Words, Photography and Video by Sam Tolhurst.
Having heard tales of friends scoring uncrowded, rippable waves in Papua New Guinea, I’d long been eager to experience the uncrowded perfection it had to offer. When my phone rang with an invite to film a trip with super groms Jay Brown and Darcy DeClouett, I jumped on the chance immediately.
Our destination was Vanimo Surf Lodge, a modest resort located just outside of Lido Village on Papua New Guinea’s north coast. The resort sits on the beach just in front of Lido Rights, a reef bottomed right-hander with friendly take offs and long walls on offer.
We flew out of Sydney into Port Moresby and after a one night layover we jumped on our connecting flight to Vanimo via Wee Wak. Domestic travel in PNG is a fickle beast and we were advised to arrive for our flight 3 hours before departure to ensure no live poultry went on the plane in lieu of our board bags (seriously). Luckily, we heeded this advice and arrived in Vanimo with our luggage in tow.
If you’re looking for luxury accommodation and Michelin starred restaurants then Vanimo isn’t the place for you. On the contrary, if you’re looking for user friendly, uncrowded waves with friendly locals and enriching cultural experiences, then Vanimo is most definitely the place to be. PNG surf season runs from October to late May and Vanimo picks up the tail end of Hawaii’s northerly Winter swells. Whilst there are days in the 8ft+ range, waves are usually between 2-5 ft, with protected options to surf in any combination of southerly winds.
Along with Lido Rights we surfed Lido Lefts, a sectiony left-hander just a short walk through the village on the opposite side of the point. Whilst we didn’t get the right swell while we were there, we heard tales of top to bottom barrels at nearby Yako’s – a dicey left-hander that breaks over shallow reef. If you get a chance to surf it, take it. We heard quite a few “it was the ride of my life” stories from campers who surfed Yako’s just a few days before we arrived.
The amenities at Vanimo Surf Lodge are basic but clean and the resort is powered by generator through 80% of the day. If you’re after internet you’re best off purchasing a Digicel sim card for your phone when you land in Port Morseby. We all purchased a 5gb data only package for around $50 aud, that was enough to last 3 millennials through our 10 night stay in Vanimo.
The resort’s staff made the trip special and were more than willing to share stories of PNG in between games of darts, golf, cards and ping pong (side note, if you’re planning on challenging them at any of these games you best bring your A game).
Overall, Vanimo Surf Lodge is a unique resort in an idyllic location that offers a refreshing change from surfing crowded lineups in other tropical locales. I’ll happily return next season.