by Ben Horvath

Shane Clark is an experienced 42 year old that has pretty much been surfing all his life. He runs and owns Rubio Surf Retreat in PNG.

We caught up with Shane to ask him about when to go, what to expect wave wise, what boards to take, and the general lowdown on Rubio Retreat in PNG.

Rubio Plantation Retreat is in the remote central northeastern coast of New Ireland Province, Papua New Guinea. From here, you can search the remote coastline and offshore islands for an undiscovered wave. At Rubio they limit the number of guests to 15, so there is never a crowd. They also limit the number of surfers at the retreat to 10 and the number of visiting surfers to the central coast region is limited to 20 by the Central New Ireland Surf Management Plan. Rubio’s accommodation consists of 6 separate bungalows. All bungalows are made from native materials and are located along the beachfront. Each bed is fitted with a mosquito net.

TPW – How are old are you?

Shane Clark – 42

TPW – Years surfing?

Shane – 40

TPW – Where did you grow up surfing?

Shane – Between PNG and Hawaii

TPW  – Where have you travelled searching for waves in the past?

Shane – All over PNG, all through Micronesia (first surfers on Pohnpei), Tahiti, Samoa, American Samoa, Australia, All over Hawaii, Califonia, New Caledonia, Solomon Islands.

TPW – How did you end up in New Guinea?

Shane – Dad got a job here when we were little so we moved here. We ended up staying. It is a lot what Hawaii used to be like.

TPW – When did you set up or buy into Rubio?

Shane – Rubio is my parent’s plantation. We started to build the retreat in 2007.

TPW – What are your plans for Rubio?

Shane – I like it the way it is. I like dealing with small groups. It keeps it friendly and fun.

TPW – What type of waves can a prospective traveller expect?

Shane – The swell here doesn’t normally get real big, but there are plenty of challenging waves. We have a lot of quick, hollow waves. We also have a few mellow ones. We have a fairly even split of rights and lefts. We don’t need much swell for the place to work. It is close to 2km deep just offshore, so there is nothing to slow the swell down.

TPW  – Is there plenty of variety around – please describe accessible waves and the type of waves on offer?

Shane – We have over 25 waves that we surf in our area ranging from slabs to mellow reef passes. All our breaks are reef breaks, but most are fairly flat mellow reef. Most breaks are a short paddle out from the beach. A few we walk in to.

TPW – Crowd situation if any?

Shane – Only Rubio guests

TPW – Best time of year to score waves?

Shane – Mid October through mid May is quite consitent with Jan, Feb and March normally being the most sizeable.

TPW  – Any hazards – eg sharks, crocs, malaria?

Shane – There are some areas we don’t surf due to crocs. There is Malaria in the area but there are very few mossies around.

TPW – What size board is best for local waves?

Shane – Normally a standard shortboard and a fish or semi fish is all you need.

TPW – Describe the journey in and out, the accom, food, numbers, rough price guide, and what to expect?

It is pretty easy to get to Rubio. It is a 3 hr drive from Kavieng on good road. You can normally get from Sydney , Brisbane or Cairns to Rubio all in one day. Our 5 bungalows are all beachfront with surf straight out front. We do a variety of styles of food including local, asian, latin american, western etc, We always have deserts with the specialties being made from our own organic chocolate. We don’t take more than 10 surfers at a time and not more than 15 guest total.  You can expect to have a relaxed enjoyable holiday and go home well fed and surfed out.

Because of strict surfers limits, the waves at Rubio are super-uncrowded. It also means that the limited spots sell out really fast. If you are keen to check out this place and score some empty waves, get in touch!

TPW– How old is your daughter?

She is 3 1/2

TPW – How long have you been taking her out riding the waves with you?

Since she was 6 months old. At first we just laid on the board and I held her sitting up in front of me. Once she could hold on she started riding on my back.

She looks fearless?

She loves it. As long as she is on my back she is fearless. She will even tell me that the wave is to small so don’t catch it and wait for a bigger one.

TPW – You mentioned PNG is like your native Hawaii in many ways – please elaborate.

The cultures have a lot of similarities. The traditional foods are similar. A lot of places here remind me of places in Hawaii as far as the natural surroundings go.

TPW – You must miss the big swells in The Islands though?

Yes i miss the big stuff. I have my 8’8″ gun and my tow board hanging on the wall as decoration now. But I don’t miss the crowds.

How does someone who has grown up in the big stuff adjust?

We have lots of challenging waves here and I get my fix from getting barreled so it is fine. We have plenty of hollow waves so I get more than my fair share of barrels. I had a few good ones this morning.

How the hell does a Hawaiian stumble upon PNG and end up settling there?

We moved here from Hawaii when I was young. Mom and Dad were not happy with how Hawaii had changed and were looking for something that was more like Hawaii used to be. Dad got a job here and we moved. We used to go back and forth a bit. I went to Uni in Hawaii and worked there for a while but got fed up with the crowds and came back to PNG. This is home. I am here to stay.

You married a lovely local lass Shano?

My wife is from here on New Ireland and yes she is lovely.

Has your wife been over to Hawaii?

No. It is so expensive to go there anymore that I have not even been in over 10 years.

Rubio are looking for staff: Experienced chefs required to train Rubio kitchen staff on exchange program. Please get in touch if you are interested in living in PNG and surfing some great waves out front in your free time!

Because of strict surfers limits, the waves at Rubio are super-uncrowded. It also means that the limited spots sell out really fast. If you are keen to check out this place and score some empty waves, get in touch!

Written by:
Ben Horvath

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