Archive for the 'Destinations' Category

Sep 22 2008

Surfing Yemen… Really?

Published by under Destinations,Travel

middle east map1 Surfing Yemen... Really?

The coastline of the middle east, the last surfing frontier? Likely. Countries of Somalia, Yemen, Oman, Iran, and Pakistan all have significant coastline exposed to Indian Ocean swells (check out how long Somalia’s coast line is). A quick search on Wannasurf.com listed one spot in Somalia, none in Yemen, 12 in Oman, and not surprisingly none in Iran or Pakistan.

Yemen is an elusive surf destination. A very conservative Muslim country that has in past been an enclave of Al Qaeda. The government isn’t too keen on tourism and you’ll likely be the only surfers in the country. A few adventurous surfers hit up Yemen and charged the various breaks down there. Check out the article at the LonelyPlanet.com.

“You’ll need ample time, determination and money; but for the experienced wave rider looking for quality surf spots and empty beaches, Yemen is the ultimate adventure playground. The mainland has a number of gentle points, some good-quality beach breaks and one world-class wedge that, day after day, chucks out massive barrels with a predominantly offshore wind.”

“If circling hammerheads and the risk of terrorism aren’t enough to put you off, you could be among the first to blaze a trail to this top-class surfing destination. Local tour operators are only just starting to latch onto what they’ve got. For the moment independent surf travel is all but impossible – you’ll need to employ a tour company to source jeeps, guides and permits. Though this all adds up, making a Yemeni surf trip anything but cheap, you’ll be getting some dream waves in return.”

The writer claims Yemen offers long reeling points, beach breaks, and wedges. Suqutra, Yemen’s largest island is located conspicuously offshore in the line of swell pumping off low pressure systems during the monsoon season from May to September. No doubt you’ll have the place to yourself.

So the time to go is between May and September. You’ll want to bring your standard short board, a satellite phone, a copy of the Koran, and any connections you have with the US State Department.

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Sep 06 2008

Cannibals in Paradise: Where Not to Surf

Published by under Destinations,Indonesia,Travel

lagundri Cannibals in Paradise: Where Not to Surf

Cannibals and surf exploration don’t mix well. In 1975, traveling Australian surfers, Kevin Lovett, John Giesel, and Peter Troy were traveling Indonesia on motorcycles in search of new perfect waves. They were drawn to the island of Nias off the coast of Northern Sumatra by a horseshoe shaped bay a the Southern end of the island that looked promising for surf. They were right. They discovered Lagundri Bay and surfed it alone for three months. The discovery set would set the surf world on fire and open the door for further exploration of Indonesia. (An account of surfing the remote islands of Northern Sumatra).

Kevin Lovett later learned that the three of them had been targets of cannibal practicing tribes on the island during their stay. The blog, Strange Maps of the World, presents a early 20th century map of the world highlighting areas that practice cannibalism both historical and present. A good guide when heading off to Papua New Guinea, Vanatu, or other unchartered areas. [Link to larger image of Map] “Indonesia, Micronesia and the rest of Oceania are marked by many contemporary instances of cannibalism, in Australia, New Guinea, Borneo (Dayaks) and Sumatra (Bataks).” Don’t think we were not immune to it, while Europe seemed free of Antropophagie (Greek for “eating of humans”) – something that may more than anything indicate a bias in the map, North America certainly was not.

cannibalism Cannibals in Paradise: Where Not to Surf

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Aug 27 2008

Where to Learn to Surf for $20/day

Check out Driftnik.com for the guide to the places where you can learn to surf for $20/day (hint Central America and Asia). Beats trying to learn in the crowded line-ups and cold water.

most surfers on a wave Where to Learn to Surf for $20/day

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Jul 15 2008

Destination: Bocas Del Toro, Panama

Everyone’s looking for the new Costa Rica to find their patch of beach to build a bungalow and their perfect wave out front. First there was Costa Rica, now Panama and Nicaragua. Scott Balogh of  Red Frog Bungalows writes on Bocas Del Toro, the stunning, uncrowded islands on the Caribbean side of Panama with epic surf and beautiful turqoise barrel. The crowds haven’t yet arrived and land is still available. It’s close to the U.S., cheap, and is going off when the rest of the tropics are flat (December to March, June to July).

bocas barrel Destination: Bocas Del Toro, Panama

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Jun 19 2008

Destination: Florianopolis, Brazil

Published by under Destinations,Travel,Uncategorized

praia mole surf Destination: Florianopolis, Brazil

Destination: Florianopolis, Brazil
Time of Year: March – September
Breaks: Campeche, Praia Joaquina, Praia Mole, Barra da Logoa, Praia Riozinho
Level: All levels
Cost: Inexpensive – Moderate

Intro: Ah Brazil, a country with seemingly more similarities to the U.S than differences and home to surf culture second only to the United States. The beach is a way of life in Brazil, and they’re blessed with thousands of beautiful miles of it. They’re also blessed with thousands of other things.

Florianopolis is a peninsula in the Southern Brazil with excellent exposure to Southern Swell and dozens of beaconing beach breaks (42 beaches in all). The beaches of Florianopolis are some of most beautiful in Brazil. Brazilians have a reputation for being aggressive in the water but with miles and miles of beach breaks, you’ll see their welcoming and friendly side. And with dozens of clubs, you see the other side of Brazilian beach culture.

Through the summer months, you won’t need anything more than a shortie and trunks will be fine for most of the time. After March though the water and air cools off and you’ll want a 3/2 fullsuit. Surf is small for the summer months, but picks up after March. Though it rarely gets big, standard short board will suffice for most days.

 Destination: Florianopolis, Brazil

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May 14 2008

Peru: New Hotspot Surf Destination

Published by under Destinations,Travel

chicama Peru: New Hotspot Surf Destination

It’s safe to say that if you’ve read about a surf spot in the New York Times, then it’s no longer an underground spot. I read about El Salvador in NYT three or four years ago, then Nicaragua and Panama. Surfing has been blowing up around the world, and surfers are by nature travelers. It was only a matter of time before it became the en vogue sport. The New York Times last week published a travel article on Peru and specifically surf in the North around Mancora. Peru has great exposure to Southern swell (they also pick up bigger Westerly and Northern swells during North America’s winter). They’ve got every kind of break, from big wave spots to some of the longest point breaks in world. Waveshunters has a good summary of the best waves in Peru (link). The best part about Peru is how many of your surfers buddies do you know that have been down there?! I’ve got one that’s surfed there.

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May 11 2008

Avoid the Scam. Travel Tips: Car and Truck Rentals-Mexico and Beyond

Published by under Destinations,Travel Tips

overloaded truck Avoid the Scam. Travel Tips: Car and Truck Rentals Mexico and Beyond

There’s always some sort of racket with car and truck rentals abroad. On my last trip to Zihuatanejo and Guerrero, Mexico, I rented a car through Orbitz and Thrifty for $200 for days. It was supposedly their full size car, Orbitz even offered third party insurance through Access America for $99 for the entire trip. 10 day car rental and insurance for $299 for ten days. Yes, too good to be true. We arrived, the car was a wreck (even though it was Thrifty), and they claimed they didn’t accept third party insurance. We drove the car off reluctantly after buying their insurance, hit one speed bump and the muffler came off. Somehow we were able to return it later that day and exchange for a truck without them realizing that the muffler was ruined.

What happens often in Mexico, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and all these surf destinations that never happens here with rentals is bargaining, even with the big name brand companies like Thrifty, Avis, etc. Which is why I would recommend not reserving a car in advance. First off, you never really know what you’re getting, and secondly, you won’t be able to bargain and they’ll likely charge you extra for insurance claiming it wasn’t included. In most major destinations, they’ll have plenty of cars and trucks. By not reserving, in advance you’ll be able to check different vendors (more destinations also have non-brand label rentals also, cheaper and a bit sketchier) and work out the best deal.

Here’s a list of suggestions for dealing with rentals on surf trips:

  1. Check to see if you need an international driver’s license for the destination (you can get one through the AAA office, they’re around $20). You don’t for Mexico and most of Central America.
  2. Figure out in advance in you need a 4×4 or not. For lots of destinations, you don’t need one and they’re often more than twice as much.
  3. Make sure to bring soft racks and straps with you on the trip.
  4. Don’t book in advance unless it’s high season and likely to be busy at the destination. (Also, check into booking and then canceling the rental if you find a better deal).
  5. Get prices from a couple different rental agencies at the airport, make sure they include full insurance coverage. Get prices also from third party rentals, often in pick-up area of airport.
  6. Agree on price and contract. Also, make sure you get the best exchange rate or better yet, negotiate the price in local currency instead of dollars. On my last trip, I negotiated a better rate with the agent only to find out he gave me a 10% higher exchange rate.
  7. Go over their insurance policy. Many agencies will have tiered levels of “full coverage” some of which have very high deductibles. Check the papers and make sure they’re in order, local police often will use any mistakes, etc to bribe you.
  8. Visually inspect the car or truck very closely including the windshield and undercarriage. Make sure they have a spare and jack. Don’t rent car or trucks that look like they’re in bad shape.
  9. Keep the paperwork in the car in a safe place.
  10. Get contact numbers from the office in case of problem. Lots can and will go wrong. It’s a lot easier if you can contact their office directly.

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May 08 2008

Destination: Guerrero and Michoacan, Mexico

Published by under Destinations,Mexico,Travel

I just got back from my 10 day trip to Guerrero (North of Zihuatanejo and Ixtapa) and Michoacan. We scored two solid swells down there and great waves all around. It was an easy trip from the West Coast (Alaska has direct flights from LAX to Zihuatanejo and last minute fares were cheap ($450). There’s plenty of good breaks down there (favoring the goofy foot though) with good swell exposure. Winds generally picked up late morning, but did not always blow out the surf and many afternoons were still surfable. Don’t expect to partying until dawn every night (or any night), but Zihuatanejo has an old-town charm and there’s incredible fishing up and down the coast. North of Zihuatenajo there’s hardly anything on the coast at all except a few fishing villages. Overall, the area is a great area to plan a trip or to score last minute waves.

manzanillo bay Destination: Guerrero and Michoacan, Mexico

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Apr 30 2008

Pipeline Comes to Scotland?!

Published by under ASP Tour,Destinations,Travel

It’s April, which means the surf sucks everywhere in the North Hemisphere… Well, that is except for Scotland?!

thurso scotland drop oneill Pipeline Comes to Scotland?!

Thurso, Scotland is host of the ASP O’Neill Highland Open (link), which wouldn’t have normally raised anyone’s eyebrows especially in April, except that they managed to score some epic pounding waves. Continue reading for more photos.

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Apr 15 2008

It Was Epic!!! Where Were You?!

Here’s a collection of what surfline editors selected as the best 10 videos of 2007. Unfortunately, I had to miss that epic tow session at Teahupoo in November because of a head cold. I’ll make it next swell, I swear.(Surfline link).

shipsterns It Was Epic!!! Where Were You?!

pixel It Was Epic!!! Where Were You?!

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