Here’s some great guidelines about surfing in the Maldives straight from the horse’s mouth so to speak.
Bob Fawcett is an experienced surf guide and photographer on a number of Maldives Charter boats that The Perfect Wave operate.
Bob spent the entire 2015 season guiding, surfing and keeping a photographic journal of the surf conditions in the magic atolls.
Ben Horvath interviewed Bob recently with a view to helping you make some decisions about your 2016 Maldives charter.
TPW – Where and how best to score uncrowded waves – e.g. best months, best locales?
BF – Each area in the Maldives (southern, central, and north/south Male) has its own unique characteristics, and each offers different experiences to be enjoyed. Sure its mostly about the waves and their frequency and quality and the opportunity to get them on and to yourself. However unless you have the keys to Kelly Slater’s new wave pool, you know with surfing it’s not going to be empty and pumping all day everyday so its good to enjoy a few other experiences each region has to offer.
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 south-west swell and others south-east swell and boasts some good quality breaks that are suitable to most surfers. Mid season is best in my opinion. The distance between breaks means you may be doing some miles, but the crowds are low and the waves are 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 and all relatively close together. All require a southeast swell. When the surf is on they are usually all breaking and 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 if it is busy 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 boatload 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.
TPW – Where’s best to go with the family?
BF – It would be hard to beat Kandooma for a land-based family holiday. Alternatively, Club Med Kani has a friendly wave out front, nice facilities and a family-friendly vibe.
If you are thinking of a charter boat, it would be hard to go past Carpe Diem and Carpe Vita with superb food and service and enough room to not feel confined.
TPW – Where best to learn to surf?
BF – Kandooma has a soft-ish, 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.
TPW – What board size, volume etc is best? Two best boards to bring?
BF – 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.
Any other Maldives specific tips to make my surf holiday all time?
BF – Do some training before you come. Having some level of fitness will ensure you have more time in the water. If you are coming from a cold climate where you usually surf in a wetsuit, suddenly being in the water for 4-6hrs a day in board shorts will rub your chest and ribs raw. I usually set up a board on some stands in the shed/lounge and practice paddling with a 1-2kg weight in each hand as part of my training. This will toughen up the areas that rub when you paddle and ensure you wont be sitting watching others surf because your ribs are sore or you have rubbed skin off that area.
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 a wave away a day!
All photos in this blog are courtesy of Bob Fawcett