Archive for the 'Travel' Category

Aug 07 2008

Adventure Story: Points North – Surf Exploration In Northern Sumatra

Published by under Boat trips,Indonesia,Travel

 Sumatra Surf Trip 10

I recently published my account of a surf trip to Northern Sumatra aboard the Mikumba run by Sumatra Surfariis, a great charter operator for Indonesia, in Everywhere Magazine. Everywhere Magazine is part of 8020 publishing that also publishes the photo-focused magazine JPG Magazine, filled with user submitted and voted on content. They’re both great magazines, check them out. Here’s the full pubished account below (link to story an Everywhere Magazine). Check out my photos at JPG Magazine. Incidently, the photo at the header of this blog is from this boat trip to Northern Sumatra without a doubt one of the last great unexplored areas of surfing. Unlike the Mentawais, there are only a few charters that operate in the area.

Sumatra Surf Trip 4

Points North – Surf Exploration in Northern Sumatra

We plan for months. My packing list is two pages long. There are of eight of us, surfers traveling from New York, California, and Hong Kong. We are embarking on a two week excursion on a converted Indonesian freight boat to remote tropical islands to explore and surf. We are going to surf waves that most surfers only see in magazines and videos and will have these waves to ourselves.

We start in Sibolga, Northern Sumatra, Indonesia after over 30 hours of flights and an overland trip across Sumatra. Sibolga is the last port before Banda Aceh, the northern most province of Sumatra and the one hit heaviest in the 2004 Tsunami. From the dirty anonymous port, we chart a course west. The islands where we will be searching for surf are so obscure and unexplored that after the 2004 Tsunami the Indonesian government relied on the help of the handful of surf charter operators in the area to chart courses to the isolated villages to bring relief supplies.

[Continued after the break]

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Aug 06 2008

It’s Darkest Just Before Dawn: Situation at Padang Padang

Published by under Indonesia,Travel

Boat burning - Padang Padang

In spite of the shipwrecked Taiwanese Fishing Boat on the reef at Padang Padang, the Rip Curl Pro Search 2008 proceeded without incident first at the wave at Padang Padang and then as the swell dropped up the point at Uluwatu and Racetrack (section of Uluwatu). Interestingly enough, the press never stated where the event was being held electing to say instead “Somewhere in Indonesia.” Uluwatu hasn’t been a secret spot since it blew up on the surf scene 30 years ago and was featured in the movie “Morning of the Earth.” Padang Padang got especially timely exposure when the Taiwanese fishing boat ran aground there a week before the contest was supposed to be held. So much for keeping a spot secret.

The Balinese authorities who blew their chance to drag the grounded boat off the reef the first few days it after it had grounded there, recently decided burning the it was the best alternative (WTF?!). According to their spokesman, “The objective of burning the boat was to reduce it’s size. The next step will be to cut up the remaining wreck and have it removed piece by piece to a place where it will not distrub the tourist beaches in the Bukit areas.” The ROLE foundation has been providing updates on the situation in Bali.Boat burning - Padang Padang

You would think that aside from furthering an environmental disaster after the fuel and oil have already leaked out onto the reef and waters, you would want to minimize the impact of further damage to the environment. You might also think that cutting apart a burned and broken boat would be more hazardous and dangerous than one that was intact. Not so for the Indonesians. At this point, I don’t think it can really get any worse.

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Jul 21 2008

Things Get Worse at Padang Padang, Bali: Environmental Tragedy

Published by under Indonesia,Travel

News broke last week that a missing Taiwanese fishing boat suspected of illegal fishing practices ran aground on the reef at the World-class wave, Padang Padang in Bali, Indonesia. The captain and crew fled in the night and boat the sat on the reef, and sat. The swell was completely flat for a few days, an ideal time to extract this boat from the reef and avert a potential disaster. Well, the opportunity to remove the boat came and went. Local officials made little effort to extract the boat. They actually tried to use a couple of Balinese fishing boat to pull it off the reef at high tide. Well, turns out they arrived late and if anyone has been to Bali, you would know that it would take about 100 Balinese fishing boats to pull that thing off the reef. As of the most recent swell, the boat was pounded onto the inner reef, puncturing her hull and spilling oil and fuel on the reef and across the line-up. See images and story below (from

Fishing Boat Runs Aground on Padang Reef - Surfbreak in Bali

Fishing Boat Runs Aground on Padang Reef - Surfbreak in Bali
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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

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Jul 14 2008

Surfing Israel

Published by under Travel

 Haifa coast

I’m not sure I would substitute Israel for your next surf trip to Central America, but Israel does get consistent waves. From December to March, exposed beaches get hit with regular storms blowing off the surprisingly long fetch of the Mediterranean. Epic uncrowded waves? Unlikely. Fun surf in remarkable and unique surroundings? Absolutely. Lori from the Surfing Village shares info on surfing in the Holy Land, in particular surfing in Haifa, the stunning city in the North of Israel with Israel’s best waves.

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4 responses so far

Jul 09 2008

Surfers and Volcanos–Boldly Going Where No Surfer Has Gone Before

Published by under Travel

Surfer and Hot Lava

Surfers have a history of challenging mother nature and her fiercest side. Its enabled surfing to progress from its roots of surfing Waikiki to charging 80 ft waves at Jaws. So some of us won’t be surprised by the images of Hawaiian surfer, C J Kanuha, paddling up to the point where spewing molten lava meets the sea on the Big Island of Hawaii. The Volcano, Kilauea, meaning ‘much spreading’, has been continually erupting in Hawaii since 1983, but more molten rock than usual is flowing from an outbreak that started last November. The lava eventually reaches the ocean on the east side of the big island and flows into the sea boiling the surrounding water.

CJ paddled up to the area where the lava was flowing into the sea and got within 20 ft of the molten lava. At that point, the water, close to boiling, began melting the wax on his board and burning his feet. CJ calmly paddled his board back out and away from the lava. Only a surfer knows the feeling…

Nice work CJ, wouldn’t a canoe have worked also?

Check out the article at the Daily Mail for spectacular photos of the lava.

Surfer and hot lava

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Jul 09 2008

Oil and Surfing. How gas is affecting our surf travel?

Published by under Surfboards,Travel

Surfers in Santa Barbara

$5/gallon gas has everyone bummed especially surfers. The AP published an article talking about how the price of gas and oil is having an effect on surfers and the industry. In truth, how many of us live walking or biking distance from our local break. More often most of us pack up a car or truck every week or so and motor off to the best wave within driving distance. Driving distance to surfers is a liberal term, but now that a tankful is between $75-100 we might start to see fewer trips to the distant breaks. Rising gas prices are also likely to cut into liberal expenditures, like surfboards. The surfboard industry grew rapidly in 2002-2007, but they’re likely to be hit by the recession that the rest of the country has been feeling. The resin used to gas surfboards is made from oil, so shapers’ costs are rising while consumer spending is dropping. Interestingly, the AP article reported that Surftech reported a 15% increase in sales while most other surfboard shapers and manufacturers reported flat or declining sales. I wonder if it because surfers want whatever board their going to buy to be durable so they won’t have to buy another soon., in the meantime, has seen an increase in views of their webcams and on their subscription services. How is gas and the economy effecting your surf habits?

(photo credit zinkwazi)

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Jul 02 2008

Where the Hell is Matt?

Published by under Travel,Videos

This video isn’t surf related but is one of the coolest travel videos I’ve seen. Here’s an HD version (incredible if you have the bandwidth). Check out the Driftnik Blog for more info on Matt and his travels.

[youtube zlfKdbWwruY]

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Jun 27 2008

The Board Seen Around the World

Published by under Travel

 Stoke Transmission Device

Austin Saunders with Austin Custom Surfboards, Virginia Beach, VA recently collaborated with a customer to shape a board and send that board to be surfed around the world by a variety of surfers. According to their site about the Stoke Transmission Device (as the board is named), the board is to be passed on from surfer to surfer. Surfer’s with the board should surf it, sign the board bag, and send it on to the next surfer. They can send in photos and their story to be added to the blog. So far from their map, it looks the board has made in up the coast from Virginia and was recently reported to be in Kennebunk, Maine. Reports are that’s its headed to the West Coast and then New Zealand. Although that begs the question of how exactly the board is passed on (the blog suggests its random) if they already know the next two places it’s headed. So far, it’s suffered only one ding. Stoke Transmission Device – coming to a line-up near you.

[youtube iplawEITy_U]

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Jun 25 2008

Indo Video Candy – Shots from the Mentawais

Published by under Indonesia,Travel,Videos

Slater at Rifles

Kelly Slater at Rifles. Rifles is hands down one of the best waves in the world. It’s sister wave Kandui’s (or Nokan as in “no-can”) as a reputation as one of the fastest, heaviest, longest left barrels in the world. Though often considered not makable. There are two land camps in the Ments (although I’ve read about construction of a third at Lance’s). Kandui Resort and WavePark Mentawai. Here are a couple of clips of what you wake up to at Kandui Resort from the Donkey Patrol surf blog. These guys will be waking up to these waves in a couple of weeks.

[youtube X2ZttJU4XF8]

[youtube P93LKZa3QT4]

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