Atolls of the Maldives

Updated: 2024-02-12T10:03:51.047Z
Atolls of the Maldives

There are actually two kinds of atoll in the Maldives.

  • Natural atolls, which are distinct physical rings of islands surrounding a lagoon area.
  • Geographic regions also called atolls which sometimes do and sometimes don't match a natural atoll!

The most commonly used reference is the geographical region and the Maldives officially recognises 20 such atolls [1],

Complete List of Maldives Atolls

Atolls of the Maldives, ordered by distance from Malé and Velana International airport.

1. Kaafu Atoll (North + South Malé)

Also known as Malé Atoll this region encompasses the natural atolls of North and South Malé, Gahaafaru Atoll and Kaashidhoo Island.

Home to the capital of the Maldives - Malé - as well as Velana International Airport.

There are over 50 resorts in the Kaafu Atoll region to choose from - more than any other area of the Maldives.

Perfect for those wanting convenience upon arrival to the Maldives. Resorts and hotels in this area are quickly accessible by speedboat.

2. Vaavu Atoll

56km (35 miles) to the south of Malé.

Also known as Felidhe Atoll, this region includes the natural atolls of Felidhu and the Vaataru Reef.

There are currently five resorts in Vaavu Atoll.

3. North Ari Atoll

65km (40 miles) west of Malé and known locally as Alifu Alifu.

The natural atoll of Rasdhoo and Thoddoo Island are part of North Ari Atoll.

As of 2023 there are 11 resorts in the North Ari Atoll.

4. South Ari Atoll

72km (45 miles) south-west of Malé this region is also known as Alifu Dhaalu.

There are over 15 South Ari Atoll resorts to enjoy.

5. Baa Atoll

110km (68 miles) north-west of Malé and reachable by a short seaplane transfer or domestic flight.

The Baa Atoll is world famous as a UNESCO world heritage biosphere and home of Hanifaru Bay. With 18 resorts in the Baa Atoll there are plenty of options to enjoy the marine life.

Also known as Maalhosmadulu Dhekunuburi, this region includes the natural atoll of Goifulhafehendhu to the south.

6. Faafu Atoll

115km (72 miles) south-west of Malé.

There is a single resort in Faafu Atoll - the Filitheyo Island Resort.

7. Lhaviyani Atoll

120km (75 miles) north of Malé.

There are 10 resorts in Lhaviyani Atoll.

Also known as Faadhippolhu Atoll.

8. Meemu Atoll

130km (80 miles) south of Malé.

There are three resorts in Meemu Atoll including Madifushi Private Island.

Also known as Mulaku Atoll.

9. Raa Atoll

150km (95 miles) north west of Malé.

Known locally as Maalhosmadulu Uthuruburi this region also includes the island of Alifushi.

There are 17 Raa Atoll resorts as of 2024.

10. Dhaalu Atoll

150km (95 miles) south west of Malé.

There are nine resorts in Dhaalu Atoll.

Officially Nilandhe Atholhu Dhekunuburi.

11. Noonu Atoll

170km (105 miles) north of Malé.

There are eight resorts in Noonu Atoll.

Also called Miladhunmadulu Dhekunuburi.

12. Thaa Atoll

200km (125 miles) south west of Malé.

There's only one resort in Thaa Atoll - Como Maalifushi.

Also known as Kolhumadulu Atoll.

13. Shaviyani Atoll

210km (130 miles) north-west of Malé.

A large atoll in the north, there are two resorts in Shaviyani Atoll.

Also known as Miladhunmadulu Uthurubri.

14. Laamu Atoll

250km (160 miles) south of Malé.

There are two resorts in Laamu Atoll.

Also known as Haddhunmathi Atoll.

15. Haa Dhaalu Atoll

270km (170 miles) north west of Malé.

Locally called Thiladhunmathi Dhekunuburi.

Home to just two resorts as of 2024.

16. Haa Alifu Atoll

300km (190 miles) north west of Malé.

The northern most atoll of the Maldives, officially called Thiladhunmathi Uthuruburi.

There are two resorts in Haa Alifu.

17. North Huvadhu Atoll

370km (230 miles) south of Malé.

One half of the geographic atoll of Huvadhu.

There are six resorts in North Huvadhu which are reached by domestic transfer from Malé to a domestic airport followed by a short speedboat ride. In 2024, only one is accessible by seaplane.

The resorts are relatively accessible despite the distance from Malé.

Also known as Gaafu Alifu.

18. South Huvadhu Atoll

420km (260 miles) south of Malé and just 500km from the equator, this atoll includes Kaadedhdhoo and Maavarulu Airports to facilitate domestic transfers to and from Malé. There are currently no seaplane transfers to this atoll.

There are two resorts in South Huvadhu Atoll.

Also known as Gaafu Dhaalu.

19. Gnaviyani Atoll

500km (300 miles) south of Malé and the first Maldivian atoll south of the equator, Gnaviyani is also know as Fuvahmulah. This is the smallest division of the Maldives.

There are no tourist resorts in Gnaviyani Atoll.

20. Addu Atoll

540km (330 miles) south of Male.

The southern-most atoll in the Maldives. The island of Gan in Addu Atoll is the location of Gan International Airport, connecting the two cities of Malé and Addu City.

There are two resorts in Addu Atoll.

Formerly known as Seenu Atoll.

Notable Natural Atolls

These natural atolls are part of larger regional atolls in the Maldives.

Rasdhoo Atoll

This natural atoll lies 58km (37 miles) to the west of Malé and is considered part of North Ari Atoll. Also known as Rasdhukuramathi.

The resorts of Kuramathi and Veligandu are located in Rasdhoo Atoll.

Goidhoo Atoll

This atoll falls under the Baa Atoll region and is situated directly to the south. There is one resort island in Goidhoo Atoll - Innafushi.

Gaafaru Atoll

A small natural atoll off the northern tip of North Malé Atoll. There are no tourist resorts in Gaafaru.

Makunudhoo Atoll

The western-most atoll in the Maldives, it falls under the Haa Dhaalu Atoll region in the north. There are no tourist resots in Makunudhoo.

Vaataru Reef

This atoll has a single uninhabited islet and is part of the Vaavu Atoll.

Thoddoo Island & Kaashidhoo Island

Whilst not technically atolls, these two islands are sometimes mistaken for atolls due to the fact they are located on their own, away from other islands. Neither have tourist facilities.

Maldives Atoll Map

Maldives Atoll Map


Answers to common questions about atolls in the Maldives:

What is an atoll?

An atoll is a group of islands.

How many atolls are in the Maldives?

There are 20 officially recognised atoll regions in the Maldives and 26 natural atolls.

Why do atolls have more than one name in the Maldives?

An atoll in the Maldives can either refer to a natural geographic group of islands or an administrative region. The natural atolls have long standing names whilst the more recent administrative regions take their names from the letters of the alphabet in the local Dhievhi tongue. Therefore, most areas in the Maldives have both a natural atoll name and a regional atoll name.

Where does the word atoll come from?

The word atoll is actually derived from the Maldivian term – atholhu – or އަތޮޅު in the native language, Dhivehi.


[1] Maldives Ministry of Fisheries and Agriculture. Atolls of the Maldives, retrieved 2023-03-05
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