If there are world-class waves in the world, you would expect them to be in the Maldives of course! Although mysterious, It’s been one of the hottest surfing destinations for quite a few years now. So let’s fly to the Indian Ocean and discover Zoe’s guide to surfing in the Maldives!
Hi Zoe, can you introduce yourself in a few words?
Hi I’m Zoe. I’m a Kiwi who has recently moved back home after living overseas for the last 8 years. I found my passion for surfing around 5 years ago since living in Australia and now I’m what you might call a frother - I can't get enough!
How did the Maldives trip come up and was surfing your main purpose?
Well my husband and I decided we needed to get some serious surf time in before we moved back to NZ to start a building business. So yes it was definitely always going to be a surf trip! Besides, our stuff was going to take a number of weeks to ship so we decided it was the best way to spend a month with few belongings. We researched some different surf spots around the world that we haven't been to yet. Initially we ruled out the Maldives as we thought it would be too expensive. But after researching some more we realised there are cheap options there!
How did you prepare before the trip, did you research on best spots to stay in the Maldives for surfing, did you have some recommendations etc?
So I used the internet mainly. We read up on the surf breaks in the area. My husband being natural and me being goofy we wanted a spot that had access to both lefts and rights. We chatted to a few people along the way who gave us a bit of info, but most of the people we met had stayed in resorts or on the charter boats. After realising there are accommodation options including surf camps on local islands, I dug a little deeper using the internet. I also read a few blogs and followed a couple of Instagram accounts to get a better idea of the local island that we decided on - Thulusdhoo.
How easy or hard is it to get there from Australia plus to bring your own boards?
Yes I would never travel to a surf spot without my own boards! We took 5 boards between us in a double and triple board bag. It was actually relatively easy to get there - we stopped over in Singapore for an hour and then landed straight in to Male - the capital of the Maldives. We arrived late in to Male so stayed a night in the city before getting the boat the next day, but if you can avoid it, I would recommend getting to your island asap. From Male Thulusdhoo is about a 45 min fast ferry ride away ($30 USD).
What did you think of the surf in the Maldives compared to other places you’ve been before?
I highly rate it! Oh my gosh it was so much fun! The great thing about the Maldives is that the reef is more forgiving/less sharp than the likes of other places such as Fiji and the waves are not as fast and hollow like places in Indonesia. So for a surfer of my ability, it was fantastic. Perfect peeling waves, but also a bit of variability which made it challenging enough. It got a bit too big for me on some of the days - double and triple overhead but it was great to watch the guys and girls out there! Also a couple of days we were there the wind went onshore, but even then I thought these waves are better than some of the waves I would surf in Australia! We mainly surfed the Chickens and Cokes surf breaks as they were closest, but there are plenty of others around closeby.
Do you think you need to be a very good surfer for Maldives waves or could any levels go?
From what I experienced, I would say you would want to be able to surf confidently before heading to the Maldives. You don’t have to be an advanced surfer - I’m certainly not!, but you do want to be able to feel confident in the ocean.
What I found was that there would be some rogue sets coming through now and then that would clean up the line up. And because you mainly get dropped by a boat you have to be able to paddle back out through/around the breaking waves to get back to safety - i.e. there’s no turning around and paddling to the beach!
We could also jump off the rock at our local break off the island, but again, you are jumping off near the break zone, so you need to be able to get out the back confidently. You also need to be able to paddle against currents, as they can get reasonably strong with the change in tides in some spots.
But in saying that, I went in the peak season (August) when there is the chance of bigger swell, and from what I hear there is enough variability in the spots and seasons that you could pick your times to suit your ability i.e. go in the shoulder seasons
Do you meet some locals with the same love of surfing?
Yes! I met a great new friend Ni who is one of the only female surfers in the Maldives. She has overcome many challenges all in her journey to become a better surfer and is just an awesome human being. She is fully committed to learning to surf better and an inspiration. We pretty much hung out every days. She is currently planning a trip to NZ so I hope to see her soon!
What boards did you bring and are there any other essentials?
I took two boards there. Both were 5’10 short boards slightly different shapes. Always good to take a spare!
And yes, reef booties are a must in my opinion if you are planning on staying on an island. Also sun protection in the water i.e surf tees/rashies in necessary. And, make sure you bring your own zinc, spare fins and leggies!
What did you think of the destination apart from surfing?
The Maldives are the bom dia! The people are great, the waves unreal, you’re on island time and there’s plenty of fresh Tuna to go around. Great snorkelling too!
What were your best and worst moments?
One of the best moments would have to be when we were sitting in the line up with only a few of us out, and as a set was approaching, we saw a big Manta Ray roll up into the wave about 3m in front of me. I was in so much awe, I almost forgot to duck dive through the wave! Other notable ones were being able to see some of the pros surf - Sally Fitzgibbons, Taj Burrows, Rob Machado etc.
Worst moments would have to be when those aforementioned rogue sets would come in and you just knew you were about to take a beating no matter what. My new mantra when i’m facing into a big set wave is Hakuna Matata! I say this outloud sometimes before Im about to get pummeled! Oh and another worst moment would have to be getting a sea urchin stuck in my foot - ouch.
Your next adventure?
My next adventure is exploring my own backyard here in NZ. I didn’t surf before I left NZ so it’s going to be a whole new experience living back here and exploring the surf breaks with my husband. We have already done a couple of road trips to Gisborne when the surf has been up but I’m also keen to check out Raglan and up North very soon!