While the summer winds down in the Northern Hemisphere, Maldives remains an Endless Summer. The dramatic photos capture some gnarly moments on the board, the year round Maldives really comes to life in video.
- “Billabong Girls” – Courtney Conlogue (USA), Catherine Clark (USA), Alessa Quizon (USA), Felicity Palmateer (Australia), Ellie-jean Coffey (Australia), Paige Hareb (New Zealand), Justine Dupont (France) – Four Seasons Kuda Huraa
- “Nobody Surf” – Monyca Eleogram (USA), Stephanie Gilmore (Australia), Kelia Moniz (USA), Zoe Cros (Australia)
- “KALOEA Surfer Girls” – Eve Riviere (Australia) – Adaaran Hudhuranfushi
- Angelika Timanina (Russia)
- “Roxy Surf Team” – Kassia Meador (USA), Sally Fitzgibbons (Australia), Rosy Hodge (South Africa), Monyca Byrne-Wickey (USA), Kelia Moniz (USA), Bruna Schmitz (Brazil)
6. “Beautiful Maldives from Above” – Yoni Klein and Caity Griffin (Israel / USA) – Cokes Surf Point
7. “Sally Fitz in the Maldives” – Sally Fitzgibbons (Australia) – Cokes Surf Point
Probably the two most unsung appeals to the Maldives – children and surfing.
A number of the items from my last recent “Haven’t Seen” came from a Sunday Times Travel feature “Tantrums and tasting menus: meet the minigarchs” (eg. swim with a mermaid, 8-course child’s tasting menu). Before I even had a chance to include “surfing for kids” in the latest list, Four Seasons Kuda Huraa announces its own mini-Malibu offering…
“The Maldives has a reputation for mirror-calm waters, but is also home to some thrilling surf. Little Keanus can sign up for lessons at the Four Seasons Kuda Huraa, where even if they prove rubbish at it, they won’t miss out on the ride. Instructors will paddle out with the child on the front of their board and, as a big one breaks, pick them up and hold them in surfing stance so they can ride the wave back to shore.”
Going off for gidgets and dude-inos.
In the growing world of travel options, the holiday industry is getting more and more specialised in its offerings and positioning. This trend was one of my motivations to starting Maldives Complete in order to help people navigate the growing range of resort options and styles. Maldives has long been a destination for (a) honeymooners, and (b) divers, but in recent years, it has been also established a worldwide reputation for (c) snorkelling, and (d) surfing. It is also an outstanding destination for families which was one of my earliest inspirations for building the website.
The Maldives has been renowned for indolent seclusion and lazing about in the sunshine with the counter downside perception of there being “nothing to do”. But now many resorts offer extensive water sports centers, underwater features and a range of creative activities and events tailored for the most esoteric interests.
As a result, many of the emerging “travel buzzwords” enumerated in the Telegraph’s recent article “The most irritating travel buzzwords” are on offer in the Maldives…
- Spacation – spa trip
- Floatel – a hotel on water
- Voluntourism – combining a holiday with charity work
- Spafari – safaris combined with "wellness"
- Flightseeing – viewing an attraction, the Grand Canyon, for example, from an aircraft
- Digital detox – a holiday without your mobile, tablet or laptop
- Twixmas – a short break between Christmas and New Year
The Maldives is also a center for another term – the “Surfari” – as described in the recent Newswire piece “The Rise of the 'Surfari' Highlights the Maldives' Potential to Appeal to Active Holidaymakers”. I think that the Maldives’ biggest world-leading activity of Snorkeling also needs its own buzzword. “Reefcation”? “Snorkelooza”?
Okay, maybe not a ‘resort’, but to many surfers, still absolute luxury in paradise.
‘Coke Island’ is one of the first local island guest properties and has a special focus on surfing.
I read about it in the Maldivian Air Taxi in-flight magazine piece by Donna Richardson. I tend to keep the focus of Maldives Complete, especially the ‘Best of the Maldives’ section focused on the official resort islands. I have added a few of the Male hotels that do have a fair amount tourists (eg. Traders, Hulhule, Nasandhura). Recently, the government opened up the option for non-resort islands to host visitors in guest house as way to offer more possibilities to guests, generate direct income to local islands, and to provide more low-cost budget options. The Maldives heritage was actually in low cost diving lodges. Also, I see the Maldives becoming a more and more prominent surfing destination and I am trying to document many of the surf features. Richardson describes it…
“Just two hours dhoni ride from Male or 45 minutes by speedboat, this charming island offers a different experience to laid-back resort life. It gives backpackers the chance to live as the locals do. To boot you can get to grips with one of the best surf breaks in the country – ‘Cokes’ which too is named after the [nearby] fizzy drink factory. The first port of call for weary travellers is a new guest house specifically aimed at European backpackers called Surfers World. The camp itself features a five bedroom hostel with comfortable and clean beds with sleeps between two and four people per room.”
Kite flying is no longer kids stuff. And today marks the opening of the Kite Surfing World Cup at The Hague. May always has been prime kite flying weather and it’s as good as any time to start learning the sport of kite surfing. As I’ve noted before, the Maldives is starting to establish as strong a wordwide profile for surfing as it has for snorkelling and honeymooning. And if you want to add the kite dimension to your boarding (or the boarding dimension to you kite flying for that matter), then Olhuveli’s Watersport World has established a specialised training facilitiy dedicated to the sport…
“Olhuveli houses the first certified kite surfing school in Maldives with impressive equipment, courses and lessons…The Team: Watersports World is an international certificated watersports school. Enrolled in the VDWS association…The Lagoon: There is a huge sandy bottom lagoon surrounding Olhuveli. That is unique in the Maldives and this is even one of the best watersports area in the world!! The wave point: It takes about 10 minutes by the speed boat from Olhuveli to get to ‘Guraidhoo’. The wave/swell season is from May to October with the South West monsoon wind. This spot is still uncrowded comparing with the North Male Atoll wave spots. Mostly, the waves are only for you! Wave beginners are not recommended.”
As you can see from their commentary, May marks the onset of prime Kite Boarding season in the Maldives as well.
Olhuveli’s equipment includes kites from size 3.5 to 17 from North Kiteboarding (Buzz, Evo, Rhino, Rebel) and Cabrinha Kite (Convert IDS 2009 / Contra 08). Their boards include North Kiteboarding (Phantom 143/154, Gonzales 151) XRide 141/129, Mallory 129, Jaime S, Freestylefish 5’0″, Sumo, M2, and Cabrinha Board (Custom, Imperial).
Surf’s *way* up, up, up…
Maldives caters to all types of surfers from beginner to expert, from innovative to impatient. For the lattermost, yet another resort shines in the surfing haven, Kandooma, which offers the closest surf break.
Most surf breaks are a good distance from shore separated from the resort beach by the extensive lagoons prevalent in the Maldives especially on big plateaus where the longest reefs are creating the longest ‘surf breaks’. While such distance is great for creating a aquarium-like swimming haven on the beach, it means a bit of a swim/paddle for those keen to get to reef’s edge. Or a logistics intensive boat ride.
Kandooma’s house reef is far away, surfing is a mere 50 yards at most from beach on the east side. And the Beach Villas on that side are a water-hugging 20 yards from ocean. Especially with 2-story structures there, you can wake up and check out the surf (see photo above). If ‘surfs up’, then in minutes you can be riding the waves.
Kandooma has two surf instructors, Mark Quarrell and Richie Lindfield from Perfect Wave, who can provide gear and assistance for all levels. Their own website comments…
“With a surf break, Kandooma Right at your front door you will be able to surf awesome waves at your leisure. But with another 6 quality breaks between 5 and 45 minutes of the resort our resident surf guide will take you up to twice daily via Dhoni to these top spots.”
You don’t have to be a pro to ride the surf in the Maldives. One of the big appeals there is their long, gentle breaks. One of the best beginner breaks is ‘Prewitts Left’ near Anantara. Resident surf instructor Kym Everett explains that it has an “Easy take off and easy ending in a soft area that finishes in deep water…ideal for a someone just starting out.” Like the young lad on the video above taken at Prewitts Left. Unfortunately, the cameraman/instructor needs a bit more practice!
“Who would have thought to find a place so perfectly placed between the ocean and the sky.” – Billabong model/surfer & singer/songwriter Catherine Clark
What a great way to describe the uniqueness of the Maldives. Describing its perfection for surfing, but really a key piece of so many things that he Maldives is world renowned for …
- Honeymoons – The romance of a plot of pure white sand and a palm trees nestled in a tranquil turquoise lagoon.
- Diving – One of the tops in the world for its endless coral reefs easily accessible by the 100+resorts.
- Snorkelling – Arguably the very best in the world for reasons very close to Catherine’s quote above.
- Children – Calm waters, shallow lagoons, contained small grounds, many activities.
One really has to add Surfing to that list things the Maldives tops the world as a top destination. Not big waves like Hawaii, but long, moderate breaks for extended rides. The pro surfing circuit regularly holds premier events in the Maldives now. I’ve had to break out a special ‘Surfing’ section from ‘Sport’ in the ‘Best of Maldives’ page because of all the special offerings resorts have brought out.
And of all of those resorts, Tropicsurf at Four Seasons Kuda Huraa is quickly becoming the epicentre of the surf Mecca. Their latest project was hosting the iconic Billabong Girls for an video ‘diary’ posted by Billabong, but now on video sites and surf online mags across the net. One of the best is the extended (17 minutes) piece featured in Surfing Magazine. The link on Catherine’s quote above features her diary entry with her poetic descriptions of the Maldives, and there’s ‘Maldives Vibe’ for a simple music video of the vibrant footage.
“It’s really cool to have the pearly white beaches, then go into the icy-blue clear water that you don’t have anny where else in the world.” – Courtney Coulogne, US Women’s Surfing Champion
Plenty of great surf spots in the Maldives (even more if you do kite surfing), and a number of resorts offer surfing equipment and instruction, but there is only one ‘Surf Shack’ around – Four Seasons Kuda Huraa’s TropicSurf.
The Surf Shack sells a whole range of surf gear. It also provides video analysis as part of its instruction offerings. But it really just has a whole surfing vibe to it.
A great example of its surfing vibe and great offerings is its recently announced its ‘Champion Trophy Package’. Maldives.Net reports…
“The Maldives is set to host the world’s most exclusive surfing event this August. The event organized by Four Seasons Resorts Maldives, will feature six world champions, a leading five-star surfing resort, a luxurious 39-metre three-deck catamaran, and the perfect reef break waves. Conceived in conjunction with luxury surf pioneers Tropicsurf, the Four Seasons Resorts Maldives Surfing Champions Trophy will see the sport’s biggest legends such as four-time world champion Mark Richards compete across three disciplines that showcase the evolution of modern surfing.”
So if you are a hang-ten pro or a even bit clueless on the surfing front (like this lot), then head over to the Surf Shack.
March comes in like a lion and out like a lamb. As such it is classic kite flying season. The seasons are a bit different in equatorial Maldives, but we are heading into the half of the year with a bit more precipitation and breezes from the southwest trade winds. Not much too much to fret about since most of this time is still sunny, tropical paradise. But if you want to embrace the breezes when they blow, then Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru is the place for you. They have 9 boards and kites varying from 2 to 17 metres. And if you needed any further inspiration, Sakis just posted the dazzling masterpiece on his site last week. If you want to find other resorts with kite surfing, it is one of the activities noted in the Maldives Complete profiles.