An atoll is a ring of coral that originally grew completely around the shoreline of an island, and which continued to grow upward on top of itself as the island subsided or eroded away. And that’s about enough about that, I can’t go any further. The point is this: blue waters, incredible views and the opportunity to brag about it to your friends. Heard enough? Well, then let’s go down the list of 10 impressive atolls out there.
Tuvalu is an island nation located in the Pacific Ocean, between Hawaii and Australia. It is the second-least populous sovereign state in the world, with Vatican City having fewer inhabitants. Sadly, due to its remote location, few tourists ever visit Tuvalu; but, that just means it’s quiet. The capital is a small coral atoll, 20 meters (66 ft) wide at the narrowest parts and about 400 meters (1300 ft) at the widest part. 4,500 people live here, and I’m starting to get it why.
9. Bikini Atoll
Bikini Atoll is famous for two things: the bikini swimsuit was named after the atoll in 1946, and we’re thankful for that. But it is also famous for more than 20 nuclear weapons tests done here between 1946 and 1958. The indigenous people were relocated and have remained in exile because of that. Most visitors travel to the atoll to dive the wrecks from the 1946 tests, resting on the lagoon floor. I’m not sure it’s safe, though.
8. Tubbataha Reef
Tubbataha Reef is one of the best scuba dive destinations in the Philippines, and there are two atolls down there. North Atoll and South Atoll are separated by a deep channel of approximately 8 kilometers wide. Wonderful habitats allow many colonies of fish to live here, especially since no permanent human inhabitants have settled here. Stunning!
7. Lighthouse Reef
Three of the four atolls in the western hemisphere can be found in Belizian waters, while the fourth is located just north in Mexican waters. Lighthouse Reef is popular due to the Great Blue Hole that can be found near its center. The most popular dive site in all of Belize, the Great Blue Hole is stunning, to say the least; divers may enjoy observing limestone formations and the array of bizarre stalactites.
Tikehau is part of the Tuamotu Archipelago, a chain of atolls spanning an area of the Pacific Ocean about the same size as the Western Europe. With its long ribbons of white or pink sandy islands, and that superb interior turquoise lagoon sheltering the most amazing variety of fish ever, this is definitely a place for your travel map.
5. Caroline Island
First discovered by Europeans in 1606, Caroline Island is part of the Republic of Kiribati and one of the world’s most pristine tropical islands. Caroline Island and its neighbor, Flint Island, are also home to some of the world’s largest populations of the huge coconut crab; probably, due to the lack of humans in the area.
4. Aitutaki Atoll
Aitutaki Atoll consists of a number of volcanic and coral islets around a triangular lagoon. So, let’s sum it all up: small palm tree fringed tropical island, shallow, warm turquoise waters, corals, tropical fish and blue skies. Aren’t you looking it up right now? You should! In 2006, Aitutaki was used as the location for the tribal council in “Survivor: Cook Islands”.
Aldabra is one of the Outer Islands of the Seychelles. It is the second largest atoll in the world, after Kiritimati. Due to the atoll’s isolation, Aldabra is virtually untouched by humans, and that’s a good thing. Some 152,000 giant tortoises live here.
Rangiroa is one of the largest atolls in the world and the largest atoll in the Tuamotu Archipelago. It is also a major underwater diving destination, mostly to the superb clear blue water. Popular diving sites include the Blue Lagoon, and Tiputa pass. Watch out, there are sharks, as well as large manta rays, sea turtles, and dolphins in them waters.
1. Atolls of the Maldives
The tiny country of the Maldives in the middle of the Indian Ocean is made up of about 1,200 tiny coral islands grouped into 26 atolls. The primary activity on the Maldives is scuba diving and snorkeling. But why be active, when you can chill? And what better place to do it in?