The Sunday Leader

Amazing Addu Atoll

by Shazra Aishath

Sri Lankan Airlines’ direct flight from Colombo to Gan, Addu atoll, the southernmost tip of the Maldives, has opened up a whole new area for the discerning traveller to explore. Among the more unique things about Addu is that it is the only atoll in Maldives where you can visit most islands without taking a boat ride. Four of the inhabited islands in this heart shaped atoll -Gan, Feydhoo, Maradhoo and Hithadhoo – are connected by a 13 km causeway.

In Addu one can do a spot of diving or snorkelling during the morning and hop on to a bicycle in the afternoon and go off exploring along coral sand roads and experience Maldivian villages; seek out deserted beaches of soft white sand; or explore tropical jungles and mangroves. Addu has it all, and stunning scenery to match.

 Underwater is just as interesting, with unexplored caves, year-round Manta Rays and the Maldives largest shipwreck, the British Loyalty. One of the most famous dive spots in the country, the fuel tanker was torpedoed by a German submarine, the only known attack in the Maldives during the Second World War.

 Addu’s colourful history matches its beauty. During colonial times, Maldives was a British Protectorate and the British used Ganas a Royal Air Force base. The former air base now serves as the Maldives’ second international airport.

Where to Stay

As well as guest houses, such as Alimas Guest house, Pebbles Innn, Equa Reef Maldives and Scoop,the atoll is also home to two luxury resorts and a mid-range resort. Canareef Resort is located in Herethera, a 15-minute boat ride from Gan, and has 271 villas, each designed to enable guests to enjoy the lush natural vegetation of the island.

For those looking for a luxurious resort experience there is the famed Shangri-LaVillingil Resort and Spa. The resort has white sandy beaches, an infinity pool, a spa and 9-hole golf course (the only golf coursein the Maldives).

While Shangri-La is a five minute boat ride away, the more affordable Equator village, which caters to long-weekend trippers from Colombo, is located 5-minute drive from the airport in the island of Gan. Equator Village is located in what used to be the British RAF Officers’ Mess, and the hotel’s grounds retain a unique colonial charm, with large trees, manicured lawns and English-style flower gardens. It has 78 spacious rooms and a large swimming pool with stunning views over the Indian Ocean.

Along with its distinctive dialect, Addu is also home to unique culinary specialities.

One can try Adduan delicacies such as Addu Bondi (a delicacy made of sweetened coconut, palm sugar and rosewater), Naaroa Faloodha (a sweetmeat made with breadfruit and flavoured with jasmine) or the famous  Addukukulhu Reha (Addu Chicken Curry) made from Addu Havaadhu, a spice mix available only in the atoll.

 Addu offers variety in terms of activities and resorts and also a rare chance to interact with locals and soak up Maldivian culture. Tourism in and around Male’, the Maldives’ capital, can feel mainstream and industrial. But away from it all in Addu, every visitor is an explorer.

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