The Surfer's Guide to Maldives

Everything You Need to Know About Surfing in Maldives

Book Your All Inclusive Vacation and save 25% in Atmosphere Hotels and Resorts, Maldives
Book Your All Inclusive Vacation and save 25% in Atmosphere Hotels and Resorts, Maldives

Updated October, 2021

The Maldives surfing scene started along the atoll's eastern shores, where rolling waves and quiet, beautiful beaches evolved into the popular wave riders' playgrounds. The origin of surfing in Maldives is down to the first wave-riding visitors who discovered the incredible waves in the 1970s, and more have flown in being drawn by Maldives' sun, sea and surf ever since.

Maldives' surfer crowd comprises experienced riders and beginners who want a piece of the action. Pros can head to the outer reef breaks of the Northern Male Atolls, while newbies can opt for smaller waves in the lagoons. Maldives is a great place to pick up the sport, with board rentals and surf schools widely available. Surf shops are also abundant, so you can easily source your wax, rashguards and any other gear you might need.

Luxury surf trips to the Maldives have become increasingly popular as high-end resorts have opened in remote locations near previously hard to access breaks. Luxurious resorts co-exist with breathtaking tropical landscapes and are surrounded by the ever graceful azure Indian Ocean and white sandy beaches. All resorts provide easy access, by either a short boat ride or a short paddle to some of the world's best reef breaks. The Maldives are spread over a large area in the Indian Ocean and there are great surf breaks in several of the atolls. Surfing in the Maldives is often best from April through October.

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Ayada Maldives

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Kuda Villingili Resort Maldives aerial

Kuda Villingili Resort Maldives

This spectacular resort providing prime access to one of the world’s best surfing spots - ‘Chickens’ - as well as a host of daily activities Read More

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Best Time to Go

The surfing season in the Maldives depends on the atolls with the biggest swells likely to occur in June to September, yet March and November are also good and have the best weather. During these months the conditions are predominantly off-shore all day due to the monsoonal winds from the Indian Subcontinent and the swell generated from the south. Swell is amazingly consistent in this part of the planet but even on flat days there's always something exciting to do in the Maldives like snorkeling, diving or fishing. In general, March, April and May have very clean conditions, June to August the potential for the bigger swells and September and October are known as consistent swell months with variable wind conditions with the area's tropical storms starting to dissipate.

Kaafu Atoll

With perfect protection from the wind, regular swells, and ideal reef setups, the atolls nearby Male airport probably offers the Maldives' best surf. The Malé Atolls have been popular with surfers for quite some time thanks to a variety of spots that stay fairly consistent, especially in the prime summer months when south swells are in abundance. This occurs between April and October. March and November can be considered transition months but sometimes very surprisingly good! Winds blowing from west or southwest may be usual at this time of year but many of the breaks in this island reef chain are well protected and will remain clean, while others will be offshore.

Central Atolls

It's not hard to guess that conditions in Central Atolls are something in between Male Atolls and South Atolls. This means that surf season can be extended from March till November. Prime season is still northern hemisphere summer (from June till September).

South Atolls

With nothing to block the swell, the waves around the Southern Atolls are generally the Maldives' biggest. While most of the atolls in the entire Maldives have their prime season between April till September, South Atolls have a more extended season from February till November. Some say that the best conditions occur between February to April just before the southwest monsoon begins and also from September to November when it ends. From May to August there can be wind issues on the south facing spots but that’s when you motor to the east facing part of the atoll where there is more protection.

Where to Surf

Each region of the Maldives has its own unique features, and each offers different surf experiences to be enjoyed. The Southern Atolls boasts the beautiful weather of the northwest monsoon season with light winds and clear skies. The region captures both southwest and southeast swell, so there is a great chance of getting a wave somewhere and the setups are numerous and varied.

The Northern Atolls are divided between the North Male Atoll and the South Male Atoll, both offering a pretty even mix of lefts and rights, with some of the standout and more internationally known breaks including Pasta Point, Chickens, Coke’s, Jailbreaks, Sultans, Ninjas and Lohi’s in the north, and Foxy’s, Guru’s, and Riptides in the south. Unfortunately, that level of perfection can be bittersweet as it also pulls the crowds.

The Central Atolls cover a large number of islands, and the region boasts some good quality breaks that are suitable to most surfers. The distance between breaks means you may be doing some miles, but the crowds are low, and the waves great fun. Very scenic islands sprinkled with upmarket resorts and native villages means you can break up the trip with a few drinks at a resort bar in ludicrous luxury or just go visit the locals downtown.

The Outer Atolls, approximately 300 miles to the South, contain at least a dozen, potent world class reef breaks that are rarely surfed, and this zone is fickle, with the right winds occurring only in two narrow windows generally from February to April and September-November. This area can only be accessed by means of a well-equipped surf charter vessel.

Surf Spots

Good to know that not all islands have easy access to surf which can make surf transfers to waves a costly and time-consuming mission. Rates, quality, availability of transfer, coaching, guiding and board rental services vary dramatically.

Some Waves in the Maldives are Private There is no bigger headache than having world class waves at your front door but not being allowed to surf them. While there is an abundance of waves in the Maldives some resorts offer private breaks to limit the number of surfers to control the lineups; hence, you won't be getting in, unless you have pre-booked your surf passes!

  • Cokes – founded at Thulusdhoo in the eastern reef of North Malé Atoll. A short but intense ride. A big wave tube spot. A steep barreling takeoff, then a very shallow inside section that opens up even more than the takeoff. Best on mid to high tide, however, it can be surfed at low tide if the swell is big enough. Ideal on a straight south swell and winds NW however, it can be surfed in winds from any direction W - N. Named after the Coca-Cola factory on the island, beautiful view of palm fringed beach from the surf zone. Access by boat.
  • Chickens – also known as Kuda Vilingili, it is situated in the eastern reef of North Malé Atoll. Chickens is now known as one of the longest and lively lefts in the Maldives. Although fairly consistent, Chickens particularly favors clean groundswell from the southeast, meaning it performs best in the summer months.
  • Honky's – also known as Thanburudhoo, it is situated in the eastern reef of North Malé Atoll. Excellent, long, world-class right-hander. One of the most consistent waves of Malé Atoll, which never closes out, even on the biggest swells. The take-off is a steep outside peak called 'Phantoms', which slingshots into a very long, walled, super fast section called the 'Pinnacles', over four feet. All three sections can be thrilling, almost insane tubes. Rides are 100 to 150 yards. Best on high tide with any wind from W to N. Access by boat.
  • Jailbreak - Located in North Male Atoll, Jailbreak is an exposed reef break with consistent surf throughout each swell with the best waves during spring and into late summer. Expect the largest waves at Jailbreaks during June, July, and August when conditions are consistently offshore and the dominant swell direction is south-southeast (SSE).
  • Lohi's – situated at Lohifushi Island, located at eastern reef of North Malé Atoll. Good and hollow left-hander with two sections. Need big SE swells and high tides to work well. Best during NW-NE offshore winds. Access by boat from Lohifushi Resort.
  • Guru's – this famous surfing point is situated at southern tip of North Malé atoll. A couple of shifting peaks, popular with locals, riding surfboards and boogie boards. The reef picks up plenty of swell. Best in W winds. Accessible from the shore.
  • Natives – Kandooma Resort, Eastern Reef of South Malé Atoll. A short right, requiring a big swell. Best SW wind.
  • Riptides – situated in Guraidhoo, it is located at the eastern reef of South Male' Atoll. Small reef in the middle of the channel on the southern side of the island; fast right-hander, one of the best waves in the area. The area is subject to strong currents. Best on W to SW winds. Access by boat.
  • Sultans – located at Kanu Huraa, it is situated at eastern reef of North Male Atoll. Sultans location next to Honkey’s puts the uninhabited island of Thamburudhoo, which they both break off of, in the running for the most perfect island in the world—luckily the beach and the entire atoll are government property and remain unrestricted. Sultans righthander on one side and Honkey’s lefthander on the other makes it a double threat that is hard to beat, especially when you consider that if Honkey’s is onshore, Sultans is offshore. This is that location you have been dreaming about—it always has something to surf.
  • Tomb Stones – located at Thamburudhoo, this surfing spot is adjacent to Sultans, in eastern reef of North Malé Atoll. Long, left-hander. Starts small and increases in size and intensity as it wraps 90 degrees around the island. A six feet wave on the take-off will end up at least eight feet on the end section, called 'Fred's Ledge'. Long rides and tubes through all sections. Is affected by strong currents in the Southwest monsoon from May to October. Access by boat.
  • Piddlies/Ninjas – situated in Kanifinolhu Island, it is on the eastern reef of North Malé Atoll. Slow right-hander, good for beginners and long-boarders. Best on W-NW winds with a moderate S swell. However swells larger than 4 feet spoil it. Named Ninjas because many Japanese surfers seem to like it. Access by boat.
  • Quarters – Eastern Reef of South Malé Atoll: Really nice, fast little right-hander that picks up less swell than most other places. Best in winds W to NW. Named after the resort workers' quarters on the island.
  • Twin Peaks – situated at Miyaru Faru near the island of Gulhi in eastern reef of South Malé Atoll. Twin Peaks offers both a left and a right that picks up quite a bit of swell. It is a similar set up to Sultans in the North Atolls, as the wave runs into the safety of a channel. The right tends to be a bit more consistent, however the left is generally cleaner in a larger swell.
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