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Northcore

Stormrider Guide to surfing Thaa and Laamu Atolls

Maldive Islands, INDIAN OCEAN


Yin Yang, YEP

Summary

+ Consistent in SW monsoon - Lack of consistent lefts
+ Long, wrapping reef waves - More cruising between spots
+ World-class YinYang and Mikado - Hardly ever big
+ Comfy safari boats, peaceful island villages - Expensive domestic flight

The Maldives are 26 flat coral atolls ringed with 1,200 islands, only a few of which are known for the quality of their surf. With an Indian Ocean swell window from direct E through S to W, Laamu atoll and Thaa atoll are fairly new central atoll surf zones with many high-quality reef pass setups. These two atolls alone present 150 islands and almost 650km of coastline to the frequent swell. The central atolls of the Maldives enjoy an abundance of medium-sized, perfect reefbreaks, the majority of which are righthanders. A settled and peaceful area of sparse population, access to the majority of these waves is by charter boat alone, despite planned resorts. Unlike other island chains, the expense and low number of boats in this area of the Maldives keeps crowds low. With waves such as Mikado and Yin Yang known for their pristine barrels, under the right conditions the central atolls are tropical perfection.

When to Go

Late March through to mid May are generally clean and calm, ideal conditions for boat cruising. The wind doesn’t get too strong, and even in the heart of the monsoon season clean days are common. Wind conditions can be divided into three clear periods. The prevailing wind from April to August is SW-W, from September to November it swings SW-NW, changing again from December to March, when it predominately blows NW-NE.

Surf Spots

On the west coast of Thaa atoll, Bowling Alley is a scenic deep-water peak that closes out quickly onto a reef deep inside the atoll. When the wind blows from the SE, head to Hirilandhoo where a long, speedy, but inconsistent left called Malik’s can offer high quality barrels. To the east lies Adonis, a sectiony right that favours N winds and breaks off the southeastern tip of Veymandhoo island. SE-SW swell first hits Outside Mikado, a fast right with a dodgy end section over uneven reef that needs higher tides to hold up. Inside Mikado is a perfect wraparound righthander that’s inconsistent at low tide, but mid tide through high can deliver perfect peeling waves with short barrel sections. Inside Mikado is offshore in a SW wind, but a W or NW wind will spoil this flawless line-up. Finnimas is an exposed lefthander that needs NE, N or light NW winds to break well and across the next pass a right sometimes breaks. Laamu atoll is more exposed and Yin Yang is the most consistent wave in the area, working best under strong SE swell when thick barrels and a powerful inside section can be punishing. The outside section breaks in deep water, and can be an option in NW winds that blow out the inside. In SW winds, the outside becomes choppy and the inside turns on. If the swell is big and the wind from the NW, it may be worth heading inside the pass to Mada’s, a short and shallow left. On the east-facing coast of the atoll, Bedhuge is a remote, perfect right that breaks on big SE swells and any W wind. Across the pass Refugee’s Lefts are short and shifty requiring specific SE swell direction to line up while Refugee’s Rights are only for speed demons that can race the close-out sections. Machine is usually the best option; a winding, tubular right best on an incoming tide and is rideable even in small swells. On the northeast tip of the atoll is Isdhoo Bank, a rarely surfed righthander that comes alive in big S-SE swells with S-SW winds.

Statistics

J
F
M
A
M
J
J
A
S
O
N
D
dominant swell SE -SW SE -SW SE -SW SE -SW SE -SW SE -SW
swell size (ft) 2-3 4 5 6 4-5 2-3
consistency (%) 60 80 90 90 80 60
dominant wind N -E W -NE SW -W SW -NW SW -NW W -N
average force F3 F2-F3 F3 F3 F3-F4 F3
consistency (%) 76 48 71 68 83 47
water temp (C) 28 29 29 28 28 28
wetsuit boardshorts boardshorts boardshorts boardshorts boardshorts boardshorts

Travel Information

Weather
The Iruvai is the NE monsoon (Dec-March), typified by dry weather and light N winds. The WSW monsoon, Hulhangu lasts from mid May through to mid November, and is likely to feature overcast weather and strong thunderstorms. 2704 hours of sunshine per year, help to keep water temperature between 28-30°C (82-86ºF).

Lodging and Food
There is one high-end resort, Maalifushi by Como in Thaa atoll, and a Mikado guesthouse in Thimarafushi, but the majority of waves in this area are surfed using live aboard boats. Handful of boats operate on/off in this area: Horizon2 ($220/d), Hamathi ($230/d), Atoll Challenger (group only), Handhu and Handhufal. Cabins with air-conditioning are a luxury in the heat. Boats provide decent quality food and fresh fish is a certainty. Ask for Roshi Mashuni!

Nature and Culture
World class snorkelling and fishing sees tuna, Maori wrasse, swordfish, sailfish, marlin and even whale sharks visiting frequently. Expect friendly village culture.

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