Spring in the Northern Hemisphere means summer is right around the corner — and that translates to winter approaching south of the equator. But whichever half of the planet you reside, top or bottom, tis’ the season for Southern Hemisphere storms to spread swell across the major ocean basins of the world.
While the Southern Ocean truly never sleeps during the year, it is most active from May through October and Surfline tailors our expert human-forecasts to this trend. We focus our cadre of meteorologists to the locations and times when storms and swells are most active. This year, we are pleased to announce the addition of the Maldives to our seasonal Southern Hemisphere forecasts. The Maldives join other bucket-list surf destinations like Bali, Mentawais, Fiji, and Tahiti with a human-generated forecast, updated three times a week from March through October.
Though actually located just north of the equator in the Indian Ocean, the Republic of the Maldives receives the bulk of its swell from Southern Hemi sources. Located south-southwest off the tip of India, and roughly between Madagascar and the Mentawais in the middle of the Indian Ocean, the Maldives are one of the most spread out, lowest-lying (highest point is less than eight feet), and smallest land-area of any nation or group of islands in the world. The island chain is comprised of 26 atolls but the most well-known breaks are located centrally, near the capital of Male. Still, you’ll need a boat to sample more than the surf on the island you’re staying.
The remoteness of the Maldives means they are open to swell from across the Indian Ocean, plus swell from storms tracking through the Southern Ocean — from underneath Africa, across the Indian Ocean and all the way east underneath Australia. With the storm track from west to east, many swells side-swipe the Maldives on their way to Indonesia. This means fewer solid to large swells than you’ll find in Indo, but lots of fun-zone size surf. But you’ll have a variety of waves from island to island with the occasional larger swell mixing in, especially during the peak Southern Hemi season.
In addition, the Indian Ocean produces tropical systems that can deliver swell but are not a major weather threat. Since the islands lie within five degrees of the equator, it is difficult for cyclones to develop or maintain rotation. The Southwest Indian Ocean tropical season runs from November to April and averages nine tropical storms a season. The North Indian Ocean tropical season runs year round with most activity to the east and west of India, in the Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea.
Considering the Maldives are close to the equator, swells have typically traveled a good distance once they arrive, making local winds an important component in determining wave quality. The early part of the year (January-March) is considered winter, the Northeast Monsoon (Iruvai) season sees infrequent bigger swells that start to increase in March. This is also the driest time of year with winds coming from the east to the north, which is onshore for many spots.
The Southwest Monsoon (Hulhangu) includes the heart of the Southern Ocean winter and shoulder months (April-October), providing more storms and more consistent swell with winds generally more favorable winds from the southwest direction. April to June is considered the ‘peak’ surf period before more variable wind and weather from July to September. Storms and swell then typically start to decrease in consistency during October. The remaining months of November and December see fewer swells and far more scuba divers, the nation’s primary tourist attraction, making it a period where you probably want to avoid making the long pilgrimage.
The largest SSW swell of the young Southern Hemi season is lining up for this weekend in the Maldives — Go Premium and access the 17-day forecast and in-depth analysis from the Surfline forecasting team. And keep monitoring the Forecast linked below while saving up money, vacation days, and Ambien for that 30hr flight from the West Coast, like we said, April through June is typically the best period of the year for combined swell and conditions.
Full details are available at the link below:
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