the water murky. The seas around the Maldives islands are calm and clear because the coral reefs offer protection by preventing large waves from reaching the shore.

In other coastal areas, upwelling, storms, large waves, river run-offs, and silt can affect the clarity of the ocean waters. Algae can also affect the ocean’s color, but the tropical waters of the Maldives are shallow, and algae don’t easily grow there because warm water temperatures prevent algae from growing.

The Maldives has none of those elements affecting its waters, so its water remains calm and clear.  We hope you found this article informative and understand why the waters around the Maldives Islands are so clear.