Mentawais & Maldives: is your surf level adequate?

One of the most common questions for our intermediate coaching retreats to the Maldives & Mentawais is: is my surfing level appropriate for this trip? The tricky thing with the term “intermediate” is that it is quite broad and can be understood differently from one surfer to another. Both a surfer with one year of experience and another with ten years of experience could be considered intermediates.

Your surf level could be too low or too high for our intermediate coaching retreats; therefore, we recommend reading this article before committing to a trip.

This trip is for you if:

  • You are comfortable in head-high waves 
  • You are independent in the water & able to catch waves by yourself 
  • You can angle yourself to the right or the left on a wave
  • You can read a lineup and know how to get out of the way of surfers when possible
  • You can draw your line on the open face with some control

To really enjoy the exceptional quality of the waves in the Maldives or Mentawais, you need to not only be able to catch unbroken waves but also know how to angle yourself to the right or to the left to ride the shoulder.

This would not be the best trip for you if:

  • You have never tried surfing
  • You have very limited experience (for example, only a few months)
  • You need someone to push you into waves
  • You still struggle with your take-off, falling off most of the time
  • You get too scared to surf when waves are shoulder-to-head-high
  • You are a very advanced surfer looking for 8-feet grinding barrels over shallow reef

Everybody wipe-outs, obviously! But for example, if you wipe out on 70% of the waves you take off on, it might not make sense to travel all the way there as it could be frustrating for you to “waste” perfect waves. Instead, it could make more sense for you to book a trip to either Costa Rica or Nicaragua. On beach breaks, you can catch more waves during your surf sessions, maximizing your chances to improve.

It’s possible to be “too advanced” for these trips.

We do not take very advanced surfers on this trip as it would compromise our ability to provide a unique, personalized service. We can’t please both very advanced and intermediate surfers at once, as they typically want to surf different waves. Moreover, we do not want our intermediate students to feel as if they are preventing advanced surfers from surfing heavy, advanced waves.

Our team would be very thrilled if we could help “experienced intermediates” get some of their first barrels, but if you have the level to ride big, hollow barrels, this is not the experience for you.

The coaching is mostly done through video analysis.

Our students need a certain level of independence in the water since most of the coaching is done by video analysis. They can not rely on having a coach to themselves to push them into waves, etc. 

There will be one surf guide in the water helping guests understand the specific surf spot, providing tips on where to sit, avoiding hazards, etc., and another coach filming the session from a boat. We do not have the same 2:1 in-water coaching ratio as we do on our main retreats in Central America; therefore, we can not offer the same type of in-water attention. Helping and constantly pushing a beginner student into waves would prevent a coach from offering intermediate tips on reading & positioning to the rest of the group. From our experience, guidance on the different surf spots is enough for intermediate students, and video coaching is the best tool to improve their surfing.

What are the waves like?

Although the Mentawais & Maldives are usually known for some of their heavier barreling waves, there are plenty of less intimidating, user-friendly waves which are often less crowded. Our idea is to provide our intermediate students with the opportunity to get surf coaching on high-quality, playful waves. Although we cannot control conditions, we maximize our chances of getting very fun & user-friendly waves by:

  • Running our coaching retreats during the “shoulder” seasons, avoiding the months when the swells are often bigger
  • Avoiding reefs that go from very deep to very shallow waters quickly
  • Choosing waves that are easier to read & not “too advanced” (for example, avoiding “slabs” that break in a “heavy cylinder” shape and going to waves that peel with less intensity).

Any questions?
Don’t hesitate to contact our coaching team: info@barefootsurftravel.com

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