A ring of coral that originally grew completely around the shoreline of an island and as the island subsided or eroded away which continued to grow upward on top of it is called an atoll. Atolls are only found in the tropics and subtropics as reef building corals flourish only in warm waters. On the whole we can say that, atolls are made up of turquoise lagoons and colorful reefs teaming with marine life, which offers picture postcard beaches and the life style of Robinson Crusoe. An overview of some of the most captivating atolls in the world is given here.
10 Most Captivating Atolls in the World:
Located midway between Hawaii and Australia, Tuvalu is an island nation in the Pacific Ocean. Possibly, Tuvalu is best known for its “.tv” internet domain name. With only Vatican City having less population, it is the second least populous sovereign state in the world. Few tourists ever visit Tuvalu due to the remoteness of the country.
The capital of this island nation is a small coral atoll named Funafuti, whose width is only about 20 meters (66 ft) at the narrowest parts, and at the widest part of the island about 400 meters (1300 ft). There are about 4,500 people live in the island and is a low key place. Along with a beautiful church and one hotel, there is a cluster of administrative buildings near the air terminal.
9. Bikini Atoll
Two things made Bikini Atoll famous: First in 1946, the bikini swimsuit was named after the atoll. Second, between 1946 and 1958, it was the site of more than 20 nuclear weapons tests as part of the Pacific Proving Ground. In 1944, the native people were relocated and have remained in exile on other islands. The islands are safe to visit now.
The locale radiation of the island is now less than most large cities, but dangerous levels of radioactive material are still in the soil. Fish are unaffected, and due to lack of fishing are in abundance. Most visitors journey to this captivating atoll to dive the wrecks from the 1946 tests resting on the lagoon floor.
8. Tubbataha Reef
One of the best scuba dive destinations in the Philippines is the Tubbataha Reef. Two of the most captivating atolls in the world made up the reef. They are known as the North Atoll and South Atoll, and separated by a deep channel of approximately 8 kilometers wide.
Because of its coral “walls” where the shallow coral reef abruptly ends giving way to great depths, it has become a popular dive site. These “walls” are not only fantastic diving spots but they are also magnificent habitats for many colonies of fish. The reef is only visited by fishermen and divers, there are no permanent inhabitants.
7. Lighthouse Reef
Lighthouse Reef is one of the four atolls in the western hemisphere. The reef can be found in Belizean waters. Lighthouse Reef is famous for the Great Blue Hole that can be found near its center. Being one of the most captivating atolls in the world, it is the most popular dive site in all of Belize. The Great Blue Hole offers a fascinating view of limestone formations that mold its walls to the divers. The water is clearer the deeper you dive and the more awesome the scenery, as the range of strange stalactites and limestone formations become more intricate and intense.
Also read: Top 10 tourist attractions in Belize
Tikehau is one of the most amazing atolls in the world that is a part of the Tuamotu Archipelago, a series of atolls spanning an area of the Pacific Ocean roughly the size of Western Europe. With its long ribbons of white or pink sandy islands, Tikehau is undoubtedly a picture postcard. The most amazing variety of fish is sheltered in the turquoise lagoon located inside the atoll. Actually, the concentration of the fish in the lagoon is so high that Jacques Cousteau’s research group declared it to contain the highest concentration of fish among any other place in French Polynesia.
Also read: Top 10 most popular dive spots in the world
5. Caroline Island
Caroline Island is part of the Republic of Kiribati. It was first sighted by Europeans in 1606. The island is one of the world’s most pristine tropical islands despite the more than 300 years of occasional human impact. It has been rated as one of the most unblemished atolls in the world. Both the Caroline Island and its neighbor, Flint Island, are the habitat of some of the world’s largest populations of the huge coconut crab. Caroline Island is in danger as sea levels rise as it only extends six meters above sea level and could be reclaimed by the sea as soon as 2025.
Also Read: Top 10 famous party Islands in the world
4. Aitutaki Atoll
A number of volcanic and coral islets around a triangular lagoon make up the Aitutaki Atoll. The lagoon and its islands are amazingly beautiful. With shallow, warm turquoise waters, tropical fish, corals and blue skies; Aitutaki Atoll is the classic picture postcard of small palm tree fringed Tropical Island. Tapuaetai (One Foot Island) is the most popular attraction here.
It is a small islet in the south-east of the lagoon. Tapuaetai is ranked as one of the 10 most awesome beaches in the world by us. Aitutaki was used as the location for the tribal council in “Survivor: Cook Islands” in 2006. For tribal camps and crew locations, the surrounding islets were used.
One of the Outer Islands of the Seychelles, Aldabra is more than 1,100 kilometers (700 miles) from Mahé. It is the largest island of the Seychelles and is closer to the coast of Africa. After Kiritimati, it is the second largest atoll in the world. Aldabra is virtually unscathed by humans due to difficulties of access and the isolation of the atoll. Thus the atoll retains some 152,000 giant tortoises, the largest population of this reptile in the world.
Being the largest atoll in the Tuamotu Archipelago (see also Tikehau), Rangiroa is also one of the largest atolls in the world. Because of the clear blue water and exceptionally diverse marine fauna of the lagoon, Rangiroa is a major underwater diving spot. The Blue Lagoon and Tiputa pass are among the popular diving sites.
Led by strong currents, sharks can stay motionless in the Tiputa pass and allow divers to watch them without any difficulty. You can also see large manta rays, dolphins, and sea turtles in this captivating atoll. You must be aware of the fact that most of the beaches in Rangiroa are made up of very chunky coral.
1. Atolls of the Maldives
Located in the middle of the Indian Ocean, the small country of the Maldives is made up of about 1,200 tiny coral islands grouped into 26 atolls. In fact, the word atoll comes from the Dhivehi (a language spoken on the Maldives) word “atholhu”. The Robinson Crusoe life style is everywhere you look in here with the highest point above sea level being around 2 meters (6.5 feet).
Scuba diving and snorkeling are the primary activity in the Maldives. The captivating atolls are all coral reefs hundreds of kilometers away from any major landmass, which means that water clarity is excellent and underwater life is abundant. You can find from manta rays, sharks to even a few wrecks in the Maldives.