Advice on where to take your quiver on its next overseas vacation can be fickle. Statements like “it works all year round” and “you’ll get waves there anytime” can cause friendship breakdowns and surfer’s remorse. So stop listening to colleagues at the water cooler and put away your crystal ball. Take it from us, here is where you want to be surfing abroad this April/May…
Visitors’ stories of the Maldives are plentiful and colourful. Most surfers will associate this place and its many atolls and water highways as the world’s most idyllic wave destination. Yes, the mental imagery you create before even booking your trip will prove to be true upon your arrival.
The Central Atolls are suitably wedged between the Male Atolls (the Maldives’ busiest region) and the Southern Atolls (relatively unchartered territory for the hater of beaten tracks). With 26 atolls in the region, this central location gives you the best of both worlds, having an incredible selection of world class waves and fewer crowds than its northern atoll cousin. While you may see a few punters in the water when appetising conditions are served, wait a while for crowds to thin out during the day. You’ll sometimes be given an uncrowded session when your expectations are lowest.
Despite aforementioned comments, it admittedly does hold a wave pretty much anytime of year. But it’s the swell size and consistency in the April/May stretch that sees most finding their legendary rides. As the atolls sit in the middle of the Indian Ocean there are no obstructions from Southern Ocean swells. Before heading onto Indonesia, southwest swells travelling from Africa continuously hit the series of islands. In addition, April/May is the time of year which divides the Maldives’ two monsoon seasons. This allows an excellent compromise in conditions (not too wet.. not too dry).
How do you get on these superb rides?
A surf charter is always a prime choice. The ability to remain mobile while on the hunt for surf can help you steer clear of crowds, and allows you to be more proactive than reactive to the day’s conditions. Check out our in-depth guide on surf charters in the Maldives for more professional insights.
For the land dwellers there are incredible accomodation options in the Central Atolls. Start with somewhere like Niyama Private Islands Surf Resort where the name says it all. Being shunned from the beaten track doesn’t sacrifice wave quality. Epic spots are nearby, like Kasabu (world class right hander), Vodi (fun, fast, and challenging lefts), and Hocus Pocus (hollow!) among many others. Few charter boats operate in the area of Niyama, and this is the only resort in the area providing surfer-specific services.
Laamu Atoll is home to a wicked, eco-friendly accomodation option by Six Senses Laamu. I’d highly recommend checking these guys out for their tranquil beachfront and lagoon-side water villas, and their proximity to outstanding breaks.
As for equipment in the Maldives, take your usual shortboard and another stick that paddles well. The rides are long, so you’ll be scratching the water’s surface for a while before making it back to the lineup. Throw in the booties to avoid any trip-destroying injuries.
A Eurotrip with board under arm is an incredible way to spend your annual surf vacation. Sun, sand, wine, and good times in-and-out of water are all plentiful. Beaches of western Europe light up around April/May, with Spain and France handing out wicked surfing options. But these areas can become popularised by travellers making intermediate trips to the coast from the Alhambra or the Eiffel Tower. Portugal seems to be that little extra distance to travel for those unable to settle in for a solid time of surfing. Plus, the options for waves are huge, the costs minimal, and did we mention the options for waves are huge?
Portugal surfing stretches from Espinho in the north (busy for the area, but large waves scare off the inexperienced crowds) all the way to Sagres in the south (a quality spot for waves, with plenty of diving and fishing on offer too). In its location at the tip of the continent, Portugal generally manages to miss out on the prevailing westerly winds and the colourful weather they bring. It still picks up the westerly swell, however, so premium conditions can and will be found.
When hitting the European shores it’s always fun to check out a surf camp. There’s usually a mix of surfer quality but it’s the in-house experts who will ensure your ability enjoys the most appropriate nearby waves.
Stayin at Freeride’s Surf Camp gives you the choice of surfing both the south and the west. However, your Freeride instructors and guides will get you to the right spots by pulling on their local knowledge of what goes off with certain conditions and in relation to your own skill level.
Surf Castle Resort Peniche is located right in front of reefbreak Lagide. The place suits any surfer and and any traveller (family, couple, solo, group). As with the rest of the region, your financial outlay will be modest. The cool thing is… it practically is a castle. Research the spectacular village of Peniche first, before deciding on where to plant yourself for the duration of your Portugal visit.
It’s a good time to book ahead with the April/May period coming in hot. So lock in your itinerary soon, and if any help is needed we’re always here. Get in touch with one of our crew members at LUEX for the best deals and escape plans to a wave-rich paradise.