The island paradise is exposed to the same swells as surf mecca Indonesia, but due to its higher latitude and the tighter window for exposure, the surf usually doesn't get as big or powerful.
December through to March is the prime tourist season for honeymooners, cruisers, divers, etc., who come for the "view" rather than the surf. Conditions during that time are sunny and dry, while May to November is a more humid and unpredictable time of the year, with more wind and thunderstorms, which ultimately leads to better surf.
1200 coral islands. Just shy of 700km of open ocean, scattered with reef passages, island formations. Roughly 500km away from the next landmass. You guessed it; there are waves in the Maldives - lots of them!
The Maldives' last surfing frontier! Not too much is known about the island formation 115km north of Male other than the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, located in the Baa Atoll, is a popular diver pilgrimage site. The region has yet to be fully explored, but there are plenty of waves around the Maalhosmadulu, Baa, Raa and Lhaviyani Atolls that need a strong SW or SE swell, depending on the direction they face, to start working. The country's last kept secret isn't really on the map of conventional surf travelers and traveling by surf charter with an experienced captain is essential. But if you are the soul-searching, free-spirited adventurist who knows how to read a map and swell charts and you time your trip for April to September you'll be graced by perfect empty lineups with not a single head in sight for miles.
This is where it all began! The Maldives surfing mecca and the first location surf travelers come across when landing in paradise. North Male is by far the most popular and crowded area in the Maldives with plenty of options to stay. The place is filled with guesthouses, camps, hotels resorts or charter boats, satisfying all types of budgets, especially in the prime summer months. A lot has changed since Tony "Hussein" Hinde's boat ran into trouble in the 70s, but the place has been as beautiful as ever with an abundance of waves to choose from. North Male has by far the highest concentration of world-class waves in the area, ranging from picture-perfect barrels a la Pasta Point and Cokes to long rippable walls you'll find at Jailbreaks or Honkys. North Male is also incredibly consistent and hardly ever goes flat from March - October. While crowds can somewhat be a factor, it is nowhere near as bad as Indonesia, Australia or Hawaii and you have the luxury of surfing Pasta Point and Lohifushi, two world-class and exclusive waves to keep your wave count up.
The quiet brother of the brash North Male Atoll is an easy 40min speedboat ride from the country's Velana International Airport, and the surf doesn't get nearly as crowded as "up the road." Many surf charters and safari boats favor staying in the North Male Atoll and rival other operators for the prime real estate at the slightly more consistent waves in the area. South Male has a much more mellow vibe and is perfect for families and people who prefer to surf less-crowded lineups. It might not have the same reputation as other Atolls, but South Male can rival any other region in the Maldives regarding waves. Always a little smaller than up North but truly world-class when the conditions are right. Don't be surprised when you show up to a perfect 5ft barrel with not a single soul in sight. There's nothing wrong with it, it's just that crowds aren't really an issue here!
A must for all surf explorers! The central Atolls might not come with the chatter as the more well-known North and South Male Atolls, but nothing but paradise awaits you here! Home to some of Maldives’s best waves in Machines, Inside Mikado, Kasabu or Ying Yangs, the Central Atoll’s know how to throw on a show with pristine empty lineups for miles on end. It might never get as big as spots up North, but consistent fun-sized waves are as abundant and perfect as you could wish for. In the right conditions with a strong Southern push (South facing spots) or Eastern push (East facing breaks), this otherwise idyllic and remote paradise comes truly alive, and you'll encounter waves, so perfect, you won't believe it until you see it. What adds to the flavor is the fact that there are still spots only a few lucky ones have surfed. They are the true definition of secret spots just waiting to be named! Due to the shape and location of the individual Atolls, you'll always find a spot that's protected from the wind. All breaks are close by which makes it easy to alternate between them and hunt perfect conditions all day.
The Southern Atolls are a real gem and one of the least explored surf destinations on the planet. Deep in the Indian Ocean and a 45min flight from the hustle and bustle of Male, the Southern Atolls are as remote as it gets. There isn't much around other than empty world-class waves, a few resorts and even fewer boat charters. More exposed to the far-traveling Southern groundswells the Southern Atolls have a more extended surf season that starts in early February and doesn't end until November. The Huvadhoo Atoll is a magnet for waves and picks up more swell, from every direction, than any other Atoll in the Maldives. The selection, quality, and quantity of waves down South are out of this world! There is everything from heavy barrels to steep walls and ultra rippable corners in the world's most beautiful and idyllic backyard with no one else around.
A well-kept secret for so many years, Kakuni Rights might not be as consistent as other spots further south, but if you hit it when the conditions are right, the hard barreling righthander is absolutely perfect. The wave wraps around a deeper shelf of reef and starts with a mellow-ish takeoff, followed by a fast and hollow barrel section over shallow reef.
As the name suggests, this is a pretty epic righthander when it's on and probably the heaviest wave in the Northern Atolls. It has a pretty small swell window which makes the break pretty fickle and unpredictable. Works best in a medium tide with variable W - NE wind and a strong SSE push.
Just out front of Sonevafushi Resort, this wave has a little bit of a temper. It’s fickle and you need to have a little bit of luck on your side to score, but with a big southeast swell, Soneva Reef is on fire. It’s a pretty friendly righthander with an easy take-off but it gets super shallow through the inside, so make sure you keep your head straight and watch where you’re going.
A solid A-frame that works in all sorts of conditions. Either way you wanna go, with a straight W swell the wave turns into a barreling machine. Bats is mechanical which makes it easier to navigate the zippy and hollow mid-section. It’s one of the more powerful waves in the region as the swell traverses through a narrow channel out from the open ocean before hitting the shallow-ish reef bank.
One word. Worldclass! Drumsticks well and truly turns into a perfect barreling lefthander in the right conditions. It’s long. It’s fast. It barrels. It has all the attributes of a world class wave without being too heavy. It has a pretty easy take-off that fades into a rippable bowl before the wave bottoms out through the inside for a classic, pristine Maldivian barrel.
The Northern Atoll’s response to a wave pool! Snakes is a lot of fun with a perfect reef formation to support that claim. The wave never gets too big or too heavy and hardly ever closes out. It essentially has 3 sections. The mellow take-off is perfect for longboarders to cruise down the face before the reef wraps around, producing slightly steeper, faster and more rippable walls.
Dhakendhoo Corner is a solid option when everywhere else seems to be too small. It always has a little wave as the swell travels through a narrow reef passage before hitting the reef. It breaks directly off Dhakendhoo, an inhabited island, with a perfectly deep reef set up. It’s an A-frame wave cooking up something for everyone.
The northern-most break in the North Male Atoll got its namesake from the poultry factory that was close nearby. While the slaughterhouse is long gone, the unbelievable long left walls still remain. Across the channel from Thulusdhoo Islands, Chicken's is known as the longest left in the country that can hold some pretty decent size too. Pretty mellow when it's under 3ft but lo and behold, the place produces some serious thunder when it's bigger.
Cokes is the poster child in the area and the reason why many surfers get stuck in North Male for their entire stay. Only a stone's throw away from Season's Paradise, Samura Guest House and Cokes Surf Camp, this fast and hollow righthander is every barrel freak's dream. Coming out of deep water before hitting a shallow reef shelf, the wave disperses into two sections; A steep takeoff section followed by a beautiful barrel section, linking up with the shallow end bit of the wave for another hollow cylinder for you to take cover from the sun.
Lohis is a real gem for everyone who can throw out the cash to stay at Adaaran Select, the resort that claims exclusive access to the wave. Capped at 45 surfers a day to manage the crowd, Lohis isn't quite as perfect as Pasta Point but makes up for it with some incredible long rides. The lefthander has two distinct sections, and when they connect, Oh boy, you are in for some incredible and hollow barrels, longer than anywhere else in the Maldives.
Although the Maldives aren't really on the level of Sri Lanka or Bali when it comes to beginner friendly waves, there are a few spots worth mentioning. The name somewhat suggests otherwise, but Ninjas is a pretty mellow break great for longboarders and beginners who mastered the skills of trimming and going across the face. It is much slower than other waves in the area an and only works on a small swell.
The holy grail of surfing in the Maldives. The myth, the legend, Pasta Point rivals Kelly Slater's wave pool in any way. In a nutshell; Pasta Point is perfection! Unfortunately, it is off-limits for the "common people," and you only get to surf this left -hand wave machine if you are one of 30 surf guests staying at Cinnamon Dhonveli, the luxury resort that claims ownership of the wave.
As the name suggests, this wave is majestic, challenging and home to the Four Season's epic Single Fin event. Sultans breaks off an uninhabited, government controlled island, called Thanburudhoo and is always a touch bigger than anywhere else. Sultans is the Maldives answer to Indonesian type waves and has 3 main sections. The takeoff is often behind the peak, so be aware and sit just a little deeper than you usually would.
On the other side of Sultans is another world-class break that makes any goofy footer go wild! By many labeled as the best wave in the area, Honkys is a long, wrapping lefthander that keeps growing down the line. The reef formation upon takeoff is a semi-circular shape which makes the wave appear to come at you, and you never have to pump down the line or race a section.
Jailbreaks is one of the stand-out waves in the area with a troubled past. The spot was off limits for many years because it was part of a prison complex on the island and anyone who attempted to surf it ran the risk of trading empty hollow right-hand barrels for a filthy dark prison cell instead. The prison has since turned into a drug rehabilitation center but what remains are the long steep walls that can often go on for a few hundred meters.
The North Male list wouldn't be complete without mentioning Towns that breaks on the Eastern reef of Male, the capital city of the Maldives. Not many surf travelers will end up here, but in case you have a few hours to kill on the mainland, it is worth checking out the shifty peaks that break both left and right. Towns is kind of a swell magnet and catches its fair share of Southeastern swell. A pretty short but steep drop followed by a workable wall makes this break a favorite among local shredders on whatever craft they can find.
Best kept secret in South Male. A fast, shallow and super hollow lefthander that will feed the hunger of the most barrel-starved charger. Do not attempt if you aren't barrel ready or you'll pay the price for it. Rumored to be the best break in the Maldives on its day, offers multiple barrel sections and many opportunities to catch some shade from the Maldivian sun. Beware; the wave is super fast, especially on the takeoff as it rushes in from deep water before it hits the shallow reef bank. A rising tide with a South to Southeastern swell is what you want here.
A sectiony break that picks up more swell than any other spot in South Male. Pair a south swell with a high tide, and Twin Peaks turns into a rippable top-to-bottom kinda setup with a pretty inviting end section. It's nothing too spectacular, and Twin Peaks will never be in contention for "best wave" in the area, but on its day it offers a hell of a time for intermediate and more advanced surfers away from all the traffic.
Quarters is a pretty fun little right with a potent inside section that offers a few head dips on the right days. Need a little more swell than other breaks around, but this zippy bowl has some pretty fun walls to work with. Speed is your friend, and you might want to high-line a few more sections than usual. The outside wave is great for longboarders and beginners as it slowly peels its way over the deeper part of the reef and towards the less consistent but hollow end section that produces some epic little barrels on a bigger swell.
Kate’s is a more mellow, shorter lefthander near Anantara Resort. It is a fickle one as it needs NW or N winds, but when the stars align it can be a really fun option. It never gets too big which makes it a great little wave for beginners and intermediates.
On its day, Kandooma is a freight train type wave, barreling top to bottom without any nonsense. Usually breaks pretty straight which means it can close out quite a bit but once you pick a good one, tuck in under the zipping lip and get sped out at the end, you know why you paid the extra buck to surf this exclusive righthander.
A South Male local favorite, Foxies is a fast and hollow lefthander breaking over a pretty shallow reef bed. Advanced territory only, Natives is a (reversed) carbon copy of Machines (later on the list) producing long, hard barreling rides when the swell hits 4ft+. The end section drops out pretty quickly which means you need enough speed to punch through the last tube section and make it out the other end.
As the name suggests, this zippy righthander has one major drawback; riptides. The wave is located across the channel from Guraidhoo Island and breaks off an uneven reef in the middle of the ocean that occasionally comes with some pretty filthy riptides making it impossible to surf. Other than that, the wave is incredible. It breaks in the middle of the ocean for crying out loud - that in itself is a pretty unique experience.
The name kind of gives it away. Playgrounds is a super fun and playful left that's only accessible by boat. Nothing but good times here, with a mellow roll-in take off, followed by a perfectly angled wall waiting to be punished. Super rippable and long rides, not too steep, not too flat - just perfect to work on your high-performance maneuvers. Easy exit in deeper water and next to no crowds.
Mulah Point is another beginner-friendly spot that can really save a holiday, especially in the learner-friendly-starved Central Atolls. A point break type wave that breaks over a deep, wrapping reef that slows down the wave. The break has multiple take-off spots and grows smaller as you go down the line. Can get busy at times with local kids enjoying the break as much as surf travelers passing through.
Just south of Mulah island is Mushrooms, a high-performance right hand point that is famous for its consistency. Mushrooms' claim to fame is that it always has a rideable wave, even when other spots around are completely flat. This major drawcard is also the wave's biggest curse as it maxes out real easy. It does not handle bigger swells at all. The place is beautiful though, and the water clarity is so incredible that it feels like you are surfing in a pool as you are going to town on the long rippable right-hand walls.
F1 in a nutshell; Really fast! One of the better waves in the Meemu Atolls, but also one of the more challenging ones. It needs a bigger swell from the East to work, and it usually breaks pretty straight which makes up for incredible barrels or horrendous wipeouts when you get clipped by the fast and unforgiving lip. The wave comes out of deeper water before hitting a pretty shallow and rocky seabed that adds to the power of the wave. Definitely not your twin fin cruiser kind of wave that's protected from all Southerly winds.
"The closest you can get to a surfers paradise." A quote found on the website of Niyama Private Islands, the ultimate luxury resort that claims exclusive access to the break pretty much sums up what Vodi is all about. Directly breaking onto the South-Western tip of the island, Vodi is a world-class lefthander and the region's life insurance for waves. It picks up more swell than any other break around and has multiple sections to hone your craft.
A wave that goes by many names but only knows one way. Fun! Probably the longest wave in the whole country offers something for every level. Beginners can glide along the mushier end section that ends with an easy kick out further in the lagoon whereas more confident surfers have multiple take-off zones to pick from. Big days are the best days at Kasabu and you are in for some serious leg-burning when all sections connect. Labeled as the "funnest" wave in the Maldives offer steep walls, hollow tube vision, high-performance mania and everything in between for those you make the steep take-off at the outside corner of the wave.
The Central Atolls' equivalent to Cokes in the North Male Atoll. It needs a little bit more swell to get really going, but Hocus Pocus is steep, hollow and fast. It's the spot when the swell is too big for all other spots nearby and works best on a mid to high tide with westerly winds. Take off deep to get the best of all 3 sections that often link up for an incredible ride that includes multiple barrel sections and nice steep open wall for some maneuvers.
Touted as the most beautiful wave to surf in the Maldives, Inside Mikado offers something for all levels with plenty of sections to choose from. Really starts working when it gets over 3ft, Inside Mikado has a pretty mellow take-off over a deep reef that turns into a long cruisy wall before jacking up through the inside for an easy barrel before again, running into deep water for an easy kick out in the lagoon, or little heaven - how the locals like to call it. It never gets too shallow and it never really chandeliers or closes out.
Really just an extension of Inside Mikado but the two waves are so different that they are really considered two separate spots. They are in fact, the polar opposite. Inside Mikado is mellow, slow, safe and fun, while Outside Mikado is fast, sectiony, shallow and powerful. It's a tricky wave to figure out so you might want to sit and watch it for a bit before heading over to the take-off spot. The wave breaks over a wrapping, uneven reef that increases in size and speed as you race down the line.
A solid option for when the crowd gets too hectic at Inside Mikado or too shallow for Outside Mikado. Finnimas Right is a powerful righthander that breaks in deeper water before it hits a shallower ledge through the inside. While it packs some punch, it has a pretty mellow take-off that gives you enough time to plan ahead for what’s to come. There are 3 designated sections. A fatter but powerful outside section followed by a rippable wall through the inside that lets you throw a few hooks and carves at it before the wave jacks up once more over shallow reef for a steep, fast and occasional hollow end section.
Maliks loves a good southwest swell to really turn on the barrel factory. It's a pretty fickle wave that adds to the mystery that surrounds this heavy lefthander off the inhabited island of Hirilandhoo. Malik has a temper which is also the main attraction of the wave. It is unpredictable and can turn on, or off for that matter, in a matter of minutes. On its days Malik produces a perfectly mechanical Maldivian barrel your friends will envy you forever for. Easterly winds are the secret ingredient here. Throw in a mid tide, and you get yourself a barrel party that is unrivaled in the Central Atolls.
A nice change to all the shallow breaks around, Bowling Alley breaks in deep water and works on all tides. Just like Malik, although a lot more manageable, the wave has a temper and doesn't react to any sort of winds too kindly. Best on a Southeast swell with little to no Southwest wind, the spot turns from a sleeping beauty into a hard rippable wave machine.
A swell magnet and standout in the area that's just across the Six Senses Resort. As the name suggests, Ying Yangs has two sections that couldn't be any more different to each other. The outside section is a shifty but mellow peak that produces a fat cruisy wall perfect for intermediate surfers or guys on logs. The second section is why many people travel to the Maldives for. It's heavy, it's shallow, and it's round! A heavy drop leads into a wide open barrel you can park a freight train in.
Jetty C is the Six Senses' house reef and breaks close to the resort. Jetty C has 3 main take-off spots, all breaking in deeper water, which makes it a great wave for all skill levels. It has various sections and occasionally even bottoms out for a nice barrel near the reef marker. It doesn't have the same reputation as Ying Yangs but a 4-5 turn combo all the way to the inside is the norm, especially when the wave gets over 3ft.
Shoulders is everything a beginner wave should be. Fun, safe and right out front of Six Senses Laamu, making it easy to paddle straight out. It’s nicely tucked in between the island and works great with N/ NE winds and S / SE swell. When it gets a little bigger, it’s also a great option for more advanced surfers to toy around on a longboard, fish or some other alternative craft. A lot of fun! A lot of waves!
Petrol’s is a safe haven for intermediate surfers longing for a change of scene when Ying Yang gets too heavy, too shallow, too gnarly. Just around the corner from Six Senses Laamu Resort, Petrol’s is a short-ish, punchy left that wedges up right from the start for a quick little head dip before the reef bends towards you for a finishing snap or top turn. The end section is pretty forgiving as it fades out into the channel. Easy paddle out, mellow vibes, Petrol’s is a super fun wave without the hazards of other nearby waves.
The absolute highlight in the Laamu Atoll. A barreling righthander that can compete with any wave on the planet. It's perfect! Without giving too much away, it breaks like a machine and every wave coming through is a carbon copy of the one before. It just barrels - period. No trimming, no high-lining or re-adjusting required. Just take off (deep) set your rail and tuck in. Angle your take-offs and don't pull out until the wave fattens out down the end. It's shallow but never too shallow, and there is most likely a sizable (local) crowd that knows where to sit.
Tiger Stripes got its name from the narrow (tiger like) gouges in the reef and is touted one of the most consistent waves in the Southern Atolls, spitting out wide open lefthand walls perfect for all levels. Although more powerful than other waves in the area, it doesn't get as hollow, and cruisy long walls are usually what you get to work on your cutbacks, carves or backhand snaps.
A comfortable 5-minute boat ride from Ayada Resort, this ultra-consistent lefthander turns on the charms on a medium, southwesterly swell and N / NE winds. An instant love affair for every goofy footer, Love Charms is a long beautiful wave with two sections. An easy take-off slingshots you into a nice steep wall for a few nice turns before the little kink in the reef hollows out the wave through the inside for some fantastic little tubes.
Five Islands is a heavy righthander that throws hard and hollow over a shallow reef. It's a pretty sectioney wave, and you might want to watch it for a while, but it produces some of the longest barrels in the Southern Atolls. Well protected from south to southwest winds, Five Islands is less forgiving than nearby Blue Bowls with a pretty steep take-off and a fast mid-section.
The name kind of gives it away but this righthander bowls up so nicely for a variety of tricks. It has a pretty shallow inside section which bottoms out for amazing barrels when the swell has some south in it, and the winds blow from the west. Works on all tides and gets better with size but is actually a really fun spot when it's small as it slows down and offers a really nice, long and consistent high-performance wall to shred away.
Antiques is the ever so perfect alternative to Tiger Stripes but smaller and less powerful. The wave breaks over a perfectly flat reef bed that has no kinks or imperfections you have to deal with. Really consistent and breaks across all tides pumping out perfect little peelers especially popular among longboarders, regular footers, and intermediate surfers.
Castaway has probably the most amazing backdrop of all waves in the Maldives. The spot backs onto a large, lively reef formation that separates the break from a chain of little, uninhabited islands. It has a pretty soft take-off, but has a super shallow inside section that needs some navigating. Really idyllic vibe here with cruisy waves, plenty of marine life and usually not too many people but watch out for the super shallow reef along the inside of the wave!
Probably the heaviest break when it's on and not a wave you want to mess with unless you are an expert in the barrel. A super exposed reef break that is both fierce and fickle. Only really works in a clean southwest swell and any other direction almost always causes the wave to close out. A prime summer months destination with S -SE swells coming through pretty consistently.
Viligili Left is a fast, zippy lefthander that is offshore when Viligili Right gets too windy. It breaks right opposite the airport landing strip and truly comes to live with a Southern push and West - Northwest winds. Although the take off is on the faster side, the wave mellows out quite a bit as through the inside with a pretty safe end section.
A fast-breaking lefthander (main wave) with a pretty potent lip breaks off Hithadhoo, a small but thriving local island that up until 1976 was a British military base. The reef formation is quite large, and other waves break along the shallow inside, but nothing really matches the quality of the wedgy left at the outer corner.
Pretty self-explanatory that the consistent righthander got its name from the luxury resort nearby. Pretty remote and you really have one hotel/resort in the area which leads to pretty uncrowded surf. It needs a little bit of push from the south but typically always has a wave. Odd for such a remote destination but the Shangri La Hotel has been lobbying for a "You can only surf here if you stay here" policy which puts the wave's public access in jeopardy.
Named after the approach lights from the nearby airport runway, the righthander dishes out long, wide open walls deep in the Indian Ocean. The wave is pretty exposed which means there is always a little wave to be had. Pretty vulnerable when the winds blow from the south but a sure-fire address for waves during the summer months. Pretty fun and rippable up until head high but completely transforms into an intense and powerful bowl when it's bigger.
Madihera is just East of Approach Lights, off the tip of Madihera islet. The set up is magic! Although a reef, Madihera breaks more like a pointbreak with a few take off sections and a long, sectiony wall through the inside. It’s pretty exposed and picks up a ton of swell, however, it picks up plenty of wind too. It’s a wave you want to hit early before the wind gets too strong as it completely kills the wave.