The warm, calm waters of the Maldivian archipelago open themselves up to a myriad of water sports for travellers who flock to its salubrious climes and powder beaches. Limpid aquamarine waters shelter gardens of coral that await discovery by scuba divers, while the friendly winds and waves invite all manner of surface aquatic activities such as sailing and surfing. Of recent years, windsurfing has emerged as the most popular sport in the Maldivian seas by far among tourists.
Surfing requires an entirely different set of logistics, routing plans and conditions from other water sports. In the Maldives, the waves are generally confined to house reefs and do not really lend themselves to thrilling wave riding. However, the sturdy waves and coral reefs present their own challenges and the waters are ideal for a smooth slalom that will allow you to see shoals of vibrantly coloured fish and stingrays gliding beneath the clear waters as you pass on your surfboard above.
The island’s position as an international hub of windsurfing was cemented when it was selected to host the O’Neil Deep Blue surfing competition. The most popular windsurfing sites are in the Male Atoll, which contains the country’s capital, but its crowded nature is rather a deterrent for seasoned windsurfers.
Lagoon depths, reefs, wind changes and currents and even rains affect the conditions for surfing. Although there is no such thing as a surfing site completely devoid of defects, large and wide lagoons with minimal coral reefs afford the best surfing experiences. Although surfing instructors and equipment are readily available throughout the islands, not all of them present these idyllic wind surfing conditions. Therefore, it is best to look at aerial views of the resorts you may choose to stay in, if surfing is one of the primary objectives of your visit. Google Earth is the best tool for this.
The natural assets of the resort and the quality of its instruction team are the main factors to look into when looking for a Maldives beach resort for the express purpose of surfing; their star class has little bearing on these factors. If you cannot find a proper instructor, there is every likelihood that a local member of the resident water sports centre will be willing and able to teach you the basics.
Nearly all resorts offer basic surfing equipment, but the quality of your surfing practice is affected mainly by the quality of the equipment you use and the natural setting of your surfing site. Beginners are advised to start with smaller sails as larger ones are difficult to handle; large, secluded lagoons where you and a handful of your surfing buddies can rein free will afford the most pleasurable experience.
It is important to check with the members of the local water sports centres and give them your ride plan when heading out to the waters, even if you are a seasoned surfer, as the waves can turn unpredictable and the locals are best attuned to changes in the weather conditions. In the interests of safety, it is also best not to travel too far away from the coast while surfing and always make arrangements for a safety boat. It is also important to be respectful and aware of snorkelers and swimmers who may also be enjoying the waves so as to prevent accidents.
Although the Maldives atolls invite surfers all year long, the more advanced surfing enthusiasts will best enjoy the stronger winds of the May-October rainy season, which sees the lagoons at their colourful best. Rihiveli, Velassuru, Meedhupparu, Kurumathi, Medhufushi, Barros and White Sands are recommended as being among the best islands for windsurfing, with picture-perfect lagoons and secluded beaches.
For those looking for an idyllic luxury Maldives island resort that offers an idyllic area for a range of water sports as well as surfing, Nalandhu, Maldives of South Male Atoll’s Velighandu Hura Island is a highly recommended choice.