Situated in the midst of the atoll chain that forms the Maldives, Baa Atoll is a signatory destination to many travellers for many reasons. While some fly to the pristine atoll to kick back at one of the luxurious resorts in the area, others come seeking adventure underwater in the world-class dive sites and marine hotspots found here.
Named a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve owing to the high levels of biodiversity seen in the Baa Atoll, the expansive atoll spans an area of 139,000 hectares. Home to the largest collection of coral reefs in the Indian Ocean, accounting for over 250 species of vibrant coral species, the coral reef gardens pave way for the deposition of planktonic larvae in the region, creating feeding stations for megafauna.
As a result of these nutrient-rich zooplankton sites, it draws aggregations of manta rays and whale sharks to the atoll, congregating to feast frenziedly on the abundant food sources that funnel into the atoll’s bays. This feeding phenomenon is observed most frequently in Hanifaru Bay during the Southwest monsoon of the Maldives from June to November and offers rare encounters for tourists during these chance sightings.
Perched on an open channel on the edge of the ocean, the coral gardens habituate over 1200 species of fish, making this site a well-rounded place for diving. Other beloved marine organisms also grace this area including the endangered green turtles, hawksbill turtles and tawny nurse sharks as well as Napolean wrasses. With so much to see under the surface, Baa does not lack any when it comes to quality dive excursions.
Greater than 35 distinct dive sites are strewn all across the atoll, each characterized by its own unique features and elements and teeming marine life. Due to existing variations between levels of nutrients and exposure to ocean elements, the type and population of biodiversity differ from reef to reef. Pinnacle reefs submerged deep in the ocean called Thilas and shallower submerged reefs known as Giris often concentrate numerous marine life in a small spot.
However, long reefs adjoined to islands or lagoons called Faru or Falhu host large numbers of marine fauna including many types of rays and elusive turtles. Baa is also home to extensive soft corals found in several overhangs and one such notable dive site is Anga Faru. Dhigu Thila also sports some overhangs on its Eastern front while Maalhos House Reef brings a wall of colourful corals and overhangs to the picture.
Given its strategic location and natural highlights, Baa Atoll is now ranked among the atolls containing the biggest number of high-end luxury resorts. With almost all resorts offering excursion and snorkelling opportunities in the Baa Atoll, travellers can opt to make the best of their vacations by opting for an opulent holiday that caters to all their underwater requirements.