Simon ‘Swilly’ Williams is one of the globe’s most respected surf photographers. Swilly resides on the Gold Coast of Australia, shooting the likes of former world champions Mark Occhilupo, Mick Fanning, Joel Parkinson, Stephanie Gilmore, and freesurfers like Dave Rastovitch, Asher Pacey and Beau Young to mention a few.
Swilly has travelled extensively throughout Indonesia, the Maldives, the Philippines, PNG and Micronesia. Swilly has been to P-Pass 11 times now, most recently for The Perfect Wave with The Mystical Mermaids. The Perfect Wave’s Marketing Manager caught up with Simon recently to get the lowdown on when best to go to Pohnpei and what to expect from the P-Pass surf trip.
TPW – So many clients seem to perceive P-Pass is heavy as? You have been there how many times now? What can you expect in your average 10 day trip, wave-wise?
Swilly – P-pass is not all about heavy waves by any means. In fact, most of the time its a super fun wave. It only gets heavy when it’s over 6 feet. I have been going there for 11 years. In a 10-day trip, you will more than likely have loads of fun in the 2 to 4 feet range. It’s a small island so swell sometimes just pops up. Most of the time, a 10-day trip there will offer you up heaps of great, fun sessions.
TPW – What sort of numbers can you expect at P-Pass in the water?
Swilly – The numbers in the water are so good. Most of the time it’s just you and the guests at the camp. 5 to 9 guests.
TPW – Best time of the year to hit it? How long does the season last?
Swilly – The season lasts from October till March. Best time to hit it is a hard one… from Oct till mid Dec expect light winds. After that, the wind comes up. This is not to say you will not get glassy days. The trade wind there is off- shore at the Pass. So even if the wind is blowing, it’s off shore at P-Pass.
TPW – How do you access the reef?
Swilly – The camp has a great boat service that will get you to the waves within 20 mins.
TPW – What about quiver? What boards are required?
Swilly – Most of the time your short board quiver is all you need. If there is a big swell hitting on the forecast, then I say you may need a step-up board. All the pros and guests all seem to ride their normal craft. But it may not hurt to take a bigger board just in case .
TPW – Is there some other surfable options nearby, some variety?
Swilly – There are many other waves around but they all require different or no wind to work. Once you have had fun P- Pass, it’s hard to look at anything else.
TPW – Flat day fun. Am I likely to catch a fish?
Swilly – Flat days offer up so many options. Waterfall trips, ruins trip which is so good, either by boat or road. Hikes into the hills. Fishing with Allois, your camp owner. Yep, there is a good chance you could get the biggest fish of your life.
There are also nearby atolls that offer up some great day trip options. Ant Atoll is one of the most pretty places on earth and well worth a visit. You can always just chill at the Mangrove Bay Hotel or go into town and check out all the wood carvings and local stores.
TPW – How’s the the food and nightlife?
Swilly – The food over the years has got better and better. Mangrove Bay Hotel has the best sushi bar in town. Joy Restaurant, Nech Ramen and Cupids all offer up good food. There is a local night club that opens on the weekend which is always fun – The Flamingo. Most of the food comes in by ship so sometimes there may be less stock in the local shops. But these days it is really getting a lot better. Local fish and crabs and heaps of great sashimi.
TPW – What is the accommodation like at Pohnpei Surf Club?
Swilly – The new accommodation at the PSC is really good. Nice units overlooking the bay and great views. Fully air con and with TV and good showers, it makes chilling for the day to easy.
TPW – Will my partner, wife and or family dig it?
Swilly – That is hard question. I guess it all depends whether your partner expects to lay by the pool all day, and drink cocktails. Cocktails yes, pool no. I say for young families it may be a little hard. Just kids always need something going on. If it’s just you and your other half, then I am sure you will have a great time. The island has a great vibe and you really feel at home.
TPW – How do I get there?
Swilly – Air Nauru. Or go via Tokyo or Manila. I did the Tokyo option and have to say it was not a bad way to go. It’s not easy getting there, as its in the middle of nowhere. But that’s half of the adventure. The Perfect Wave make it all easy for you.