Compared to many of its neighboring atolls in the Maldives, Rasdhoo's waters are tranquil and calm, which makes it a popular destination for novice divers. These same non-threatening waters make the atoll a natural harbor for recreational sailing, boating, and cruise ships. Rasdhoo is one of several inhabited atolls of the Maldives, which is a country in the Indian Ocean formed of 26 islands and a handful of coral reefs. About 1,500 people, which is the majority of Rasdhoo's permanent settlement, live in the capital city of Rasdhoo.
It is about a three-hour ferry ride from the Maldivian capital city of Malé. It's also possible to get from Malé to Rasdhoo via seaplane, which only takes about 15 minutes. Like many atolls, Rasdhoo's economy is dependent primarily on tourism. All-inclusive resorts, hotels, and water bungalows are its main tourist attractions.
As with other atolls in the area, Rasdhoo has been settled for centuries. The first inhabitants arrived around 540 BC. Although they did not leave any physical relics behind, historians have found evidence of their written language. The modern native population living in Rasdhoo and around the Maldives bears some similarities to the original inhabitants in terms of customs, songs, and traditions. The dominant religion in the Maldives was initially Buddhism, but the arrival of Arab and Middle Eastern traders inspired a transition to Islam. The Maldives were left largely uncontrolled for several centuries, with the native population co-existing with traders and explorers stopping through on their trading and Spice Route journeys. Rasdhoo, like its neighboring Maldivian islands, fell under British control in the late 1880s. The Republic of Maldives gained independence in the mid-1960s, at which time it became an independent republic. The island's economy has been largely supported by fishing in the past, but tourism has been producing an increasing (and increasingly steady) stream of revenue in recent years.
Glistening pearly sands, gentle breezes, and impossibly blue waters have not surprisingly made Rasdhoo a popular island for tropical vacations. There are three diving centers on Rasdhoo, where guests are invited to dive on their own or take guided tours to look for manta rays, sea turtles, sharks, and assorted species of fish. Part of the island's interior is covered with an expansive lagoon that is host to exotic fish and an on-island coral reef. Rasdhoo's shores are populated with seagulls and other shore birds, which often stop on the atoll during seasonal migrations.