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  4. Atolls of the Maldives: 9 tropical oases

The Maldives is a perfect creation of nature and a real paradise for travellers. Here you will find endless white-sand beaches, crystal-clear waters, exotic vegetation, as well as many exciting options for pastime!

An atoll is a coral island or archipelago. Visually, it looks like a ring surrounding the lagoon. The Republic of Maldives is a collection of 26 atolls with more than a thousand islands scattered in the Indian Ocean. Only about 200 of these are open for tourism. The inhabited islands are populated by the Maldivians, and many of the uninhabited ones are private resort islands.

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What can the atolls of the Maldives surprise with? Let’s consider a selection of 9 most attractive Maldivian archipelagos that attract with their photos on the Internet. Below, you will find a map of the Maldivian atolls, which can help you understand their scale from above.

Мальдивские атоллы
Map of Maldivian atolls

What natural treasures and opportunities do the most beautiful atolls in the Maldives offer? Let’s see below.

Baa - a secluded UNESCO gem

Baa is one of the most attractive Maldivian archipelagos. It is part of the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. It offers places of incredible nature of the rich underwater world in the Indian Ocean.

Baa has its own characteristics:

  • Furchermore Reef has an unusual structure that you will not find anywhere else in the Maldives archipelago.
  • The southernmost wild island of Olhugiri is home to the rarest birds - large frigates.
  • On the island of Thulhaadhoo, you can buy unique handmade wooden products, which are the main craft of the local population.

Baa is especially popular between May and November when the famous Hanifaru Bay becomes home to a huge number of manta rays. These sea devils are attracted by the plankton bloom season they feed on. For fans of diving, this place is the leader in all parameters.

Атолл Баа
Map of Baa Atoll

General characteristics:

  • Distance from Male: 95-125 kilometres
  • Length: 42 kilometres long and 32 kilometres wide
  • Number of islands: 75 (13 of which are inhabited)
  • Most famous islands: the capital of the atoll (Eydafushi Island), private island hotels - Dhuni Kolhu, Dusit Thani, Amilla Fushi, Landaa Giraavaru

Resorts in Baa Atoll

Baa attracts travellers with pristine nature, secluded relaxation and a wide range of water activities.

  • Vakkaru, a 5-star resort of the picturesque island of Vakkaru, invites you to enjoy a luxurious vacation in the Biosphere Reserve.
  • A vacation on the island of Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu 5* will be no less exciting.
  • Dusit Thani Maldives offers diving in Hanifaru Bay with PADI 5 Star instructors, a state-of-the-art Spa centre and other 5-star resort privileges.
  • Royal Island Resort & Spa on the lush green island of Horubadhoo provides all the facilities for an unrivalled Maldives holiday.

Dusit Thani
Dusit Thani Maldives

North Male - the main atoll of the Maldives

It’s the place where Maldivian tourism once originated. The North Male Atoll is home to the main Maldivian city, the capital of Male, and Velana International Airport, which receives flights from all over the world. Many travellers like resorts of Male Atolls for the proximity to the airport. Thus, you don’t have to spend too much time and money on the transfer. Besides, nearby resorts often offer to diversify your vacation with excursions around Male.

Some of the features of Male:

  • The oldest building in the Maldives (and, at the same time, the main symbol of the atoll) is the Hukuru Miskiiti Mosque dating back to the 17th
  • It offers local attractions, a picturesque market and a variety of outdoor activities - diving, snorkelling, surfing and others.

Атолл Северный Мале
Map of North Male Atoll

Atoll characteristics:

  • Length: 69 kilometres long and 39 kilometres wide
  • Number of islands: 50 (8 of which are inhabited)
  • Popular islands: Reethi Rah, Gili Lankanfushi, Baros, Kuda Huraa

Best hotels in North Male

North Male has plenty of hotels of different levels. You can stay at the luxurious Coco Palm Bodu Hithi 5*, with authentic bungalows, or check out the 4-star Bandos Island Resort & Spa, which is suitable for both family and romantic getaways.

Bandos Island Resort & Spa
Bandos Island Resort & Spa

South Male

Apart from North Male, the largest administrative district of the Maldives also includes South Male, separated by a 4.5-kilometre Vaadhoo Kandu channel. Beaches like in the photos and warm waters of crystal lagoons - the resorts of the more southern archipelago have every opportunity for a first-class vacation. South Male offers luxury island resorts with ideal conditions for diving and snorkelling. The marine reserves of Embudhoo Kandu and Guraidhoo Kandu will give divers picturesque reefs and the richest fauna of the Indian Ocean.

Атолл Южный Мале
Map of South Male Atoll

Atoll characteristics:

  • Distance to Male: 7 kilometres
  • Length: 36 kilometres long and 19 kilometres wide
  • Number of islands: 30 (about 20 of which are inhabited)
  • Popular island hotels: Maafushi, Anantara Dhigu, Taj Exotica, Velassaru

South Male resorts

Many hotels of different levels are concentrated here. You can choose a villa of a luxury 5-star Velassaru Maldives, a secluded overwater bungalow of COMO Cocoa Island or stay in a small hotel with an authentic atmosphere - Embudu Village 3*.

COMO Cocoa Island
COMO Cocoa Island

Raa: mecca for divers

Raa or North Maalhosmadulu is a popular tourist destination in the Maldives. Some of the main advantages of local resorts are pristine nature, almost untouched by civilization, and ample opportunities for first-class diving at a depth of 30 metres.

On Milaidhoo Reef, you can admire sponges and corals and explore underwater grottoes. Kakani Thila and Dhigali Haa are home to reef sharks and colourful parrotfish. The Madi Finolhu reefs present the rare manta rays and unique black corals. In total, Raa has about 10 popular dive sites, so those who like underwater exploration will find here a lot of things to do.

Raa Atoll features:

  • Largest fishing fleet in the Maldives on the main island of Ungoofaaru
  • Alifushi Island, where the traditional Maldivian dhoni boats are produced
  • Fishing industry in the picturesque Kandholhudhoo, western part of the archipelago
  • Rasmaadhoo and Maakurathu on the east side of the atoll, famous for their excellent surf spots and fishing

Атолл Раа
Map of Raa Atoll

General characteristics:

  • Distance from Male: 140 kilometres
  • Length: 70 kilometres long and 30 kilometres wide
  • Number of islands: 88 (15 of which are inhabited)
  • Popular Islands: Meedhupparu - the only tourist island in the atoll

Best hotels in Raa:

You & Me by Cocoon
You & Me by Cocoon

Uncharted Laamu Atoll

In this region of the state, tourism is still at its initial development stages. There is only one resort hotel in the entire atoll. This secluded archipelago in the southern part of the central group of atolls is famous for its incredibly beautiful tropical nature and almost deserted beaches. Some of the main advantages are the clear waters and lush greenery of the islands.

Атолл Лааму
Map of Laamu Atoll

General characteristics:

  • Distance from Male: 248 kilometres
  • Length: 48 kilometres long and 35 kilometres wide
  • Number of islands: 82 (12 of which are inhabited)
  • Popular islands: Olhuveli

The secluded Laamu is especially popular among divers. You can explore the mysterious caves and the abundance of the Indian Ocean underwater fauna.

Six Senses Laamu

So far, in Laamu Atoll, you can stay at the only resort - Six Senses Laamu, which is located on Olhuveli Island. This 5-star complex is a real paradise for lovers of privacy and luxury, a combination of virgin nature and a high level of comfort. Organic products are grown on the hotel’s island and served in gourmet restaurants as culinary delights from the finest chefs.

In addition, Laamu guests will find:

  • Modern Spa with ocean views
  • Beach and Overwater Villas made from eco-materials
  • Huge range of water activities for every taste
  • Excursions and various leisure activities

Six Senses Laamu
Six Senses Laamu

Picturesque Lhaviyani Atoll

Lhaviyani offers an authentic holiday experience. The tropical nature here is complemented by a relaxed atmosphere and an abundance of beach activities. Also, the islands of this archipelago are perfect places for snorkelling. Divers are eager to see the colourful tropical fish, angelfish, moray eels, nurse sharks, as well as wrecked ships that have been.

Some of the features on Lhaviyani:

  • Shallow reefs and rich underwater world for perfect snorkelling
  • First golf course in the Maldives (Kuredu Island)
  • Sand spit with an extraordinary coastline on the west side of Kuredu Island (in the evening, you can enjoy the beauty of the glowing plankton here)

Атолл Лавиани
Map of Lhaviyani Atoll

General characteristics:

  • Distance from Male: 120-133 kilometres
  • Length: 37 kilometres long and 35 kilometres wide
  • Number of islands: 52 (5 of which are inhabited)
  • Popular islands: Kanuhuraa, Komandoo, Kuredhdhoo

Where to stay on Lhaviyani

You can choose one of the fashionable resorts of the atoll: the 4-star Innahura Maldives Resort or the 5-star Atmosphere Kanifushi, which receives guests on an all-inclusive programme. The 4-star Kuredu Island Resort & Spa is very popular among fans of the Maldives.

Kuredu Island Resort & Spa
Kuredu Island Resort & Spa

Dhaalu - the northern oasis of the Maldives

Dhaalu Atoll is located north of the capital of Male. This archipelago has become a tourist spot recently. Dhaalu is renowned for its indescribable tropical beauty - long beaches, turquoise lagoons and lush tropical vegetation. Diving and snorkelling in these islands are especially attractive due to the abundance of marine life. In the capital, on Hanimaadhoo Island, there is the airport of the same name, which receives domestic flights from Male that is convenient for a more comfortable and quick transfer.

Атолл Даалу
Map of Dhaalu Atoll

General characteristics:

  • Distance from Male: 150 kilometres
  • Length: 38 kilometres long and 23 kilometres wide
  • Number of islands: 56 (7 of which are inhabited)
  • Popular islands: Kudahuvadhoo, Velavaroo

Features of Dhaalu Atoll:

  • Lovers of antiquities should see the ruins of Buddhist monasteries and an ancient mosque carved from coral.
  • The central island of Kudahuvadhoo will appeal to lovers of marine entertainment.
  • Velavaru is ideal for diving thanks to its stunning coral reef. Translated from Dhivehi, Velavaru means “island of turtles”. Here you can see a large population of these amazing animals.

Dhaalu resorts:

  • Niyama is a 5-star luxury resort that occupies two islands at once. The first island is ideal for families, while the second one is for romance.
  • Angsana Velavaru offers travellers a luxurious holiday experience. The highlight of the island is In-Ocean villas - overwater villas located a kilometre from the coast.

Niyama Maldives
Niyama Maldives

South Ari Atoll - a natural wonder of the Maldives

South Ari (or Alifu Dhaalu) is the largest archipelago in the western part of the Maldives. It is deservedly considered one of the best whale shark watching spots in the Maldives. They can be found on the outer reef all year round. Here you will find popular resorts, nested on more than 20 islands.

Атолл Южный Ари
Map of South Ari Atoll

General characteristics:

  • Distance from Male: 120-133 kilometres
  • Length: 89 kilometres long and 30 kilometres wide
  • Number of islands: 26 (10 of which are inhabited)
  • Popular islands: capital of Mahibadhoo, Dhigurah, resort islands - Vakarufalhi, Mirihi

Ari is the best Maldivian archipelago for luxury rest. Modern resorts with the highest level of comfort are fully developed here. Besides, the pristine oceanic nature provides ideal conditions for various types of water sports.

Best hotels in South Ari

The atoll offers numerous luxury hotels attracting tourists with the highest level of service, snow-white beaches and crystal lagoons ideal for snorkelling. You can choose, for example:

Addu Atoll - the southern treasure of the Maldives

The fabulous Addu (or Seenu) Atoll is located on the equator. It is the southernmost of the atolls of the entire archipelago. It is an administrative and economic centre of the southern Maldives, which, by value, can be compared with the capital of Male. The longest island in Ari, Gan, has its own airport offering about 30 international flights.

Атолл Адду
Map of Addu Atoll

General characteristics:

  • Distance from Male: 478 kilometres
  • Length: 37 kilometres long and 35 kilometres wide
  • Number of islands: 23 (6 of which are inhabited)
  • Popular islands: Gan, Meedhoo, Villingili, the capital of Hithadhoo

Addu Atoll attracts tourists with excellent snorkelling opportunities. Divers will be able to admire the richest underwater world of the Indian Ocean, as well as explore a torpedoed British tanker that has remained here since World War II. On some reefs, conditions are ideal for beginner divers.

Resorts in Addu Atoll

As a holiday destination, you can choose the luxurious 5-star Shangri-La’s Villingili Island Resort & Spa on Villingili Island or stay at the more affordable Canareef Resort Maldives 4* located on the island of Meedhoo.

Shangri-La's Villingili Island Resort & Spa
Shangri-La's Villingili Island Resort & Spa


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