North Ari Atoll (Alifu Alifu) is the northern half of Ari Atoll. North Ari Atoll has been separated from the rest of Ari Atoll due to administrative purposes. The Maldives is a long narrow island nation comprising of natural 26 atolls spanning from north to south, and Ari Atoll is approximately in the middle of the chain, on the western side. It is named after the island Ariadhoo, an important historic and religious center of the Maldives during the pre-Islamic days.
Ari Atoll has around 70 individual islands, of which 18 are inhabited, while a further 52 islands remain uninhabited, and 26 of them are dedicated resorts. The resorts in Ari Atoll opened up a lot of opportunities for the locals in terms of employment, the resort development escalating in the 1990’s, and since having peaked there are no more resorts planned for the near future.
Map of North Ari Atoll - Maldives:
The primary occupations of Ari Atoll islanders is weaving, collecting coral, catching turtles, coral carving, fishing and shark hunting. The inhabitants of Ari Atoll are well known for their skilled fishing and shark catching abilities, and due to the abundance of sharks, it is a popular spot for scuba divers on holiday to the Maldives as it has many a dive site teaming with marine life, sharks, caves and stunning topography. Ari Atoll contains many smaller sandbanks that are growing into islands, while some of the sandbanks are eroding and washing away over time.
Manta ray encounters are very common in North Ari Atoll
The capital of North Ari is Rasdhoo, the diameter thereof totaling nine km, while the total length of Ari Atoll is 96 km, the width stretching over 33 km. Ari Atoll is the second most western of all the Maldives atolls, and has many beautiful reefs, lagoons and dive locations, which draws countless scuba divers to the exotic tropical paradise every single year.
On the eastern side of Ari atoll the depth stands at around 300 meters, while on the west the depth drops very sharply to over 2000 meters. Rasdhoo is connected to the north eastern part of Ari Atoll through a submerged plateau at a depth between 183 and 274 meters.
There is no single extended stretch of barrier reef, instead, all along the circular reef are many channels into the atoll, apart from the south side which has only one entrance.
Inside the atoll are many thilas, which North Ari is very famous for, as well as numerous coral reefs, and a diverse range of marine life. On the western side all the reefs are hard coral reefs, which seem to be a natural protective phenomenon evolving as a result of the harsh seas tormenting the Maldives during the south-west monsoon season.
Heavy waves have been recorded at North Ari Atoll, smashing the western ridge, dislodging entire parts of the hard coral rock, and new channels, sometimes over a meter deep, have been carved into the reef. The eastern side has slightly more fragile coral formations, and has many entrances, as the seas are not as turbulent. North Ari Atoll remains a favorite of scuba divers looking for stunning underwater landscapes, dazzling fish life and some of the best dive sites in the world.