Words: Jan Sleigh
Photos: Jan Sleigh, Renée Gallin and Frederic Salvanet
To most the Maldives conjures up images of romantic honeymooners lounging in front of peaceful lagoons, relaxing by the pool, sipping cocktails watching the sun go down before going for a starlit dinner.
However, to a few it’s the perfect destination to search out outstanding waves and perfect flat water SUP spots, which can be found right next to the honeymooners giving the perfect combo trip for stand up paddlers with partners.
Pasta Point is probably the Maldive’s most famous wave, offering long perfect rides and exclusivity to those who have booked to surf and stay on the island.
For a change of scenery, and a right-hander, you can take a Dhoni ride from the resort to Jailbreak or Sultans. At Sultans you can go left to Honkys – if you wish.
North of Pasta Point and Chaaya Dhonveli is Hudhuranfushi, home of another perfect left – Lohis. Much like Pasta Point you can walk out of the surf to be with your partner, and perhaps have a cold beer at the ready. You can then join the island tourists who have been relaxing and watching the surfing entertainment while on their holiday.
Both Chaaya and Lohis provide perfect flat water SUP opportunities as well as waves. The lagoons are clear and shallow, perfect for learning, teaching, or relaxed cruising. You can see the fish and coral beneath you and watch Rays flash by. Gin clear water doesn’t even begin to describe it.
Fishing and diving
You can also explore a little and paddle to a few small islands across the lagoon, working up your appetite for the mammoth evening buffet! The fishing and diving potential is also amazing. Using your stand up paddle board as a platform for either would be a good call.
If you are wanting adventure and remote island waves away from the honeymooners, holidaymakers and other surfers then take a live aboard boat trip. While not having all the comfort and trimmings of a four star hotel it will give you access to some amazingly perfect surf – all without the crowds.
With bigger period swells from the Southern Ocean, some of the lesser-known waves light up and give long, fun size peeling walls as they wrap onto the islands’ surrounding shallow reefs.
In these more remote areas the only spectators are the wildlife – be aware, as out here if things go wrong you are a long, long way from home or help. A wipeout, over the falls, and foot landing on fin or reef will result in a bewildering trip to a local hospital for stitches – an experience in itself and not one I would recommend.
Some of the waves on offer are machine like in their perfection. Taking off in the same spot over and over again is a routine that is easy to get into, as is the 5:30am call to be at the break for 6am. Surf for two or three hours before breakfast, snooze a while, then get a few hours in late morning or early afternoon. Lunch, snooze again and back to the break for another three hours before sunset – you’ll be super tired but extremely stoked that’s for sure!
Storm Rider Guide
Grab a copy of the Storm Rider Guide and you can get a good idea of where to go for waves, but when you arrive the exact name of each spot you surf can be a little vague. Some are well known but others are called by their island or local name. On two separate trips we surfed the same wave, but each boat crew and surf guides we travelled with referred to it differently – it can get a little confusing…
Taking a boat trip in the Maldives to surf and SUP is a humbling experience. Not because it’s a destination with waves of huge power and size, but the sheer beauty and serenity of the place, where you can share and experience waves with a few friends in the middle of the Indian Ocean, is one that will stay embedded in your memory banks for a lifetime.
People fall in love and then go to the Maldives; don’t wait for that – go to the Maldives and fall in love with it!
Maldives has two distinct seasons; dry season (northeast monsoon) and wet season (southwest monsoon), with the former extending from January to March and the latter from mid-May to November. The rare thunderstorm in the Maldives (especially around the southwest monsoon months) can be a welcome respite from the sun. Cloudy skies and slate grey seas and crashing thunder makes up for lovely reading weather. The warm temperatures will allow you to go for a walk in the rain, a verdant, wet, thoroughly enjoyable experience. For extra exhilaration, take a swim in the rain – the sea will be extra warm.
Capital island: Male’
Total islands: 1,190 Inhabited islands: 200 Resort islands: 105
Population: Approx. 350,000
Major industries: Tourism and fishing
Currency: Rufiyaa (USD 1 = MRF 15.42)
Electricity: 240 AC