What is an atoll? An atoll is defined as a ring-shaped coral reef that encircles a lagoon partially or completely. In other words: An atoll is a thin piece of land that surrounds water on the inside while being surrounded by water on the outside. This is also what makes atoll distinguishable from an ordinary island. While an island is just a piece of land surrounded by water, atoll contains another body of water inside. Another important thing to know about atolls is that they are actually not made from soil but corals. The corals have to grow fast enough to replace the parts of the atoll that have already eroded away to keep the landmass stable. As corals only thrive in warm waters, atolls can only be found in the tropics and subtropics. Consequently, atolls are unique coral land masses made up by crystal clear lagoons and spectacular colorful reefs brimming with amazing marine life. Doesn’t that sound exciting! Get ready to go on a spectacular journey to the tropics. From marvelous Aitutaki Atoll in the Cook Islands to unearthly beautiful atolls in the Maldives, let us show you 25 Of The Most Amazing Atolls In The World.
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Takapoto, French Polynesia
Measuring 20 km by 7 km (12 mi by 4 mi), Takapoto is an atoll found in the Tuamoto atoll group in French Polynesia. Discovered by a Dutch mariner Jacob Le Maire in 1616, the atoll is now home to about 380 people.
Aitutaki, Cook Islands
Populated by approximately 2,000 people, Aitutaki is the second most visited island of the Cook Islands. Spared from mass tourism, the atoll is famous for its turquoise central lagoon and picturesque palm-fringed beaches.
Ulithi, Caroline Islands
A part of the Federated States of Micronesia, Ulithi is an atoll consisting of 40 islets surrounding one of the largest lagoons in the world. The atoll was a major staging area for the U.S. Navy in the WWII. Several sunken warships still rest at the bottom of the lagoon.
Located in the middle of Sulu Sea, Tubbataha is a marine and bird sanctuary consisting of two large atolls – North Atoll and South Atoll. The protected area boasts remarkable biodiversity containing 75% of described coral species and 40% of world’s reef fish.
Tarawa is an atoll and the capital of the Republic of Kiribati in the central Pacific Ocean. Home to almost 60,000 people, the atoll has a wide reef abundant in fish and a large lagoon spanning over 500 sq km (200 sq mi).