11 Most Beautiful Atolls in the World

Ouvéa atoll

Atolls present in the dreams and imagination of almost every person.

The reason is their exceptional beauty and the combination of sun, sea, sand, water, palms and tranquility.

Who has not dreamed at least once to wake up on a deserted island?

If you recognize yourself here, maybe you will be curious to see what are the ten most beautiful atolls in the world.

1. Bora Bora, French Polynesia

Bora Bora Lagoon
Bora Bora Lagoon by Hervé

Somewhere in the Pacific Ocean, far from it all, is located the group of the Society Islands, which is part of French Polynesia.

Here you will find a place that is beautiful like a dream, a real paradise on earth.

This beauty is difficult to describe in words because words can’t give a real idea of how magnificence Bora Bora is.

However, Bora Bora is not still a true atoll, which is why many people call it semi-atoll or almost-atoll.

In fact, Bora-Bora is in a stage of its development, which could be compared with a young girl which is not yet a woman.

Thanks to Bora Bora, today we can imagine what the ring atolls looked like millions of years ago.

If you’re now wondering what makes Bora Bora so captivating, then you’ve probably never seen this place before.

The atoll has no typical ring form. It rather reminds of a star.

Bora Bora lagoon and palm trees
Bora Bora lagoon and palm trees by Michael Stout

Inside the lagoon there is an island that is currently sinking under the water.

However, this process is usually so slow that you probably won’t find any difference even if you visit the island after 10 000 years.

Today its mountain top still stands about 727 meters above the surface of the lagoon. The surrounding coral islands offer the whitest sand you have ever seen.

The water is so clear and azure that seen from the sky, Bora Bora shines like a diamond.

Since it is well protected from the ocean, the water in the lagoon is always calm like a mirror.

The coral ring that has turned into an island very long time ago today plays the role of a barrier to the huge ocean waves.

The ring actually has become the most desirable and upscale tourist destination in the world, a place for which all the rich and famous people dream about.

The small overwater Tahitian-style luxury bungalows meet guests and show them what it is like to spend some time in the paradise.

Wherever you turn, you only see coconut palm trees, azure sea and dark blue tropical sky.

2. Rangiroa, French Polynesia

Rangiroa Atoll reef in French Polynesia
Rangiroa Atoll reef in French Polynesia by Derek Keats

Rangiroa is a part of the Tuamotu island group. This is one of the largest coral atolls not only in French Polynesia but on the planet.

It is a chain of more than 400 coral islands, which are located very close to each other in a row.

They all form together a well-shaped ring of coral islands.

The ring surrounds a vast and deep to 30-35 meters lagoon, which is so large that in many places it is even impossible to see the opposite shore.

As Rangiroa embodies the idea of the paradise on earth, it is not surprising that the atoll is a popular tourist destination.

It offers snow-white coral sand, shady palm groves and crystal clear lagoon.

With its transparent waters, the lagoon attracts divers and photographers, which come here from all corners of the world.

The height of Rangiroa is about 10 meters, and its highest point reaches 12 meters above sea level.

It is assumed that the first settlers arrived here approximately 3000 years ago.

Rangiroa had remained completely isolated from the rest of the world until the early 17th century when the Dutch sailors arrived here.

3. Maupiti, French Polynesia

Maupiti - The Unspoken Paradise
Maupiti – The Unspoken Paradise by SF Brit

Maupiti is often called “The younger sister of Bora-Bora”.

This paradise is located in the tropical waters of the South Pacific, less than 50 km from Bora-Bora.

The reason why this is a semi-atoll (or almost-atoll) is that in the inner lagoon there is still an island that in addition reaches a height of 380 meters above sea level!

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The combination of exceptionally lush vegetation consisting of tropical trees, bushes piled in colors and coconut palms on the one side and azure, crystal clear lagoon and inviting beaches on the other side makes Maupiti one of the most desired corners on the planet for travelers.

Sunbathers and swimmers will find here everything they need.

The atoll has always been irresistible for photographers, including for lovers of underwater photography.

Over the years Maupiti has appeared multiple times as a background of calendars and on the front page of glossy fashion magazines.

The island amazes with its enormous variety of shades of blue.

This is the perfect place for a busy and stressed person to relax from the stress of the hectic everyday life in the noisy, dirty and dangerous large cities.

4. Aitutaki, Cook Islands

Aitutaki lagoon
Aitutaki lagoon by Javier Losa

Aitutaki is located more than 3,000 kilometers northeast of New Zealand and is one of the Cook Islands.

Although in terms of tourism facilities the island offers less variety than other destinations in this part of the world, such as Bora Bora for example, its lagoon is considered by many as the most beautiful in the world.

It is known as one of the best dive sites on the planet, and its popularity is very easy to explain.

The lagoon is very quiet, shallow and full of life, with underwater visibility exceeding 50 meters!

The combination between crystal clear waters and vast variety of corals and species of tropical fish attracts not only lovers of snorkeling but also underwater photographers from around the world.

Aitutaki is famous for its year-round good weather and temperatures ranging between 25 and 29 degrees from January to December.

While there is a rainy season with strong afternoon rainfalls, mornings are usually always sunny and cloudless, making this place the paradise on earth.

5. Los Roques, Venezuela

Los Roques small paradise
Los Roques small paradise by Alessandro Caproni

Los Roques is the largest atoll in the Western Hemisphere and undoubtedly the most beautiful.

It is located off the coast of Venezuela and it is easy to get from Caracas even for a day trip.

Seen from high, its shape is not typical for an atoll and slightly resembles a ribbon.

However, what is more important is not what it looks like from the sky but what it offers to its visitors.

The site was declared a national park in the early 70s.

Today there is no overbuilding and the only place you can stay in is the small village of Gran Roque.

The beauty of this place is delightful.

It offers the finest white coral sand you can imagine, and the visibility under water, similar to other atolls, reaches more than 50 meters!

Out of this world crystal clear blue lagoon is located in the heart of the atoll. It is full of life and if you are into snorkeling, here is the best place for you.

Here you will be able to enjoy a few hundred species of marine animals, which call the shallow and warm waters their home.

Unlike other tropical destinations around the world, there is no rainy season to change your plans, and the weather is constantly sunny and cloudless.

Rains are rarity, and the average daytime temperature is between 27 and 34°C throughout the year.

6. Ouvéa, New Caledonia

Ouvéa atoll
Ouvéa atoll by Thomas Ballandras

Ouvéa is a big and beautiful atoll. It has a specific triangular shape, and is located about 90 kilometers of New Caledonia.

It consists of one large and massive coral island as well as of a number of smaller islands, most of which uninhabited.

The larger island has a relatively high altitude and population of over 3000 people.

Ouvéa is well-known for its gorgeous beach, which not only is covered with excellent snow-white sand but also extends for tens of kilometers.

Ouvéa is covered with lush vegetation and offers great opportunities for relaxation and privacy. The atoll is famous for its wonderful climate.

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Here temperatures during the year ranged between 24°C in winter and 30°C in summer, and the night temperature is consistently above 19°C.

In addition, during the winter season, which here lasts between June and September, the weather is dry and sunny, making winter the perfect time to visit this magical place.

7. Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands

Bikini Atoll
Bikini Atoll

Bikini Atoll is located in the northwestern part of the Marshall Islands.

Although it is known for it exceptional beauty, this place is not a popular tourist destination, and this is not surprising given the circumstances.

Between 1946 and 1958 there were conducted 23 nuclear tests, both under and above water.

Nowadays the levels of radiation, albeit reduced compared to previous periods of time, is still slightly higher than normal, including a little higher in comparison with the neighboring islands.

And yet, according to several studies, this place is considered to be relatively safe if people stay only for a short period of time and if they avoid the consumption of local food.

While many still find the atoll not completely safety place to visit, it actually attracts a number of visitor every year.

First of all, it has simply astonishing beaches, which are covered with white coral sand.

The atoll offers a number of small coral islands, which are covered with forests of coconut palm trees.

Although Bikini does not have many tourist attractions and although many people still refuse to visit the area, it’s a real museum of shipwrecks under the open sky, which acts as a magnet for snorkelers and underwater photographers.

Today the place is under the auspices of UNESCO.

As a result of the multiple nuclear tests, over the years the islands have remained far from the modern civilization, and today the local reefs are actually full of life.

Most divers say the reef of Bikini is one of the most exciting on the entire planet, combining amazing natural beauty with countless remains of old sunken vessels.

However, scientists believe that Bikini is not yet suitable and recommended for permanent residence because radiation level exceeds the normal.

And if you want to get the most recent information, you can visit the International Atomic Energy Agency page, which offers the most detailed, accurate and comprehensive information about the radiation status of the place.

8. Ari Atoll

Ari Atoll
Ari Atoll by Neville Wootton

Ari Atoll is one of the most popular tourist destinations on the planet today.

It is located in the central-western part of the Maldives, which is probably the most famous island country in the world.

At first glance, it has typical for an atoll oval shape, slightly elongated and elliptical  in a north-south direction.

However, if you take a closer look, you will see that it doesn’t look like the other atolls around the world.

While it has a similar shape, Ari is not a typical coral ring that separates the ocean from the inner lagoon.

Instead, the ring is a dotted line of numerous small islands.

The lagoon of Ari itself is also very unusual.

It consists of a large number of small coral islands, which all together resemble a starry night sky.

Ari is considered by many to be the best destination for scuba diving on the planet.

The underwater visibility is more than 50 meters, and the area offers hundreds of species of corals to observe as well as a huge number of species of fish and other sea creatures.

If you are searching for one of the most expensive and luxurious vacation spots on the planet, you will find it here.

The upscale tourist destination offers excellent infrastructure, especially if you consider the fact you are on a tropical island.

At the same time, the deep connection with nature is not interrupted. Guests stay in Tahitian style small houses, which are located above the water of the lagoon.

The ocean itself offers the most amazing azure hues that you can imagine.

The beaches in the area are snow-white and are considered the most irresistible on the planet. More than 20 of the islands have been turned into luxury resorts.

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The islets are usually quite small, covered with very dense and lush vegetation, creating a feeling of fabulous tropical garden.

9. Palau and Kayangel

Palau - Rock Islands
Palau – Rock Islands by LuxTonnerre

Palau, similar to Bora Bora, is a semi-atoll or, as they also call it, almost atoll.

This is the reason why many believe that Palau actually doesn’t fully meet the description of an atoll.

This is why its name is usually omitted when talking about atolls.

Actually, a few people know that the island has almost reached this stage of its evolution.

The island is of volcanic origin and today we could observe the process of its gradually sinking below the ocean surface.

This process is most obvious in the southern parts of the country, where most of the island has already disappeared under the water.

Nowadays, in the middle of a full of life limpid lagoon, you will find one of the world’s most incredible rock formations – the so called “Rock Islands”, which since 2012 are under the auspices of UNESCO.

However, if you visit the area and want to see a completely finished atoll, which meets 100% of the scientific description, then you just have to visit the small ring shaped coral formation of Kayangel.

It is located about 35 km off the north coast of the main island and reaches nearly perfect the description of an atoll.

Most of the atoll is under water, but in the eastern half there are 4 islands arranged in size from north to the south, where the northernmost island is the largest and the southernmost is the smallest.

10. Kaafu, Maldives

Kaafu atoll
Kaafu atoll by Asim Imtiaz

If you want to learn to dive but your confidence is less than average because of the total lack of skills, then you need a safe place for the purpose as well as an appropriate experienced instructor.

It is believed that Kaafu Atoll is one of the best places in the world for this purpose as it covers all possible requirements you may have.

Kaafu has an irregular shape and is located in the central eastern part of the Maldives.

The coral reef that surrounds the lagoon of Kaafu reminds of a dotted line.

Part of it remains under water but sometimes it forms small coral islands.

They are covered with very dense tropical vegetation and have the whitest beaches in the world.

In the lagoon itself are scattered a large number of islands, which are really very small but fascinating.

Many of them are transformed into a world class resorts.

They attract wealthy tourists seeking for some privacy, pure nature and silence as well as couples who are looking for the perfect place to spend their honeymoon.

If you’re into scuba diving or snorkeling, the lagoon itself offers opportunities you will hardly find elsewhere on the planet.

The underwater visibility reaches 50 meters, and under certain conditions it reaches even 80 meters!

11. Manihi, French Polynesia

Manihi Lagoon
Manihi Lagoon by Jason Hollinger

Manihi is a relatively large atoll with a total length of over 27 kilometers. It has a narrow and elongated shape.

It consists of a coral ring as well as of a large number of islands, which are located close to each other in a row.

Because of its large size, it is not a surprise that in places the lagoon reaches over 30 meters.

The atoll is known for its pearly white beaches of coral sand and for the crystal clear waters of the lagoon.

The place is considered one of the top diving destinations in the world.

This is why it attracts a large number of lovers of scuba diving and especially of snorkeling.

As it is expected, it offers incredible underwater visibility!

As Manihi is one of the most remote and isolated spots in the world, it is considered the best place to find solitude and tranquility, far away from all the disadvantages of modern civilization.