Unless you regularly surf in the freezing backcountry of the northern latitudes, an impossible-to-access reef break, or a shark infested area of the globe, you know that crowds are an issue. A major one. Ask a surfer from Southern California or the Gold Coast what their biggest gripe is and it’s a good bet the first thing out of their mouth will have something to do with the crowds at their local lineup. Dealing with crowds at your home break is one thing, but dropping a ton of cash and traveling to far-flung destinations just to jockey for position with 20 other surfers is something no one wants to experience. To ensure more space in their lineups and avoid complaints from visiting surfers, some resorts have taken to privatizing local breaks so that only guests of their establishment have access to the most desired surf spots. In many cases, this involves denying access to local surfers who are no longer allowed to surf the prime waves many of them helped to cultivate.
The most recent location at the center of the surf privatization debate is the Maldives, specifically the North Malé atoll. With already two of the best breaks in the region off limits to non-paying guests – Pasta Point and Lohifushi – steps are being taken by Singapore-based Telos Investment to develop a high-end surf resort on Thanburudhoo, which would result in the privatization of Honkies and Sultans. Of the remaining unrestricted waves in the North Malé atoll, these two are considered to be the most consistent, which is why many local surfers and guides are against the development project. In response to the proposed privatization of Sultans and Honkies, Maldivian surfers, tour guides, and charter boat operators have staged protests and created an online petition to stop surf exclusivity in the Maldives.