The Maldives tends to conjure images of palm-fringed islands with white sandy beaches surrounded by azure gin-clear waters and brightly colored reefs teeming with fish, however, these spectacular islands and atolls also provide some of the best surfing waves on the planet. From the crowd-packed, but perfect breaks of the Northern and Malé Atolls to the off-the-beaten-track, fast-forming, clean barrels of the Southern Atolls, here are some of the best surfing spots in the Maldives.
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The best time of the year to head to the Maldives to surf is during the Southern Hemisphere winter, which lasts from March until October. The best surfing waves in the Maldives are created and alleviated by the North-East and South-West monsoons, which bring off-shore winds that create beautiful, peaking waves for most of the day. The North-East storms occur mainly from March until April and bring optimal surfing conditions to the Southern Atolls in the archipelago, while the South-West monsoons, which occur between May and October, provide outstanding surfing the Northern and Central Atolls.
During this ‘surfing season,’ the largest waves are most likely to occur between June and August,
Home to 26 geographical atolls and more than 1,200 islands, spread over 800 km from north to south and straddling the equator. the Maldives offer plenty of spectacular places to surf from the northern atolls to the south. The entire archipelago can be divided into three different surf areas: the Northern Atolls (also known as the Malé Atolls), the Central Atolls, and the Southern Atolls, and all provide excellent surf with different characteristics such as swell size, wave consistency, and popularity. The main differences between them are: swell size, consistency and, most of all, crowd.
Many of the best surfing spots in the Maldives are on the outer reefs and on the southeast sides of the atolls and can only be reached by boat. The Northern Atolls also tend to be more crowded than the Central and Southern Atolls, especially between May and August.
The Male Atolls situated in northern side are divided into the North Malé Atoll and the South Malé Atoll, both of which offer an even mix of left and right-hand breaks, especially in the prime summer months, when south swells are abundant between April and October. The South Malé Atoll, however, is closer to Hulhumale airport than the North Malé Atoll and doesn’t get nearly as crowded with just as spectacular waves.
The two atolls feature some internationally renowned breaks such as Coke’s, Chickens, Jailbreaks, Ninja’s, Lohi’s and Pasta Point in the north, and Foxy’s, Guru’s and Riptides, in the south.
Best Surf point in North Atoll
Sultans, North Male, Maldives
Sultans is a world renowned right hander which offers 200m long rides. It works great for intermediate surfers when its 1m – 1.5m. When it gets bigger it offers long reeling walls and good barrel sections, with a nice escape to the channel it holds big swells here but be careful of getting caught close to the island on big days.
Located off the island of Thaburudhoo, Honky’s offers a super long, fast left-hand wave that can double in the second section to over six foot and is an ideal spot for winter surfing in the northeastern winds.
This long wrapping left hander offers a variety of different sections and can run over 200m long. Often quieter than its neighbour, Sultans, as it can be fickle to link the different sections when its smaller. This is a great wave for all levels and a nice place to head in the off season for a chance of some fun, clean waist-chest high waves. Turns, barrels and knee-high runners, this wave has it all.
Pasta Point, Maldives
One of the most famous waves in the Maldives, this break offers left-hand rides and 100 meters of pure tube riding out to sea.
There’s a catch: only Dhonveli Beach Resort & Spa guests can access the spot. A stay on the exclusive island costs upwards of $340 per night.
The LUX* break
LUX* North Malé Atoll’s best-kept secret is its very own seasonal summer wave: The LUX* Break. Located a mere five-minute jet ski ride away from the resort, it offers the ideal conditions for beginners – it has gentle swells and ranges between 1 and 2 meters.
Lohi’s, Male Atolls
Named after the island resort of Lohifushi, Lohi’s boasts a consistent left-hand wave that breaks in two sections, but can also form a perfect long wave that barrels across the reef if the swell is big enough. Ideal conditions call for swell from south-east and winds from the north-west, but it can also work well with north-west and north-east winds. The internationally acclaimed WQS O’Neill Deep Blue’s competition is held here every year.
Jailbreaks, Male Atolls
‘Jails’ is a fast moving right which is great for racing turns and barrels when it gets bigger. This wave has a shallow end section to watch out for and the break can get busy but it’s a super fun reeling wave up.
Riptides Male Atolls
Only accessible by boat, Riptides was named for the powerful currents that can sweep through the channel. The break offers a beautiful 500-foot long right-hand break in the middle of a channel and is ideal for both long and short-boarders, as well as intermediate surfers who can carve into the wall of the wave.
Chickens Male Atolls
Located off the uninhabited island of Villingilimathi Huraa and across the channel from Thulusdhoo Island, Chickens offers long left-hand waves ranging three to ten feet in size with two sections providing easy barrels on the second section of the wave. On big swell days with perfect wind conditions, surfers can enjoy rides of up to 1,600 feet long, making this one of the best waves in the world. Named for the chicken farm on one of the nearby islands, Chickens is ideal for intermediate or experienced surfers.
Close to Thulusdhoo Island and named for the Coca-Cola factory on the island, This wave is fast, shallow and barrels as wide as the wave is tall. The wave runs around 100m which can be a 100m barrel if conditions are right. This wave is recommended for intermediate or experienced surfers only.
Accessible from the shore and very popular with locals, Guru’s is a smooth left-hand wave that picks up plenty of swell and reaches perfection with prevailing north winds and big southern swells. This wave is a comfortable ride and recommended for all levels of surfers.
Ideal for beginners and long-boarders, Ninjas or Piddlies, is a slow, right-hand wave that is best surfed in west to northwesterly winds and moderate swell, as swells larger than four feet tend to ruin the break.
A great wave for all levels. It has a mellow take off and mid section. When it gets bigger, the inside can offer some good barrels too! Don’t surf too far as you could end up heading towards a shallow reef! You can find some great 175m long rides here perfect for working on those turns and carves.
Hailed a ‘Goofy’s’ (right foot surfers) Natives/Foxy’s is a hollow and fast right-hand wave that breaks over a shallow coral reef for about 500 feet with many opportunities for clear blue barrels. If you’re fast on the backhand, this is the wave for you.
Best Surf point in Central Atoll
Situated between the Northern and Southern Atolls, the Central Atolls offer a longer surfing season than its counterparts with good waves around from March until November. Less crowded than the Northern Atolls, the Central Atolls have some world-class right-hand breaks with consistent surf.
The best surfing spots in the Central Atolls of the Maldives are:
Consistent, thick and best in a strong southeast swell, Yin Yang begins as a friendly wave with a beautiful wall and becomes more aggressive with a long, sturdy inside section that can be punishing, but can produce some incredible hollow barrels. Outside the reef, Yin Yang has a mellow wall with safe, friendly rides in deep water.
Aptly named, Tsumani’s is the largest of the left-hand breaks on the eastern side of the Laamu Atoll and features a right swell angle that tends to close out due to the shallow reef on which it breaks. Well-protected from westerly to northerly winds, the break offers three amazing sections with hollow barrels on the first and last sections.
Pure perfection in big swell conditions, Mahibadhoo has three sections – the outside, the corner and the inside – and makes for a fun wave when the swell is right, and all three parts connect. The reef is straight and shallow and creates impressive barrels just after take-off, which run into more extended heavier barrel sections further down the wave.
Muli features two sections to the wave – the Inside (F1), which is a very fast, hollow and barreling right-hander with long walls and is well protected from the southerly winds, and the Outside (Mushrooms), which is a right-hander with long walls that need slightly bigger swell.
Located off the island of Hirilandhoo, Malik’s is best surfed with a large southwest swell and winds from the southeast, producing a beautiful left-hand break with long speedy walls and big barrels.
A powerful right-hand wave with fast, hollow walls and great barrels, Mikado is the most consistent wave in Thaa, but not as protected from the wind as other breaks. Outside Mikado will give the ride of a lifetime with high tide.
Located off the northeast tip of the atoll, Isdhoo, also known as Langon Bank, is a rarely surfed right-hand break that is protected from southerly winds and comes alive in big south-southeast swells.
One of Laamu Atoll’s best breaks, Finnimas is a shallow fast left-hander with some great barrels.
Best Surf point in Southern Atoll
Known as being the last frontier when it comes to the best surfing spots in the Maldives, the Southern Atolls are made up of Huvadhoo and Addu Atolls and are home to some of the most remote areas on the planet, many of which are only accessible by charter boats. Being that much further south, the Southern Atolls have an even longer surfing season than the Northern and Central Atolls, with excellent surfing conditions from February right up to November.
The best surfing spots in the Southern Atolls of the Maldives are:
Beacons is only for advanced surfers and the brave-hearted! The break has an unforgiving shallow reef which can be broken down in south-west swell, but is deadly in southeast swells when peaks slam straight onto close-out sections of the coral.
This break is paradise found in an idyllic setting off an isolated island surrounded by plenty of marine life. The wave is a soft right-hander that can be surfed on all tides, but is best surfed in high tide when the swell is bigger than four feet due to its shallow reef.
Tiger Stripes or Rockets
Another one of the Southern Atoll’s best waves, Tiger Stripes, also known as Rockets, is a fun left-hander with long workable walls and a smooth inside tube section that breaks out easily in the channel. This break is super-consistent and can be surfed on all tides, although it can be challenging in a strong swell. Antiques is a break to the left of Tiger Stripes that is always a couple of feet smaller and way more forgiving.
Named after one of the Maldives’ newly built resorts on Viligili Island, Shangri-La is an odd right-hand reef break that wraps around the east coast of Viligili Island in small westerly swells.
Voodoos or Blue Bowls
Protected from the southwest and westerly winds, Voodoos or Blue Bowls is a very long right-hander with four to six feet of height that provides a comfortable ride with pleasant sections in all tides and swells.