The northern administrative section of Ari Atoll is best known for its spectacular dive sites. The upper rim faces the open ocean and is the best place to encounter manta rays, especially between December and March. The 30m long pinnacle is also home to glassfish, moray eels and schools of snappers and in its deeper waters you can spot grey reef sharks and tuna. The celebrated manta rays are found in between these two layers of marine life, among the yellow Porite corals. Dive enthusiasts also enjoy visiting the Halaveli Wreck which lies 28m below the surface. It was deliberately sunk by the Halaveli dive school and is today covered in colourful corals and its home to many aquatic creatures, the most notorious of which is the fantail ray.
There are many inhabited islands in the northern Ari atoll and one worth mentioning is Thoddoo which holds ancient Buddhist ruins. In 1958 archaeologists were surprised to find a large Buddha statue buried with the utmost care. Worshippers hid the artefact after Islam took over as the Maldives official religion. Thoddoo is also worth visiting for its fresh produce. It is the Maldives’ second largest producer of watermelons and there’s nothing like rehydrating yourself with a fresh, wet slice of watermelon after a long swim among the rays and corals.