North Ari Atoll Holidays
North Ari Atoll Holidays - home to some of the best dive sites in the Maldives
North Ari Atoll is a beautiful and sparsely populated atoll approximately 20-25 minutes seaplane journey (45km) west of the Maldives capital Male. Of the 35 islands found in this atoll, just 8 are inhabited - many of these having carried populations since ancient times and housing fascinating archaeological remains from the Maldivian Buddhist period. North Ari Atoll is the second westernmost group of islands in the Maldives and even though it’s one of the largest atolls in the area it has a tiny population - the capital island, Rasdhoo being home to just 1000 people. The atoll has its fair share of large coral reefs, and incredibly blue lagoons, which naturally enough makes it a great favourite with scuba-divers.
North Ari Atoll is also home to some of the best dive sites in the Maldives, including Maaya Thila and wrecks such as Halaveli and Fesdu. There's an abundance of colourful coral gardens and visibility of up to 50m, and a host of tropical marine-life to view including reef and hammerhead sharks, mantas, stingrays, moray eels, groupers and lionfish. As well as diving, conditions here are also ideal for other water sports, such as banana boats, water skiing, windsurfing, canoeing and sailing, with big game fishing trips and glass-bottomed boat rides are also available.
North Ari Atoll boasts a good choice of well-equipped and luxurious hotels and resorts and all accommodation throughout the islands ensures guests enjoy a tranquil and serene experience, thanks to the idyllic beach setting and lush tropical surroundings.
Ellaidhoo Island – Chaaya Reef Ellaidhoo
Chaaya Reef Ellaidhoo (recently known as Ellaidhoo Tourist Resort) is a resort based on a small island in the north east of North Ari Atoll, about 40km from Male International airport, a 20 minute seaplane ride away. This popular 4 star resort is much favoured by divers and snorkelers with Ellaidhoo’s superb house reef, just 20 metres from the beach, regarded as one of the very best in the Maldives. The island offers an incredible amount of quality dive sites including the Halaveli and Fesdoo wrecks and protected areas like Orimas Thila, Mayaa Thila and Fish Head which offer an extraordinary quantity of marine life including manta, eagle rays and turtles. Ellaidhoo also boasts an exceptional award-winning PADI dive centre, with a water sports centre on the sister island of Maagaa offering a larger lagoon ideal for windsurfing, water skiing, jet skiing and catamaran sailing.
Accommodation comprises 112 beachfront rooms with terraces and air-conditioning. Facilities also include a spa, a gym, volleyball, tennis, badminton, football and table tennis.
Kuramathi Island – Kuramathi Island Resort
At nearly 2km long, Kuramathi is one of the larger Maldivian island tourist resorts. At 56km distant (25 minutes by seaplane) this crescent-shaped island is easily accessible from Male International airport and was one of the first resorts in the country to welcome guests. This long experience in hospitality shows in the diversity of facilities on offer, so it’s little wonder that this resort is extremely popular with families. That’s not to say that you can’t find some peace and quiet as thanks to the island’s size it’s still relatively easy to find deserted stretches of beach or unworn paths inland – and it retains all the beauty nature bestowed upon it.
Accommodation is of high quality and you can choose from a range of 9 different styles of beach villa or water bungalow. As a larger resort there is a diverse selection of eateries and bars to choose from, but it is the range of activities and facilities on offer that really sets Kuramathi apart. There are 2 dive schools as well as the usual water sports facilities, plus tennis court, football pitch, sports centre, spa and 2 swimming pools. A disco and selection of boutiques are supplemented by a kids club and a library. There are some nice touches too like the Eco Centre, various nature trails and a hydroponics garden. All this is scattered around the island’s centrepiece, an ancient 300 year old banyan tree atop which can be spied, if you’re lucky, nesting cranes.
Maayafushi Island – Maayafushi Tourist Resort
Maayafushi Island, 68km west of Male International airport (25 minutes by seaplane) is home to a stunningly beautiful Maldives holiday resort. With its crescent of white sand protected by a reef and clear lagoon, Maayafushi is one of the most unpretentiously natural resorts in the Maldives, with plenty of green lush vegetation that extends to the water’s edge. Visitors will be met by a nice mix of quality and informality in a well-run resort with an appealing relaxed atmosphere.
Accommodation includes comfortable recently renovated thatched villas, bungalows, water bungalows and suites. All inclusive packages are a popular choice here with catering options featuring a huge bar with a sand floor, a relaxing restaurant, a beach bar and a coffee shop. Maayafushi is a popular choice for families with children thanks to its exceptionally large and shallow lagoon and water sports centre. A standout feature is the excellent house reef which is in good condition and boasts plenty of exotic colourful fish. You can find the resort’s PADI dive centre just a short walk from the beach.
Velidhu Island – Velidhu Island Resort
Velidhu Island Resort is based on a beautiful small Maldives island around 80km from Male International airport - a spectacular 25 minutes by seaplane. On Velidhu you’ll find all the classic natural ingredients of a Maldives holiday: a shallow lagoon, an encircling house reef, well-maintained green tropical vegetation and mature tall palms providing welcome shade.
Accommodation comprises 80 air-conditioned thatched beach bungalows with private terraces dotted around the island and linked by sandy paths, and 20 classy water bungalows over the lagoon with sun decks, glass floor sections for watching the fish, and steps down into the lagoon. All inclusive packages are a favoured option at this resort. Velidhu is a popular choice with divers and offers an enthusiastic professional PADI dive centre and excellent dive sites. The resort also provides visitors with facilities for volleyball, table tennis and football, while you will always have options to partake in all kinds of water sports including water skiing, catamaran sailing and snorkelling.
Veligandu Island – Veligandu Island Resort
Veligandu Island Resort is located on a small North Ari Atoll island, just 50km (20 minutes by seaplane) from Male International airport. Veligandu Island appeals to those looking for tranquillity and comfort, and makes a good middle-market option with all inclusive packages a popular selection. Veligandu is encircled by wonderful white beaches, a special feature being the stunning 80 metre sandbank found at the southern tip of the island.
Air-conditioned accommodation is offered in the form of 12 luxury beach villas or 64 stunning water villas perched directly over the lagoon. With a swimming pool including kids’ pool, a spa featuring massage and Ayurveda treatments, a fitness centre and a games room there is plenty to do away from the ocean. However Veligandu, like many other Maldivian islands, offers superb opportunities for diving and snorkelling and many visitors take advantage of the excellent PADI dive centre and more than 20 nearby dive sites that provide particularly good conditions for beginners. The lagoon here is beautifully sheltered and the house reef noted for its quality.