Surfing Safaris

Most of the safari boats in the Maldives claim to do surfing trips, but very few of them have a specialised knowledge of surfing or any experience cruising to the outer atolls. Ideally, a surfing safari boat should have an experienced surf guide, and a second, smaller boat to accompany it, for accessing breaks in shallower water and getting in close to the waves. A surfing safari ('surfari') boat should also be equipped with fishing and snorkelling gear, for when the surf isn't working or you need a rest.

An inner-atolls surfari will just cruise around North Male' Atoll, visiting breaks that are also accessible from resorts in the area. If the swell is big and the surf guide is knowledgeable, the boat may venture down to South Male' Atoll to take advantage of the conditions. A one-week inner-atoll surf trip will start at around US$850 per person. This might be cheaper than resort-based surfing, but it won't be as comfortable, and it won't give access to a handy and uncrowded house break.

An outer-atolls surfari is the only feasible way to surf the remote waves of Gaaf Dhaal - an experienced outer-atoll guide is essential. Ideally, the safari boat should be based in Gaaf Dhaal, and the surfers take an Island Aviation flight to the domestic airport on the island of Kaadedhoo where the boat crew meets them. This requires good coordination and management, but the experienced surfing tour operators have the procedure well organised. They should also have a good relationship with Atolls Administration, so that they can get the necessary permits before you arrive.

You need at least six people to make a safari boat affordable; the surfing specialists should be able to put together the necessary numbers. Don't book into a safari trip that is primarily for diving or cruising. Allow at least two weeks for the trip or you'll spend too much of your time getting to the waves and back. A 10-night surfari will cost from about US$2000 per person, including domestic airfares.

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