With 26 atolls, Maldives obviously has much more to offer than the crowded spots around Malé and the charter boat reefs of Gaafu Dhaalu. Directly below the Equator is the southernmost Addu Atoll where Gan island was used as a British Royal Air Force base until 1976. When tourism started to boom in the '80s, many people from Gan and neighbouring Foammulah were recruited in the resorts because they could speak good English. The result now is a thriving population of 20,000, living in some of the biggest villages in the Maldives, connected by the second longest road system and causeways, linking the western shores of Addu. Best known for diving wrecks like British Loyalty, torpedoed by the Japanese in 1942, the Maldives is slowly unveiling it's potential for surfing. First scoped by Tony Hussein in 1996, very few people have surfed Addu until recently. The Quiksilver Crossing briefly stopped there in 2003, Antony Colas scored in August 2004, meeting Welsh pilot, Andy Burr, who stayed there for a year, becoming the first 'local'. The reality is that Addu Atoll doesn't have Maldivian standard, perfectly shaped, soft-breaking waves. Beginner/improvers will struggle with the technical breaks that require speedy riding techniques and the sharky, shallow reefs can be intimidating.