As soon as you catch a glimpse of the Maldives from your plane and spy some of the 1,200 islands set in a turquoise sea, you'll realise that you've reached a surfer's paradise. Find the best breaks on the outer reefs on the south-east sides of the atolls. The best time to visit to catch world-class waves is from April to October when the islands pick up plenty of swell. You'll find the biggest and most reliable waves between June and September. But choose a time which suits where you're staying, as conditions vary along the islands' 800km stretch. The Southern or Outer Atolls have shorter early (March and April) and late (September to November) seasons boasting beautiful weather with light winds and clear skies, and swell from both the south-west and south-east. Here you'll find breaks with tempting names like Tiger Stripes, Castaways and Shangri-La. The Central Atolls boast good quality breaks suitable for most surfers and fewer crowds. Mid-season is best, from May to August. The most popular area is the Malé Atolls in the north, with its colourfully-named breaks like Cokes, Chickens, Sultans, Jailbreaks and Ninjas. It has south east swell for most of the season from April to October, with June to August being the peak season. If you've never surfed before, the Maldives is a perfect place to learn. You'll find highly qualified instructors throughout the islands and surf camps everywhere. Kandooma has a user-friendly reef and sand bottom that's close to the shore and waves that aren't too intimidating. The guides' job is to find you pristine locations where no-one else is surfing in the Maldives, so you'll feel like you're the first to discover this paradise. Usually, you'll be surfing waves about half a metre to 1.2m high (two to four feet), with eight footers and even bigger to be found for more experienced surfers. The waves aren't hugely powerful but they offer barrels and long fun rides, plus they've played host to several international contests. They break on mostly dead reef and rarely will you come into contact with it unless you are surfing on a very low tide. Look out for Lohis, a reef break regarded as the best ”left-hander' in the Maldives, giving surfers a high-speed ride. Find it on the doorstep at Hudhuranfushi Resort. Head to the area between Malé and Thulhusdhoo for right-handers like Jailbreaks, which can give you rides of up to 300m, and Sultans, which are all protected from southerly winds. Chickens is a left-hander and among the fastest waves for Maldives surfing, with swells of more than 3m and rides of 500m long. In the Central Atolls you'll find Veyvah, a left-hander that's easy to ride with its long wall so is great for beginners and intermediates. And don't overlook the Cinnamon Dhonveli which is a stop on the pro surfer circuit. Keen surfers may want to consider chartering a live-aboard boat, so you can sail to all the best breaks. It means you can wake up anchored at your perfect spot, catching the first dawn waves while resort guests are still having breakfast.