Every year I am receiving emails from excited surfers who have booked their trip to come to the Maldives. Many of these surfers are on their first oversea surf trip and their emails are figuratively bursting with stoke! Without exception they all ask me one question: What boards shall I bring?
Rather than replying to each and every email one by one, here is an attempt to offer some general guidelines about what boards you should bring to the Maldives in 2019.
The Maldives are known for its consistent, user-friendly, perfect surf. Generally it is a slightly softer version of Indonesia – the waves don’t get quite so big for starters and they break in deeper water, over gently sloping reef. That being said it is still a world-class destination for the travelling surfer with some mind-blowing perfect waves! The take-offs are easy, giving you plenty of time to set up the next section and the one after that…yes the waves are long, really long and really perfect. Think pristine azure water and almond shaped barrels in the most comfortable climate you will ever surf in. And then, when it all comes together and a solid swell hits, well, then you can think about the best waves you’ve ever seen!
So what boards to bring?
My immediate response to this question is always the same; The first board that goes in your bag should be whatever you like to ride at home. Your “go-to” board – the board that just feels right when you pick it up and paddle out at your local spot, even if it’s been a few weeks between surfs! Give it a good clean, strip off that cold water wax and check for any little creases, dings or cracked fin plugs. If you find any get them fixed! Then give it a gentle rub with some warm water wax and it will be ready for that first morning when you wake up to 3-4ft Maldivian glass!
The second board I would bring would be a board that goes really good in small waves. Something fatter and wider perhaps? Something fast and loose? Maybe a longboard, a fish or a twin fin! If you love riding a standard short board and don’t want to deviate too far from your path maybe consider a little fish/short board hybrid. You will be ripping across those little sections and won’t miss a beat when you go back to your regular shorty. You can be sure that whenever you go on a surf trip there will be at least a couple of small days. So if you have a board that suits those perfect little runners you will be loving life. So yes, I always recommend finding space for that magic small wave board. Especially as the waves are so forgiving out here so you will be surprised how often you can ride it.
How many boards?
“Two boards or three?” is another common question. I always say that travelling with three boards feels so much better than just having two (especially if you should snap one early in your trip). So don’t be shy, after all it is a surf trip! If you are on a one-week trip your third board should be determined by the swell forecast. The forecasts are so accurate these days that you will have a very good idea of what to expect before you leave home so you can pick a board accordingly.
If you are on a two week or longer trip, then this third board should definitely be a step-up. A craft that you feel really confident on in bigger surf. I recommend something that paddles easily into faster moving waves, handles a big drop, holds in on a strong bottom turn and likes getting barrelled! I’m not talking a Hawaiian style gun or anything here. Just a board that you will be comfortable on should you wake up to a solid swell. Perhaps it is a couple inches longer than your standard short board. Maybe a bit more foam under your chest for added paddle power and a nice round pin. Perhaps a quad? I love how my quads works out there and find that they hold in much better on the bigger days, but it’s up to you.
Longboarding in the Maldives is also quite magical, especially early and late season when we usually get small to mid sized swells and light winds all day. When it’s small and glassy waves are great fun on modern or traditional longboards. But be aware that many of the waves are so long that if the swell is bigger paddling back out through the white water can be hard if you get caught inside. If you primarily ride a longboard, perhaps bring a back up 7’6″ that is easier to handle should the swell be a bit much for the 9’6″.
There comes a time in every surfer’s life when the desire for a retro surfboard raises its head. Even if owning a quiver of amazing shortboards and longboards, there is something extra special about surfing a retro board . Riding an original board from the 70s for example, or even a board inspired by previous decades, can’t be matched i personal always like to have some different in my quiver some thing that brings a different approach and feeling. I have a good friend Manel from Live Stoked in Baleal Portugal that supply me with some unique designs for my quiver.
What else to bring? Bring some extra pair of fins and some extra leash, some organic sun cream that is friendly with the corals.
Also pack your friendly face! A smile goes a long way in the line-up and remember that everyone else paid to come here too. So make sure you take turns and give a wave away. Especially to one of the local guys if you happen to be paddling next to one!