Surf travel for chicks

M for Magic – Maldives, paradise for anyone who enjoys surfing in a bikini.

by Michaela Gabriel in Surf travel for chicks | 2 Comments »
Imagine surfing in luke-warm water and a three metre manta ray dives gracefully underneath your board. Five minutes later a pod of dolphins swims past, followed by a turtle. The water is so clear you don’t need a mask. You simply watch colourful fish in all shapes and sizes while waiting for the next set to come through. Maldives is the perfect paradise for water-sports enthusiasts with enough intermediate, peeling waves to make any surfer girl smile.
Fish with surfboard

Snorkel in-between sets: There is so much marine life

Jailbreak, Sultans and Ninjas are intermediate surf spots within 15 minutes by boat, costing 50 USD (unless you have a surf pass) and are all waves with a reasonably easy take off and long walls featuring different sections. Keep in mind, they are coral reefs so you would need to be at a level where you can go left or right rather than straight.

Lohis, the left-hand housebreak looks different every time you look at it – onshore head-high before breakfast, overhead, clean and glassy after breakfast, huge before dinner. What’s nice is that the resort built stairs and a rail to make getting in easier (!!!). Getting out of the water is where you might get your coral cuts if you get it wrong and don’t manage to get back to the keyhole. Booties definitely help.

Longboarding Lohis

Therese catching a bomb at Lohis

Lohis is one step up from our South African Elands Bay mainly due to it being quite unpredictable and sectiony. If it’s too big have a beer and watch. Every evening is social hour on the deck in front of the spot. Everyone cheers for everyone and the surfy atmosphere together with the setting sun is magic. The atmosphere of Hudhuran Fushi Resort is that of a high-end surf camp, mixed with some honeymooners and a fair amount of Chinese.
Lohis social hour

Every evening is social hour on the deck in front of the spot.

Ninjas is a very doable right-hander and beginner wave just across the channel and gets mind-blowing in a big swell -surfed there one evening just the two of us (a memory that I will forever cherish). Long big walls, peeling “horseshoeish” around the island.

Some days are so easy at Ninjas, the Australians push their wives and children into waves. So that’s a good entry-level spot. We paddled across the channel from Lohi Island once when no boat was available and the surf looked stunning from across the channel. We were all smiles about how easy the paddle was until we paddled back. The current does not coincide with the tides and coming back can be VERY difficult.

Currents between Ninjas and Lohis

An easy paddle across the channel to Ninjas can turn into a hectic experience coming back.

We had surf every day for eight out of eleven days straight. Sometimes the mornings are light onshore but the afternoons are offshore perfection.

We saw a lot of baby reef sharks, but shark attacks don’t seem to be a problem in the Maldives. Maybe because the water is so clear they don’t have to take an inquisitive bite (that at least is my theory).

Had the best surf trip of my life. All smiles. Grateful.

Lohis - View from social deck

Lohis, the left-hand housebreak looks different every time you look at it

Some comments of fellow travellers:
"Ninjas: Undoubtedly the best session of my life".


Years of surfing: 4 years

Age: 50ties

Favourite spots in Cape Town: Long Beach, Black Rocks, Muizenberg

Favourite board: Natural curve squirrel, 6.6 ft

Other surf trips I have been on: All over South Africa

Comment: Lohis is a fairly difficult left which makes you focus on the take off. When you get it right an extremely rewarding wave.

Ninjas: Undoubtedly the best session of my life. A fantastic right that can go forever.

Jailbreak: Only surfed there once. Very nice right. Would be amazing on a big day.

Maldives in general fantastic place, warm water, warm weather, nice people and eight out of twelve days great surf.

Michele's take on surfing in the Maldives


Years of surfing: 3 years

Age: 50ties

Favourite spots in Cape Town: Muizenberg

Favourite Board: Longboard, 9ft, John Bramwell

Other surf trips I have been on: Elands Bay beach break

Comment: Way beyond my ability. Learned by observing other surfers at Lohis. But caught waves at Ninjas and one at Jailbreak. Can be struggle to get back into lineup at Ninjas if you surf it too far, if on a longboard. Enjoyed going out on the boat. Getting in and out at Lohis can be a problem. There is possibility to paddle in and out via the beach though. Tides make significant difference to the level of the waves. Ninjas best just before high. Currents can be scary. Lots of alternatives.

Cliff is a longboarder and Maldives was his first overseas surf holiday


Years of surfing: 3 years

Age: 50ties

Favourite surf spots in Cape Town: Muizenberg

Favourite board: Greg Stokes, Longboard, 9.6ft

Other surf trips: Elands Bay point break

Comment: Waves were more challenging than expected, especially Lohis. Top of surfing ability to handle it. Every break is very fickle. Not to be too starry eyed. Holiday on tropical paradise does not necessarily match up to it. Didn’t expect other surfers to be so friendly…really good vibe, generous with information. Group of peeps you go with is important. Our group very easy going but enthusiastic about surfing but still doing their own thing. Snorkelling, diving good alternatives. The island can be frustratingly small sometimes and the only way to get off it can be frustratingly expensive.

Why Maldives is so perfect:
  • Snorkel in-between sets: There is so much marine life
    Super consistent (We went July/August)
  • There is so much else to do: Feed a boiled egg to the coral fish or watch a triggerfish build a nest or paddle around world renown water chalets on a sup.
  • Doable, yet challenging waves
  • You find uncrowded surf if you look for it
  • Everyone is chilled, says hi when you paddle over from the boat and shares wave – must be because everyone in the Maldives is so perfectly happy. Difficult not to be.
  • You’ll meet all sorts of nationalities: Brazilians, Australians, Germans, Russians, Chinese, Japanese…
  • If you have a problem with drugs you can go rehabilitate at rehab island Jailbreak. They do have a rehab centre there. SHAME.
What you need to know:
  • Swell forecasts on Magic seaweed and Windguru are inaccurate for the Maldives. When we last checked the swell at the airport in Dubai I almost started crying. 1.5 feet ocean swell, 15 seconds – so f…all swell every 15 seconds. The most expensive snorkelling holiday of my life? 10 hours later we chucked our luggage, ripped our clothes off and paddled out into overhead high waves at home break Lohis, having the surf of our lives
    On the island itself nobody knows what the waves are doing either – not the dive centre and not the water sports people. If you want to know what the waves are doing at other breaks, best will be to ask peeps who took the early boat. However even then, three hours later perfection can turn into tiny with riptide. This not knowing can leave one with a slight uneasiness, seeing that one might be sitting in a rising swell on an unforgiving coral reef.
  • Resorts have different times in which they are allowed to send boats to neighbouring breaks. Lohis resort has the slots 9 – 12 am and 3 – 6 pm. Taking the early boat chances are you get fried into a crisp. The late one seems to be the better option. Time slots rotate meaning Lohis resort does get the sought after 6 – 9 slot sometimes.
  • Lohis, the housebreak looks different every time you look at it. High and low seem to break hollower, mid tide gentler. It can go big or small in no time.
  • It can make sense to get the “wavechaser” pass, allowing you to go for unlimited surf trips morning and evening if you feel strong. Another advantage is that wavechasers have priority. The boats are only allowed to drop 15 people at neighbouring breaks like Jailbreak or Sultans. If you are not a wavechaser you might find the boat full with wavechasers and no more space for you. If you are in a group you can book the third boat for 3pm to either go to Ninjas across the channel (you just need two people for that) or to any of the other spots (more peeps required). That boat goes snorkelling in the morning. So you can only book it for the afternoon.
  • Currents play a huge role in the Maldives. They don’t coincide necessarily with tides so are extremely difficult to predict (meaning it can be three hours past low tide and the current is still going in the opposite direction). The current can be so hectic that none of the boats will even go to the other surf spots (happened to us at spring tide). An easy paddle across the channel to Ninjas can turn into a hectic experience coming back. Look at the way the boats are facing before you paddle back home – that will give you a good indication how to paddle. Also depending on the current try and hug the reef as long as you can before you cut across.
I know what goes though your head. Maldives is expensive, the money could be spent on travelling to a place with foreign cultures and cheap accommodation and you can probably postpone the trip there to when you go on honeymoon or on your ten year anniversary. I agree to all of that. However, make sure you go at some stage in your life. It really is that special.

Island Gem Five Hours Away

by Michaela Gabriel in Surf travel for chicks | No Comments »

Mauritius is an easy and beautiful holiday destination. We really are lucky fishes cause this charming Indian Ocean gem is only five hours direct flight from Cape Town.  Air Mauritius allows 37 kg luggage and the islanders are super friendly, honest, and speak French and often fluent English.

Indian Resort on le Morne Peninsula ticked all the boxes for a number of reasons:

  • Its situated on the beautiful Le Morne Peninsula, which has been declared a world heritage site because it’s so unique.
  • From a SUP (stand up paddle board) the peninsula with its green misty mountain and the palm fringed beaches and the water the colour of glacier ice (but temperature of bubble bath) looks like paradise and reminds me of the pictures I have seen of Tahiti
  • Tamarin Bay is 30 min drive up the west coast and even reachable by public transport
  • Le Morne Peninsula seems to be most consistent for wind and swell, which also means the crowd in the resort is slightly younger and more sporty than elsewhere
  • There are a couple of small vendors under shady pine trees that sell fresh pinapple, fruit salad and cappuchinos at girls beach, which is right next to club Mistral at the resort (I named it girls beach because its where all the girls wait for their boyfriends to come back from kite surfing or the surf spots out at the reefs such as One Eye, Le Morne Left etc.)
  • With a huge fruit buffet for brekki, and salad bar, vegetable curries and sea food for dinner, it was easy to keep the beach-body slim, despite several trips to the buffet.

Le Morne Peninsula offers lots of kite and windsurfing opportunities (both for beginners and advanced) and a few gems for those who can surf (surf surf). Read more »


by Michaela Gabriel in Surf travel for chicks | No Comments »

I’ll see you if you get there – “tell it as it is” adventures in the 4th world

Choosing Madagascar was an easy decision. Its only 5 hours from Cape Town, known for empty line ups and the name alone resonates adventure. Friends reckon it’s the Bali of Africa. Going in December –  definitely a gamble as it is not known as the swell-blessed season … but hey… I went to Bali in rainy season and surfed until I could surf no more. So yes I was happy to take a chance.

My favourite travel companion and I arrive with an open mind in Antananarivo (also lovingly called Antanananananananarivo) in the middle of the night. Antananarivo or Tana is the capital of Madagascar and home to midrange Hotel Sakamanga. Looking out of the window of our rusty taxi and our tired eyes are greeted with a mixture of Soweto, French Belle Epoche and families sitting around log fires on pavements.  An hour later we are dining at upmarket Sakamanga Restaurant socializing with French expats eating duck, in a totally French environment.

After stocking up on souvenirs (like elephant bird eggs, T-shirts and wooden board games) we board for Tulear on the south west coast of Madagascar. Arriving at Tulear our journey is far from over. A little Renault with our surfboards tied to the top with a string brings us to a Rikshaw that delivers us to a hut from where the speed board trips to Anaka (our first surf spot) are booked. It turns out leaving the same day is “pas possible”, so we finally leave the next day when an amphibious oxcart heavily loaded with boards and fellow travelers takes us to our speedboat.

Arriving in Anakao, the epitome of empty line ups and end of the world charm, we are greeted with rustic huts in a sparse spinal forest, local children playing on the beach and the smell of sea food made on woodfires…and to complete the slightly bizarre setting a happy pet lemur walks past on a leash. Safari Vezo, our home, is not a resort in a Mauritian sense but is an oasis run by French, bordered by village huts. Our evening ends with a thick sun set, excited chatting about deserted line ups, excellent French cuisine and a refreshing bucket shower.

Waking up in the morning we note that the line ups look far and the swell is still due to arrive. But, there is an island out at sea and we hear that the snorkeling is good. We leave with a pirogue and an hour later we are floating amongst red starfishes in warm, crystal water and realize no need to be scared of sharks as the water is totally fished empty. Good thing we took our boards because in the meantime the swell had come up and on our way back we join a group of local kids on archaic sups made from logs with piroque paddles on a tiny forgiving inside reef break.

The next morning white froth shows in the far distance and we quickly organize a pricey speedboat to surf a crowdless lefthander to the left of the island (looking out to sea) which later turned out to be Flameballs. Slightly on the gnarly side, the wave is perfect and more forgiving on high tide. Jelly Babies is the easier wave that works on a low tide. Due to the complete absence of wind in the morning going out in a piroque to get to the surfspot is not an option. Read more »