Maldives surf coaching retreat, Southern Atolls
Enjoy the world’s most playful waves for 10 days
The Maldives is home to what many intermediate surfers would qualify as “the most enjoyable waves on earth.” This surf coaching retreat takes place in the remote & unspoiled Southern Atolls, the final frontier of the Maldives.
- Uncrowded waves: secluded location hundreds of kilometres South of Male
- 12+ world-class, fun & user-friendly tropical waves
- Highest quality of surf coaching in the Maldives: 4 guides for 10 surfers max
- Largest amount of wave options in the Maldives with South, East & West exposure
- Beautiful 36-meter charter boat designed to chase perfect waves
A typical day
You wake up in your private room in the beautiful surf boat, exclusive to your small group of intermediate surfers. The view outside is breathtaking: white sand beaches, palm trees, crystal-clear lagoons, and perfect fun-sized waves. You surf for 3 hours, taking turns on long peeling waves with just a few of your new friends out. Back on the boat, you watch surfing videos of your session with your surf coach to know how to improve your cutbacks and bottom turns. After lunch, you go for a quick snorkel around the mind-blowing coral reefs. Later you go for an epic sunset surf session and catch the best wave of your life. Your day ends surrounded by great people with a delicious Maldivian beach BBQ and a few cold drinks.
The Gaafu Dhaalu area (Southern Atolls) is the most southern section of the Maldives, making it much harder to access. Only a few surf charters operate in this secluded and idyllic location. Not only is this area usually less crowded, but it also picks up more swell directions than any other Atoll in the Maldives with exposure to the South, East & West. If there is one place where you can find never-ending playful waves without many surfers out, this is it!
- Tiger Stripes (Rockets)
- Five Islands (Gani Point)
- Love Charms
These are all waves that our surf coaching team could take you to, when your level fits the conditions.
Just as if being uncrowded and remarkably consistent during the surf season is not enough, the most significant perk of the Southern Atolls is perhaps the fantastic variety of waves. Whether you are looking for your first barrel, long rippable walls or softer, never-ending shoulders to ride on a funboard, this area has it all.
- Airports (Kaededhdhoo)
- Blue Bowls
- Two Ways (Booga Reef)
- Viligili Right
The Surf Boat
Explore the Southern Atolls in style & comfort. You will be living on a chic 36-meter boat built from fine tropical timber and custom-designed to chase waves. This massive boat has plenty of different social areas, hang out spots and relaxing spaces for each surfer in our small group of 10.
- Large lounge saloon with comfortable sofas & armchairs
- Bar serving cocktails & cold beers, with happy hour
- Large sundeck, indoor and outside dining areas
- Access to fishing & snorkelling equipment
The boat’s 10.5-meter wide beam delivers a stable hull and very spacious cabins. With a total of 11 spacious and comfortable cabins, each surfer will have plenty of privacy in their own room.
- Private, comfortable room for every guest
- Hot showers
- En-suite bathrooms in each cabin
Personalized intermediate surf coaching
High quality coaching, tailored to your level
Treat yourself to professional surf coaching on some of the best waves on earth! Whether you want to work on your cutbacks or aim to get your first barrel, our team will be offering Barefoot’s unique surf coaching program. This includes:
- Video analysis of your surfing
- A personal folder of your videos on our iPad
- A surfer profile with recommended videos & articles for you to progress faster
- Personalized tips to help you surf better at each surf spot
- Technical surf meetings with your small group of surfers
Only 10 spots available, with 4 surf guides
We take pride in offering the best ratio and highest level of surf coaching for intermediates available in the Maldives. Every day, our expert guides will make sure you wake up right in front of epic waves that suit your level.
- 1 surf guide in the water helping you understand each break, how to position yourself, etc.
- 1 surf coach on the boat filming your surfing sessions
- Technical analysis on the boat, every day
- Bring back every surf video as a souvenir
- Group subdivided into 2 ability levels, going to different spots (2 guides per subgroup)
Local knowledge & unlimited transfers to waves
We are collaborating with the absolute best, most knowledgeable team in the Southern Atolls to make sure we get the highest wave quality while avoiding the crowds. With the dinghy (another small boat), we can split our group of 10 into two separate levels into two different spots every day. We can quickly explore other spots close by that could be more fun for your level!
The most significant perk of the Southern Atolls is perhaps the fantastic variety of waves. Whether you are looking for your first barrel, long rippable walls or softer, never-ending shoulders to ride on a funboard, this area has it all.
Is this trip for me?
This is an “intermediate” only surf trip. You need to have a minimum of experience to truly enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime experience.
You can join this trip if:
- You can catch unbroken waves by yourself
- You can angle your take off to go either left or right
- You can draw your line on a “green wave” with a minimum of control
- You feel comfortable in shoulder-to-head-high waves
- You’re an intermediate surfer wishing to surf epic waves while progressing to the next level
This trip is not for you if:
- You have never tried surfing
- You surfed a few days in the past but still struggle with your take-off
- You are a very advanced surfer looking for 12-feet grinding barrels over shallow reef*
*To provide a personalized surfing experience, our 2 surf guides will bring only 5 surfers to the absolute best conditions for their level. We do not take very advanced surfers on this trip as it would compromise our ability to provide a unique, customized service.
Our team would be very thrilled if we could help intermediate-to-advanced surfers get some of their first barrels, but if you have the level to ride massive, hollow barrels, other charter boat services would be a better option.
Not sure if this is the right trip for you? Click here.
No need for a wetsuit here, the average water temperature is 28°C/82°F, year-round! The surf season in the Maldives is generally considered to be from April to October. The best time of the year to surf in Southern Atolls is either March & April or September & October. This is when the surfing conditions and winds are optimal. By offering our retreats in October, we avoid the busiest time of the year, which tends to be from June to August in the Maldives.
Of all the breaks in the Maldives, the ones around the Southern Atolls are the most remote and picturesque, providing the incredible feeling of living around a secluded island that delivers exceptional wave quality.
With its many sheltered spots that receive less swell, it is the dream destination for intermediates to progress their surfing on long, playful waves. There are only a few charter boats operating in the Southern Atolls, and often most surfers there are interested in the more advanced waves such as Tiger Stripes and Beacons. This leaves many intermediate spots with minimal crowds, even though they deliver world-class quality (just not as much power and consequence!).
Three sumptuous all-you-can-eat meals per day are included, with unlimited snacks when you are hungry. The food is a mixture of Maldivian, Sri Lankan and Western dishes. The chefs can adjust to suit special diets when required.
- 3 delicious all you can eat meals
- Unlimited mineral water
- Unlimited tea and coffee
- Alcohol beverages available for purchase on the boat
- Maldivian Specialty Beach BBQ (when weather permits)
Typical meals are a banquet of five different dishes with daily variations, including fresh fish and tuna dishes, curries, pasta dishes, vegetables and salads, with dessert. Meat dishes are also provided. Breakfasts include tea, coffee, fruit, juice, toasts, cereal, eggs and pancakes.
- Unlimited boat transfers to all the surf spots around
- 2 Experienced surf guides for subgroups of 5 surfers (best ratio in the Maldives)
- Technical analysis of your surfing footage each evening (see how we coach surfing)
- Essential tips for every spot’s particularities
- An extra small boat (Dinghy) to explore more waves around
- All your surf photos & videos (bring hard drive or iPhone for videos)
- Chic 36-meter boat specifically designed to chase waves
- Private, comfortable room for every guest
- Air conditioning, hot showers & Wifi
- En-suite bathrooms in each cabin
- Plenty of common areas: large lounge, bar, sundeck, dining areas, etc.
- Domestic flights from Male to KDM (round trip)
- Maldivian Green Tax (full length of trip)
- 3 healthy and delicious meals per day, plus snacks (all you can eat)
- Unlimited mineral water, tea & coffee
- Maldivian Specialty Beach BBQ (if weather permits)
- Fishing & Snorkeling equipment
FAQs | Surf & Lifestyle
To give you an idea, about 80% of our guests are between 25 and 55 years old, with the most significant concentration being in their 30's and 40's. This is, on average, each trip is a bit different.
We are firm believers that age is just a number! If you are under 25 or over 55, you are certainly welcome in our retreats. What is important to our organization is to be transparent in the type of experience we deliver. Our guests come to focus on their surfing progression and to have a great time. Some of them enjoy a beer or a cocktail at sunset and might go out once or twice during the retreat, but if you are looking for a place to party all week, this is not the right experience for you.
Unless you don't know how to swim or if you wouldn't be comfortable swimming at least 40 meters without a floating device, you can join our coaching retreats in Costa Rica, Nicaragua or Bali. For the Mentawais and the Maldives, only intermediate level surfers will be able to enjoy those experiences.
Predicting surfing conditions is a bit like predicting the weather, we can only have a good idea of what the waves will be like a few days before a retreat. Therefore we can not guarantee you that waves will be a certain size or shape on any specific week, months in advance. This being said, your chances of getting quality surf are very high as each surf season is specifically chosen according to average surfing conditions. Since we opened in 2012, we have not had one "flat day"!
We avoid opening during the rainiest months and choose the best surf spots around, according to your level. For example, if the waves are big, we will take you to a bay or a sheltered break, where the waves are smaller and conditions are safer.
If you are an intermediate surfer:
For Bali and Costa Rica: there are plenty of quality surfboards on-site, and they are included in your package. Whether you want a longboard, funboard, fish or a hybrid surfboard, there is plenty of choices. Small, performance shortboards are harder to find, but usually, those are for advanced surfers. If you have "the magic surfboard" or if you are very precise in what you are looking for (example looking for 34.5 litres board with medium rocker), you might consider bringing your own boards.
Nicaragua: Surfboards are also included here. This is the most remote location of our "main retreats." We do have a good selection of surfboards, but the selection is not as large as in Bali or Costa Rica for performance, fibre-glass fishes and hybrid boards. You might consider bringing your own boards if performance, fibre-glass fishes or hybrids are what you want to surf and you want a precise shape and volume. If a NSP type of funboard or fish is something that you would like to surf, we do have those types of boards available.
Don't hesitate to contact us if you are an intermediate surfer and want to check if we have the board you are looking for before booking your trip.
In the Maldives and in the Mentawais, we recommend bringing the type of surfboards that you are used to ride and that you feel comfortable with (minimum 2, preferably 3). Bring at least one board on which you feel you have plenty of paddle power and length. Too often, we see intermediate surfers on the latest 5'6" "Hypto Krypto" because that is what the marketing says they should be on, and they only get onto a couple of waves each session. That's no good for enjoyment. Or improvement. In the Maldives, there's the possibility to rent with Awayco, contact us for details.
In our "main retreats" (Costa Rica, Nicaragua & Bali), you could bring, for example, $200 - $300 USD with you and your bank cards if you need to withdraw in the ATMs on destination. For the intermediate retreats, these are remote locations with no ATMs. You will need to refer to your travel guide for more information (provided when you book your spot).
Almost everything will be covered: accommodation, surf lessons, surf equipment (except for Maldives & Mentawais retreats), airport shuttles, your surfing footage, transportation, some activities, breakfast each morning and more. Here are some things you might need cash money for:
Apart from welcome meals, lunches and dinners are not included in our "Main Retreats (Costa Rica, Nicaragua & Bali)" because we believe it is part of the travel experience to try different meals and restaurants. Meal prices will vary significantly according to your preferences. In both Central America and Asia, you can still eat great local food for 5 - 8 USD per meal, and you can also spend 15+ USD on food in international restaurants.
For the intermediate retreats (Mentawais & Maldives), all meals are included because those are offered in remote locations that have very little or no other meal options.
Also, bring cash money if you bring back souvenirs for friends and family. Sometimes, freelance photographers could take in-water surf shots of you if you are lucky, you might want to purchase those!
Tips are not mandatory and are to the discretion of each traveller. If you want to tip, you can either give tips directly to your surf coach, cleaning or cooking staff.
Intermediate retreats in the Maldives & Mentawais are usually closer together, with 0, 1 or 2 days between trips.
For the "intermediate only" trips in the Mentawais and the Maldives, only intermediate level surfers can join (level 2.1 and 2.2) You must be able to:
-catch unbroken waves by yourself
-angle your take off to go either left or right
-draw your line on a “green wave” with a minimum of control
-feel comfortable in shoulder-to-head-high waves
For more information on "what is your surfing level", click here.
This means that during the day on the 4th, nothing is planned other than your transportation to our villa or hotel. There is often a welcome group dinner, usually between 6:30pm - 8:00pm on the night of the first day. If you fly in later at night, you might miss it. On the last day of the retreat (January 11th in this example), only breakfast is organized plus transportation back to the airport.
For the intermediate only retreats (Maldives & Mentawais): The first and last days of a trip are also travel days (no surfing planned). For example, if a retreat goes from October 11th – 20th, there is nothing planned other than transportation and a welcome dinner on the 11th, and breakfast plus transportation back to the airport on the 20th. Please wait for us to send details of the itinerary before booking your international flights. Your flight schedule will need to work with the private fast boats in the Mentawais, or domestic flights in the Maldives.
FAQs | Travel
If you arrive in advance to one of our destinations, the hotel or villa we collaborate with can sometimes accommodate you if there is availability (additional fees). We can also advise you on places to stay before your trip with us. Just write to us if you are interested.
*You can land at any time on our retreat dates, and we will send an airport shuttle for you. For the intermediate only retreats (Mentawais & Maldives), you will need to catch either a speed boat or a domestic flight after landing from your international flight (those are included in your package). Therefore you need to wait for us to send you those details by email once you have secured your spot before booking your international flights.
Nicaragua: No. Just a $10 USD fee to pay at the Managua airport.
Indonesia (Bali & Mentawais): Yes. You can get your visa directly at the airport in Denpasar, Bali. Since 2015, it is free for Canadian and American citizens, and for citizens of most European countries. If you plan to travel for more than 30 days, we recommend you to apply for a visa online. Depending on where you are from, you might be able to apply for a 60-day visa.
Costa Rica: No.
Maldives: A free 30-day tourist visa is granted on arrival for most nationals, including citizens of USA, Canada, Australia, NZ, UK and many European countries.
We accept 15, 16 and 17-year-olds when travelling and surfing with a parent.
For intermediate only retreats (Mentawais & Maldives): These are very remote locations. Please refer to your travel guide for more information (given to you after you reserve your spot).
Different accommodation types:
Costa Rica (2021): Bungalows for a maximum of 3 guests (see accommodation)
Nicaragua: Rooms for 2 or 3 guests (see accommodation)
Bali: Rooms for 2 – 4 guests (4 guests only in two-level studios in Canggu, see accommodation)
Mentawai: Rooms for 2 guests. No private room for 1 guest available.
Maldives: Private room for every guest. Couples or friends sharing a room have a slight discount on the package.
We do our best to separate men and women in the shared rooms. This is possible in the majority of our retreats, but not in all of them. If you want to make sure you are in a women-only or men-only shared room, please specify it when you contact us.
This being said, we leave our travellers the freedom of exploring and experimenting with each destination as they wish, as we believe in the beauty of travelling. We give the necessary security advice for each trip. If these are respected, the risks of any trouble are very low (robbery, accidents, etc.).
Bali: Denpasar (DPS)
Costa Rica: Liberia (LIR)
Mentawais: Padang (PDG)
Maldives: Malé (MLE)
* The Liberia airport in Costa Rica (LIR) is actually geographically closer to San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua, than Managua is. If you choose to land in Liberia to go to our Nicaragua retreat in San Juan del Sur, you will need to cross the land border which is 1 hour North of the Liberia airport. This process can be a bit complicated and take some time if there are line-ups. It will cost around $10-$20 USD of taxes and entrance fees. When adding the time at the customs, landing in Managua is quicker and more simple, but sometimes our guests find much better flights for Liberia, which could make this worth it.
Unless you are an experienced traveller with Spanish basics, we strongly recommend booking a shuttle with a transportation company that has drivers and vehicles in both Costa Rica and Nicaragua. This way they will pick you up in Liberia, drive you to the border, help you cross the border (which can get complicated the 1st time), and then have another driver waiting for you on the Nicaragua side to take you to our villa in San Juan del Sur. We use this company and have always had good comments.
- You must bring your own surfboards, at least two.
- Maximum sized surfboards for domestic flights in the Maldives is 8 ft.
- Possibility to rent surfboards through Awayco (contact us for info)
- Our prices are per person and in US dollars. Taxes, service fees and contributions to the FICAV are included.
- International flight tickets are not included (only the domestic ones are).
- Please wait 120 days before the surf trip before buying international flights to Male. Domestic flight schedules may change, wait for our confirmation.
- Travel insurance is not included and is mandatory.
- Your passport must be valid for 6 months from the date of your departure.
“The best part of my trip with Barefoot was how much I improved my surfing. I’d done a bunch of single surf lessons before & this was the first time I actually felt like the surf guides were instructing, critiquing & pushing me to get better at surfing.”Katherine G. 31 / Toronto, Canada
“The total experience exceeded expectations, staff was knowledgeable, professional, and gracious. Accommodations were very welcoming and comfortable. Everything was top notch!”Rick Osgood, 53 / Napa, USA
“Created some great friendships, and experienced a beautiful country in the best week possible. Already trying to figure out when I can plan my next trip with them!”Emily P. 26 / Ventura, USA
“I couldn’t ask for time spent with more friendly, truly awesome people. The team is very responsive and well organized. My surfing was pushed to another level”Brittany M. 34 / Calgary, Canada