In the southernmost point of the Maldivian archipelago lies Addu City, a magically distinctive place imbued with rich history and magnificent panoramas. The historical significance, and captivating sights and sounds of Addu is not the only reason you need to put this city on your bucket list of places to visit. Addu boasts unique culture, traditions, language, and food that you would definitely fall in love with. It is also a place which offers you the best of both worlds, providing a perfect combination of luxury and local life. If you are seeking to break away from the norm of staying in an isolated resort, and thinking of spending the days exploring the wonders of the Maldives, both on land and in the sea, this is the place to be.
If you need more convincing, let us give you some inspiration to visit the Southern heart of the Maldives, Addu City, for your next vacation.
1. Historical significance
Addu city is divided into the six districts and is the oldest populated Atoll in the Maldives, with the Island of Meedhoo having traces of settlements as far back as 2000 BCE. During World War II, in 1942, the British Royal Navy had its Royal Air Force (RAF) base in Addu City’s Gan Island. The airfield used by the RAF was later turned into Gan International Airport, and the Army Hospital is now used as a dive centre. The area where the RAF had their mess and accommodation blocks has been converted into Equator Village, a hotel frequented by guests from around the world. The city itself boasts many World War II era sites, such as an old cinema, the cannon guns used by the British placed in certain areas for public viewing.
Gan International Airport was the former Royal Air Force station of the British Army during the 1950s when they were stationed in Addu City. Since then, this airport has been upgraded and developed to cater for locals and tourists. Our national carrier, Maldivian, operates daily flights to Addu City while private airline, Manta Air, also has scheduled flights on a weekly basis. International flights from select destinations also fly directly to Addu City.
3. Right on the equator
That’s right, Addu City is located right on the equator. So, congratulations are in order for each tourist who visits Addu. If you stay in the local hotel, the Equator Village, you even get a certificate congratulating you for crossing the equator.
4. Choose your style of stay options
Addu city with all its historical and natural beauty to explore also offers you varying options of stays for different segments. There is one city hotel, 16 guesthouses, and 3 resorts to choose from. All these accommodation options have its distinctive unique characteristics and caters to all your needs. Guesthouses in Addu City offer bed and breakfast, full-board and half-board packages, paired with either ready-made or customised excursion packages catering to the type of vacation you want to have.
5. Addu nature park
Addu city boasts some of the most beautiful landscapes you could find in the Maldives. Its lush green vegetation, large swathes of mangrove systems and diverse ecosystem are sights to behold. One such area is the Addu Nature Park, which encompasses the Eydhigali Kilhi wetlands and Koattey, a protected area on Hithadhoo island. In the local language, Dhivehi, Koattey literally translates to “fortress,” which is a fitting name for this area as it has a rich ecosystem, brimming with life. You can rent a buggy and ride around the piers and paved roads of the nature park, canoe in the “Bedhi'' bay area famous for its beautiful red mangroves, or simply wander on foot on walkways in the nature park while taking in the wonders of this beautiful place.
6. Bird watching
Addu is a natural sanctuary for bird lovers to watch these creatures be one with nature. The city is located in a migratory route for many birds while it is also home to some. You can spot different types and species of birds in Addu while staying or travelling between the districts. For serious bird watchers, there are seasons during which specifically unique rare birds are seen in Addu, especially in the Koattey area which is home to over 28 bird species and various kinds of critters. An evening in this area can help you connect with nature on a whole other level. The White tern (Gygis alba) locally known as Dhondheeni, is a small seabird unique to Addu Atoll. You can spot these beautiful birds in abundance in Addu City.
7. Shark points and diving galore
If you are a diving or snorkelling enthusiast, Addu is the place to be. The scuba diving and snorkelling experience in Addu is like no other as it is home to some of the most diverse spots. From coral reefs, manta rays, and sharks to tiny seahorses, there is so much to witness in dive spots in Addu. The biggest shipwreck in Maldives, the British Loyalty Wreck, is also located near Addu City. It takes 25 minutes to reach this site, but it’s worth the visit for sure. This area is teeming with hard corals of unimaginable colours, giant mantas, sharks, and numerous other pelagic species.
8. Addu City tours
The six districts of Addu are well connected and the options to explore these areas are . You can choose to go on a city tour bus ride, rent a car, bike or bicycle. A leisurely ride from one district to another is always easy. Say, you are vacationing in a resort near Addu, you can get transfers to the City easily by speedboat, move around different districts on a rented motorbike, try the cafes/restaurants, look at the scenery and take pictures to your heart's content. It's an affordable and fun way to discover a city with people whose kindness and hospitality is renowned worldwide.
9. Live with a local family
Guesthouses in Addu allow the options to really live like a local, where you spend about three hours with a local family. Visitors can see how they go about doing their daily chores, and enjoy a traditional snack or meal with the family. And believe us, you would end up being pampered while living like an Adduan.
10. Unique cuisine
Addu has a wide selection of authentic dishes all made using fresh ingredients. They have an extensive menu from coconut based curry, to sweet and savoury delicacies. One specific Addu speciality is Addu Havaadhu (curry mix) which is unique to the island and famous across the Maldives. It's an easy to use, extremely delicious spice mix used to make tuna or chicken curry and best enjoyed with soft thin pita bread or rice. Another must try is the Addu bendi, a sweet snack made using young coconut flesh. There are many more dishes and snacks you can try in Addu which are worth a taste, at least once. One food experience you have to try in Addu is enjoying a king coconut at a Gaadiya (local mobile food and drink stall). The Gaadiyas also offer many sweet and savoury snacks you can try from.
So there you have it, 10 exciting reasons why you should visit Addu City. With so many different and exciting things to do, it seems like a shame to spend your Maldives holiday without taking some time to see and experience the southern heart of the country.