As a UNESCO-designated Biosphere Reserve, the Baa Atoll is celebrated for its dazzling marine life. Days here can be spent scuba diving and snorkelling over thriving coral reef and catching sight of dolphins and turtles, but it’s also worth timing your visit with the wildlife seasons. Each year, May marks the arrival of hundreds of manta rays and whale sharks, which gather in these waters for almost half the year to feed on the plentiful plankton. Take a speedboat ride to the shallow lagoon best known for these sightings, Hanifaru Bay, to swim alongside these giant marine creatures.
The Baa Atoll is flanked on one side by the Ali Alif Atoll, which encompasses North Ari, with the Raa and Noonu Atolls to the other side. The Ari Atoll is said to have some of the best diving in the Maldives with turtles and dolphins year-round, whale sharks making an appearance throughout most of the year, and manta rays coming through between May and November. The idyllic Noonu Atoll then introduces you to array of other marine species, from grey reef, leopard and guitar sharks to stingrays, spotted eagle rays, barracuda, turtles and morays.
The islands of each atoll benefit from their far-flung isolation, allowing you to truly unplug and unwind, whether you’re speeding across the waves and diving into turquoise waters or simply making the most of your time in one of the world’s most lusted after barefoot hideaways.