Just outside Himmafushi’s Kanbili Guest House live an odd couple – one with a name befitting royalty, the other…not.
They can be found just yards from the from the netted joali chairs outside the reception area, past a white beach-ful of tall palm trees, which all lean forward to get a better look at their popular neighbours.
One is called Sultans, the other Honky’s, the sibling surf breaks that make Himmafushi one of the best places to ride the waves on the Maldives’ prolific whitewater reefs.
Following the advent of surf tourism in the archipelago a quarter of a century ago, both waves and foreign visitors travel thousands of miles to meet at the tip of Thamburudhoo island, before going their separate ways with the famous swells.
Himmafushi – sitting less than a kilometre across the channel – was home to another of the Maldives’ most famous imports, Tony Hussein Hinde, the shipwrecked Australian who brought modern surfing to the country in the 1970s.
Describing the local breaks – which include the nearby ‘Pasta Point’ and Himmafushi’s own ‘Jails’ – as “like every surfing fantasy I’d ever imagined”, Hinde realised that his “sacred mission” to find the perfect paradise wave had ended.
But the island of Himmafushi, lying just an hour north of the capital by ferry (20 minutes by speed boat), is perfect for those looking for a sample of all the Maldives has to offer. With a local community of around 1,800 people, the island has its own fish processing plant, with the impressive haul brought in each day a reminder of the strong economic currents that move beyond the surf.
Far from the harsh realities of island life initially encountered by Himmafushi’s surf pioneer, however, today’s visitors can enjoy the beauty of life on the sand and in the ocean, with all the modern comforts.
Residents at Kanbili – one of the first establishments on the island to ride the recent wave of guest house tourism – can enjoy the fabled breaks of North Malé atoll in the days, while relaxing in cool and spacious rooms (big enough to swing a surfboard in) during the evenings.
Traditional staples of island life are available to guests, with mantas, turtles and sharks every bit as common a neighbourhood sight as the surfers. Fishing trips – day or night – are readily available, while the ingredients for beach barbecues can be plucked on demand from the ocean garden in front.
Additional extras, such as the a sun terrace – complete with jacuzzi – are welcome accompaniments after a day exploring the busy atoll.
For those who feel greater affinity with Sultans than its partner, discounted day-trips to local resorts are available, where they will meet fellow travellers paying a premium to visit the waves outside Kanbili’s windows. The nearby Four Seasons resort will host its sixth international surf championship on the Sultans break this August.
While Kanbili – with its own launch – can offer some of the cheapest airport transfers available, inexpensive local ferries leave for the capital once a day, offering the chance to add an urban adventure to the island experience.
Special for the surf, but excellent for everything, Himmafushi is ideally placed to allow visitors to enjoy all the atoll has to offer, while the Kanbili Guest House is well-positioned for the perfect break.