By: Mikael and Thrillism
10 minute read
Last updated June 5th, 2020
There are plenty of places around the world to book a surf vacation, but if you’ve graduated past your backpacking years and you’re looking for luxury, there’s no place that compares to the Maldives. This small island nation located in the Arabian Sea is the perfect place for engaging in every water sport known to man, including surfing.
A lot of travelers come here strictly for SCUBA diving, which is really no surprise when you consider the insanely good visibility of the water and the diversity of marine life. But planning a Maldives surf trip is just as rewarding, especially when you plan your trip at the right time and visit the right places.
For help on when to visit, where to go, and all other details to make your Maldives surfing trip a success, follow this guide.
Getting to the picture-perfect island chain isn’t the easiest thing in the world, especially if you’re coming from the Americas. But the long journey is definitely worth it, and you’ll probably feel the same as your flight touches down at the Velana International Airport (also called Malé International Airport).
This is the main airport and it’s where almost all tourists fly into. Try to plan ahead and organize your transportation from the airport with your resort. Depending on where you’re going from there, you’ll either take a seaplane transfer or a speedboat. Don’t expect to just waltz up and take a public boat or taxi – it’s a much better idea to plan ahead is crucial.
Because there’s so much tourism here, getting around the Maldives is actually pretty easy. Once you arrive at MLE, your onward travel won’t include a shuttle bus or taxi, but instead, you’ll hop on a seaplane, ferry, or speedboat.
Once you arrive at your island of choice, chances are you’ll be walking around most of the time. Most of the resort islands are completely accessible on foot, so get used to taking the scenic route and hoofin’ it.
The Maldives is made up of nearly 1200 islands, most of which are completely uninhabited. Even though 1200 islands sounds like a lot, the country spans a very small area of the Indian Ocean. Travelers get to experience a small town (or should we say small island?) vibe while exploring paradise.
For surfers, it’s possible to catch decent waves in the Maldives any time from late February to the middle of November, but March to May and September to November are the prime months. A lot of travelers agree that April is the absolute best for surfing Maldives.
There’s a common misconception that gaining access to the internet will be close to impossible, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Sure, the internet speed isn’t the best, but it’s still decent and easy to access on the main islands. Nearly all Maldives surfing resorts, hotels, and guesthouses offer free WiFi to guests, plus it’s easy to get a prepaid SIM at the airport.
The plugs on the islands are all Type D and G with a standard voltage of 230V. This means you’ll probably need a travel adapter, so try to find one that comes with surge protection.
Since the Maldives is surrounded by the concept of luxury, a lot of travelers assume that tap water is safe to drink. Well, it’s not, so always stay hydrated with bottled or filtered water. Water sanitation is basically nonexistent here, so stay away from the tap water.
All passport holders get a 30-day stamp on arrival into the Maldives (except for the lucky few nationalities who are given a 90-day stamp). If 30 days of pure island bliss just isn’t enough, you can either apply for an extension or leave the country after a month and then return.
Travelers typically pay for Maldives surfing holiday packages by card before arriving, but it’s still a good idea to have some cash on hand. The official currency is the Maldivian Rufiyaa (MVR), and one MVR is equivalent to about 0.065 USD.
Credit cards can be used in most places, especially if you’re not planning on leaving your resort. But if you want to venture around and stop in local shops and restaurants, having a bit of cash is a good idea. Many places accept USD, but you can expect to get your change in rufiyaa.
Aside from not drinking the tap water, there are a few more things you should know about staying healthy here. Having an international traveler’s insurance is a must, especially if you’re planning on surfing, diving, and snorkeling.
There are two main hospitals in Malé, one public and one private. All resort islands have first aid facilities, but for major health issues, you’ll have to go to Malé. Private medical expenses can quickly add up, so never travel here without an international healthcare plan.
Surfing Maldives is one of the safest places you can book a surfing vacation. Like anywhere in the world, there are some incidents of petty theft, but this mostly has to do with the crime of opportunity. If you leave your bag on the beach and go for a swim or leave a cell phone in the hotel common area, it might be gone when you return.
The Maldives is unfortunately not known for its budget-friendliness, so if you are strapped for cash surfing in Sri Lanka might be a better option. The cheapest you’ll be able to find a guesthouse is about 60 USD per night, but luxury resorts cost more like 150 USD or higher (depending on the luxuriousness).
At the very minimum, plan your budget around 60 USD per day, but if you plan on getting the full experience with over-water bungalows and 5-star meals, the cost will be much higher. The good news is that a lot of resorts and Maldives surfing camps offer all-inclusive packages, so your nightly price will include everything you could possibly need.
Surf charters are becoming a popular choice because they allow travelers to see all aspects of the islands, not to mention a Maldives surf boat trip takes you to all the best breaks. But if your plan is to stay put, the Northern Atolls (Malé) is a top pick.
This area attracts the most crowds, partly because it’s easily accessible from the Malé International Airport, but also because this is a central surfing hub. There are a few internationally renowned breaks here, including spots like Cokes, Chickens, Jailbreaks, Ninjas, Lohis and Pasta Point.
There are tons of options on where to stay in the Northern Atolls, so your first step is to establish your budget. Many of the stays here are resort-style with all-inclusive packages, here are some of the best:
The conditions are nothing short of perfection in the Malé Atolls, so you can expect the main breaks to be packed with surfers from all over the world. For a more remote surfing experience, the Central Atolls have some solid right-hand breaks that are much less crowded. Some of the best spots here are Yin Yang, Tsunamis, Muli, Mikado, and Isdhoo.
The Southern Atolls of the island chain are often called the “Last Frontier” of Maldives surfing. The island of Huvadhoo offers the best conditions and more swells than any other island as well as the longest surfing season. The breaks here – like Beacons, Castaways, and Tiger Stripes – are the most idyllic and the least crowded.
We’re referring to this list as the “best surf camps”, but with surfing in the Maldives, it’s more likely that you’ll be booking with a surf resort. Surfing in the Maldives can look like anything from you renting a board to signing up for a weeklong chartered yacht trip. According to surfing travelers from all over the world, here are a few of the top picks.
If you’ve been on the hunt for the cheapest Maldives surf camp in the North Atolls, Jailbreak is the answer. Compared to surfing in surrounding countries, it’s actually not that cheap to surf with Jailbreak. But compared to the rest of the Maldives, it’s the best way to surf world-class waves without spending a fortune.
“JAILBREAK SURF INN is a 100% local company specializing in making your surfing holiday enjoyable and affordable. We employ local talent resulting in our hard to beat prices.”
– Jailbreak Surf Camp
The Jailbreak location is in the most consistent surf spot on an island called Himmafushi (which is just 15 kilometers from Malé). You’ll get the chance to ride the best waves in the area while taking in Maldivian culture at its finest. They also offer regular snorkeling and fishing trips for guests and if you sign up for the week, you’ll get a daily boat trip to nearby spots like Jails, Honkys, and Cokes.
Cokes Surf Camp is located on the island of Thulusdoo, which is a quick skip and a hop from Malé. It’s another affordable option for surfing in the Maldives and it’s within walking distance of the famous Cokes and Chickens breaks. The vibe here is all about surfing, so you’ll fit right in if your main goal is to surf the best of Maldives waves.
“Learning to surf at Cokes or Chickens is unique, it is a coral reef break, our emphasis is on the first turn to get you going down the line be it on a left or a right. No going straight if possible.”
– Cokes Surf Camp
One thing that every visitor to Cokes Surf Camp raves about is the food. Everything served here is honest, fresh, and nutritious, and the camp takes their job to fuel surfers with hearty home-cooked meals seriously. This is a great choice for Maldives surfing for beginners; Cokes has a Learn to Surf camp that’s all about teaching the basics.
Just Surf is another Himmafushi surf camp and it’s one of the best for travelers who want to keep things simple. By booking the all-inclusive surf package here, you won’t have to do any planning whatsoever – everything from accommodation and food to full board rental and lessons is taken care of.
“We feel that our time is not spent appropriately to our real interests. The one thing that makes you feel real happiness – how much time do you spend doing it? So ultimately we decided to focus on what makes us happy.”
– Just Surf Villa & Lodge
All are welcome at Just Surf, including solo travelers, families, couples, and traveling surf groups. Right now when you book 7 days, you get 1 free, which is a deal that’s too good to pass up. Just Villa is especially welcoming towards groups who are looking for a special rate, so don’t be afraid to get in touch to see about discounts for you and your surfing buddies.
If you’ve got the money to spend and you’re keen on the idea of visiting all the best surf spots around the Maldives, hiring a surf charter is your best bet. One of the best charters for surfers is Vaadhoo, especially if you’re hoping to explore the Southern Atolls. This boat holds 12 guests and has a crew of 9 to cater to your every need.
“Besides surfing, we do a lot of fishing, snorkeling, a bit of diving, island hopping, BBQs, and much more. But when the surf is good, we surf.”
– Vaadhoo Surf Charter
Each trip on the Vaadhoo Surf Charter is 14 days long, so get ready for 2 weeks of epic surfing, hanging out on the beach, and making lifelong friendships. It’s best to book the entire boat as a group, but if that’s not possible you’ve got the option to book a solo cabin.
Since this is one of the most photo-worthy places in the world, a high-quality camera (preferably a waterproof one) should definitely be on your Maldives packing list. Obviously, you’ll need plenty of swimwear and sun protection, and it’s also a good idea to bring a durable beach bag that you don’t mind getting salty and sandy.
You definitely won’t need any winter clothes or cold water gear – the water remains at a balmy 82 to 86 °F (28 to 30 °C) throughout the year, so you won’t be needing a wetsuit. You can bring your own board, but it’s recommended that you just rent gear as you need it. If you’ve got room to spare in your bag, pack some snorkel gear like fins and a mask.
For days out of the water, it’s a good idea to have a Kindle or eReader on hand. Bring a dry bag for boat trips, sporty clothes for onland adventures, and comfy shoes for exploring the islands. And don’t forget to bring a compatible travel adapter for Type G/D plugs.
It’s no surprise that Maldivian cuisine includes a lot of seafood and tropical fruits like coconut and breadfruit. Fish is the star ingredient of most local meals, so hopefully, you’re ready to chow down on some seafood. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to try a variety of tuna species prepared in unique ways, like yellowfin and skipjack.
A lot of the food here is similar to what you’d find in Indian and Sri Lanka; lots of curries, coconut, starches, and spices. Here are a few of the Maldivian specialties that you won’t want to miss:
Mas Huni: This traditional breakfast dish is prepared with tuna and coconut and served with chapati bread. It’s a healthy and hearty meal that is mixed with chili, onion, and lime for lots of flavors.
Garudhiya: Another tuna dish, Garudhiya is a favorite meal among the local crowd. This Maldivian fish soup is served piping hot with a side of rice – be prepared for a spicy kick!
Handulu Bondibai: This dessert is very similar to mango sticky rice in Thailand, but it’s traditionally served with breadfruit and sago (a spongy starch). It might be hard to find since it’s typically only made for special occasions.
Hedhikaa: Hedhikaa is Maldivian snack food, perfect if you’re taking a short break from the water. It’s basically the same thing as an Indian samosa, but it’s made with potato and spicy tuna.
Most visitors to the Maldives eat all of their meals in the resort or on the chartered boat, so you might not have any need for browsing around restaurants. If you are feeling adventurous, though, here are a few of the most interesting restaurants (both in terms of menu and decor) throughout the islands:
Shell Beans (Malé): This cafe on Malé has been around for over a decade, and a lot of people claim that it has the best coffee on the island. It attracts an eclectic group of ex-pats and locals, serving everything from salads and sammies to tandoori chicken and teriyaki beef.
Sala Thai (Malé): The Asian inspired Sala Thai has some of the best Thai food in the area. Aside from the food, the restaurant’s peaceful outdoor courtyard attracts patrons who are looking for a relaxing meal away from the Malé hustle and bustle.
Muraka (Mirihi): Muraka is located on the more remote South Ari Atoll in the Mirihi Island Resort. The rustic wooden decor overlooks the island’s lagoon, and the focus here is on creatively prepared seafood.
Visiting the Maldives isn’t about exploring cultural cities or bar hopping. The focus here is unwinding, relaxing, and soaking up every possible ounce of Indian Ocean sun that you possibly can. That, of course, means surfing, diving, snorkeling, or just lounging on the beach with a good read. If you’re looking for specifics about how to spend your time, here are a few ideas:
Cruise Around on a Sailboat: If you’re craving some on-water time with easy access to snorkeling and swimming, spend the day on a sailboat. Most of the reputable resorts have their own boat and crew, so just check with the staff before booking something on your own.
Give Diving a Try: Whether you’re an avid diver or you’ve never tried it once in your life, this is the place to do it. The underwater world of the Maldives is like nothing you’ve seen before, so strap on a SCUBA tank and start exploring.
Explore the Capital City: So many travelers just fly into Malé without fully experiencing it, but this is a big mistake. It’s the world’s smallest capital, but it’s the perfect place to immerse yourself in Maldivian culture and heritage.
If you’ve signed up for a Maldives surf camp for beginners, the provider will take you to all the nearby gentle breaks that are perfect for learning. One of the best beginner-friendly spots in the North Atolls Gurus, a left-hand wave that’s accessible from shore and recommended for all levels. Ninjas is another good one, especially if you’re looking for a slow right-hander.
Maldivian waves are rideable from late February to mid-November, but the best surfing in the Maldives happens from March to May. Keep in mind that there are two distinct surfing areas (North and Outer Atolls), so the season depends on the area. In the North Atolls, the official season runs from April to October, but the Outer Atolls are best from February to April.