When we called Stoked Surf Adventure’s Chris Stevens to chat about the mighty Maldives – he’d just hopped back in the car after a surf on his home break at Byron Bay.
Chris, who spent 10 years on the road chasing waves and adventure, founded Stoked Surf Adventures as a way of sharing what he found out along the way. He aims to connect other surfers with the world’s awesome waves. It also doesn’t hurt that he set the business so that the only way a tour makes it on to their site is if he, or one of his team, has checked it Stoked Surf out personally and given it the tick of approval.
Stoked book trips to a range of international surfing destinations, from Bali, to South Africa, Sri Lanka, the Mentawais and the Maldives, aggregating a range of trips, covering a range of price ranges, for customers all over the world.
Chris said for Australian and New Zealand travellers for the past two years, surfing outside of their home breaks was all but impossible – but with the easing COVID restrictions and great deals coming online from airlines keen to get people out and about again, the Maldives was looking good for the rest of 2022.
“I saw a flight from Maldives to the Gold Coast direct for $250 US, and Air Asia has potential via Kuala Lumpur,” he said.
Chris said the Maldives had continued to grow its tourism despite COVID and some venues, such as Pasta Point, where already at 90 percent capacity for the rest of the 2022 season.
He said as travellers rushed to get out there the demand would be high – and as much as we’d all been trained to book last minute, those who booked further in advance were most likely to get the dates and the trips they wanted.
While the Maldives has developed a bit of a reputation as an expensive travel location, Chris said adventure could still be found at a lower cost, it just took some planning, and a willingness to travel outside of the peak seasons.
One thing he recommends people keen to surf the Maldives don’t go skimping on is travel insurance – simply because most of the waves finish on fairly shallow reefs and the risk is there of having a few bumps and scratches that may need medical help.
He said most of the comprehensive policies would cover COVID-related medical issues that occurred while travelling, however now that COVID was a known thing, travellers needed to check on their cancellation policies when booking any trips in terms of when, or if, refunds would be offered should rules change or borders be shut. He said airlines, resorts, and different countries all had different rules in place, so it made sense to take the time to research well and stay up to date when planning a trip at the moment.
While Stoked does book non-Australians into Pasta Point via Atoll Adventures as part of a deal with the team there, it also books trips to private islands, on to charters, and to other resorts.
For Chris, the stand-out at the luxury end of the scale is Niyama Private Islands Maldives Surf Resort with its private left-hand break Vodi.
“The seaplane journey to Niyama, it’s just the next level,” he said. “The resort itself is stunning.”
He said another thing to remember when travelling to the Maldives is that it is an Islamic country, where the towns and villages are “dry” and the dress code is in line with religious rules. In the resort, the rules are relaxed – but outside the gates, the laws of the land apply.
On the wave side of things, Chris said the better surfer you are, the more waves you’ll catch and the more fun you’ll have.
“All the breaks and reefs are quite shallow. There are generous unbroken waves for take-off, but if you’re wanting to learn to surf it would be worth looking at somewhere like Sri Lanka first.”
Searching the Stoked Surf Adventures website for trips to the Maldives and the range on offer is large.
At the top end, a five night stay for two adults in a Beach Villa with daily breakfast and airport transfers to and from the Four Seasons Kuda Huraa – Maldives Surf will set you back about $4200 AUD per person. The resort has easy access to the breaks at Cokes, Chickens, Sultans, Honkys and Jailbreaks.
The site also lists half a dozen surf charter boats with 7-night tour prices ranging from about $3400 AUD per person to $2300 AUD per person. Each boat tackles a range of breaks and has slightly different offers – including some offering the chance to grab a bunch of mates and book the whole boat.
At the budget end of the scale, a five night stay at Thulusdhoo at the four star Season Paradise hotel with easy access to the breaks at Cokes and Chickens can be arranged from about $750 AUD per person, depending on the season.