Let’s dive into the many reasons why.
The crowd vs. quality ratio
A good surf trip hinges on a few cornerstone decisions. One of the most important of these is weighing up the crowd vs. quality ratio of a particular spot. This is especially important if the Maldives is your chosen locale.
Today you’d be confident in saying that every surfer worth his salt is aware of the more popular surf spots located in the Malé Atolls, which is precisely the problem! Sure, the waves pump, but they are also the most crowded, especially during peak season. High quality. High crowds.
The more remote Central Atolls offer a much better return on investment if you’re not keen on battling it out with the rest of humanity. There are far fewer resorts and fewer boats there, which equal fewer surfers in the water. The quality and variety of waves on offer is in much the same vein as to the north – high quality left and right reef passes offering translucent tubes and rippable walls. All this equals a higher wave count for you. It’s just basic maths!
It houses the resort of choice for pros looking to get away from it all.
If you’re really looking to spoil yourself you couldn’t do better than going all out and bunking at Niyama Private Islands Maldives. Not only does it offer opulent five-star swank with all the trimmings, it’s also home to one of the best waves in the Maldives – Vodi – a walled up down-the-line left that breaks directly off the island the resort sits on.
It offers both lengthy tube time and as good a high performance canvas as you’ll find anywhere. There’s a reason why Owen Wright, Matt Wilkinson, Gabriel Medina and those glorious Coffey sisters have all utilized Niyama Private Islands Maldives as a haven to regenerate in between events.
Located on the western side of the Maldives, the resort also offers access to numerous other high quality and remote waves that remain off the radar for most surfers. They also offer the super extravagant Surf Seaplane transfer, which allows you to charter a seaplane and be dropped off at a wave of your choosing!
The West coast is in play
Your traditional Malé based Maldives surf trip will be focused more on the eastern string of atolls that make up the country. Not so with the Central Atolls. Here the western side comes into play, opening up a whole lot more choice, both in the waves available, but also in swell direction.
While the eastern atolls only work on Southeast swells, the waves in the west are open to southwest swells. The good news being that these are usually more consistent, bigger and more powerful. They are also more consistent outside the traditional Maldives surfing season.
While you can reasonably expect to score perfect sessions throughout the year, the most favourable wind directions usually occur from October to May and the biggest swell from April to October.
The straight up beauty of the place
As previously stated the Central Atolls are more remote than the hotpots further north. As a result the coastline and islands found there are absolutely pristine and the scenery on offer at some of the lineups is enough to steal the breath from your lungs.
Surfing alone in gin clear water, tropical reef laden with brightly coloured fish rushing beneath your board as you ride in front of an uninhabited island with palms rustling in a gentle tradewind will deliver a surfing high you won’t forget. It’s the same primal connection with nature that drove the tropical surfing pioneers of yesteryear and, praise the lord it’s still available in 2018!
Bring the Family/Partner
As a contrast to the overly romantic musings of being one with nature above, the Maldives is also a great destination to be with people. Specifically you’re family/significant other. It’s probably the only time their eyes will light up when you invite them on a surf trip. You see apart from being one of the premier surfing playgrounds, it’s also one of the most sought after holiday destinations for those whose lives don’t revolve around wetting a rail.
For them, the Maldives is all about a luxurious escape and there are a bunch of options that fit the bill in the Central Atolls, including the aforementioned Niyama Private Islands Resort. And when we say luxury, we’re talking world-class spa, nine separate restaurants, one of which sits below the water and another half a kilometre out to sea, and world famous DJ’s playing private parties kinda luxury. The resort also has not one but two islands for you to choose from – Niyama Play and Niyama Chill. Play being all about high energy and fun experiences, while Chill is all about switching off and settling into blissful abandon.
That’ll distract them nicely while you slip off unnoticed into the lineup.
When to go?
So, we’ve talked it up enough, now when is the best time to go?
The traditional surf season in the Maldives is considered as being from February to November. This is when those lovely storms in the southern Indian Ocean spray swell into the region. You’ll find the best winds puffing during March, April and May, but the biggest swells hit during June, July and August. Pick any time within this timeframe and you’ll probably get waves.
Things become a bit more complicated when you throw in the western atolls. Here, while you can get waves in the above window, the best swell is from April to October and the best winds from April to October.