The Northern Atolls – the least-developed region of Maldives – remain scarcely known to foreigners, which makes them a great place to experience traditional Maldivian life. Maldivian history owes much to this part of the country – national hero Mohammed Thakurufaanu, the man who drove the Portuguese colonizers out of Maldives in the 16th century, was born on the island of Utheemu in Haa Alifu Atoll. The island is today a place of pilgrimage for Maldivians, who come to see his small wooden palace.
There’s huge diving and snorkelling potential throughout the region; there are wrecks along the western fringe of the atolls – many only now being properly explored – while Baa Atoll, a Unesco World Biosphere Reserve, boasts pristine waters, diverse marine life and the famous manta ray feeding ground, Hanifaru Bay. With just a handful of resorts and guesthouses, you'll often feel like you have the Northern Atolls to yourself.