Ari Atoll Information

Travel and Local Information Guide

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August, 2019

Formed by a vast lagoon of oval shape dotted with reefs, Ari Atoll (Alif or Alufu Atoll) is located 100 km west of the capital of the Maldives and is famous for its magnificent beaches and world-class diving. After Kaafu Atoll, Ari is the second most popular atoll in the Maldives. Nutrient-rich waters attract large marine creatures from the open ocean, where whale sharks and manta rays are the main attractions.

Since the giant atoll is one natural object - it is divided administratively into two parts - North and South Ari Atoll. During the special seasons, plankton-rich waters flowing through channels into the atoll attract pelagic species and with them divers from all over the world - South Ari remains one of the best places in the world to watch whale sharks, who patrol the outer reef all year round, while as some parts of the Northern Ari Atoll are the favorite habitats of hammerhead sharks.

Ari Atoll is home to some of the best and most prestigious resorts in the country, but the exceptional diving in its sites means having a large number of inexpensive diving hotels and guest houses on the inhabited islands.

Getting Around

The most fast and cheap way to get to your hotels in Ari Atoll is by domestiс flight. From Malé airport (MLE) to Maamigili airport (VAM) there are several flights every day. Flyme makes flights between the capital of the Maldives and Villa International airport every day. Flight time is 25 min. The cost of a round-trip ticket is 299 USD. From Maamigili you can get to the islands by speedboat. Maldivianairtaxi operates from Male by seaplanes to all island-resorts Ari / Alifu atoll. The price of an air ticket depends on the direction and can range from 450 -550 USD in both directions, depending on the distance and class of the hotel. In all cases you will need to notify your hotel's staff from 48-72 hours before the date of your arrival to the Maldives, so that the resort book an air taxi for you.

Between Male and the islands of the Alif Alif Atoll (the northern atoll of Ari) there is a regular public ferry and speed boat services. The journey time by ferry is from 4 to 6 hours, the ticket price is from 8 - 10 USD one way. Ferries depart on certain days of the week, except Friday. Speed boat transfers operate 24 hours per day. These transfers will be arranged by the hotel based on your arrival/departure time.

Good to know: All seaplane transfers are made during daylight hours, and offer an amazing perspective on the atolls, islands, reefs and lagoons. Seaplanes operate from 6:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., 7 days per week. However, schedules vary depending on the arrival and departure times of all guests on that given day. You must arrive in Male before 3:30 p.m. in order to catch a same day seaplane transfer. If you are unable to find an international flight which gets you here in your time, you could also spend a night in Male or Hulhumale and see what the local life is like. As for departure: the seaplane operator takes care of all guests who have their international flight schedule departure time after 9 AM. Your inbound flight from the Maldives must depart between 0850hrs and 2000hrs. More detailed information you can get from "Good to Know" section available in the description of each hotel.

speed boat taxi maldives

The Islands

  • Angaga Island Resort and Spa: 4-star Best Experience:  house reef snorkelling, diving, beach
  • Bathala Island Resort: 4-star Best Experience:  house reef snorkelling, diving
  • Centara Grand Island Resort & Spa : 5-star Best Experience:  All Inclusive, Family
  • Conrad Maldives Rangali Island: 5-star Best Experience:  two Islands One Great Price, dining, for family, for couples, water villas
  • Constance Halaveli: 5-star Best Experience:  water villas, for family, diving
  • Constance Moofushi Maldives: 5-star Best Experience:  all inclusive, house reef snorkelling
  • Diamonds Athuruga - All Inclusive: 5-star Best Experience:  water villas, beach, all inclusive, house reef snorkelling
  • Diamonds Thudufushi - All Inclusive: 5-star Best Experience:  water villas, all inclusive, for family
  • Drift Thelu Veliga Retreat: 4-star Best Experience:  new resort, for couples, value, diving
  • Ellaidhoo Maldives by Cinnamon: 4-star Best Experience:  house reef snorkelling, diving
  • Gangehi Island Resort: 4-star Best Experience:  house reef snorkelling, diving, honeymoon
  • Kandolhu Maldives: 5-star Best Experience:  house reef snorkelling, honeymoon, beach
  • Kuramathi Maldives: 4-star Best Experience:  for couples, all inclusive, value, for families, house reef snorkelling
  • Lily Beach Resort and Spa: 5-star Best Experience:  all inclusive, value, family, house reef snorkelling
  • LUX* South Ari Atoll: 5-star Best Experience:  water villas, beach, dining, diving
  • Mirihi Island Resort: 5-star Best Experience:  adults only, house reef snorkelling, value, honeymoon
  • Nika Island Resort & Spa: 5-star Best Experience:  for couples, value, house reef snorkelling
  • Ranveli Island Resort: 4-star Best Experience:  house reef snorkelling
  • Sun Island Resort and Spa: 4-star Best Experience:  beach, activities
  • Vakarufalhi Island Resort: 5-star Best Experience:  house reef snorkelling, beach
  • Veligandu Island Resort & Spa: 5-star Best Experience:  for couples, beach
  • Vilamendhoo Island Resort & Spa: 5-star Best Experience:  house reef snorkelling, value, all inclusive
  • Voi Maayafushi Resort: 4-star Best Experience:  house reef snorkelling, diving
  • W Maldives: 5-star Best Experience:  water sports, house reef snorkelling
  • Ukulhas: a well-developed populated island, offers an incredible natural landscape and is indeed one of the best beaches in the Maldives. Paradise for diving and snorkeling, you can have the opportunity to swim with huge sea turtles without breaking the budget.
  • Rasdhoo - A tiny local island and the capital of Rasdu Atoll, still well-equipped and organized. This is a real treasure for divers and snorkelers who want to see giant sea creatures (such as hammerhead shark, manta rays, dolphins and turtles) and enjoy a vibrant marine life of coral reefs.
  • Thoddoo - The inhabited island in the Northern Ari atoll. Its natural landscape and a long white sandy beach make Thoddoo one of the best budget destination in the Maldives.
  • Bodufolhudhoo:  A great option for a cheap Maldivian experience. The beautiful island is well known for its spectacular marine life with an untouched house reef that ideal for snorkeling and is surrounded with many famous luxury resorts.
  • Feridhoo : With a handful of guest houses, Feridhoo island offers a relaxed budget holiday for avid divers, snorkeling fans and beach lovers.


The name Ari atoll in Dhivehi means a "turtle island". Ari Atoll consists of 82 picturesque coral islands, 28 of which are island-resorts, 18 are inhabited by local inhabitants of the Maldives, and the rest are uninhabited. There are also many sandbanks, ready to become new islands in the future. Most of the atoll's islands are covered with tropical vegetation, coconut and banana plantations. The largest island is Maamigili where Villa International Airport (Maamigili) is located serving domestic and international flights.

Near the northern tip of the Ari Atoll are two atolls: Rasdhoo and Thodhoo. The capital of Ari Atoll is Mahibadhoo which is located in the southeastern part, near Vilingili island. Today there are several guest houses. The main city of the northern half is Rasdhoo.

Maalhos island ishome to the remains of Buddhist culture were found are geographically considered the westernmost isle of the atoll, and the second most western uninhabited island of the Maldives archipelago, after Maamakunudhoo. Remains of Buddhist chedi can also be found on Ariadhoo Island. On Fenfushi island there is a beautiful ancient mosque decorated with paint panels and wooden ceilings.


The whale shark is the largest and heaviest fish ever seen in our oceans, and its existence dates back to more than 65 million years. Despite the broad distribution of whale sharks in tropical and subtropical areas of the globe, there are only about 20 locations where regular sightings of these creatures have been reported in coastal areas, including the Maldives, South Africa, Mozambique, Mexico, Belize and Australia, and the majority of these locations represent seasonal “feeding aggregations” for whale sharks, which are seen only for a few months each year.

In contrast, whale sharks are year-round residents of South Ari Atoll in the Maldives, which is a Marine Protected Area (SAMPA), making this a very special place. Maafushivaru is blessed to be located in such a unique part of this beautiful island nation indeed. Snorkelers and divers are frequently surprised by the colossal and magical presence of this iconic species, with the vast majority of encounters happening very close to the surface. Read More...

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