Bright blue skies, year-round sunshine, and superb diving and snorkeling in lagoons characterize this simple way of life in the Maldives. Most atolls are lovely, sun-drenched, palm-fringed, Gilligan’s Island-style settings. There are more attractions in the Maldives than you could possibly visit in one trip.
One of the world’s least visited locations, the Southern Atolls are a true gem. These atolls are as far away as it gets, located deep in the Indian Ocean and a 45-minute flight from Malé’s bustle and noise. Silky white sand beaches, crystal clear waters, and abundant marine life in every hue of the rainbow make for the perfect snorkeling and scuba diving environment.
No tall buildings are in sight, and the noises are primarily made by breaking waves and sighing winds. The term “paradise” is spoken about frequently, yet the Maldives’ Southern Atolls are the only locale that genuinely merits it. Let’s explore the south of the Maldives.
Now, you’re probably wondering, “Where are the Maldives islands located?”
South Asia’s Maldives is an island nation southwest of India in the Indian Ocean. More than 510 miles from north to south and 80 miles from east to west are covered by the nation’s islands. The northernmost atoll lies about 370 miles southwest of the Indian subcontinent.
Around 1,200 islands comprise the Republic of the Maldives, grouped in atolls. Only 200 of these islands are populated. The nation is made up of a few small autonomous islands, reefs, and about 26 natural atolls.
Boduthiladhunmathi is the biggest atoll among the Maldives’ islands, while Huvadhu has the most islands. The Maldives’ largest island, Gan, is in the Boduthiladhunmathi Atoll.
Maldives’ islands can be further divided into islands with resorts and islands without resorts. Private islands that only contain luxury resorts are known as resort islands, while native life can be found on non-resort islands. The Maldives currently has over 132 resort islands.
From all the main airports, including Dubai, Singapore, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Paris, London, Hong Kong, and Sydney, you may fly into Malé’s capital, Velana International Airport (MLE).
From there, it takes a day to sail by charter boat to the outer atolls. You can also take a short domestic flight, speedboat, or seaplane ride to the resort.
Here’s our full guide to domestic transportation in the Maldives to make planning your journey easier.
The Southern Atolls continue to be some of the most secluded and picture-perfect in the Maldives, maintaining the feeling of a remote island paradise with world-class waves and perfect weather.
Even though it may not be completely deserted, there are fewer people here than in the Northern Atolls, so even the busiest locations are less crowded.
There are three major atolls in the South of the Maldives, and there are fewer than 10 resorts in the area. The south of the Maldives has 5 airports, of which 1 is international (GAN International Airport). However, don’t despair. There are many things to do in the south of the Maldives, and it will be super quiet while you do them.
From beautiful marine life to perfect swells for surfing, the Southern Atolls have many fun things to do when you visit them.
The Southern Atolls have a longer surf season that begins in early February and lasts until November because they are more exposed to the far southern groundswells.
Beacons, Castaways, and Tiger Stripes are the most famous locations in Huvadhoo Atoll, whereas Approach Lights and Madihera are the most notable locations in Addu Atoll. Beacons and Tiger Stripes, two of the Maldives’ most powerful waves, crash down quickly and violently onto a fringed, unnervingly shallow reef, a characteristic of southern surf sites.
Experience the thrill of swimming with whale sharks, which are enormous and majestic, as well as reef sharks, which are smaller and hide peacefully in coral atolls and the resorts’ surrounding lagoons.
Stingrays, a sizable number of turtles, and a variety of sharks, including black and white tip reef sharks, nurse sharks, and occasionally hammerheads and tiger sharks, are among the many colorful reefs and lagoons that have yet to be thoroughly investigated.
If “close encounters” with some of the ocean’s most majestic species are a little bit too thrilling for you, you may always choose to enjoy watching them come every day at certain resorts. The marine life in the Southern Atolls is just amazing.
In the Maldives, the Huvadhoo Atoll, also called Gaafu Atoll, is a well-known diving location. Before you experience it, you won’t believe the amount and diversity of marine life in the area’s crystal-clear waters, spectacular undersea geology, and other natural features. Beautiful corals, colorful reef fish, big pelagics, and stunning macro subjects are all waiting to meet you.
There is something for everyone, whether you want a thrilling drift dive, a relaxed, easygoing tour of a shallow reef, or to search for sharks in the channels.
Inconspicuous tunnels and caverns that conceal the variety of drop-offs are the distinguishing features of most of the atoll’s diving sites. Many microscopic underwater organisms are protected by untouched rocky formations, which is a boon for macro photographers.
With several healthy coral islets and uncharted dive locations, this atoll is a wonderland for underwater exploration. Check out our guide to diving in the Maldives to ensure you don’t get caught in rough water.
The Maldives’ history and culture are heavily influenced by the sea, the water, and the boats that travel between the islands. From across the water, Arab traders and Indian immigrants arrived, and early shipwreck survivors unintentionally became islanders.
In the 1970s, adventurous travelers came here by cargo ship and then traveled to an island homestay by fishing boat. It’s much simpler now, but early settlers would be comforted to learn that the Maldives’ single-sailed fishing boat, the dhoni, has survived.
Traditionally fashioned from coconut palm preserved with fish oils, dhonis are now frequently made of fiberglass. The staff at Raffles Maldives Meradhoo can take you on sunset cruises, lunches on desert islands, and even snorkeling trips right up to the equator.
As one might expect, there is a lot of seafood and coconut, but in delectably creative combinations. Take mashuni, for example. It’s a breakfast dish made with coconut, onions, chilies, and with fresh-caught tuna. Spicy soup is paired with cuttlefish. Rihaakuru, a fish paste, and regional variations of chapatis and samosas are among the delectable local fare.
There are also fiery boakibaa smoked-fish cakes, delicious chicken and vegetable curries, and tropical screwpine fruit used to make ice cream. Garudiya, a delightful fish soup served with lime and rice, has to be considered a highlight. The Raffles Maldives Meradhoo’s Firepit barbeque restaurant offers you a first-hand taste of the islands’ open-fire cooking customs.
Tip: Check out this guide to the most amazing halal food in the Maldives to satisfy your palate.
Even though the Maldives’ south appears to be quite secluded, there are a number of excellent resorts where you can stay while visiting this gorgeous area.
The Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa is an opulent island resort in the Gaafu Alifu Atoll, located approximately 34 miles north of the equator. The Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa, one of the first eco-luxury hotels in the Maldives, has received an EarthCheck certification for its ecologically friendly planning and building practices.
On land and in the ocean are fifty villas, each incredibly comfortable and equipped with luxurious amenities. The three restaurants at the resort offer regional and local cuisine.
In the southern Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll in the Maldives, amid a pristine coral, is the opulent resort known as Ayada. It offers lodging with free WiFi and a private plunge pool.
With Middle Eastern and Maldivian design features, the villas have chic interiors. Only a few metres from the beach, beach villas and suites have their own, enclosed garden with a pool and outdoor shower.
Among the dining alternatives are the breakfast and supper restaurant Magu, the upscale Ocean Breeze restaurant and bar that overlooks the Indian Ocean, and the Kai Far East Asian restaurant with its wide selection of wines and cuisines from India to Japan. A wide variety of wine and cheese is available at the Ille De Joie Cheese and Wine Bar, which is surrounded by Ocean Villas.
Raffles Maldives Meradhoo is an oasis located at the southernmost point of the Maldives, among the clear seas of the Indian Ocean. Thanks to this exquisite resort, one of the world’s biggest and most remote natural atolls now has access to the famed Raffles services.
Thirty-eight spectacular beachfront and overwater villas and houses spread throughout the two islands provide a ton of space. While the three restaurants and bars serve the freshest regional and international cuisine against a backdrop of breathtaking natural surroundings, luxurious therapies in the overwater spa calm and refresh.
The Outrigger Konotta Maldives Resort is a secluded and opulent haven waiting for visitors when they arrive on a private yacht ride from the nearby airport. It is situated in the crystalline blue waters of the Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll.
The resort has fantastic facilities, including the Navasana Spa, a diving and aquatic center with activities for couples and families, and two restaurants with cutting-edge eating concepts.
The southern atolls in the Maldives are unexplored places of pure beauty worth visiting on your trip to the archipelago paradise. From impressive surfing swells to sharks so close you can touch them, there is something for everyone here in this remote location.
The only question is, when will you get on that seaplane to the southern atolls?