26 pancake-flat atolls of the Maldives are coralline formations that formed around the edges of volcanic peaks, thrusting up from diverging plates in the Earth's crust. These peaks then subsided, leaving the characteristic ring shaped atolls to continue to grow around the original coastline. This pattern has created a surfing playground rife with reef passes amongst the 1,200 islands, which are part of the 2000km (3280mi) ridge extending from Lakshadweep to Chagos Islands. Southern hemisphere swells cross the equator bringing lined up, smaller swell to the shallow fringing reefs, and predictable monsoonal winds govern the seasons. The southern atolls, namely Gaafu Dhaalu (South Huvadhoo) has an exposed south-facing coast, boasting a dozen good passes, in a 2 hr cruising zone. Charter boats are the only form of access, making this an expensive, luxury type surf trip, but unlike the Mentawai's, only a few boats operate in the area. Three southern atolls tried to break away from the Maldivian government as recently as 1962, keeping this area well outside the Tourist Zone and government permits are required for foreigners to travel here. Maldivian pioneer, Tony Hussein, discovered the areas potential in 1973, keeping it to himself until the first charters began in 1993, but it remains a secluded destination on the world surf atlas.