The Maldives is an irresistible draw for travelling surfers worldwide, but it's the Central Atolls that keep photographer Mark Cooper coming back year on year ready to fill his boots with crystal clear happiness.

All images courtesy of Mark Cooper and EpicSwells / The Perfect Wave
Interview by Ben Horvath / The Perfect Wave

Mark, tell us a little bit about your background surfing and shooting photos around Yallingup in SW, WA?
I moved to the southwest in 2000 from Perth. Been shooting surf images since 2006, and work now as a professional photographer. I love the southwest, you get good uncrowded waves all year around. Great community spirit.

How many trips have you done to The Maldives now?

You obviously find it appealing, where and when have you had your best waves?
My favourite waves are Jails, Cokes, Chickens and Machine. The trip down to the Central Atolls is one everyone should do. No crowds, no boats, no surf resorts. Awesome down there.

What time of the year where you in The Maldives?
I've been in June, July and August.

Any tips for first time visitors?
Be patient, never roll up to a break disappointed if it's crowded, the crowds thin out during the day. Try to time your run out if you’re based on a charter boat and anchored up for the day. You can get some awesome uncrowded sessions. Take a normal shortboard, and another board that’s a good paddler, they are long waves. Maybe a third as a backup. Wear boots at some places, it's on the inside or end of the wave which can ruin your trip if you get sliced. Book early to save too. Airfares are cheaper and can really make a difference, especially going to Maldives.

When are your trips this year?
Back to the Maldives in June. There are a few other trips on the horizon, but no set dates yet.