Ok ladies, meet Matt. A 23-year-old self-confessed surfing and yoga fanatic who spends his days leisurely drifting between Maldivian islands in search of perfect waves. Forgive me if I’m wrong, but his sun-bleached shoulder length blonde hair, opened buttoned up shirt and blue tie-dyed like retro surfboard could leave you with the impression that this surfie earthling is straight out of a 70’s surf flick.
Photo: Rob Underwood
Telling me that he was once “an executive pastry chef living on board a Maldivian safari boat,” I’m quick to learn that this American larrikin is all for laughs. In a perfect Aussie accent, Matt reveals that he’s from “Plum Island, a small island off the coast of Massachusetts” in the states. 10 points for nailing the Aussie accent on cue.
After sharing a morning of fun waves, I learn how this levelled 23 year old has managed to land his dream gig in the Maldives.
Right now, what exactly are you are doing hanging out in the Maldives?
“During the off season (non-surfing season – October to April) I run a surf program at Kandooma Resort in South Male. I teach learn to surf classes and do surf coaching. I also run the yoga program there at the resort. It’s a cool gig and makes me smile every morning I wake up. During the surf season (April to Nov) I spend my time surf guiding. I transfer over to a boat called the ‘Haira’ and basically try to help guests find the best waves possible between the north and south Male’ atolls (island regions), depending on their abilities and desired surf conditions. In between surfing we occupy our time sinking beers and catching fish.”
What’s the best thing about filling your days floating around in the ocean on a boat?
“Absolutely everything! I couldn’t put it down to one single thing. Having grown up on boats back home and being out on the water, I find it gives me the biggest sense of freedom. I get to find the best waves possible. Basically we are in charge of having the best time imaginable.”
One year on in the Maldives, what makes you keep wanting more of island life?
“I can just live out my ideal setting. I’ve had dreams of living this lifestyle, fishing and surfing everyday, having limited worries. I used to think you had to be a pro surfer to do something like this. But it makes you realise what’s really important, what’s necessary, what’s not. I love living so simply, scoring sick waves every day and constantly being in the water. The fact that I can spend all day wearing board shorts and no shirt, then go to bed and wake up in the same outfit… basically not having to wear a shirt is pretty sweet.” Agreed!!
Your favourite tunes to listen to whilst on board?
At the moment I’m really digging ‘The Weekend’ and a lot of trap music, deep house, ‘Boom Box’ and ‘Tame Impala’. Basically anything that gets me moving, has sexy lyrics or a deep base.”
So you trained to become a yoga teacher in Bali, what made you choose the ‘Island of Gods’ to become a certified yoga practitioner and how long was your Balinese adventure?
“The company I trained with was a well-accredited company. I had never travelled outside the Caribbean and I wanted to venture further when I was eighteen. So I went and did the yoga thing in Bali. It was such a great place to really immerse myself in everything that yoga is as well as eat, sleep and score some surf in between classes. The training went for five weeks then after the training I spent two weeks exploring around Canggu and Echo Beach with two friends, Joli and Nadine, that I met during the program. And meeting them is what led me to landing the job that I now have in the Maldives.”
How long have you been a yoga teacher?
“Since I was 18, I’m almost 24 now. Five and a bit years I guess. Originally I had no intention in teaching. I used to do a lot of rock climbing. Once I started yoga I climbed a whole grade higher than I used to climb. I was much more calm and controlled when I was climbing. I found it put me into this trance which made me so much more aware of my breathe, in both climbing and surfing as well. Then I guess I just wanted to share this with everyone I met.”
What do you love to get up to when you’re not yoga-ing or surfing?
“I love fishing. If I’m not commercially blue fin tuna fishing then you can find me in the mountains hiking, riding, running or doing triathlons. Overall healthy living basically. Or you will find me in the health food store blowing all my Maldivian earnings” (laughs). Matt flippantly ponders aloud over the idea of starting a health food shop in the Maldives. “Could you imagine?” Then we break out into laughter once again. He might just be on to a good thing.
Photo: Rob Underwood
Something I’m desperate to know, which are your favourite waves to surf in the Maldives?
“Kandooma Right for sure. I haven’t explored right down south. But Kandooma Right and Foxys are definitely my favourite waves in South Male. I love Cokes and Jails in North Male. I also love inside Mikados. I couldn’t say that I have a single favourite wave. I like riding differently at each spot. I like variety. Kandooma Right offers a really nice wall and three barrel sections. Having surfed it for a year, I would like to think I know I’ve got it pretty dialed.” There you have it. Word.
Photo: Rob Underwood
You’re happy, humble and know how to live in the present. What’s your best piece of advice for following your passions and living happily?
“Don’t be afraid of failure. I had no idea of what I was getting into when I came here. I had no idea where the Maldives even was. I actually thought I was going to the Canary Islands! (More laughter). Just find the positivity in every situation. I think the best thing that has been brought to my attention is treating people the way you want to be treated. Something you learn as a child, so simple. Whether it can be people, places or animals, it’s something that can be very easily over looked. And I guess it’s also better to have done something and failed at it than be faced with ‘what if?’ Never think of ‘what if,’ just fucking do it (laughs). Within reason. As long as it’s not hurting anyone.” Pretty wise words from a 23 year old.. argh, American!
Photo: Rob Underwood