Must see attractions in Southern Atolls

  • Sights in Gnaviyani

    Thoondu Beach

    At the northwestern end of Fuvahmulah, the absolutely stunning Thoondu Beach is a wide band of dazzling white overlooked by swaying palms. It's famous in Maldives for being the only beach in the country that is made up of coral pebbles rather than coral grains. Sadly, swimming here is dangerous due to strong currents; it's also a public (non-bikini) beach. It is however popular with surfers who come here for the short surf season in July–August.

  • Sights in Addu Atoll

    Eedhigali Kilhi & Kottey Protected Area

    The lake at the far end of Hithadhoo is the biggest in the country and attracts varied birdlife to its shores. It has been incorporated into the Eedhigali Kilhi and Kottey Protected Area, which at 570 hectares is the largest of its kind in Maldives. There are 28 bird species present here, making it popular with birders. A visitors centre was under construction in 2017 and various wooden viewing platforms have already been built around the lake.

  • Sights in Laamu

    Isdhoo

    At the northeastern tip of the atoll, the interesting island of Isdhoo is home to a hawitta (ancient artificial mound). Buddha images have been found on the island. HCP Bell – the British leader of early-20th-century archaeological expeditions – believed such mounds to be the remains of Buddhist stupas, while Norwegian ethnographer Thor Heyerdahl speculated that Buddhists had built these on even earlier mounds left by the legendary Redin people.

  • Sights in Gaafu Alifu

    Kondey

    This traditional, largely agricultural island is notable for its four ancient hawittas (Buddhist prayer mounds). Norwegian ethnographer Thor Heyerdahl discovered a limestone carving here, which he believed to be of the Hindu water god Makara. The statue must have been here before the Islamic period; it is thought to be over 1000 years old. Its significance, Heyerdahl believed, lay in the fact that it demonstrated that other religions aside from Buddhism permeated Maldives before Islam.

  • Sights in Laamu

    Gan

    At 8km long, Gan – not to be confused with the other two Gans in the south – is the longest island in the country and one of the most interesting too, boasting a large (by local standards) lake and a slew of Buddhist ruins. As Gan is connected to Kadhoo and Fonadhoo by causeways, it’s possible to explore other nearby islands without hiring a boat, making this a great choice if you’d like to see lots of local life.

  • Sights in Faafu

    Nilandhoo

    On the southern edge of the atoll, the capital island of Nilandhoo is home to the second-oldest mosque in the country, Aasaari Miskiiy, built during the reign of Sultan Mohammed Ibn Abdullah (r 1153–66). It is made of dressed stone and the interior is decorated with carved woodwork. It’s possible that the stones were recycled from the ruins of pre-Islamic structures.

  • Sights in Gaafu Dhaalu

    Gadhdhoo

    On Gadhdhoo (population 1500), women make superb examples of the mats known as thundu kunaa, which are woven from special reeds found on an adjacent island. Souvenir shops in Male and on some resorts sell these mats – those from Gadhdhoo are the softest and most finely woven.

  • Sights in Addu Atoll

    British War Memorial

    This simple memorial commemorates the British servicemen who served at the various incarnations of RAF Gan between 1941 and 1976. The site also includes two WWII cannons.

  • Sights in Gaafu Dhaalu

    Vaadhoo

    In the south of Huvadhoo Atoll, only about 20km from the equator, the island of Vaadhoo has two hawittas (stone prayer mounds) and a mosque that dates from the 17th century. The mosque is elaborately decorated inside and has a stone bath outside, as well as ancient tombstones carved with three different kinds of early Maldivian script.