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Addu Atolls (referred often as the Southern Atolls) are located in the most southern section of the Maldives, which surfers are continually reminded of when they arrive upon empty surf break after empty surf break. Although it may not be completely abandoned, fewer surf boats and surf charters operate in this area, causing even the most popular spots in this region to be less crowded than the Northern Atolls. Of all the Maldives surf spots, the breaks in the Southern Atolls remain among the most secluded and idyllic, preserving the reality of a remote island paradise that comes complete with incredible waves.


Kottey, some times referred to as Kottey Hithadhoo or just Hithadhoo, is located on the Northwest shores of Addu Atoll. This unique little island has a thriving population with some of the largest villages in the Maldives. Up until 1976, the British Royal Air Force had a military base on Addu and as a result, the island has paved roads making it easy to get to most the breaks from the land. Unfortunately, the military base and the tourists weren’t totally ocean minded and Kottey sits in front of a garbage dump and often muddy lagoon. But recent efforts have helped to erase those issues, leaving a large reef break with waves that often wedge up over the coral.


The main wave at Kottey is a left that works best with southern or eastern winds and a medium tide. Like most of Addu, Kottey has large swell exposure, meaning it churns out consistent, powerful waves due to those Indian Ocean swells. During the winter (April to October) swells average 4 to 12 feet and tend to back down to 2 to 6 feet during the summer months. Because of its tendency to wedge up, the wave at Kottey breaks quickly and the lip can get heavy. Since Addu is the southern most Atoll in the Maldives, the line ups aren’t very crowded and you can often enjoy Kottey with just your friends.


A two hour plus dhoni ride from Kanda Muli leads you to a largely unridden spot known as Air Equator Lefts. Located on the northeast point of Meedhoo Island, these fast and full barrels were first spotted by Andy Burr, the Air Equator airline pilot who became known as one of the first “local surfers” of the southern atolls. The remote location of Air Equator Lefts means it is almost never ridden and very few people come back reporting anything other than solitary barrels, zipping down the line one after another begging for some attention.


After a two hour plus dhoni ride, this is one of those spots you’re going to surf no matter what it looks like, but it always helps to know a little about what you’re heading towards. As a way of preview, it typically ranges from two to six feet, breaks over dead coral, and is best with a southerly swell. Northwest winds are offshore, and it handles all stages of the tide, so it is definitely one of those breaks you’d expect to be better more often than worse.


Kanda Muli is the swell magnet of Addu Atoll that cannot always handle the amount of swell it attracts. Located on the southeast side of the atoll, opinions differ on when Kanda Muli is worth checking out. Some feel it is not worth bothering with in small swells, while others claim it is the best reprieve during small swells. Hey, every respectable boat trip needs a surf spot to argue about—even in a place as perfect as the Maldives Atolls.


The reef Kanda Muli breaks off is too straight for a point break, so it leads to a few different peaks instead of one killer. The peaks break both left and right, but neither of them last very long. A small swell with any northerly wind means a ton of short but surfable peaks, which can be a lot of fun (especially the lefts), but not quite screaming barrels. This lefthander picks up a bit more during larger swells, when the reef line starts breaking a little more fully, creating fast and heavy walls that pound right into the safety of the lagoon. Unfavorable side winds from the east or west, and too low of a tide can, however, end up making this powerful left nearly unrideable.


Ultimately, Kanda Muli is a reef break that typically ranges between two to four feet, and breaks best during mid to high tide on a southern swell with northwesterly winds. You’ll have to surf it to get an opinion on the debate over when it is best.


Villingili Island also houses the Shangri-la Resort, which has been trying to pull a Pasta Point and claim exclusive rights to one of the best peaks in Addu Atoll. Although it is not as defined as Pasta Point, Shangri-la Resort wants to enforce a strict “you can only surf here if you stay here” policy. If you get the chance, try and take advantage of any uncertainty and hit this spot—it will be one of the more memorable moments of your surf trip.


Taking its name from the adjacent resort, Shangri-la is a clean righthander that wraps around the reef on the east coast of the island. It breaks best during a solid southerly swell, but is unusual in also benefitting from a more easterly swell direction as well. Ranging between two to five feet, it tends to break the best and get the most size during the summer months. It breaks at any stage of the tide, so if any open opportunity to surf Shangri-la presents itself, definitely jump on it.


To the east of Approach Lights on the south side of Villingili Island, off the tip of Madihera islet, a pristine lefthander starts out at the point and wraps all the way into the inner lagoon. A long and sectiony wave, Madihera can turn from good to incredible with a sudden change in the wind.


Particularly susceptible to the wind, Madihera is a place you want to convince the rest of the passengers on your boat charter to hit early before the winds pick up too strong. It picks up a ton of swell but needs northeasterly winds to make the whole wave rideable. Any southerly or even northwest wind will totally kill the heavier barrels on the outside. The speedy, if smaller, inside waves, however, can suddenly light up during southeast winds, so keep your eyes open. The direction of the wind should definitely judge what part of the wave you want to campout on.


Madihera’s uneven reef bottom causes it to change as it breaks, meaning it offers a lot of variety as it wraps into the lagoon. The several different sections also lead to several different takeoff points, so it can be an entirely different wave depending on when and where you decide to drop-in. The sections break in long speedy walls that barrel up the heaviest where the wave hits the reef from deep water. The changes in the reef mean the wave transitions from absolute pounding to mushing out within a few feet. Typically breaking between two to ten feet and in all stages of the tide, Madihera always has a little something—and on occasion that something is incredible.


There is an airport runway on the beach in front of this spot, with approach lights that not only help guide airplanes to a safe landing, but also orient surfers in the water on where to be in order to catch the most surfable section of this long and exposed righthander. Although it breaks down along the live coral reef, the runway approach lights really mark the best place to drop-in and snag the more rideable end section.


Approach Lights’ location on the southern tip of Addu Atoll exposes it to potentially harsh southern winds, but also opens it up to receive the full force of the summer’s southern swells—fortunate for a place that craves size. Since any wind with a northerly direction ends up being offshore, this is a great spot to visit later in the season when the northerly winds meet some of the best southern swells.


Typically ranging from two to ten feet, Approach Lights gets pretty intense at anything over head, as the outside sets start to throw harder and faster with the increased volume. It is always best and safest at high tides, especially during a big swell when you want as much cushion between you and the shallow reef as possible. Walking to this spot from Equator Village and paddling across the wide lagoon is an option, but it is a long trek and not nearly as safe as using a dhoni or surf charter, which can dump you straight into the lineup and save you much needed energy.



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