The top half of giant Ari Atoll, North Ari – which includes tiny Rasdhoo Atoll and the single island of Thoddoo – is a huge lagoon boasting alluring resorts and inhabited islands with fast-growing guesthouse scenes, as well as pristine desert islands. While there's no airport in this part of the atoll, it's well connected by speedboat and seaplane charter to Male.

The islands of Ukulhas, Mathiveri, Rasdhoo and Thoddoo are popular with backpackers and divers who want to spend time amid local communities. These are traditional and unspoiled places known for superb marine life, fantastic beaches and friendly locals. Elsewhere, the atoll's dozen resorts are some of the country's best established; you'll find everything from laid-back budget options to utterly luxurious private islands.