The Maldives, located south of Sri Lanka in the Indian Ocean, is truly a surfer's paradise. Tropical blue water; tiny, reef-fringed atolls; and a friendly, exotic culture suit the wandering surfer's sensibilities. Not to mention the waves get pretty good. Sultan's, pictured here, is one of the main breaks near the country's capital of Male. For the fourth year running, the Four Seasons Kuda Huraa will be hosting six of the surf world's more illuminating personalities for the 2014 Champions Trophy from Aug. 4-11, billed as the most luxurious surf contest in the world. Here's why you'll wish you were there.
Sultan's breaks off of the island of Thamburudhoo, and on the other side of the island you'll find Honkey's, an A-plus left that bends around the island before spinning down the reef. It's as incredible a wave as it looks.
Last year Taylor Knox beat his idol Tom Curren in a hard-fought final. He's eager to defend his title, as well as enjoy the splendor that is traveling in the Maldives.
It's not Huntington Beach, but it's also not the worst place to host a surf contest. When the competitors aren't bobbing around in the Indian Ocean they'll call the Four Seasons on the island of Kuda Huraa home.
Bringing longboard style into the equation, California's Taylor Jensen's hoping his choice of craft translates into high scores from the judges. Either way, the man's graceful on a plank.
The Explorer houses all the competitors and event officials while the Champions Trophy runs, which is a pretty nice perk considering the boat costs about $100,000 per week if you want to rent it for a surf trip with your buddies.
As the Maldives is the country with the lowest elevation in the world, global climate change and rising sea levels will not be kind, but until then it's hard to imagine a more spectacular place the world over.
Dave Rastovich can ride just about any surfboard he can get under his feet. The format of the Champions Trophy calls for competitors to ride single-fins, twins and conventional thrusters. Rasta's a master of all of them.
The Judges' Platform
Not the worst place to judge a surf contest.
The power broker of the event, Hawaii's Sunny Garcia is all about putting his board on rail. And while the surf in the Maldives doesn't always have the push he's used to at places like Sunset, there's little question he'll do some damage. Only one thing: Can Garcia ride a single-fin?
Feel The Rhythm
Big on tradition, local Maldivian drummers prepare to send off the finalists from last year's Champions Trophy. It may not be "Eye of the Tiger," but it certainly pumps up the competitors.
This is what rush hour looks like on Kuda Huraa. It's not quite the 405 Freeway or the Jersey Turnpike.
A pioneer on the ASP Women's World Tour in the 1990s, Rochelle Ballard was one of a small cadre of women who proved they can not only get covered up by the tube, but they can get properly barreled. The only woman in the Champions Trophy contest, she'll have her work cut out for her, but she's certainly capable of holding her own.
For now Sultan's remains open to the public, meaning anybody who can catch a boat out to the break can ride it. But a planned resort on Thamburudhoo could change that.
Before there was Gabriel Medina or Adriano De Souza there was Fabio Gouveia. One of the pioneering Brazilians on the ASP World Tour, he will be representing South America at the Champions Trophy.
Maldivian artists working their craft on the island of Kuda Huraa.
When it comes to exotic eco escapism, few places compare to the Maldives. The water's warm, the waves are good and the people are friendly. It's up to the local surf community and the travel companies and boat charters to make sure it remains this way.