25 Of The Most Amazing Atolls In The World

Posted by , Updated on May 22, 2024

What is an atoll? An atoll is described as a coral reef forming a circular or near-circular shape that encloses a lagoon. Essentially, an atoll comprises a narrow strip of land that surrounds a body of water, while also being enveloped by external water. This specific formation distinguishes an atoll from a regular island. While an island is merely a landmass encircled by water, an atoll includes an inner body of water as part of its structure. It’s important to note that atolls are composed of corals rather than soil. For an atoll to remain stable, the growth rate of corals must be sufficient to replace the eroded parts of the land. Since corals flourish in warm waters, atolls are typically found in tropical and subtropical regions. Consequently, atolls are unique coral landforms featuring remarkably clear lagoons and vibrant reefs teeming with diverse marine life. Exciting, right? Get ready for an extraordinary tropical adventure. From the magnificent Aitutaki Atoll in the Cook Islands to the stunning atolls of the Maldives, we’re here to introduce you to 25 Of The Most Amazing Atolls In The World.

If you’re still in a traveling mood, why not check out these 25 unique travel destinations most travelers have no clue exist.


Takapoto, French Polynesia

Takapoto, French PolynesiaSource and image: en.wikipedia.org

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

Aitutaki, Cook IslandsSource: en.wikipedia.org, image: azureazure.com

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

Ulithi, Caroline IslandsSource and image: en.wikipedia.org

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.


Tubbataha, Philippines

Tubbataha, PhilippinesSource: en.wikipedia.org, image: flickr.com

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, Kiribati

Tarawa, KiribatiSource: en.wikipedia.org, image: commons.wikimedia.org

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).


Tikehau, French Polynesia

Tikehau, French PolynesiaSource: en.wikipedia.org, image: commons.wikimedia.org

Located 340 km (210 mi) northeast of Tahiti in the Tuamotu Islands, Tikehau is an oval-shaped atoll and a touristic destination popular for its pink sand beaches fringed with coconut palms and stunning marine fauna and flora.


Maafushi, Maldives

Maafushi, Maldives Source: en.wikipedia.org, image: commons.wikimedia.org

Part of the Kaafu Atoll, Maafushi is one of the inhabited islands of the Maldives. The atoll was heavily damaged by a tsunami in 2004 but it quickly recovered. These days, Maafushi boasts a thriving local economy based on fishing and tourism.


St. Francois Atoll, Seychelles

St. Francois Atoll, SeychellesSource: en.wikipedia.org, image: commons.wikimedia.org

Consisting of two islands St. François and Bijoutier Island, St. Francois Atoll is an uninhabited atoll in western Indian Ocean. The atoll is home to numerous bird species including black-naped tern, whimbrel, ruddy turnstone, grey plover etc.


Rangiroa, French Polynesia

Rangiroa, French PolynesiaSource: en.wikipedia.org, image: commons.wikimedia.org

One of the largest atolls in the world, Rangiroa consists of about 415 tiny islets and sandbars comprising a total land area of about 170 sq km (65 sq mi). In the center of the atoll, there is a large lagoon where black pearl oysters are bred.


Palmyra Atoll, Equatorial Northern Pacific

Palmyra Atoll, Equatorial Northern PacificSource: en.wikipedia.org, image: flickr.com

Located between Hawaii and American Samoa, Palmyra Atoll is an unoccupied atoll consisting of an extensive reef, lagoons and 50 islets. Officially administrated by the US, the atoll is covered with coconut trees, Scaevola plants and Pisonia trees.


Nukuoro, Federated States of Micronesia

Nukuoro, Federated States of MicronesiaSource: en.wikipedia.org, image: commons.wikimedia.org

Surrounding a lagoon of 6 km (3.7 mi) in diameter, Nukuoro is a remote atoll inhabited by nearly 400 people. The island has no tourism except for the occasional visit by passing sailing yachts.


Ontog Java Atoll, Solomon Islands

Ontog Java Atoll, Solomon IslandsSource: en.wikipedia.org, image: www.snipview.com

Sometimes also referred to as Lord Howe Atoll, Ontog Java Atoll is a large, boot-shaped atoll made up by over 120 low-lying islets. There are two main villages on the atoll – Luaniua and Pelau – where most of the atoll´s population lives.


Nukumanu, Papua New Guinea

Nukumanu, Papua New GuineaSource: en.wikipedia.org, image: wikimapia.org

Formerly known as the Tasman Islands, Nukumanu is a medium-sized atoll of Papua New Guinea, located in the Southwestern Pacific Ocean, 4 degrees south of the equator. The atoll consists of 20 sandy islets surrounding a large lagoon.


Lihou Reef, Coral Sea Islands Territory

Lihou Reef, Coral Sea Islands TerritorySource: en.wikipedia.org, image: panoramio.com

Located in the Coral Sea, northeast of Queensland, Australia, Lihou Reef is the world´s second largest atoll by total area. Surrounding a lagoon extending over an area of 2,500 sq km (965 sq mi), the atoll is an important nesting area for many bird species.


Cayo Bolivar, Colombia

Cayo Bolivar, ColombiaSource: en.wikipedia.org, image: commons.wikimedia.org

Situated 25 km (16 mi) from San Andrés, a Colombian coral island in the Caribbean Sea, Cay Bolivar is an uninhabited atoll consisting of two islands – East Cay and West Cay. Its abundant marine life and beautiful beaches makes it a popular site for tourist excursions.


Aldabra, Seychelles

Aldabra, SeychellesSource and image: en.wikipedia.org

Uninhabited and extremely isolated, Aldabra is a large atoll virtually untouched by humans. Known as one of “crown jewels” of the Indian Ocean, it has a distinctive island fauna including the largest population of giant tortoises in the world.


Ari Atoll, Maldives

Ari Atoll, MaldivesSource: en.wikipedia.org, image: commons.wikimedia.org

Ari Atoll is a natural atoll found in the Maldives. It is one of the biggest atolls and is located in the west of the archipelago. There are more than 20 islands in the atoll designated for tourist resorts, each of them self-contained with accommodation and recreational facilities.


Bangaram Atoll, India

Bangaram Atoll, IndiaSource and image: en.wikipedia.org

Located in the Union Territory of Lakshadweep, India, Bangaram Atoll is a popular tourist destination offering numerous adventure activities, including scuba diving, snorkeling and deep sea fishing. It has white sand beaches, a calm lagoon and stunning coral reefs.


Chagos Islands, British Indian Ocean Territory

Chagos Islands, British Indian Ocean Territory Source and image: en.wikipedia.org

Chagos Islands is a group of seven atolls comprising more than 60 individual tropical islands in the Indian Ocean. Notable for a remarkable biodiversity, the reefs host at least 371 species of coral, 784 species of fish and 2 species of turtles.


Pearl and Hermes Atoll, Hawaii

Pearl and Hermes Atoll, HawaiiSource: en.wikipedia.org, image: commons.wikimedia.org

Part of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, the Pearl and Hermes Atoll is a small Hawaiian atoll named after two English whaleships that wrecked there in 1822. Once a pearl trade center, the atoll now serves as a bird sanctuary.


Osprey Reef, Coral Sea Islands Territory

Osprey Reef, Coral Sea Islands TerritorySource and image: en.wikipedia.org

Part of the Northwestern Group of the Coral Sea Islands, Osprey Reef is an oval submerged atoll in the Coral Sea. Rising from a depth of 2 km (1.2 mi), its reef walls are home to diverse marine life including a rare dwarf form of Nautilus Pompilius.


Diego Garcia, British Indian Ocean Territory

Diego Garcia, British Indian Ocean TerritorySource and image: en.wikipedia.org

Located in central Indian Ocean, just 7 degrees south of the equator, Diego Garcia Atoll was settled by the French in the 1790s and was transferred to British rule later. It features the largest continuous dryland rim of all atolls in the world.


Kwajalein Atoll, Marshall Islands

Kwajalein Atoll, Marshall Islands Source: en.wikipedia.org, image: mcnerney.us

Part of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Kwajalein is one of the world’s largest atolls as measured by area of enclosed water. Comprising 97 islands and islets, it has a land area of 16 km² (6.3 mi²) and surrounds a giant lagoon, with an area of 2174 km² (839 mi²).


Kure Atoll, Hawaii

Kure Atoll, HawaiiSource: en.wikipedia.org, image: commons.wikimedia.org

Politically belonging to Hawaii, Kure Atoll is the world´s northernmost atoll (it lies at 28°25′N). Sometimes also referred to as the Ocean Island, the atoll is habitat for hundreds of thousands of seabirds and numerous marine animals including the Hawaiian monk seal.


Ducie Island, Pitcairn Islands

Ducie Island, Pitcairn IslandsSource: en.wikipedia.org, image: commons.wikimedia.org

Located in the south Pacific Ocean, Ducie Island is a little uninhabited atoll in the Pitcairn Islands. Despite its sparse vegetation, the atoll is home to a number of bird species. More than 90% of the world population of Murphy’s petrel nests on Ducie.

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