Travel

Blue crush

Picasa

BLUE. After a month discovering the wonders of the Maldives, this one word stuck in my mind more than any other.

Living and working aboard a surfing charter boat as the onboard photographer for Australia's leading surf adventure specialist, World Surfaris, I was literally thrown in the deep end of this Indian Ocean paradise, tasked with capturing the Kodak moments on behalf of the surf-hungry guests who had travelled from all corners of the globe to share in an adventure of a lifetime.

The Maldives is a fascinating place, both geographically and culturally.

The people are believed to have originated mostly from southern India and Sri Lanka, yet their language is unique.

Although Hinduism and later Buddhism were once practised, Islam has been their religion since the 12th century and it is actually illegal for a non-Muslim to become a citizen.

Coming from a culture where bikinis are the norm, I found unusual the sight of local women getting around in a tropical paradise dressed from head to toe and even swimming in their customary dress.

My home for the duration was the Handhu Falhi: a 24m (78ft) safari boat with six full-time local crew. She was rebuilt in 2005 and accommodates 10 guests in air-conditioned comfort.

Aside from the many exclusive resorts that are dotted throughout the 26 atolls of the island nation, safari boats are the most common and, certainly in my opinion, the best way to holiday in the Maldives.

The islands, though picturesque, are basically all the same - small, flat and covered in coconut palms. From the water, you can enjoy the view of many islands from your shaded deck and the view never gets boring.

Besides, the water is where all the action is.

Diving is a big tourist drawcard, but surfing is my thing and every surfer I have ever spoken to gets glassy-eyed and dreamy as soon as you mention the Maldives.

Most Aussie surfers who have travelled to get waves have been to Indonesia, but far fewer can claim to have experienced the beauty of the Maldives.

It is a little harder to get there, and as such, costs a bit more, but the reward is the lack of crowds and the natural, unspoilt beauty.

Our time was spent in the Gaafu Dhaalu atoll to the south, which picks up the southerly swells that travel the vast open expanse of the Indian Ocean.

The reef breaks that peel along the edge of the many island channels, although not of the quality of some of the famous Indonesian waves, are consistently good with a variety of breaks to test any level of surfer.

We lived as nomads of the sea, following the waves and berthing in a different location every night.

The crew would be up and on the move before dawn so that by first light, we were usually parked beside the break that would be our playground for the morning.

When hunger got the better of us, a chef-prepared feast would be on hand to refuel us before our next session in the waves.

At day's end, we would gather, red-eyed and weary, on the deck and sip on a couple of Tiger beers as the sun sank over the sea or behind a postcard-perfect island.

Occasionally, we visited a deserted island to pick coconuts or accompanied the crew to local islands.

It is quite peculiar that, although tourism is the biggest industry in the Maldives, outsiders are not catered for outside the resort islands and Male.

The plus is, you get to experience their culture as it is, minus the hawkers.

As a photographer, my eye was caught by the natural wonders, so the world beneath the insanely blue sea is where I kept returning to focus my lens.

With the waters being so clear, I discovered a new view of the waves and surfers that has never been available to me before.

From all reports, nowhere in Indonesia compares.

The Maldives is home to more than 2000 species of fish. Manta and eagle rays are common, as are hawksbill and green sea turtles.

Then there are the whale sharks.

The mystical giants are revered by the Maldivians, and our boat was lucky enough to be visited late one night by a 4.5 metre-long shark that decided to feed on krill under our spotlight. Shy at first, the gentle creature spent more than four hours in our company, unfazed by the gobsmacked guests who entered the water with snorkel gear to get a closer look.

It was without a doubt one of the most amazing things I have ever experienced and was the icing on the cake of the trip of a lifetime.

Most Aussie surfers who have travelled to get waves have been to Indonesia, but far fewer can claim to have experienced the beauty of the Maldives.

>> Read more travel stories.

Topics:  maldives sri lanka travel travelling


Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

Man in custody after Woodridge lockdown

An exclusion zone has been established on Nyanza St, bounded by Mikaga Crt and Strathdarr St to Kurrajong St and Nydia St, Woodridge.

An emergency situation declared following reports of a disturbance

Raining, pouring: Wet roads to strike SEQ peak hour

Dusty Ford and Amy Blovask take cover as storms roll in.

Motorists told to drive to conditions

Major delays after truck and car collide

Traffic at Burpengary is still at a crawl.

Man taken to hospital with laceration

Local Partners

Lead poisoning fears: Plumber raided over contamination

AUTHORITIES have raided the home of Brett George Hogan, the plumber and electrician whose work may have delivered water contaminated with lead into homes.

What to expect at Birds of Tokyo's Ipswich gig

The band will perform at the Racehorse Hotel on Friday.

BAND member Glen Sarangapany talks music, pub grub and doing shoeys

What public holidays are left in 2017

Ipswich residents will get the day off tomorrow for the show.

IPSWICH residents will get tomorrow off for the show

Caitlyn comes home to launch debut album

Gympie's Caitlyn Shadbolt will launch here debut album Songs On My Sleeve at an exclusive all-ages concert in Gympie on Friday, May 26.

Win tickets to Caitlyn's album launch

Dreamworld may supersize with 'Disneyland expansion'

OWNERS of icon Gold Coast theme park Dreamworld want to super-size the site with accommodation and entertainment to turn it into Australia’s Disneyland.

World’s strongest man reveals incredible 12,000 calorie diet

Brian Shaw won his 4th World's Strongest Man title. Source: Twitter

World’s strongest man reveals incredible 12,000-calorie diet

ABC2 slammed over football exhibition match coverage

Fans weren't too happy with ABC2's coverage of Wednesday night's game.

ABC2 slammed for coverage of soccer exhibition match

'Bulls--t!' Lisa Wilkinson grilled over Karl's pay packet

Join us for a Great Night as we Proudly present Lisa Wilkinson

“And you believe everything you read?”

Rebel Wilson trial: The secret we never could have known

Rebel Wilson outside court

“Most people wouldn’t know it exists,” she said.

Janet’s back in the ring

Marta Dusseldorp returns in season three of the TV series Janet King.

Season three of ABC's legal drama delves deeper than ever before.

Game of Thrones drops new trailer for season 7

Game of Thrones fans have been given a new trailer for season 7.

Fans are finally getting a full-throttled peak at season seven.

Open for inspection homes May 25-31

Check out this weekend's homes open for inspection

How Toowoomba house prices compare in Australia

For sale sign in front of home.

Here's what $700,000 will buy you in Toowoomba, Brisbane and Sydney

One of Maryborough's most historic homes is still for sale

FULL OF HISTORY: Trisha Moulds is owner of the historic Tinana state known as Rosehill. The beautiful home is currently for sale.

It has been the scene of both joy and tragedies over the years.

The face of the Sunshine Coast's overpriced rental crisis

Alyx Wilson had to rent a $385 unit in Currimundi because the market was too competitive for cheaper rental housing. She is now renting a room from friends who own a house in Currimundi, and says its much more affordable.

Young people feel the strain in competitive, expensive rental market

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!