When Queensland-based World Surfari’s General Manager Steve Adam finally got back to the Maldives on February 18 this year, he landed in a country that had just recorded is highest ever number of tourist arrivals for a February.
With not a lot of places around the world for COVID-weary travellers to go, the Maldives had hit the top 5 as a tropical destination for the leisure markets of Europe, America and South America and beyond.
At Hudhuranfushi Surf Resort in the Male Atolls, popular with World Surfaris’ surfing groups, surf passes were sold out in 2021 – with demand remaining high into 2022 to be one of the 45 lucky surfers allowed on the resort’s popular Lohi’s break at any point in time.
“April is chockers,” Steve said. “We’ve got pretty much this whole month booked out – most of the charter boats, through to June are kind of back-to-back,” he said.
The current bookings are travellers from places other than Australia and New Zealand.
Steve said at the start of April, those markets were still a little reluctant to book, with clients pushing trips back and rescheduling to 2023 in the wake of the Omnicron COVID strain’s impact at the start of 2022.
However, with changes in the wind around vaccination rules and testing, he expected business could pick up quickly from here once confidence returned.
“It is progressing toward, what I think will be a better end to the year. It’s kind of moving now, and then in three to four months, I think we’ll be jumping on planes again.”
For World Surfaris, having the Maldives still active for international tourism, has provided some relief while other markets such as PNG, Somoa and Indonesia were off limits.
Steve said the majority of World Surfari’s business each year came out of Australia, and it was really good to have the phone ringing again with people wanting to talk about travel, or the cost of a Tiger on the charter boat (about $7.50 AUS in case you’re wondering), rather than cancelling or postponing trips.
He said after so long couped up he expected there would be a big rush from surf travellers all over the world to get back out on the waves, and suggested it was wise for those seeking adventure to look into the credentials of the company’s they booked with to ensure they met international standards of service and support.
World Surfaris, which this year celebrates 25 years of providing surf adventures to its clients, promises a high level of service and support, backed by its membership of the Australian Federation of Travel Agents and its participation in the AFTA Travel Accreditation Scheme (ATAS).
Another element Steve suggested all travellers should look into was their travel insurance, noting that a lot of the providers of comprehensive policies had now reworded their policies to provide medical coverage for COVID-related medical issues that happen while on tour.
When it comes to cancellations and refunds, he said as COVID was now a known thing, travellers were required to take it into consideration when booking their holidays and should work closely with their agents to understand any cancellation or holiday credit rules that might apply to a particular tour should COVID rules change in the countries being visited along the way.
While the situation remains fluid, Steve said there was a move back to a more normal set of travel circumstances and now really was the time to start thinking about booking some waves in 2022 and 2023.
He said one of the great things about surfing the Maldives in particular was the range of breaks available across the atolls and the ability to move around to avoid the crowds.
“There’s still some really quiet corners of the Maldives – especially with the boats,” he said.
The southern atolls, and the southern breaks of Tiger Stripes, Love Charms, Five Islands, Blue Bowls, Castaway and Beacons get a mention.
“If there’s even a small whiff of surf, you’re on. You’re never short of swell and you’ve got no surf resorts.”
A quick look at the World Surfaris Maldives tab on their website reveals a wealth of opportunities for the keen surfer to explore.
On the resort side of things, a stay at Hudhuranfushi Surf Resort, home to the famed left hand break Lohis, will set you back between $400-$449 a night.
Niyama Resort Maldives in the Central Atolls starts from $550 a night and is described as a luxury experience with two small islands and surf breaking at the door at Vodi surf point.
Ayada Resort on the Outer Atolls offers a land-based location with daily surf transfers to Tiger Stripes, Love Charms, Two Ways, Five Islands and Antiques.
For the more hardcore surfer, happy to spend their nights on the ocean and their days riding waves, World Surfaris work with four charter boats, Maavahi (Outer Atolls), MV Adora (Male Atolls), Atoll Jade (Central or Northern Atolls) and Fascination Maldives (Central Atolls).
Each of the boats offer trips ranging from 7 to 10 days with a vast array of package deals on offer depending on the timing of your travel and the size of the particular boat you choose.
Given the focus on surfing tours, it’s no surprise the World Surfaris team includes a bunch of great local surfers in the Maldives who are on hand to offer advice, direct the boats and help to find the best swell.