The Perfect Wave - Surf Travel - Central Southern Atolls
The Perfect Wave
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The Maldives are a group of over 1200 islands formed from coral & located south west of India in the Indian Ocean. It is a tropical island paradise with pristine clear waters and world renowned for its beautiful resorts with overwater bungalows. But the Maldives has something for every budget with local island surf camps and if you’re not travelling with a non-surfing partner then the best way to get the most out of a surfing trip in the Maldives is to get yourself on a surf boat charter.
This is life stripped down to simplicity – bright blue skies, year-round sunshine and fantastic diving and snorkeling in lagoons the temperature of bath water. The Maldives is the smallest Asian country in terms of both population and area; it is the smallest predominantly Muslim nation in the world. With an average ground level of 1.5 metres above sea level, it is the lowest country on the planet. It is also the country with the lowest high point in the world, at 2.3 metres.
The tides, currents and winds place a very important role in defining the surfing conditions in the Maldives. All the breaks occur near the tight channels of the atolls. The currents through these channels can become very strong. The surf throughout the Maldives generally ranges in size from 4-8 foot, however bigger days have been experienced. A great variety of reef breaks exist ranging in intensity from quite mellow and enjoyable shreddable walls to gnarlier, hollow, sucking dry pits.
During the last few years, surfing in the Maldives has attracted many surfers from all over the world, Australians included. The same swells hitting Indonesia deliver the goods to the Maldives except that the latitude is higher and the SE exposure is less convenient.
There are three main surfing areas;
- The North and South Male Atoll, during the South-West Monsoon season, from April to October. From May to August waves are strongest.
- Central Atolls standard waves are long clean rights with size varying between 3 and 6ft. During austral winter (April-October), it's never flat
- Southern Atolls in the South from February to April and from September to November and there are always waves in the area but the winds become very strong at other times.
There are atolls, about 340kms south of Male, with at least a dozen high level reef breaks. Only just recently increasing in popularity, these atolls are less travelled due to their distance from Male as an extra seaplane flight is required to get there, which is great news for those looking to get away from the crowds. Due to wind conditions these atolls are best surfed from February to April and from September to November.
Around 140kms south of Male is the Central Atolls. This area was explored by seaplane on an Oxbow expedition in 2004, and from there the first Central Atolls surf charters began. To this day few boats canvas this area, so it’s perfect for those wanting to experience uncrowded surf.
The Meemu, Thaa and Laamu Atolls offer spots exposed to all wind directions and for all levels.
All spots in the Meemu Atoll are on a coastline facing to the east. There is always a left or a right hander well protected from the predominant south westerly wind directions, but south easterly or even easterly winds may affect all spots negatively. All spots are close to each other so you can change spots within a few minutes!
The Thaa Atoll picks up south east swell and may be even bigger than spots on east facing coastlines of other atolls. Due to its secluded location it is almost guaranteed that you will not even spot another surf charter during your stay. The spots are well protected from North to Northwest winds. Conditions may be fickle with other wind directions. This area will be chosen only in very stable weather conditions.
Spots in the Laamu Atoll are spread from the south facing coastline along the east facing up to the north east corner where waves wrap around. As a result you will find spots protected from all wind directions except a rare straight easterly breeze.
- Veyvah - Perfect left hander with long wall. Easy take off with several options with long rides. Not too heavy - great fun.
- Mulha - Right hander that can hold bigger swells, easy to ride even when it is big. Good for intermediates and even beginners.
- Mulha - The left her is a pretty shallow, fast wave. Works only in certain types of conditions.
- Muli Inside/F1 - A very fast right, with long walls, hollow, barreling, can be shallow, but still with a safe ending. Very well protected from southerly winds, needs bigger swells to work.
- Muli Outside/Mushrooms - Picks up more swell, good in SW winds, right hander with long walls, can max out easily, easy exit on the corner.
- Malik’s - When the wind is from the southeast and the swell is large from the southwest you should head to the island of Hirilandhoo. The left hand reef pass there can produce some great barrels on long and speedy walls.
- Adonis - This right hander needs bigger swells as it is more protected. Can get fast and hollow, shallow sections. If it is on the rides can be pretty long.
- Outside and Inside Mikados - Powerful waves with fast, hollow walls. Can produce some awesome barrels. Catches more swell than other spots in this area but is less protected to winds. When it is on, it can give you the surf of your lifetime.
- Finnimas - Speedy, shallow left that can produce some firing waves. When it is on it can provide some greenroom time.
- Finnimas – On the other side of the island there is a right hander that sometimes breaks.
- Timarafuri - Pretty straight reef. Tends to close out. Can be fun in a sectiony swell with a beach break style.
- Langon Bank - This right needs big easterly swells but is very well protected from southerly winds. This spot is rarely surfed due to a lack of anchorage.
- Tsunamis - When the swell is big this right hand wave is just perfect. It has three parts to it. The outside, corner and the inside. All three parts are connecting when the swell is right and make the wave tons of fun. Usually you take off at the outside. The reef is pretty straight here and you can pull into the barrel just after take off. When you are fast enough you get to the corner where waves are a bit mellower and give you a little break to do performance turns. Stay on from there to the inside and you will get another long and heavy barrel section. Unfortunately this wave is always smaller than Ying Yang and has its flat spells. Also currents can get very heavy to make this impossible to surf.
- Opposite Tsunamis - This left picks up probably the most swell of all east facing spots in the Laamu atoll. As the reef is quite straight it tends to close out though. When Tsunamis is too small this left can be fun. It is well protected from westerly to northerly winds.
- Refugee’s Left - Heavy left that tends to close out picks up a lot of swell.
- Refugee’s Right - Fast and shallow take off, barreling, spitting, perfect wave. Only for those who can handle the speed! Quite dangerous wave, Tsunamis usually works better.
- Ying Yang - one of the most consistent spots in the area and loves a solid southeast swell. Yin Yang has a long inside section and can produces some incredibly hollow barrels. Outside is a mellow wall with safe rides in deep water.
Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll
It is said that the Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll (also named Huvadhoo Atoll) offers the best conditions of the Maldives. It works best in February to April and September to November. It picks up more swell than any other Atoll in the Maldives and from every direction. The Gaafu Dhaalu offers the greatest quantity and variety of spots. To almost every island on the outside of the atoll you will find one or two breaks. There is everything from barreling and hollow walls to soft and never ending playful waves.
- Kaededhdhoo or Airports - Fun right hander when the swell is large. As it is on the west side of the atoll it doesn’t receive as much swell as the other breaks. Lucky punters will score good at Airports with a strong S-SW swell and NE wind.
- Beacons or Barracuda Point - This break is 2 hrs away from the airport, at the first southern reef pass. Touted as the Maldives’ gutsiest wave, Beacons powerful right tubes onto a shallow unforgiving reef. SW swells will break down the reef, but a SE swell will create peaks slamming straight onto close-out sections of coral. Beacons is flanked by an unnamed left across the channel, which have its days in a big swell and tend to go unridden.
- Dhigulaabadhoo/ Castaways - Across the channel from Beacons, this left is called Dhiraagu after the phone company in the Maldives as the island is shaped like a phone. A sort of fat ride on the takeoff and if the swell direction is right can link up with another section on the inside where it produces a bit more speed and power, needs same wind as Beacons and can be surfed on all tides, plenty of marine life around here common to see whale sharks.
- Blue Bowls or Voodoos - Blue Bowls is the most flexible right, tucked inside the pass and protected from SW-W Winds. More of a point style wave, it has good a length of ride and nice bowly sections for performance moves. All swells, all tides and all sizes.
- Gani Point or Five Islands - Five Islands is another righthander that breaks hard and hollow on the shallow reef inside. The outside section encourages deep takeoffs into racy walls and handles the biggest swells at all tides.
- Booga Reef or Two Ways - Left and righthander - with the right usually coming up better but it needs a big swell to hit its protected position, making it at favourite with intermediates. Fun, peeling, long walls with a bit of depth to the water.
- Love Charms - are actually several reliable lefts, which can handle E winds and any size of swell. Low tide is the best when it is small, soft and broken into two distinct sections. Bigger swell morphs into a long, hollow wall, with protected pockets.
- Rockets or Tiger Stripes - Named after the narrow gouges in the reef that give a striped effect, Tigers is a real growling left in a strong swell. Tricky take offs into a long speedy wall before committing to an inside tube section that wraps and peters out in the channel. Unimpressive when small, it always seems to be bigger than everywhere else. All tides, all variations of S Swells and any N Wind.
- KH - KH is almost east coast and the two distinct take off spots link together in bigger swell and tide conditions.
- Koodhoo and Viligili Right - East facing lefts, very well protected from dominant westerly winds.
The Addu Atoll is basically not described at all yet. Nevertheless some adventurous surfers have discovered the area and found several spots on the south but also at the west and east facing parts of the atoll. Especially the left hander on the island of Vilingili and the right hander just south of Gan are known to offer good days. The Addu Atoll doesn’t have the perfectly shaped soft breaking waves. It is technically more challenging as it requires more flexibility to make the sections or to get enough speed out of the less powerful faces. The swell exposure is the best of the whole Maldives.
- Airport Lights - Very fast and powerful righthander that tends to close out unless you are really fast. If you make the sections you will be rewarded with nice barrels, if you are not, you will definitely end up on the shallow reef. The spot is well protected from west to south west winds especially if the swell is large and once you can surf the more northern parts of the reef corner. Outsides can be really throwing and intimidating.
- Vilingili/Madihera - This spot picks up a lot of swell but tends to be fickle. In the right wind directions it offers a fun lefthander with different sections and take off points. The waves hit from deep water and provide some heavy barrels at certain spots of the reef. The bottom of the reef is a bit uneven which makes the wave funny at times and changes from heavy to soft within a few meters. For those of you that can adapt quickly the Vilingili left can be tons of fun and high quality. Once the winds swing around more to the south east the end section of this wave can be firing.
- Vilingili - This right needs swell from westerly directions to stay open. Clean and small swells work the best at this spot.
- Mulikede/Kanda Muli - Beach break type reef as it is too straight for a point break. Can be fun with small swells. Then there are tons of peaks favouring lefts.
- Hithado/Kottey - Left Hander beach break type reef. Works in easterly and southerly wind directions. The spot is accessible by land. Take a cab from equator village or hire a motorcycle. The spot is in front of a dump and can have its heavy days.
- Gaukendi Bridge - Works best when all other spots are too small. Then it may offer some short but fun left hand rides on the south side of the bay.
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