Words and photos by Perfect Travel Group Global Head Coach Chris Buykx.

The first thing I realise about PNG surf travellers is that they all come back! And they do it again and again. With a whole world of surf travel, why do they keep returning to Papua New Guinea?

I had to find out!


So as a dedicated professional I launched in to the four greatest PNG surf experiences – and returned with tales to tell.

Firstly, it’s big! Its a wild and diverse country, but after 13 domestic air sectors, I can state unequivocally – PNG is a very big country!

Secondly, surfing is part of life. It is shared by locals and visitors with smiles and laughs, never with hassling or crowds. This is a decision by the whole community to keep surfer numbers low and the quality of the experience high – everyone is stoked.

But with limited numbers and a high return rate, it does get booked out well in in advance. Groups often book as they check out from the last trip! Booking early to avoid missing out is more important than anywhere else.

In the wild west, close to the Indo border, is Vanimo. A quick look from the air and you know why you want to do a surf trip here. An incredible series of peninsulas and bays create perfect lefts and rights on the fringing reefs. When combined with a wide swell window and ceaseless activity in the North Pacific, its a sure bet for your surf trip investment.

Vanimo reefs are broad limestone platforms with a bit of coral, and as a result the waves are user friendly, super fun and occasionally epic. The go-to wave, Lido Right is a long point-like wave with multiple sections to spread everyone out and make everyone happy. When the sea-breeze kick in the afternoon, the lefts turn on – choose from open faced walls at Waremo to fast hollow thrills at Yako. A round of golf and beers around the lodge lawns completes a day of relaxed and satisfying surfing.

At the other end of PNG, to the East, New Ireland offers hundreds of kilometres of coast facing toward North Pacific swell trains.

Rubio Plantation Retreat faces east, toward the Pacific and in the lee of the winds. Limestone and coral have been shaped by uplift and fresh water to create innumerable reefs that create curves in swells at perfect peel angles. Its consistent, hollow and there are no other surfers around – you will get uncrowded, perfect waves. With a maximum of just 10 surfers and incredible variety of daily surf options, Rubio is the epitome of the uncrowded PNG surf dream.

Facing North on New Ireland is the original and ultimate PNG surf resort, Nusa Island Retreat. An eye for quality and style has created a much sought after resort and it’s in the middle of a playground of waves, where each small coral island in the bay has a wave peeling down either side. There’s an option for every swell, wind and tide combo. From user friendly point breaks to hollow reefs, surfers can enjoy some of the best waves they will ever surf, because when the good ones roll in and a handful of surfers on the break, the only question is whose turn is it?

Of course the other advantage of Nusa Island Retreats stylish offering is non surfers love it too! Forget air-conditioning and same-same marble-clad resorts, Nusa Island Retreat is understated comfort where simplicity is luxurious. Whether its activities like world class fishing and diving, or the equally good relaxation, it works for everyone that wants to experience the best of PNG.

As mentioned earlier, Papua New Guinea is big – and that means lots of islands, even more coasts and reefs and that translates to exposure to multiple swell windows. To get the best of this, you need capacity to chase swells and the PNG Explorer has made an art-form of this. Captain and owner Andrew Rigby has created a charter boat fine tuned to exploration and finding adventure. With photographer and divemaster Chris Peel, their mission is to put there guests on the spot. I met with Rigby and Peel just as a rare SE cyclone swell was developing off the coast of PNG, heading toward an unsurfed archipelago – and they asked they charter group if they were up for a mission. The dice was rolled, the schedule and destination changed, a new surf frontier explored.

Yes, they scored!

By the end of my trip i’d caught more than my fair share of memorable waves. Sure there was well shaped reefs, consistent swells and kind winds. But the difference was that with so few surfers in the water, when the good waves came, I had the freedom to catch the best waves coming through and ride them to my hearts content!

I surf every day there is waves in Sydney and a good surf is when I get just a couple of the better waves coming through. Life is too short to only catch average waves. In PNG, true surf luxury is the freedom to wait and pick only the best waves! There are very few places on earth when this can be achieved and PNG is still one of them!