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Things to do in Baa Atoll

Aug 25, 2020 Ocean Stories

Without doubt the Maldives is naturally a beautiful and amazing holiday destination. However, there are some parts of the Maldives that are even more special than others and one of them is Baa Atoll.

Baa Atoll is approximately in the centre of the Maldives. It contains in its circular formation 91 islands of which more than 40 are resorts. At its longest point it ranges 53km from north to south and, at its widest, 39km east to west. It’s probably one of the most famous and widely known atolls in the Maldives as it is the only atoll in the Maldives recognised as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. So, what is in Baa Atoll and what makes it so special?

Here are five special things about Baa Atoll:

1. UNESCO Biosphere Reserve

Any spot on the world’s map that is titled UNESCO Biosphere Reserve implies that there must be something unique about that particular place. It also means there is something that’s worth preserving and protecting with extra care. The Baa Atoll Biosphere Reserve comprises the whole of the atoll. The main habitat types found in Baa Atoll are coral reefs, islands, sea grass beds and mangroves. Maldivian coral reefs are home to the richest diversity in the region and are the seventh largest in the world, accounting for five per cent of the world’s reef area. But what is really unique to Baa Atoll, is Hanifaru Bay, which supports the world’s largest, natural Manta Ray feeding station.


2. Manta Rays

Baa Atoll hosts the largest, natural Manta Ray feeding station in the world a phenomenon due to the lunar tide which occurs every year between June and November, resulting in a massive build-up of plankton. This high concentration of plankton draws in Manta Rays, and it is not unusual to see up to 200 Manta Rays accompanied by Whale Sharks in a frenzy of feeding.


3. You can witness a miracle of nature

Due to the geography and location of Hanifaru Bar, the world’s largest known Manta Ray feeding station, you have the chance to be right there and witness the feeding frenzy. Milaidhoo Island Maldives is only a short boat ride away from the Manta hot spot and takes guests on regular excursions to snorkel with Manta Rays during season. You will simply float on the surface while possibly hundreds of Manta Rays circle up and down, feeding on the plentiful plankton. This is a truly unique, once- in-a-lifetime experience. Those gentle giants of the ocean come so close, you feel like you can touch them – which you won’t do of course (remember this is a protected area).


4. It’s protected

You don’t have to worry about the mass tourism horror scenario you may know from other hot spot wild life destinations. The flow of visitors to Hanifaru Bay is controlled and directed by Park Rangers, who keep an eye on what is happening in the Bay. Touching or feeding those magnificent, wild marine animals is strictly prohibited and tourists have to undergo an introduction and be familiar with behavioural guidelines when joining the excursion to Hanifaru Bay. The Ocean Stories Aquatic Centre of Milaidhoo holds a small presentation for guests before they depart to Hanifaru Bay with detailed advice on how guests should behave. Guests can also learn about Manta Rays and Whale Sharks and what we can do to protect them and preserve the beauty and marine life of Baa Atoll.

5. Famous but still off the beaten path

Even though Baa Atoll has received a lot of attention for its unique nature and for hosting the annual plankton festival that attracts all those Manta Rays, there are other beautiful dive and snorkel spots outside as well as Hanifaru Bay, where you can also find Manta Rays and the occasional Whale Shark – far away from everyone else. Milaidhoo encourages its guests to join excursions to unique and untouched dive spots around the resort that can be reached easily by boat. If you choose to select a private excursion, your guide will help you to create your personal itinerary to make sure you get to see the best of Baa Atoll.

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