Title image - maldives surf charter vs surf resort

Title image - maldives surf charter vs surf resort


There’s no two ways about it, the Maldives is Paradise.

Certainly for your average holiday maker, but even more so for surfers. Nowhere is 100% perfect, but it’s certainly the closest we’ve experienced throughout fairly extensive travels. This coupled with consistent, perfect and rippable waves is exactly why we decided the Maldives is the perfect location for our all inclusive surf coaching trips.

But first there’s a crucial decision to be made…

Maldives Surf Charter or Maldives Surf Resort?

If you’re anything like me, a boat trip through a tropical archipelago of surfing perfection has always seemed like the pinnacle of surf trips. For years it has been, but in recent years the popularity of luxury surf resorts has exploded. In the following post we’ll weigh up the pros and cons of both and help you hone in on the ultimate surf trip for you.


Maldives Surf Charter – The boat trip



1. Escape the crowds, score the best conditions.

The real beauty of a surf charter is always having your ‘home’ with you. If you pull up at a spot and it’s side-shore or there’s 20 guys out, there’s no need to head out on a Dhoni mission for the day – getting sunburn and doing your back in. Simply cruise your floating hotel to the next reef pass that takes your fancy. The Maldives has an incredible range of quality waves to offer and a charter boat is the perfect vehicle to hunt down the best waves. This is where having a good surf guide and captain will really pay dividends and something we put a high priority on at Renegade Surf Travel.

2. Live the dream you were so often sold in naughties surf movies.

Remember the surf movie? As in the hard copy, full length, big budget surf movie. Well if you do, you’ll remember that seemingly every other one between 2000-2009 was a bunch of pros on a boat trip getting epic waves and sinking tins. Whether you liked ’em or not, there’s no doubt they sewed the seed of envy and the thought of “one day I need to do a trip like that”. That was certainly the case for me. Let me use this post to quash the cynicism of your now more mature mind and confirm that the tropical paradise boat trip really is as good as it seemed back in 2005. You owe it to yourself to make it a reality.

3. The perfect combination of adventure, freedom and comfort.

For those who like their surf trips with a pinch of freedom and adventure, the Maldives surf charter provides this with a level of comfort and luxury that can’t be associated with other ‘adventurous’ forms of travel. Sure there are plenty of surf charters that stick to the beaten track, and that’s fine. But if you want to you have the option to surf new waves every day, surfing remote corners of islands you’ve never heard of without another boat in sight. There’s no better escapism from day to day life.

4. The mobility of a boat combined with the luxury of a resort – best of both worlds!

Some people shudder at the thought of living full time on a boat for a week or more. However those same people probably haven’t seen or experienced the comforts of a modern day surf charter vessel. Large double suites with en suite bathrooms, expansive sundecks, hot tubs and 5* chefs are no longer the domain of top hotels. You can have all this on the water, moored up next to whatever kind of wave you can imagine. The boats we work with are incredibly comfortable, stable and always moor up within the calm waters of the atolls at night.

Double room with ocean view on Maldives Explorer

5. Surf a range of the best spots a region has to offer in just one trip.

As surf coaching specialists, being able to surf a variety of waves can be really beneficial. You might be able to rip the bag out of a soft right hand wall, but what about a wedging hollow left? On a Maldives surf charter we can surf a variety of waves and address your individual strengths and weaknesses and unlock the doors to your surfing progression. Variety is the spice of life and keeps the possibility of finding your new favourite wave just around the corner a very real one.

6. Score epic waves whilst seeing a lot of the country

Whilst admittedly not the most immersive cultural experience, a Maldives surf charter allows you to see far more of a country than you would from inside a resort. Of course you’re there to surf first and foremost, but why not see a little of the country you’re visiting at the same time? The Maldives is over 800km long with more islands than you could count. There’s a lot to see and a lot of perfect waves waiting for you!

7. Boats are rad.

For some people boating is a hobby unto itself. ‘Resorting’ isn’t. Basically you’re getting more for your money by taking to the high seas in search of waves. Your Instagram likes will likely see a spike too. Not that we care about that.

Southern Atolls Maldives Surf Season




1. Smaller living space than a resort

At the risk of stating the obvious, the level of space available on a boat is less than that of a resort. We operate on 1x 27m and 2x 30m boats for our all inclusive surf coaching trips, so at over 90 feet they’re not exactly tiny however! We also keep our numbers on board to around half the capacity of the vessel, making sure all guests have their own private cabin and plenty of space. That said, if you need oodles of space perhaps a resort based trip is the one for you.

2. Risk of sea sickness

Maldives surf charter boats are incredibly comfortable and stable but they operate on the ocean and the ocean moves. In the Maldives the boats don’t travel at night and always moor up inside the protection of the atoll meaning motion is minimal and you’ll sleep like a baby. However there’s always a chance that a storm can blow though and make things a little more interesting, though in the tropics these are usually very short lived.

3. The insta-crowd factor

Whilst a Maldives surf charter allows you to escape the crowds as and when you wish, it’s normally common for most if not all of the guests on board to surf together. This of course can have it’s own crowd factor if their are 14 surfers all jumping in at the same time, even in an empty lineup. And don’t think the 5 guys enjoying a spot are going to be stoked to see your boat of 14 frothers jump in. Renegade Surf Travel believe it’s our duty to use the ocean responsibly and this is part of the reason we keep our groups small. With a maximum of 8 guests on each trip we keep the service, the wave count and the vibes high!

4. Can be a frustrating experience if your captain isn’t on the ball

When booking a Maldives surf charter directly with a boat company, the experience of the captain can be a bit of a gamble. In our experience this is one area you really don’t want to take a chance on. It’s not a guarantee that your captain will be a surfer or even have much wave knowledge in the region. Some captains can also be reluctant to travel to other waves and regions in order to save on fuel costs. Luckily we’ve done the work of finding the best boats with the best crews so when you book your trip with us, you know you’ll be in the best waves on any given day.


Maldives Surf Resort – The terra firma option



1. Private wave, limited surfers

One of the biggest draws of a Maldives surf resort is they often have their own private wave out the front. They also normally limit the number of surfers staying at the resort to prevent over-crowding. Numbers are normally restricted to around 30-50, though obviously if 45 people surf at the same time that’s a pretty significant crowd. Time it right however and there can be windows throughout the day when there’s perfect waves peeling down the home reef with nobody out.

2. Keep your significant other and/or kids happy

You’ve probably heard the saying “happy wife, happy life”. This can be a deal maker for those travelling with their family or significant other half. If your partner has their heart set on the quintessential Maldivian resort, you’re frothing for some mechanical warm water waves and the kids are in tow, a luxury surf resort is the best bet for ticking all of these boxes. Book the water bungalow accommodation, use the kids club and get some ‘you’ time on the wave out the front. Everyone’s a winner.

3. As easy and ‘switch-off’ as a surf trip gets.

A Maldives surf resort makes for the ultimate non-thinking, hassle free surf trip. You’ll be picked up from the airport, whisked to your resort and can be paddling out 20 minutes later. Everything you need is on sight so there’s no need to think. Just eat, sleep, surf, repeat. *Caveat – Our Maldives surf charter trips are also incredibly low hassle, the only difference is you might have to think about where you want to surf. It’s a tough life…*

4. Spacious, luxury living quarters and places to hang out

As addressed above, resorts are bigger than boats.

5. Live and sleep on land

Granted, as a surfer it should be a given that you love the water. But we’re not really ocean going creatures at our core so perhaps we should spend the majority of our trip on solid ground and keep the ocean for surfing? Food for thought.

Sunset session Maldives surf season



1. Controversy and issues surrounding wave privatisation

There’s no denying that having a private wave on your doorstep is the pinnacle of convenience as a surfer. However, in the bigger context how do we feel about a resort claiming stake to a piece of the ocean? Some people are happy to sweep that thought aside once they see perfect waves a stones throw from their room. There’s also plenty of people that don’t feel comfortable about the idea of wave privatisation and don’t want to encourage this practice. Which side of the fence are you on?

2. Empty waves still not a guarantee

Whilst most Maldives surf resorts do limit the number of surfers, if the majority surf at the same time it can still get busy. Uncrowded lineups are often near the top of many surfers wish lists, so it can be pretty annoying to fly half way around the world to surf a ‘private’ wave with a crew on it. Whether at a resort or on a boat, we always try to get off-sync with the other surfers. Eat when they surf, surf when they eat.

3. If the ‘home break’ isn’t working you’ll have to pay for a boat to other non-private waves

In tricky conditions a Maldives surf charter offers the ultimate flexibility. Wind cross-shore or swell direction not hitting the reef right? Simply motor round to another beautiful reef pass and get stuck into the perfection you came for. If you’re at a resort and the ‘house’ wave isn’t cooking it can be pretty frustrating having to take a Dhoni to the non-private waves in the region. That’s not really what you paid for is it? Though it could be argued that it’s a great backup option.

4. Don’t see much of the country

Normally people who stay at a surf resort stay IN the resort. There’s nothing wrong with that but will you feel awkward if your friends and family ask “how was the Maldives?” and can’t really tell them?

5. Lack of wave variety

Maybe you don’t care about wave variety and are happy to get away on a hassle-free trip with guaranteed waves. Maybe you’re happy to go backside all week and sharpen your backhand attack. On the other hand, maybe you want to go right and left, get tubed and do turns. If you do, maybe a surf resort isn’t for you.


The Verdict?

As always with these types of comparisons, it all comes down to personal preference. But you didn’t read this article just to be told that so here’s our thoughts:

Go for a Maldives Surf Charter if…

Surfing and wave quality is the priority of your trip. When it comes to scoring epic waves, a charter boat is still king. It’s the ultimate combination of luxury and mobility, comfort and adventure. This is why we choose to run our all inclusive surf coaching trips on a small selection of the best boats in the Maldives. If you’re looking to book an all out surf trip with a focus on surfing the best waves in the Maldives, a boat trip could be just what you’re looking for.

Go for a Maldives Surf Resort if…

Having a relaxing holiday is your priority or this is a family getaway. A surf resort is perfect for those who just want a hassle-free vacation and surfing is the icing on the cake. If you’re booking a trip for the whole family or are travelling with your (non-surfing) partner, a Maldives surf resort could be the solution. We will be introducing surf coaching trips at select resorts in 2020 for those who want to take their surfing to the next level whilst enjoying the creature comforts of resort life.


For more information regarding our all inclusive surf coaching trips, surf charters or surf resort holidays, please get in touch!

Maldives Surf Seasons

The best time to surf in Maldives depends on a range of factors which we will explore below. Whilst being one of the most consistent surf zones on the planet, it’s also quite varied, with numerous regions and weather patterns.

Sitting plum in the middle of the Indian Ocean, the Maldives are open to swells from all angles. Despite their diminutive land mass, the Maldivian atolls stretch over 800km from North to South. As a result, the Maldives surf season covers two distinct monsoon patterns making it a year round surf destination.



There are 3 main surf zones in the Maldives: the Malé Atolls, the Central Atolls and the Southern Atolls. These regions all have a slightly different characteristics and therefore work best at different times of the year. The best time to surf the Maldives will therefore change depending on which region you are visiting and the type of surf you are looking for.

Map of the Maldives archipelago


The Malé Atolls are home to the Maldives’ primary international airport, making it the most accessible and commonly surfed of the 3 regions. The Malé Atolls can be split into North and South Malé. North Malé picks up more swell than South Malé as it faces directly into the path of the uber-consistent SE swells. South Malé is slightly more blocked by the Central Atolls below, but both north and south atolls are blessed with world-class waves.

The Malé Atolls have the smallest swell window of the 3 regions as S and SW swells are blocked by the central atolls. Luckily, the SE swells that bless the area from April through to October are some of the most consistent in the world. If you’ve been to Indo in the dry season, you’ll be familiar with the SE trade winds that blow day in day out. These same winds blow over the Indian Ocean, whipping up fun-sized mid-period swells, and firing them towards the Maldives. When these swells arrive, they are met with offshore WSW trade-winds, creating clean conditions and perfect surf.


An overnight cruise South and we enter the Central Atolls. Famed for uncrowded lineups with perfect waves peeling around quintessential tropical islands. The Central Atolls are a sight to behold for any surfer. With the Southern Atolls far enough away not to block SW swells, the Central Atolls are open to all swells out of the south. The same long period SW groundswells that smash into Indonesia wrap in here with less power, making it one of the best destinations for intermediate surfers. Don’t worry though, there are plenty of hollow and powerful waves on offer here too. The central atolls sit in the doldrums just north of the equator, so light winds and glassy conditions are a common occurrence – especially in the shoulder seasons.

All of our Surf Coaching Trips cover both the Malé & Central Atolls regions for a reason – across these two super consistent regions we can nearly always find great quality, uncrowded surf!


The further south you travel, the more remote the surfing experience becomes. The Southern Atolls are the Maldives’ most remote and hardcore surf region. With nothing between here and Antarctica, the Southern Atolls get the full force of any swells hitting the Maldives. Unlike the Central Atolls, most of the reefs in this region face directly into the swell, making for more powerful waves. With closer proximity to the swells origin and less refraction, the Southern Atolls hold the most powerful surf in the Maldives. Here, we’re far enough south to be in a totally different trade wind pattern than the rest of the country. This makes the Southern Atolls surf season short but very sweet, as the southern hemisphere winter winds blow onshore at many spots. However, with plenty of scope for exploration and an abundance of swell, it’s likely there are perfect waves breaking down a remote reef most days of the year.






The Southern Hemisphere summer is generally the time of least swell activity in the Indian Ocean. However, maximum swell exposure and breaks that face offshore in the short-lived NE trade winds, the Southern Atolls can pump. Seasonal data shows consistent long and mid period swells in the 3-4 foot range. Plenty to keep things interesting on the exposed reef passes. This is the time to visit the Southern Atolls for guaranteed clean conditions. It’s not unlikely that you can score the waves of your life with no other boats around!

The Central Atolls can also see some classic days at this time of year despite being the ‘off-season’. However, with swells having to travel further, it’s only the more powerful pulses that will make it up here.

We don’t recommend surfing in the Malé Atolls at this time of year. SE swell is rare and the wind is onshore at most spots. If you want to surf the Maldives at this time, head South!



The shoulder season is one of our favourite times to surf the Maldives.

The Indian Ocean swell machine begins to wake up, producing SE swells which light up the Malé Atolls. Whilst consistent, swells are normally in the ‘fun-sized’ range during this time of the year. This makes the shoulder season a fantastic time for intermediate surfers, those not as confident in bigger waves or if you just love glassy conditions! This period of transition between the two monsoon winds causes very light or no wind on many days. If you like your surfing tropical, rippable and glassy, check out our surf coaching trips here 

The Central Atolls are also a fantastic option, with similar conditions but more swell and wind options, plus less people. Dreamy. We scored particularly super fun waves here during our first few trips of 2023 – as seen in this video!

Whilst the Southern Atolls can still have world-class days at this time (especially in March & April), the winds can be unpredictable. With so little land mass, the Maldives don’t experience convection winds that cause offshore mornings like many places. This makes scoring in the Southern Atolls a bit more of a lucky dip. But when you do, you certainly won’t forget it!



This is prime-time in the Indian Ocean. Swells are incredibly consistent and trade-winds have settled into their steady westerly flow.

The Southern Hemisphere winter is the peak of the Maldives surf season for both the Malé and Central Atolls. Whilst the Southern Atolls also cop the most swell at this time of year, the wind blows onshore, meaning either lucky ‘in-between’ days or lesser surfed corners will be the pick.

Seasonal data shows both the Malé and Central Atolls receive consistent swells in the 5-6ft range throughout this period. Bigger swells can also occur, sending surf up to double overhead towards the Maldives. WNW trade-winds blow consistently offshore at the vast majority of spots allowing for great conditions most days. However, this is also the time of year when storms are most likely to occur. These are usually short-lived, though.

In typical fashion, peak swell season is the most popular time for visiting surfers. However, bigger swells light up more spots, spreading the crowd and lighting up hidden corners.

Empty perfection in the North Malé Atolls – June


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If you have any questions, would like to book a trip or just fancy a chat about anything surf related, drop us a line here.