The Best of Nature & Culture

The Uniquely Charming Addu City, Maldives


Nestled on the southern end of the Maldives, Addu City beckons visitors to a paradise of diverse natural habitats and a thriving community. This city of islands boasts large land masses, distinctive geography, merged with rich history and culture to create a one-of-a-kind destination. A place where nature and human development coexist, Addu City is a forward-thinking community that takes pride in its authenticity and uniqueness.

Addu link road on 24 June 1979 | Photo from Naajih Didi

Located right on the equator, Addu City enjoys warm, sunny weather year-round, similar to the rest of the Maldives, with average temperatures hovering around 86°F (30°C) with high humidity. Visitors should pack lightweight, breathable clothing to stay comfortable in the tropical climate.


The history of Addu City’s islands date back to the 13th century, with evidence suggesting that people had lived in the area for well over 2,000 years. It is believed that the first settlers were from Sri Lanka and India, and the Maldives was originally a Buddhist nation before converting to Islam 800 years ago. The island of Meedhoo in Addu was among the first in the Maldives to adopt Islam. Adduans (as they like to be referred to) have traditionally been self-sufficient, skilled in activities such as fishing, farming, and weaving. They are renowned for their strong trade and navigation abilities. Addu-built vessels regularly travelled to other countries for trade, making their way through international waters without much difficulty.

On 8 February 1943, the cruiser HMS Gambia’s Walrus seaplane became the first aircraft to ever land on Gan | Photo from Naajih Didi
H.M. Queen Elizabeth II on her visit to Gan 15 March 1972 | Photo by Naajih Didi

Addu City was once a major centre of trade and commerce in the Maldives and home to the country’s first international airport, the Royal Air Force (RAF) Gan. During World War II, RAF Gan served as a military base for the British. Some time following the end of the war, the airport was transformed into the Gan International Airport, improving connectivity for both locals and tourists visiting the region.


In addition to the RAF Gan, Addu City is home to several cultural and historical sites, including the Hithadhoo Mosque, a stunning example of Maldivian Islamic architecture. The city also boasts a number of parks and gardens, including the Addu Nature Park and the Mathikilhi Eco Garden by Mathikilhi Society, the first wetlands garden in the Maldives housing a variety of local plants and flowers.

Photos by Mohamed Saamy

Addu Atoll is a unique destination in the Maldives due to its four channels and surrounding reefs, which provide protection from high waves and allows for diving in most weather conditions. The atoll is known for its coral reefs and a Manta Cleaning Station, one of the few places in the Maldives where reef manta rays can be seen year-round. Addu offers the chance to see a wide range of marine life, including Manta Rays, Gray Reef Sharks, and Eagle Rays, at its approximately 20 dive sites ranging in depth from 5 to 30 metres. Diving is best during full or new moons, when stronger currents bring in more big fish.

Photos by Aquaventure Maldives
Photos by Aquaventure Maldives

Overall, Addu City is a charming and unique destination that offers a rich cultural experience for tourists. From stunning beaches and crystal-clear waters to vibrant local culture and historical sites, there is something for everyone in this beautiful and unique city in the Maldives.

Stories from the South

Ibrahim Firaq’s family home is the key to some of the most enticing history in the Maldives. His home of artifacts has stories preserved from generations. From the old remnants of the royal air force base, the historic tools and crafts used by the blacksmiths of Maldives and the oldest models of the Maldivian sailboat, dhoani. A collection of postcards, stamps and kitchen tools and many more dating back to the time of our forefathers.

Come visit Firaq’s Koshidhorage, to uncover the secrets of Maldivian history.

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