“A Trip of a Lifetime”
“The ‘stoke’ just keeps going, long after we returned, and I don’t think it will ever leave”. The Maldives was a long-awaited trip that was the first of its kind for me but certainly will not be the last! I love surfing and I live in an amazing community with fantastic and inspiring women. A seed was planted in 2014 when my husband went on his first surf charter with ‘the boys’. From then, my dream was to organise a girl’s surf trip for my 40th birthday. There was much discussion with ladies in my local surf community to see if I could get a group together for a charter. I think it can be a bit tricker sometimes for ladies to be able to do this, especially whilst the kids are younger. Finally, in 2019 the year I was to turn 40, I researched, organised and booked a trip for 12 ladies set for June 2020 to the Maldives. Within 3 months of our departure date the world shut down due to COVID. To say I was devasted was an understatement. There were many changes over the 4-year period from when we booked to our actual trip occurring in June this year. ALL OF IT WAS WORTH THE WAIT!
The Central Atolls in the Maldives are exquisite. Our boat the ‘North Seven’ exceeded our expectations. The crew were accommodating and friendly. The food was plentiful, healthy and delicious! The waves were amazing – nothing short of surfing in paradise! I tallied 19 surf sessions over our 10-night trip. I have never surfed that much before in such a short period of time and loved every minute of it. Our guide was super accommodating for group. We had beginner to intermediate/advanced surfers. Our boards ranged from shorts boards, fun boards, mini mals, mals and a foamy. Our guides knowledge of the swell direction, wind direction, breaks and forecast were reassuring that he was getting us the best waves for everyone in our group. He always had our safety in mind with where he took us as well as the tides, he took us in. The currents can be hectic at the wrong times. He would go in the dingy or Dhoni to check the break and always kept us in the loop and ready to surf.
The waves varied over the trip. Personally, my favourite surf was a perfect 4–5-foot sunrise session at Inside Mikado’s. They would be the most epic fun waves I have ever caught. The most perfect right hander in one of the prettiest places I have ever been. Consistent, super fun, perfect size, nice walls – just perfection. Other days were similar or smaller – still amazing. I loved every session! Our group was so supportive and encouraging of each other. You would always hear go Rochelle or whoever’s name it was – YEEEWWW! That was a screamer! My second favourite surf spot was Muli’s. Another lovely long right hander! There was a turtle swimming at the top of one of the waves I caught. I jumped off and swam around it. It was truly magical. What I loved about these 2 surf spots was that depending on your ability you could sit along the line depending on how comfortable you were with the break and your ability. Our group tended to get in a pattern of where they liked to sit. Chambers was another great break we surfed. There were more sections to this wave so again you could sit where it felt right.
When we were not surfing, we were exploring uninhabited islands, island villages, fishing, snorkelling and much more. The crew had us feeling like princesses one evening in particular by taking us to the longest uninhabited island in the Maldives – Fahala. They prepared dinner, a dining table built from sand, completed with table settings. They decorated with palm tree leaves, built a bon fire and made a whale shark from sand and dirt. This was a complete surprise. It was like I was on a honeymoon with my friends. The biggest surprise was later that evening arriving back to our boat to find a real whale shark at the back of our boat feeding on plankton under lights. For many of the girls this was their first experience with a whale shark. We were all ecstatic but trying to be calm as to not scare it away. We swam around the whale shark into the early hours the next morning. A truly unforgettable experience.
We had some pretty talented fisherwomen on board too. I was not included in that talent! I did try though and got hooked up but for me it was the big one that got away! Other ladies caught several impressive fish – the chef even cooked them up all fancy for us! One lady was so stoked with her big fish she commented that she had waited her whole lifetime of 63 years to catch that fish. We nicknamed another lady ‘Rexy’ – she was the star fisherwoman. I have snorkelled some pretty impressive places such as the Great Barrier Reef, the Ningaloo Reef, Fiji, from cruises in the Pacific Ocean and snorkelling in the Maldives was up there with the best. Thousands of tropical fish, reef sharks, turtles, lobsters and more. It was spectacular, colourful, lively, peaceful and magical all at the same time.
The islands both inhabited and uninhabited were a special treat. One island village had boat building. It was certainly interesting to see how the construction of boats like the one we were on started out. We saw council buildings, hospitals, homes, shops and many children playing sports in the afternoon on an oval in the centre of the island. Friendly and curious of us, it was lovely to see their smiles and laughter, many of which greeted us. The ‘farm’ was a gorgeous uninhabited island that still had remnants of irrigation that was set up for farming. This was a truly unique experience walking through and discovering what was left in the centre of this island. Mulah was another island village we had the privilege of visiting. It was so beautiful, one of my friends made a comment ‘she was living the wrong country’ she loved it so much! The community and the culture were just beautiful.
Sunset beverages were another favourite part of my day. What am I saying? Every part of everyday was my favourite! But yes, cocktails, beer, wine or spirits went down very well whilst gazing over the magnificent colours in the sky. Sometimes on the top deck, front lounge, back tables and lounge or middle lounge or even inside. The laughter and bonds that were created on this trip will last a lifetime. A group of 12 ladies with similar interests sharing a trip of a lifetime – it does not get any better than that. The ladies were all asking me before we got off that boat, when are we going again? When we returned several ladies from our community have said – ‘I blew it, didn’t I’ book me in on the next one. It truly was an amazing experience that I hope every lady who surfs gets the opportunity to go on one day with like-minded ladies.
It was a busy trip in many ways because I think all of us had FOMO and did not want to miss a thing. We chose to have it that way. Some members of the group did sit out from some surfs or other activities and simply read a book or did yoga or did some of the group’s communal jigsaw puzzle. Personally, I did take a book but really chose not to read much at all, I don’t think I got past the first chapter. We also found time to take group questionnaires which was lovely to get to know each other on a different level. We danced, sang karaoke, and played cards. I think people really did as much or as little as suited them but for me a typical day would be sunrise surf, breakfast, mid-morning surf, lunch, rest, snorkel, island time, sunset drinks, dinner, bed.
A massive thank you to World Surfaris who provided an outstanding service. They were friendly, helpful, reliable and always replied in a timely manner whenever we needed to know anything, even from the Maldives. Thank you to the North Seven crew and each and every lady on the trip for making it possible for me to book a trip like that and making it so very special. I will cherish the experience forever and I am looking forward to many more! Thank you, Sandra, Carol, Ange, Liz, Lea, Almi, Kira, Gabby, Michelle, Wendy and Kimberly. Photo credit also goes to these beautiful ladies.