Itching for a Surf Trip? Try the Maldives.

Itching for a Surf Trip? Try the Maldives.

Back in the late 1970s, Tony Hussein, an Australian nomad in search of undiscovered waves, was shipwrecked on a reef 30 miles from the Maldivian capital Male.After being stranded for months, Hussein built his own Dhoni, sailing on the atoll until he stumbles upon a perfect A-frame snapping off the tiny island of Tambrudhoo. At this time, Hussein said to himself contentedly: “My way stops here.”

Stories of the Maldives’ untapped surfing potential have permeated every corner since Hussein’s discovery. And, for those looking for a tropical surf trip in the age of COVID-19, the Maldives is one of the only options available. Fiji? Not easy unless you are a citizen. India? Quite a lot of hoops and expensive visa navigation. However, the Maldives is open to tourists from the United States who have tested negative for PCR 72 hours before departure. What’s more, heading into prime surf season (April to October), the crowds are smaller than ever.

To find out more about how to get there, what to expect and where to stay, we spoke to WaterWays travel expert Mike Tan and surfer Sean Murphy, who recently spent a month there, along with Surfline’s forecasting team.

Photo: Dara Ahmed

reach there

Despite the distance for American tourists, the Maldives has the fewest hurdles to overcome. The only requirement is a negative COVID-19 test. For visitors from Australia or certain countries in Europe, things are a bit more complicated, but if you’re from the US, it’s one of the easier tropical surfing destinations on the table right now. Get ready for a long journey on a plane.

“It really is one of the few places that is open,” says Mike Tan, “without jumping so many hoops to get there. One of the only things you need to do to get there is 72 hours before you get there. Get a COVID-19 test. It’s a lot less than getting a special visa and huge money in India.”

“For people who go to the beautiful surf spots in Tavarua or Indo or something like that every year, they’re looking for that experience, and there really isn’t an alternative right now,” Sean Murphy said. “The Maldives really is the only place. In the Maldives, Cinnamon Dhonveli is one of the best options for quality surfing, convenience and consistency.”

read more: Maldives travel and surfing guide

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Photo: Dara Ahmed

surf season

For the full breakdown, here’s Surfline’s Jonathan Warren:

“Consisting of some 1,200 islands that stretch south across the north-central Indian Ocean, there is almost always somewhere in the Maldives that offers quality surf any day of the year. However, there are several big climatic aspects that need to be addressed when planning a trip. Consider swell and wind to maximize your chances of scoring.

“The islands swell throughout the year, but May to September are expected to be the most active months, with more frequent and stronger pulses – the best chance to see some good overhead surf. This is due to winter storms in the southern Indian Ocean Activity is most active at that time of the year. As these storms decrease in number and intensity during the southern hemisphere summer, the chance of major storms also decreases, especially from December to February. However, you still have About a 50% chance of finding something in the “recreation zone” (about chest to head height), but you may need to search further south on the islands. Keep in mind that this isn’t just about mid-latitude winter storms On a more regular basis, the short to medium term SE-SSE swell produced by high pressure near Australia is one of the best producers of surfing in the region.

“Another important factor to consider is the seasonal monsoons. From around May to November (the rainy season), the prevailing winds are westerly winds, usually blowing from a more favorable northwesterly direction – at least for the eastern side of North Male Atoll. This is true for most popular attractions. Then from around mid-December to February (dry season), the prevailing winds change to the opposite easterly direction – most of North Male is overland. A few days between these two seasons During the months – March/April and November – there are often breezes and glassy weather. In fact, overall, the best surf of the year will be in the shoulder season.”

TL;DR: The Maldives has waves all year round, but May to September is your best bet.

read more: Five Weeks of the Best Surf of the Year in the Maldives

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Photo: Dara Ahmed

waves you will surf

“We often refer to the waves in the Maldives as ‘Indonesia Lite’,” Murphy said. “It’s a lot like the waves you get in India, but usually smaller. It’s really clean, crystal clear reefs. The waves are average. Not very thick. You should expect waist-to-chest surf in smaller sizes, to 10-foot faces, with the occasional double-headed bulge.”

There are also some surf to choose from – Sultans’ right-hander, Lohi’s and Pasta Point’s rip-off left-hand spots, and many more are just a short boat ride away.

“Every type of wave has a bit — from tearable to rolling,” Murphy continued. “A lot of waves offer super tearable wall and barrel sections. But these barrels are not bulky, rough barrels. It caters to all kinds of surfers, as long as professional surfers don’t expect pipe barrels. For example, Gabrielle El Medina is down there and he’s tearing it to pieces.”

Watch live: Guided by Maldives Surf Cam

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Photo: Dara Ahmed


Of course, crowds look a little different everywhere during COVID. While your local locations may see side-by-side crowds – everyone working from home = more time to surf – most international destinations, mostly see foreign surfers in the lineup, but almost empty. If you are staying at Cinnamon Dhonveli, you can have your first meal at Pasta Point.

“They’re exclusive and limited, so it’s rarely crowded,” Murphy said of Pasta. “Up to 30. But because you can surf any time of the day and there are so many other places you can go, I don’t think I have more than 8 people surfing in the water all the time I surf pasta .The wave can comfortably accommodate a dozen people while working.”

Kurt Arnold, a surfer at Huntington Beach in October, was almost alone:

“Usually they allow 30 surfers [at Pasta]. There are only nine people on the island. Usually there are 300 people on that island. Basically no crowd. Half of the people in the morning will take the boat to other places. This is my day after day surfing alone. I’m an idiot, so I’m just left alone and my brain is wide open. “

Know Before You Go: Maldives Surf Forecast

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Photo: Dara Ahmed

Safety Notice

Overall, the trip is a bit sketchy right now. In fact, this is not recommended during a pandemic. However, if you’re going out of town, rest assured knowing that the staff at Cinnamon Dhonveli are taking all precautions.

“The staff on the island are great,” Arnold said. “For people who are concerned about its safety, they keep it very clean and sanitized. They’re all wearing masks and gloves, and they sanitize your bag. They really step up.”

Once you are on the island, there is very little contact with the outside world.

“One of the interesting things about the Maldives is that the resort islands don’t have any villages or domestic populations,” Murphy said. “It’s just staff and guests. Staff are being tested very well and they are not allowed to travel to and from Male’ and their village.”

read more: How to Travel Safely During COVID-19

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Aerial view of Cinnamon Dhonveli.Photo: Dara Ahmed


Besides world-class waves, what else can you expect on the island?Suppose the accommodation at Cinnamon Dhonveli is epic good.

“They redesigned the Sunset Bar and it’s a great design,” Arnold said. “It’s a really cool Art Deco style, kind of like the Empire State Building design. They also redone every garden bungalow and ocean bungalow. It’s all top notch – brand new AC, new mattress, very nice The sheets and towels. I would call it five stars.”

On a surf trip, location is key.

“You can see Pasta Point from the hotel,” Murphy said. “Then they go by boat to Sudan in the first place. Generally, they get 30 to 45 minutes of Sudan really uncrowded before other boats start showing up. Sudan might be 1,000 yards away; it’s pretty close. On the other side is a lefty, breaking the same reef. With all these waves so close together, it’s one of the most accessible surfing destinations in the world.”

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