(Spoiler alert, it actually happened!)
I travel to one of the most exotic places on earth, a place with few surfers or tourists and waiting for me is THE guy! A local, born in Hawaii, raised in the jungles of the South Pacific, he knows every every corner and reef of this long, wave drenched tropical coastline.
Shane Clarke picks me up at an airport that used to be a WW2 airbase. We drive into the rainforest knowing that there are no other surfers around and the swell is pulsing. As we drive and chat, I realise my host is a total frother – and he wants to surf and get barrelled just as much as I do – and that is our entire plan!
After a night in a bungalow on the Clarke family’s property, Rubio Plantation Retreat, I wake up and what do you know, there is a perfect reef out the front! Of course, I paddle out and find a few kegs before breakfast!
Over a hearty feed with local PNG coffee, my host suggests there are even better waves nearby – so we jump in Shane’s trusty 4WD and head North down a bush track. Soon we emerge on a point with a fringing coral reef turning the mid-sized swell in to fast, hollow right. A pack of local kids laugh and hoot as they surf local style – think rough wooden hand-planes and bodysurfing barrels over sharp, shallow coral reef!
We paddle out and proceed to take turns on the fast, hollow runners while the kids continue to laugh and cheer.
The best thing is being free to wait for only the good waves.
A proper good one rears up in front of me and its a simple thing to line up in the perfect spot without anyone else spoiling. A clean drop and pull up under the lip and drive through a couple of deep sections, racing the barrel. Looking out, I realise our local guide, Aku, has a water camera looking back toward me.
We head back for lunch, before planning a mission to head south for even hollower waves.
This wave is a twin to the much photographed Papua New Guinean wave “The Slab” – only here there is nobody around and the lefts are as good, if not better, than the rights. Shane is laughing, getting barrelled on both lefts and rights and then boosting credible airs off the end section.
I take off behind the peak on a slabbing right for the best barrel of the trip. As I fly out into the channel, Aku is laughing so hard because he didn’t get a single photo of the good wave… Thankfully all the photos of the average waves look pretty good!
Back to plantation for a cruisy arvo surf out the front at Rubio.
Some of the local staff come out for a paddle and a laugh, then Shane and his little girls come out for some tandem rides with their dad.
Four surfs in one day and we got barrelled on every surf.
The day of course ends with a *few* frosty cold beers!