Around 20-years-ago, Shane Dorian visited the Maldives – the lure of something exotic, and untapped gold mine back in the day. It was a trip packed with flawless waves, that sowed a deep rooted pull for Dorian – and the reason why he returns year after year.
“It was a million years ago,” said Dorian about his first trip to the island chain. “I got invited to go on this hardcore surf trip, and I had a lot of fun. I didn’t even know where the Maldives were when I was that age. I had to look it up on a map. But I just went. It’s such a strange place for US travellers. It’s on your bucket list, but it’s so far away.”
This year, Dorian's already been twice, taking the family along too. One was a classic boat trip, chartered aboard the Carpe Vita and motoring from wave-to-wave depending on conditions. And the other was at Holiday Inn Resort Kandooma Maldives Resort, a land hotel with a perfect, barreling righthander just out front.
“I like to bring my family on trips, and this is an all-time family destination,” said Dorian. “Even if your family is all hardcore surfers, or if only one of the parents surf – there’s something for everyone. We did things like snorkeling tours, swimming with sharks, diving at shipwrecks, parasailing…stuff like that. Whether you wanna chill in a hammock and read a book all day, or you wanna be a hardcore surfer, or go out and do activities, it’s a fun place for the whole family.”
Their primary purpose there was to score. And score they did.
At Kandooma, “it gets fun a lot, but we got really lucky. It was pretty much all-time when we were there. It was overhead, glassy, and just barreling. It’s similar to a Honolua Bay setup. It’s not as long, but the best parts of Honolua Bay is exactly what that wave has. It was off its head. Everyone on our trip – all the kids, all the dads – they were just getting standup barrels.”
As for the boat, “we had an amazing run of swell and weather. We got two or three swells during our nine or 10 days on the boat. We surfed really fun, empty waves pretty much the whole time. And there’s a variety of waves, too. Everything from beginner peelers, to fun high-performance lefts, to hollow reefbreak right barrels. It was awesome.
“On both of the trips we did this year, you could do every type of surfing imaginable,” said Dorian. “You could learn to surf on soft whitewash; you could surf soft, user-friendly longboard or fish waves; or you could surf high-performance rippable waves or really hollow waves.”
A comparable destination to the Maldives, especially from a boat trip perspective, might be the Mentawais. Although there’s a few notable differences, particularly with regards to the power of the waves. Dorian explained: “The waves don’t get as much swell as the Mentawais; it’s kind of like a mellower version of Indo. It’s kid-friendly, it’s got options for everyone.
Your typical traveler to the Maldives is like a 50-year-old dude on a fish. That’s very typical. Although, when there’s an abundance of swell, you do get world-class waves there. The setups are unreal. They’re just as good as anywhere in the world. Also, no matter what the wind is doing, there’s always a setup that’s good.”
Basically, there’s little chance of getting skunked; but the best bet is May through September.
And one other thing: the Maldive islands are one of the places in the world already seeing the devastating results of climate change and sea level rise. The Maldives has the lowest terrain of any country in the world and, thus, the ocean has been creeping ashore in recent years.
Even since Dorian first started going there, he’s noticed a change.
“It’s interesting,” he said, “with global warming and sea level rising, they say that the Maldives are one of the places that your grandkids might not see. I’ve seen a change in my lifetime since I first started going there. I remember passing islands when I was young, and today, the palm trees are in the water. It’s one of those special places on the planet that, if it’s on your bucket list, you gotta make it happen.”
To lock in your trip to surf with Shane Dorian and family in the Maldives, check out bookings for Kandooma Resort here.