Can you tell me something about the Maldives
The approach to the Maldives corresponds to the pictures from a kitschy glossy catalog. The islands are the symbol of vacation and sweet idleness. Of the 1,190 islands, only 200 are inhabited. Over 70 other islands are now home to hotel complexes. Shimmering coral reefs and crystal clear water surround this island world in the Indian Ocean.
Next to this sweet postcard idyll - surfers, watch out! - every channel between the small islands that runs in a north-south direction has the potential to produce perfect waves. In the wave season, the reef passages stand before the methadone issue like junkies in order to inject the full dose of swell. It was not for nothing that O'Neill chose the Maldives for their successful Deep Blue Open WQS event. Last tip: The best way to explore the islands is of course by boat.
What goes for a successful meal is no different for a trip: It all comes down to the right ingredients. And they sound damn tempting when Falk Ostwald called me on a gloomy October day to tell me about his new all-inclusive surf trip. It should go to the Maldives. With a boat. I ask for some time to think it over. After carefully weighing all the important factors - such as which wax do I need, do I have to buy new board shorts, etc. - after two seconds I scream an enthusiastic "Yes, of course!" in the handset.
Four weeks and twelve hours later the time has come. When the aircraft doors open in Male and we hit a wall of warm, humid air, we can finally start. We, that is the photographer Olliver “Ollo” Franke and me.
But where is Falk? He actually wanted to pick us up by boat. No matter. Ollo and I take the opportunity to have a look at the hustle and bustle of the Maldivians with two “alcohol-free” holsters at the ridiculous price of five dollars each. Apart from the four-hour time difference, the clocks themselves seem to tick a little differently in the middle of the Indian Ocean. But now I know: In the Maldives, a minute consists of around 150 seconds. That's why the locals are always in a good mood. There is no word in their language for the term “stress”. If you take these local factors into account, Falk is actually quite on time when he meets us an hour later in Western Europe.
At the end of a short transfer with one of the countless water taxis, the object of desire bobs proudly in front of our bow: the “Vindu 2”. With a length of almost 30 meters larger than the state yacht of the President of the Maldives, the floating hotel will be our home for the next 14 days. As we slowly approached the snow-white hull of the “Vindu 2” through the romantic evening light in the middle of the turquoise water, only one thought occurs to me: “Dude, is that ugly thing!” Somehow this boat looks like someone crossed a trumpet fish with a phone booth. The first impression disappears suddenly when we step on board. Waheed, the ship owner, had nailed it when he had his new boat built in April 2003: Six wood-paneled cabins and a glass salon awaken the anticipation of two rather decadent weeks. So this is how industrial tycoons or drug barons go on vacation! You can have it sometimes ...
After the warm welcome by the six-person crew and the move into two cabins of my choice - we are still among ourselves - we immediately go on a long journey. Our first planned destination is the channel between the local island Thulusdoo and Chicken Island. Olaf, the first official participant in the tour, should also join us there. He had flown in before and couldn't be moved away from the two meter high Left in front of Chicken Island by something as mundane as our arrival. I wouldn't have done either ... We weren't supposed to reach the port of Thulusdoo that night. Hahid, the helmsman, does the trick of putting the “Vindu 2” right next to the entrance to the island at full throttle on a reef. But it doesn't matter, it's ebb.
This incident is the perfect opportunity for the crew to catch up on dinner. From the stern of the boat. You have to imagine fishing in the Maldives as follows: The ambitious angler puts a bucket next to him, holds a line and hook in the water and takes it out again. To collect a dinner for ten people with this method, our steward Anees needs about two minutes that evening.
The next morning - by the way, the tide had washed us back into safe waters - begins promisingly: sunshine. The first look out of my cabin window falls directly on the break from Chicken Island. It's perfect! The swell rolls along the reef almost shoulder-high. Seldom before have I been so hectic while having breakfast. Ollo and Olaf are also hot. The only one who takes the day a little more relaxed is Falk. A good idea. After all, we still have two weeks left. We think. Because when we arrive at the break, we are no longer alone. Another boat anchored right in front of the reef and spat out six Japanese armed with surfboards. Stupid Falk!
But it doesn't matter. The absolutely perfect waves rush in here every 20 seconds. Enough for everyone. This glorious morning I'm surfing more waves than on all of my previous surf trips combined. It's awesome. It's perfect. Well, at least almost perfect: Personally, I think it's too warm, even if that may sound strange. Much too warm. In order not to burn myself completely on the first day, I wear a wet shirt in addition to my board shorts. Never again! Ollo is worse off. As it later turned out, he put on neoprene booties because of the unfounded fear of the reef, which had been washed quite smoothly. Themselves to blame. It's good that we don't have to paddle so much here. As long as the water runs off, the current pulls us right in front of the line-up after every ride. What more do you want? Maybe ice cubes ..!
As the tides change, the current suddenly begins to pull in the direction of the waves. We end the great surf session, because we just didn't come here to paddle. Instead, it's time to get back on the boat. Grab food. At least for me, who am not exactly the ultimate sports fanatic, that turns out to be quite difficult. The rubber dinghy, with which we should normally be driven directly to the break and back, is still camouflaged as a bulky waste heap on the upper deck. What the hell? After both anchors have been lifted, the crew ends my involuntary excursion towards Australia ... When I get on board, the food is already steaming on the table. The timing is perfect. Respect! On the other hand, what else would the boys have had to do? Maybe make ice cubes - or repair the dinghy ..! There is, I almost thought so: fish. Delicious! We decide to quit surfing for today and make our way to Meeru, where Falk and his partner Mathias run a surf school.
While two lines on the horizon slowly transform into the two neighboring islands of Meeru and Diffushi, Falk explains to us what life is like in the Maldives and that we are something like the chosen ones here. Here in paradise the world is divided into two halves, which could hardly be more different. On the one hand there are the hotel resorts. Located on their own islands, the locals are only allowed to enter them for one purpose: to work. After all, Otto normal tourist, who is penned up in his holiday paradise for the purpose of relaxation, should not lack anything. On the other hand, there are the islands of the locals, which are something like “the forbidden zone” outside of the weekly excursions for vacationers.
To understand this, one should briefly examine the history of the Maldives. Originally the island population tried to find the meaning of life in Hinduism and Buddhism. In the twelfth century, the Muslims came and made it unmistakably clear to all Maldivians that the hammer rests with Allah. With success. Despite numerous attempts by the Portuguese in the Middle Ages to perfect the confusion with the introduction of Christianity among the island's population, Islam is still the state religion today. When the first tentative tourist attempts were made in the second half of the 20th century and the first guests had nothing better to do than confront the locals with the “blessings” of western civilization such as alcohol, pornography and the desire for pork, it decided one to forego togetherness in favor of a coexistence. Weird thing.
However, this separation does not seem to hold true for us. Time and again Waheed heads for Thulusdoo or Diffushi to give us the opportunity to take a look at the original life of the Maldives.
The first thing that strikes us on Diffushi is the friendliness with which the locals treat us. Apart from a few overly law-abiding pensioners who punish us with iron faces. But I can understand you, we are here outside the “opening times”. The second impression is mainly characterized by an unbelievable noise level. Why do you need a good dozen motorcycles on an island that is 800 meters long and 200 meters wide? Apparently the islanders have mobilized everything that has a motor and makes noise especially for our arrival. The result is impressive. Even if no one has ever been able to shift into third gear here, what the guys are offering us can certainly be admired. Special rules seem to apply on the gravel road that hugs the harbor. There is hardly any other explanation for the fact that everyone is rattling around either only on the rear wheel or hands-free and standing. Incidentally, motorcycling is only reserved for male islanders. The girls are content - when they are not in the process of sweeping away the tire tracks, and that seems to be the case most of the time - with a cross between a kind of backward tennis and dodgeball. Personally, I like that better. It doesn't make any noise. And it looks good.
Waheed suggests spending the night in Diffushi Harbor. We don't mind. The next morning a strange scratching noise wakes me up. I risk a look through my cabin window and am amazed: As far as the eye can see, young girls move in anatomically rather questionable stooped postures across the large square that lines the harbor.
They sweep the island. With sawed-off palm fronds. This is not new to me, but somewhere out of the virginity of my brain, which is still unused that morning, the question arises that may change my life: Why is there here when every second person has an ultra-modern cell phone with the most unbelievable ring tones Where every tenth person has a PC in their hut, why are there no broomsticks here? For a moment I already have the vision of a gigantic statue above the port entrance of Male: an image of me, 100 meters high, made of gold, with a broomstick in hand, donated by the female population of the Maldives who will soon be sweeping upright. But no matter, first have breakfast ...
The “Vindu 2” reaches its cruising speed during the sumptuous breakfast. Before the last toast has been toasted and the last coffee drunk, we are already facing another perfect break. On this day it should be Thulusdoo. “When the wave season is in summer, this is where things really get going. You can then have four to five meters. The wave is then so fast that the bottom tower or cutback is out of the question. Jump up, give full throttle, don't fall in, ”says Falk. He should know because he discovered the spot years ago.
Today the ocean jumps the reef just shoulder high. So that means getting out of the boat and into the water. The first thing I see after surfacing is a fin. Unfortunately not mine. One animal. About two meters in front of me, a white fin cuts the surface of the water in a hectic zigzag course. I know it's not a dolphin because I've seen hundreds of them since we arrived: Dolphins aren't hectic. While my life so far has been going on like a movie in front of me, I mentally go through the correct rules of conduct for shark contacts. My bloodcurdling scream is probably not one of them. Fortunately, a few seconds later the animal turns out to be a giant manta ray. Stupid creature! But no matter, nothing happened. It's just stupid that Kalani Robb is surfing our ears with his photo buddy Patrick Trefz. With the drink afterwards I'm of course the laughing stock ...
When, after an indescribably beautiful sunset, the rising full moon illuminates the scene in the evening, we decide to go out on Meeru. After all, it's Saturday and with it disco fever. While driving through the only 50 meter wide channel between Meeru and Diffushi, we hear pretty creepy pop music from the resort. At the same time, the call of the muezzin resounds from the other side. Two worlds collide and we are right in the middle. Strange feeling.
But only for a brief moment. It is time to wonder again. Among the almost 500 guests at Meeru, the swimming pool seems to be the absolute crowd puller. And that although the next dream beach is only about five meters away ... Falk doesn't really understand that either.
The music in the disco is terrible. Fortunately, so terrible that you can have a lot of fun again. I know that from après-ski in Austria. Ollo wants to get back on the boat. He doesn't think this island paradise is that funny. And he can't bump into it either, because although there seems to be a separate waiter for each guest, you can wait an hour for a beer. The clocks tick differently here.
When we were picked up from our rubber dinghy with drinks for the price of a small car early in the morning, we were still overjoyed. After all, we want to relax here. With the thunder of the surf on the outer reef in our ears, we look forward to starting the day again. What more do you want? Maybe ice cubes!
- Construction year:
April '03 (brand new motor yacht)
16 people (from at least 4 people) six cabins (each with cold / hot shower and toilet): four three-bed and two two-bed cabins
two 8 KW generators with 220 volts
Salon with bar, TV, DVD, indoor / outdoor sound system, two sun decks
six sailors, the Indian cook, room boy (not for personal use), waiter, boatswain, surf guide (knows the breaks like his sarong) and of course the captain
three meals a day (Asian style), snacks, water, coffee, tea, soft drinks
- Free Sports:
Fishing, surfing, snorkeling, island hopping to other resorts or uninhabited islands
- Dinghy for transportation to the line-up or wherever
7 or 14 days including airport transfer, tax, all meals and soft drinks
up to 4 people: 90 euros / night,
5 to 6 people: 80 euros / night,
7 to 8 people: 75 euros / night,
9 people and more: 70 euros / night
- Clearwater Surfaris
- Mail:[email protected]
- The season runs from May to November.
- The average wave height is around two to four feet. With a two-week stay in the main season, the wave height is 80% about five to eight feet. Rarely (two or three times a year) do the waves exceed ten feet.
- The corals can be very sharp. If you are on the safe side, you are well advised with booties.
- Find out about the flow conditions at every spot!
- The board range extends from 5/10 fish to 7/4 gun, depending on skill level and conditions. The longboard is not really recommended. But ultimately everyone has to know that for themselves.
- Airfares: from around 600 euros in any travel agency, but can also be booked directly via [email protected]
- If you want to see the pros at work, the 2004 O’Neill Deep Blue Open will take place in front of Lohifushi at the beginning of June.
Photos O. Franke, P. Trefz
Text by Jörg Lassek
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