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Introducing North Malé Atoll

Tourism is well developed in North Male Atoll, and as well as having lots of resorts, there are several fledgling guesthouses here too. Male itself isn’t the atoll capital, as it’s considered to be its own administrative district. Instead, the atoll capital is Thulusdhoo, on the eastern edge of North Male Atoll, with a population of about 1150. Thulusdhoo is an industrious island, known for the manufacture of bodu beru (big drums), for its traditional dancing and for its salted-fish warehouse. It is also unique for its Coca-Cola factory, the only one in the world where the drink is made from desalinated water.

The island of Huraa (population 750) is well used to tourists visiting from nearby resorts, but it retains its small-island feel. Huraa’s dynasty of sultans, founded in 1759 by Sultan Al-Ghaazi Hassan Izzaddeen, built a mosque on the island.

Many tourists visit Himmafushi (population 855) on excursions arranged from nearby resorts. The main street has two long rows of shops, where you can pick up some of the least expensive souvenirs in the country. Carved rosewood manta rays, sharks and dolphins are made locally. If you wander into the back streets, you quickly get away from the tourist strip to find an attractive, well-kept village and an attractive cemetery with coral headstones. There’s a drug rehabilitation centre here and part of the island is off-limits due to this.

A sand spit has joined Himmafushi to the once separate island of Gaamaadhoo, where there used to be a prison. The surf break here, aptly called Jailbreaks, is a great right-hander, accessible by boat from nearby resorts.

Further north, Dhiffushi is one of the most appealing local islands, with around 1000 inhabitants, three mosques and two schools. Mainly a fishing island, it has lots of greenery and grows tropical fruit. Tourists from Meeru Island Resort are regular visitors.