The king has spoken!
In the March 2016 edition of Surfer Magazine Kelly Slater said, “Surfing is all about the experiences we have. The travel aspect of surfing – experiencing the world – is something that can’t be replaced.”
So, as the surfing world’s focus now shifts from the incredible Pacific El Nino season to the Indian Ocean, what better time than now to share with you 10 Things You Need To Know About Surfing In The Maldives!
1 – As many of you would know, the Maldives is comprised of 1,200 islands spread along an 800km long vertical line in the Indian Ocean.
2 – When I first caught a glimpse of the Atolls from the plane above on my first trip to the Maldives back in 1996 , my first thought was “Wow, this is the true surfers paradise.”
3 – If you’re looking for a slightly more mellow version of Indo, that is way more user friendly, and more chilled politically, then the Maldives is an epic travel destination that can be just as perfect.
4 – The Maldives doesn’t generally pack as much punch and power as Indonesia due to its location in the centre of the Indian Ocean, a fair way north of Indonesia.
5 – However, the Maldives still picks up more than enough swell during peak season (April to October) to keep the majority of visitors totally stoked.
I consulted the Managing Director of The Perfect Wave’s Maldives operations Brian James, well known TPW charter guide Bob Fawcett and Kandooma’s chief surf guide Rob Underwood to share their knowledge.
Between them they have enjoyed more than 20 consecutive seasons surfing, guiding and building The Perfect Wave’s operation to the point where we now have six charter boats and several land resorts in operation.
6 – On the critical question of where and how you can best score uncrowded waves in the Maldives, including the best months and best locations they offered this summary.
Each region of the Maldives (southern, middle and north/south Male) has its own unique characteristics, and each offers different experiences to be enjoyed.
The Southern Atolls and its short early (March/April) and late (Oct/Nov) season boasts the beautiful weather of the northwest monsoon season with light winds and clear skies. The fishing is phenomenal and the snorkelling is mind-blowing. The region captures both southwest and southeast swell, so there is a great chance of getting a wave somewhere and the setups are numerous and varied.
The Central Atolls cover a large number of islands, some exposed to southwest swell and others southeast swell. The region boasts some good quality breaks that are suitable to most surfers. Mid season is best. The distance between breaks means you may be doing some miles, but the crowds are low, and the waves great fun. Very scenic islands sprinkled with upmarket resorts and native villages means you can break up the trip with a few drinks at a resort bar in ludicrous luxury or just go visit the locals downtown.
The North/South Male area has some real quality setups that are relatively close together. All require southeast swell. When the surf is on, they are usually all breaking, so there are waves everywhere. It can get a little busy when its small, but the waves are great fun and when its bigger the crowd thins out somewhat. You will get waves here most of the year from April to October.
The secret to getting uncrowded waves in all the regions is to be patient and wait for your opportunity. Most guides will do their best to get you uncrowded waves, but sometimes it is unavoidable. If you arrive somewhere and there is already a boat load out give them an hour or so before you all hit it, they will appreciate it and probably go in satisfied and let you have the break for your session to yourselves.
7 – Best family options.
Kandooma is hard to beat for a land-based family holiday. On a budget, Cokes Surf Camp has good clean facilities and waves right out the front and many more within a short boat ride. In 2016, TPW offers free Chickens transfers for all our in-house guests at Cokes Surf Camp.
We got an exclusive special at Kandooma: 20% off + complimentary bed for child age 11 and under, +50% off return airport transfers + US$100 per adult per stay resort credit (credit is not applicable for July travel dates).
8 – Where best to learn to surf?
Kandooma has a softish, user-friendly reef and sand bottom and is close to the shoreline. Rob Underwood, Jolie, Mel and the team of local surfers are also incredibly friendly and experienced surf instructors.
9 – What board size, volume etc. is best? Two best boards to bring?
The Maldives surf points are long and range from hollow, fast and shallow to fun, forgiving waves. The best surfboard for you to bring is the one you are comfortable on in your day to day groveling at home.
No big guns required as even with some size most spots allow for an easy take off. Majority of the time you will be surfing waves in the 2-4ft range with long playful walls so a short hot-dogger and a more conventional board in the 6ft range.
10 – Any other Maldives-specific tips to make my surf holiday all-time?
Do some training before you come. Having some level of fitness will ensure you have more time in the water.
If you plan to do a fair bit of snorkelling and/or fishing, bring your own gear. You will know it works and fits.
Don’t go too hard on the first few days and drink lots of water. Heat stress and dehydration can leave you feeling a bit off and you want to be enjoying every minute of your trip, not laid up in your room for a day.
Don’t buy any duty free alcohol as it is illegal to bring it to the Maldives and it will be confiscated at the airport.
Bring a good attitude. Being friendly in the lineup helps maintain a good vibe that can make for a great session and sharing of waves. Wait your turn and give away a wave a day!
There’s no pollution at all really. The resorts realize crew fly all that way to see crystal clear water. It’s one of the world’s best diving zones, the visibility is insane!
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