Jan. 27-Feb. 2, 2024 You can't spell "Maldives" without "dives," and for very good reason. Plunge into the beauty and biodiversity of this secluded archipelago with members of the Academy's Hope for Reefs team.

A tropical paradise where clear turquoise waters meet pristine white sand beaches, the Maldives is home to the seventh-largest coral reef system on Earth. Experience undersea wonders and above-the-surface opulence​​ on this Academy Adventure to the Indian Ocean, and gain unique insights into the latest coral reef science and conservation alongside our Hope for Reefs researchers.

When: January 27-February 2, 2024 (6 nights)
Where: South Malé Atoll, the Maldives
Group: Max. 10 participants (ages 13+)
Activity level: Moderate
Price: $13,995/$15,995 (double/single occupancy)

Missed the Maldives info session? Watch a recording on YouTube.

Save your spot!

Please make your $1,500 deposit by contacting Charlotte Krohn at Iconic Adventures, our logistics partner for this trip. She can be reached at concierge@iconicadventures.com or by calling 1-877-706-4267.

2 guests learn how to scuba dive with an instructor in the crystal clear waters of the Maldives


In the Maldives, the mesmerizing marine life is the main event. Enjoy daily scuba diving and snorkeling trips, making sure to keep your eyes peeled for some of the 8+ species recently discovered by Hope for Reefs scientists. Plus, take part in hands-on research that will help regenerate these fragile ecosystems.

Portrait of Academy ichthyologist Dr.. Luiz Rocha in scuba gear

Meet the expert: Luiz Rocha, PhD

Curator and Follett Chair of Ichthyology Dr. Luiz Rocha is a frequent visitor to the ocean's mysterious and seldom-visited "twilight zone." Studying the ecology and evolution of coral reef fishes, the spread of invasive species, and the origins of fish diversity, his work takes him around the world—and to depths of 500 feet.

Coral reef scene with tropical fish swimming over large coral colony. Photo: Luiz Rocha © California Academy of Sciences

Photo: Luiz Rocha © California Academy of Sciences

Highlights and details

  • We'll be spending one night in Malé at the Maagiri Hotel, followed by five nights at the Velassaru Resort on the South Malé Atoll.
  • Enjoy unparalleled access to world-class diving and snorkeling.
  • Participate in scientific research and hear presentations from a range of marine science experts.
  • Set sail on a sunset cruise, and keep a lookout for dolphins and other wildlife.
  • Paddle over the reef on glass-bottom kayaks as you learn about the ecosystem beneath you.

Day 1 (Saturday, January 27, 2024): Upon arrival at Malé Velana International Airport, you will be welcomed by your Academy hosts and Iconic Trip Leader. After collecting your luggage, we’ll transfer 10-15 minutes via private shuttle to the Maagiri Hotel in Malé to settle into your room and relax after your long travel day. For morning arrivals, head out to discover the sights, sounds and culture of this vibrant island and the capital city of the Maldives.

In the evening, after a brief trip orientation and introductions, we’ll head to a local restaurant for a delicious group welcome dinner.

Day 2 (Sunday, January 28): After enjoying breakfast at Maagiri Hotel’s Faru restaurant this morning, we'll take a stroll over to the Marine Research Center to hear from our Academy scientists and partners about the work we will spend the week exploring. Afterward, we’ll transfer to Velana Airport where we’ll board a speedboat for our 25-minute ride to Velassaru Resort. Located on its own private island, this beautiful resort is our home for the next five nights.

After a tour of the resort and lunch on-site, we’ll check into our rooms and enjoy a bit of relaxation time. This evening, you’ll have the chance to head out onto the water in a kayak alongside our Academy experts. Later, join the group for an introduction to the Hope for Reefs initiative from Academy scientist, Luiz Rocha.

End your day with a delicious dinner at the resort.

Day 3 (Monday, January 29): This morning, we’ll enjoy a buffet breakfast at Vela before embarking on a day of underwater exploration aboard a dhoni, a traditional Maldivian boat. After getting your sea legs, you’ll have the option to scuba dive (at additional cost) or snorkel alongside your Academy hosts. From there, we’ll make our way to Maniyafushi Island, where we’ll meet with a Maldives Marine Research Institute scientist for a tour of the research center and labs, before enjoying a picnic lunch on the island.

In the afternoon, we’ll head back out on the water for our second snorkel or scuba dive (at additional cost) of the day before returning to Velassaru for some downtime. This evening, we’ll gather together once more for a satisfying and well-deserved dinner as a group.

Day 4 (Tuesday, January 30): We’ll begin the day with breakfast at the resort, then board our dhoni for a morning snorkel and scuba dive (at additional cost) session. Upon our return, enjoy lunch at leisure followed by time to relax or explore Velassaru Island. Consider participating in one of the resort’s activity offerings, or perhaps indulge in a spa treatment (at additional cost).

Join your fellow travelers this evening for a memorable sunset dhoni cruise, complete with a round of canapes and glass of celebratory champagne, before having dinner back at our resort.

Day 5 (Wednesday, January 31): Today we’ll have another full day of fascinating water-based activities and discovery alongside Academy scientists. With meals at Velassaru throughout the day, we will participate in two snorkel and dive excursions (at additional cost), one in the morning and one in the afternoon.

For those who wish to opt out of the afternoon snorkel and dive session, you may instead enjoy time to explore and relax on Velassaru. Your Iconic Leader will be available to help coordinate alternative activities.

Day 6 (Thursday, February 1): After a delicious buffet breakfast at Velassaru, we’ll partake in our final underwater adventure—a morning snorkeling or scuba diving in the pristine blue. Back at the resort, we’ll have time to freshen up before lunch as a group. This afternoon, get your hands dirty as we participate in one of the local conservation efforts and learn from our Academy hosts on how this work ties into Hope for Reefs priorities.

For our final evening, you’ll join your Academy hosts and fellow travelers for a joyous beach BBQ farewell dinner, and reflect upon this memorable week spent in the Maldives.

Day 7 (Friday, February 2): Breakfast and your time this morning are at leisure before we check out of our rooms and savor a final lunch on Velassaru Island. Afterwards, we’ll be transported via speedboat back to Velana Airport. Flights may be scheduled for any time after 4:30 pm. If departing in the late evening, you’ll be transferred to the JEN Hotel in Malé to relax in a day room before returning to the airport this evening for your flight home.

Pricing and payment schedule


  • $13,995 per person based on double occupancy
  • $15,995 single occupancy

A $1,500 deposit is required to secure your spot.

Deposit and payment schedule:

  • $1,500 deposit required to secure your spot at time of booking
  • Traveler Final Payment Due Date: September 14, 2023 (135 days prior)
  • 151+ days prior to trip start (August 29, 2023): Deposit is 100% refundable
  • 150-136 days prior to trip start (August 30-September 13, 2023): Deposit is 50% refundable
  • 135-91 days prior to trip start (September 14-October 28, 2023): Full trip cost is 50% refundable
  • 90-0 days prior to trip start (October 29, 2023): Full trip cost is nonrefundable

Save your spot! Please make your $1,500 deposit by contacting Charlotte Krohn at Iconic Adventures, our logistics partner for this trip. She can be reached at concierge@iconicadventures.com or by calling 1-877-706-4267.

Know before you go
  • This trip is appropriate for guests ages 13 and up.
  • Please consider that this trip highlights the underwater world of the Maldives primarily through snorkeling and scuba diving. Guests should be comfortable in the water and physically capable of partaking in multiple dives or snorkeling sessions per day.
  • Many of the activities require getting on and off boats and boat rides in variable water conditions that may at times be bumpy.
  • This trip will take place rain or shine. A packing list will be provided in advance to help you best prepare.
  • Scuba diving is not included in the per person pricing, and will be paid for by each guest, should they want to dive instead of snorkel.