Surfing PNG – Perfection on the PNG Explorer

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Back From the Blue: PNG Explorer Trip 5.

Words and photos by Chris Peel.

 

Greetings from Kavieng harbour, where PNG Explorer is anchored.

 

We have just returned to port from trip 5 and docked loaded to the gunnels with smiles. Huey has been blessing the mighty PNG Explorer despite the dire state of the storms in the North Pacific and we kicked off the last charter all systems go from day one.

 

All breaks were firing and all were taken advantage of. It’s a pretty unique feeling waking up and looking around from the boat to see waves that you used to draw at school and not have a single surfer around besides you and your best mates. After three days of ‘’some of the funnest waves in my life’’, it was time for Huey to have a little rest and for us to replenish the fish stocks with some fishing missions. Chef Israel had been serving excess amounts of sashimi during afternoon beers, so a semi emergency was taking place on the fish stock front. After filling the freezers with all manner of piscatorial delights, it was time to get back into what we all came for though despite the fun that catching big fish from the small boats is.

 

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The visual feast was just as abundant as the sashimi and we were treated to some of the most surreal sunrises of the season so far on this trip, making for good viewing during morning coffee and surf strategy discussions. With the swell down and the wind the wrong direction, spirits were dipping so Captain Rigby came up with a possible solution via an outer island swell magnet that could be on. It was a bit of a long shot but the anchor was pulled and we were on our way. We also stopped by an old WWII Japanese Cape bomber plane the skip knew about that’s in pretty shallow water and the decision was made to stop quickly and check it out. It’s pretty amazing here in PNG and it seems every corner has something special tucked away if you look close.

 

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We arrived at the Skip’s mysto surf location in the afternoon and the gamble paid off. It was on. A little shifty at first but nothing the high tide wouldn’t fix and after a high water session serious prep for the following day was required (which mainly consists of fishing and drinking beers while floating down the white silica sand passage), the next few days consisted of arm-breaking sessions, barbeques, bottomless plates of food and the clear blue joy of the outer islands.

 

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As the end of the trip neared, it was time to head back to the bread and butter region to try squeeze a couple more tubes in before we had to steam back to port, which we did manage to get. The guests surfed up to the very last minute to make sure not one swell was wasted and with noses still leaking saltwater departed Kavieng the following dawn.

 

That was trip 5 and Trip 6 is heading out soon. Hopefully next report we will have some exciting news, so stay tuned.

 

Lukim you behind (See you later)

 

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Travellers Tales: Surfing Taiwan in October

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Daryl Hogan Interview by Ben Horvath. Taiwan photos by Neil Armstrong (Moonwalker). 

 

Daryl Hogan is a very good, extremely experienced, well-travelled and respected southern Sydney surfer.
“Hoges”, as he is known to his buddies and surfing compatriots, has been surfing for 4 decades, mostly around Cronulla and the south coast of NSW.
Daryl has surfed all over the world and recently popped into the Perfect Wave’s Cronulla office and booked a trip in search of some more fun: surfing Taiwan.
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Here’s a quick Q and A about his journey:
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Ben – How old are you, Daryl?
Hogan – 51 years

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Ben – How many years have you been surfing?
Hogan – 40 years
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Ben – Please list all your surf travel destinations?
HoganAll over Aus including Tasmania, Bali, South Africa, PNG, Chile. Peru, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Mexico, USA, Hawaii, Maldives, Sri Lanka, France, Spain , Portugal, Ireland, Scotland, England, Indo, Fiji, New Zealand and Reunion Island.

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Ben- How long did you spend surfing Taiwan?
Hogan – 10 days.
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Ben – How does it rate wave-wise?
Hogan – Consistent, with the potential for outstanding waves.
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Ben – Is it easy to get there? Please share your travel arrangements with our readers.
Hogan – It is a little tricky, but not majorly. I flew Hong Kong to Taiwan to local airport and then another 3 x 1/2 car ride to the east coast. Even if you fly direct to Taipei, then to local airport, you’re still up for a good car ride.

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Ben – It is a guided surf trip, right? Suitable for singles, girls and with a mate or two also?
Hogan – Yes, it is a guided surf trip. Unless you can read Mandarin or speak it, good luck! I surfed beach breaks and saw points that no way you’d find. Plus the guides I had were outstanding: Anan and Roy. I surfed every day and they always knew the best restaurants to eat at. There is a boom happening, and the population of girls surfing there is quite high. With a friendly and safe environment. It’s perfect for girls.
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Ben – What type of waves did you surf?
Hogan – Mostly beach breaks and cobble stone setups, but I saw some point setups that looked insane.
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Ben – How’s the food and accommodation?
Hogan – The food is outstanding. Never had a bad meal and the accommodation was modern and clean.
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Ben – Good cultural hit too?
Hogan – The culture and the people are fantastic, polite, friendly and willing to help if possible.
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Ben – What did it cost you all up?
Hogan – $4,500.

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Kauai: A Surf Adventure in Jurassic Park

 

Kauai Surf Adventure – all photos (c) Sammy Gibson @alldayswild

 

It’s dusk. Red-hot orange smears across the sky, setting fire to the clouds and sea. The sun lingers on the horizon as if it isn’t ready to leave us. I have only just flown in but I know this place is going to hypnotise me. I skull the last of my Budweiser, happily glowing in its wake.

 

We are tucked away in a nook on Kauai, an island to the west in the Hawaiian archipelago. We are here to explore the Garden Isle in a rooftop camper — the first of its kind in Kauai — our itinerary set by the sun and swell.

 

 

Darkness falls and the wind blows in from the east, creating mini tornados on the ocean surface. Our temporary home bears the brunt of the wind storm which gets stronger and stronger by the hour and we feel as if we are about to lift off and be carried away. Jetlagged, we decide to pack up the tent in the ink-black night. No street lights, no people, no voices, just wind violently blowing saltwater and dust onto our home.

 

I always believe every great place challenges you – it is almost like a good travelling omen when the start of the trip starts with hiccups – so even with blood shot eyes and no real sense of direction, we pack up camp and drive the desolate roads north, attempting our first real taste of driving on the right side of the road. We have no destination in mind and the only real light is glowing down from the super moon. I smile, this is adventure, this is travelling. We find shelter in a bay on the edge of a jungle.

 

Little did we know, that this wind storm was the powerful generator of the swell to come the next day.

 

 

I wake up in a jungle with the sound of waves echoing through the trees and I realise where I actually am. Flash backs of Jurassic Park overtake me and it is easy to see why the 1992 classic was filmed here. Towering cliffs of the north look as if they are still hiding dinosaurs, a screech from a Pterodactyl could be heard at any moment.

 

We pull up to Hanalei, a sleepy bohemian township huddled in a moon-shape cove. The waves on the outer reef are double overhead right handers with only a handful of people out. Closer to the shore is a shoulder high A-frame with no one else out, so we opt for the lonely waves. A turtle comes to say hey, the first of many in this marine paradise. The words of a stoned local we met in the night filter through my mind, “no matter where you are, there is always a Tiger Shark 20 metres from you”. I smirk at the thought as the lazy turtle bobs next to me, relaxed and comfortable in the line-up, surely there are no tigers around.

 

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After this fun session we search for a camping spot but first we need supplies. Poke bowls aka fresh yellow-fin tuna dishes are everywhere in Kauai’s stalls and we have to try one, along with the local beer, Fire Rock Pale Ale. At a little tiki bar in the township we sit and listen to two weathered men with greying hair play slack guitar.

 

 

I awaken at first light, feeling the aftermath of the Fire Rock. Luckily, the jungle and pounding Pacific Ocean know how to instantly freshen your soul. The clouds open up and the rain filters down, in large thick droplets. Jungle rain. We search for waves down a forest path and find a windblown left hander crumbling off a rocky point. Nothing impressive. We decide to check it from another angle. A web of tree vines wind down a steep volcanic rock face to the sand, the only way to access the beach. We watch the waves for 20 minutes and completely out of boredom, paddle out.

 

As soon as we get out the back, the windy, crumbling wave turns offshore. Three-to-four foot sets wrap around the rocky reef, peeling off to a wally, made for open face carve waves. The point break we had been watching was now a completely different spot. That is the beauty, the secret about Jurassic Park, one minute you can be sitting silently with nothing to do and the next you’re running from a T’Rex aka paddling into a lonely line up with your only other surf buddy being a giant green sea turtle.

 

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It is hard to forget the last surf. The moody weather. The snap change in wave height, length, body. Kauai is a moody island. It becomes even more evident when we decide to go west. We hear whispers of a wave in the west which is only accessed down a long, dirt road next to dramatic cliffs. Naturally we go.

 

The southern coast transitions us from thick lush forest to red earth, the Wild West. Home to Waimea Canyon, this area of Kauai is dry and cracked. Iron-stained earth sits where old sugar cane fields once dominated. I feel as if tumble weed is about to roll down the road.

 

In front of us is the tallest most majestically chiselled cliffs I have ever seen. Their existence instantly haunts me; iron-stained terrain with dots of emerald vegetation, the beauty never leaves you. We have reached the end of the highway and all that is left is a long, gravel road. A 13-mile-long stretch of bone-white sand dunes greet us on the other side. This is paradise.

 

 

Time does not exist here. The water is crystallite. The sand piping hot from glowing sun beams. The waves are fun, easy, uncrowded, three-foot, peeling. The nights are long, balmy, and star-filled. I dive into solitude; shower naked at dawn watching surf roll in, I cheers my beers to the sunset, I watch it change from crimson to violet to blood orange as if I am swiping through Instagram filters. I sizzle marshmellows over a bonfire and wake up to an alarm of chickens hanging out on the beach. Our first human contact is when our truck gets stuck in soft golden sand and two local surfers pull us out. Beer is our currency and we pay them generously.

 

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Kauai surf trip will give you what you deserve. She will not reward a tourist, she will give it all to the travellers, the adventurers. This is the place you go to fall off the grid. It isn’t just a surf trip, it is exploring in its rawest form. Your reward? A lonely line up with fun waves. Kauai is adventure, it is Jurassic Park.

 

Reality can taste sour after a surf adventure, however, we ease ourselves back into it with a stopover in Oahu. Needing no introduction whatsoever, this island of Hawaii is notorious, for more reason than one. The North Shore will blow your mind. Pipeline is god. Seeing it, surfing it, whatever you do there, it will ignite your soul. Watching a 6-foot set change to 15-foot is invigorating. Drive Sunset Beach and pull over anywhere, you will get waves.

 

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Kauai Surf Adventure – all photos (c) Sammy Gibson @alldayswild

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Where to go surfing this winter?

 

With Christmas just around the corner, winter is well and truly here.

 

Whilst that means lots of swell hitting the best breaks across Europe, it also means very chilly water and the need for head to toe neoprene to even think about paddling out! To help keep your surf spirit up as temperatures drop, I’ve put together a short list of great places to escape to for a cheeky week out of the office and away from the cold. They’re also great “fun in the sun” alternatives to spending your winter holidays waiting in lift queues in the Alps!

 

Every one of these destinations is easy access, gets a reasonable amount of swell, isn’t too crowded, and is great value for money:

 

The Maldives experience is one of a kind in the world of surf travel: aqua blue water, white sand beaches, palm trees and perfect, “user friendly” reef surf. To be sure to score waves at this time of year a boat trip to the Southern Atolls is the call for clean swell and light winds.

 

 

Further north in the Male Atolls, the waves are a touch smaller and less consistent, which makes it the perfect time for beginners to learn to surf there! To give you even more incentive, one of our favourite places to sunbathe, snorkel and lounge around by the pool, the luxurious Kandooma Surf Resort is offering 25% off on accommodation and 50% on speedboat airport transfers for any bookings between 1 January and 22 April 2017.

 

 

With plenty of swell pulsing down from the North Atlantic, the Canaries and Morocco are the “go to” destinations for any European surfer at this time of year. They both offer world-class surf spots, allow you to shed a few millimetres of rubber off of your wetsuit, and have great accommodation options for solo surf trips and family getaways alike.

 

 

If you want to fill up on fresh fish, share beautiful line-ups with only a handful of other surfers, and work on your big wave surfing skills, look no further than the island of Madeira.

Cape Verde and Senegal are easily accessible from Europe, yet still a bit off the beaten path. They are both far enough south of the storm systems to offer clean, long period swell and water temps warm enough to surf in a spring suit. No matter which you choose, you’re sure to score quality surf in a warm and welcoming location, with a stress free atmosphere in and out of the water.

 

 

The Caribbean islands of Barbados, Guadeloupe and the Dominican Republic are a bit farther afield, but each is a true, tropical island paradise with its own distinct style, and choice of surf spots you’ll be surfing in board shorts.

 

 

Although not in their optimum swell window, the Central American nations of Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Guatemala all offer warm weather and plenty of adventure for a fantastic winter holiday with the perfect size waves for any non-surfing family members to finally learn how!

 

 

For any questions you may have or help booking any of these winter surf escapades, please contact us today. 

 

 

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Kandooma Surf Resort
From US$1,170 pp for 7 nights
Kandooma Island is located in South Male and is a stunning new resort boasting exceptional service and facilities. Perfect for couples, honeymooners and families, this resort always receives rave reviews from our clients.

Southern Atolls
From US$1,868 pp for 8 nights
The Southern Atolls of Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll, Seenu and Adu are all about 340kms south of Male, with at least a dozen high level reef breaks. Only just recently increasing in popularity, these atolls are less travelled due to their distance from Male as a domestic flight is required to get there.

Male Atolls
From US$671 pp for 7 nights
North Male has some of the best Maldivian surf breaks. Chicken’s and Cokes, are superb waves offering a left and a right. Lohis is a quality left just outside the Hudhuranfushi Resort. Honkeys, Sultans and Jails are quality surf spots not to be missed.

Cape Verde
From US$386 pp for 7 nights
If you dream of tranquility, sleeping, fado music and if you miss the sun in winter – you’re in the right place. Excellent motivation for a trip with good waves in emerald-coloured seas with warm and friendly people. A really original trip and not too far away from home.

Senegal
From US$255 pp for 7 nights
Reef breaks, Point breaks, Beach breaks everything in place to make Senegal an unforgettable surf destination. Whether you are a good surfer or a beginner, you can find great waves here all year round

Barbados
From US$333 pp for 7 nights
Barbados offers some heavy waves, but it is best suited to the surfer who enjoys chilling-out on the beach and riding fun waves with an idyllic tropical backdrop. Most of the spots break onto flat coral reefs or on beautiful sandy beaches.

Guadeloupe
From US$278 pp for 7 nights
Guadeloupe is the largest land mass in the central area of the Lesser Antilles and Grande Terre benefits from a deeper offshorre valley poiting towards the Atlantic NE swell source. A Big Norther or Westly hurricane swell will get intou Basse Terre and hit some prime spots.

Dominican Republic
From US$819 pp for 7 nights
Next to the colonial fort in the tourist hub of Puerto Plata, a channel splits the reef of La Puntilla, offering intense rights and lefts on a head high northerly swell. The city’s other option, Coffee Break is a reef peak worth checking when it’s too small for La Puntilla.

Costa Rica
From US$178 pp for 7 nights
Costa Rica is everything you have dreamt it might be, with great waves, warm water full of dolphins and sea life and beautiful sandy beaches edged by lush tropical jungle. From one end of the country to the other, there are all sorts of waves to suit all level of surfing, the waves are not usually much bigger than head-high.

Nicaragua
From US$560 pp for 7 nights
Nicargaua has some of the best points, reef breaks and sandbars in Central America, It’s best surf breaks are in the province of Rivas. They get the south swells from the Roaring 40’s averaging 3-5ft and average about 330 days of offshore winds.

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3 Good Options for Quality, Uncrowded Surf

Do you want to get away from crowds?

Now is the time of year to ask the question: Where can I go between October and March to maximise the opportunity for perfect surf?

The hardcore and aspiring pro surfers all head in one direction – the North Shore of Oahu.

Of course that is understandable, as the North Shore of Oahu is the pinnacle, the testing ground, the seven mile miracle. There’s just so much variety and consistency in such close proximity. However, if you aren’t up to being cleaned up by a rogue west peak at Sunset Beach, or battling every wannabe and actual pros for waves, or just aren’t at that level?

Thankfully, the Pacific is a very large ocean, and swells spread far and wide.

Paddler’s perspective of fun-sized P-Pass

Looking at the globe, its easy to see a decent swell may cross the equator and head south until it finally unloads with perfect form on a distant reef.

Ideally, that reef faces NW and is offshore in the trade winds, or it’s in the tropical doldrums and rarely wind affected.

Now that we have set the criteria, where can we find epic surf with few others around?

There are 3 reliable options to consider

  1. North Coast of PNG (open to north swells, in doldrums = glassy perfection)
  2. Micronesia (NW facing reef passes out of deep water + offshore in trade winds = P-Pass perfection)
  3. Samoa (Hawaiian swells arrive 2 days later, longer period, smaller and more perfect)

Vanimo – Papua New Guinea

The north coast of Papua New Guinea has gained a reputation for fun, clean perfect surf with no crowds. To make the most of it, you need the widest possible swell window to send long-lined goodness your way. The furthermost north and west you can get for mainland PNG surf is Vanimo. Drawing in all available swell from the North Pacific, but protected from crowding by the visionary PNG surf plan, Vanimo offers a wide selection of breaks from user-friendly, long-walled reef-point breaks through to fast and hollow performance waves. The lifestyle is simple here: quality waves and ancient local culture unaffected by tourism.

Perfect P-Pass – Photo Simon Williams

The legendary P-Pass in Micronesia is actually easier and more accessible than expected. Most swells at P-Pass are user-friendly 3-6 foot. A roll-in takeoff, a couple of pumps, then a barrel that stays open or a rippable wall, then a deep channel – perfection. On land, Pohnpei Surf Club has a quality small hotel with great bars and restaurants nearby to make it a great surf trip lifestyle. To make it even better, you can now fly to Pohnpei on the same day: leave Sydney or Brisbane in the morning, land in Pohnpei late evening, sleep, get up, go surfing. The same schedule you expect from a high end trip to the Maldives.

The airfares on this new route with Air Niugini are also great value. If you book and pay before 15 October 2016, you can get 7 nights at Pohnpei Surf Club including airfares ex Sydney or Brisbane for around AU$3,000 or 10 nights for less than AU$3,900.

The rarely considered option is the north coast of the South Pacific islands. A NW swell that hits Hawaii will arrive in Samoa a couple of days later, longer period, smaller and absolutely perfect. One of the best weeks of surfing in my life was one of these swells: a week of 20-second north swell from 6 foot plus down to a super fun 3-foot perfection.

If you feel the need for a surf trip anytime between now and April, we have the plans to put you in the path of a perfectly formed, long period North Pacific swell train!

Discover our Pacific Ocean surf travel deals

To celebrate the end of summer and the beginning of surfers’ season, i.e. autumn, we are giving away the ultimate Ocean and Earth surf travel pack valued at $600.

Ocean & Earth have long been the world leaders in quality and innovative surf hardware and accessories. This ultimate surf travel pack contains the following necessary travel companions: A premium, heavy-duty double 6’6’’cover, wheel carry bag, backpack, grip and One Piece leash.

This is an awesome prize for every surf traveller from O&E and you get a chance to win it by booking your next trip with The Perfect Wave.

The winner of the summer draw is Samuel Carson. Congratulations, Sam!


Vanimo Surf Lodge
From AU$1,050 for 7 nights
Remote, empty waves. A left or a right just outside your bungalow, perfect scene for your Papua New Guinea Surf. Come here to search for waves along the coast, stay in traditional huts with fellow surfers & share a stories over a cold beer at night.

The PNG Explorer
From AU$3,990 for 10 nights
Live life to the fullest, have the waves for yourself and score recently-discovered breaks. Life on PNG Explorer is stripped to simplicity – beers, empty waves, epic fishing, beach BBQ and great abundant food. Photo & Video from the trip is also included.

Nusa Island Retreat
From AU$1,849 for 7 nights
Leave the civilization behind, stay in beautiful beach huts, have the waves for yourself & enjoy the chilled out vibe of this fascinating Papua New Guinea surf.

Rubio Plantation Retreat
From AU$1,700 for 7 nights
Every surf adventurer dreams of remote coastline with empty surf breaks, discovering the long coastline and staying in beach huts. Rubio is an eco plantation with great food and friendly local staff.

Pohnpei Surf Club – P-pass
From AU$3,000 for 7 nights incl. flights
Besides from the world-famous P-Pass, at Pohnpei Surf Club you will get to score a bunch of other waves, with great food and lots of extra activities in between the surf sessions.

Coconuts Beach Club
From AU$1,229 for 7 nights
Recently rebuilt, beautiful and traditional Samoan beachfront resort with day spa for the non surfing partners. Manoa Tours runs the surf program right from the beach in front of the resort.

Sinalei Resort & Spa
From A$1,277 for 7 nights
A traditionally Samoan resort with luxury. From simple garden view rooms to absolute beachfront, there is something for every budget. Plus the amazing Presidential Suite for a family or small group looking for something extra special.

Aganoa Lodge Samoa
From AU$2,000 for 6 nights
They have transformed this quiet Pacific hideaway into a prime escape destination. The perfect, uncrowded, affordable option for surfers, couples and families. Only five hours from the Australian east coast and Hawaii.

 

Aganoa Right looking good

The view from your accommodation at Aganoa Lodge

Hawaii is about performance waves too. Rocky Pt. – Photo Andy Potts