Category Archives: Travel & Surf Spots

5 Reasons Every Surfer Should Visit Australia

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Recently I had the privilege to do a semester abroad in Australia. During my 6-month stay in the land down under, I can confidently say I spent more time surfing than in the classroom. Don’t get me wrong grades are important, but when the opportunity presents itself to surf world-class waves, you jump on it. Coming from a relatively small beach town with mediocre beach breaks to six-foot bells feels like what I imagine going from a mini van to a Mercedes would feel like. With this in mind below are my top five reasons every surfer should visit Australia at least once.

1. THE WAVES

This one should be obvious; anyone remotely interested in surfing knows Australia produces some of the best waves consistently. The variety of waves in a relatively small area is unparalleled. My first week at uni I met a bloke that lived on the great ocean road, one street past bells. Through him I got to experience spots most tourists would never see. The dynamics of these spots varied greatly even though we were only traveling ten or fifteen minutes. Australia can serve up anything from the rippable walls of over crowded point breaks, to secluded, thick lipped, beach break barrels.

Bells beach Photo:ASP

2. The Babes

Remember the chick from Wolf Of Wall Street? The hot one? Yeah, she’s Australian. Granted, not all Australian females look like her, but for the most part they’re easy on the eye. The lulls between sets provide the perfect opportunity to scout out a potential date for the night.

Not bad right?

3. The Locals

There’s a reason that Melbourne, Australia has been chosen as the worlds most livable city for the past three years. In my opinion, Australians are the friendliest type of people. Within my first week of being in Australia I had made such close friends I felt like I was their all my life. Australians are generally very welcoming people. Embrace and it score as many free home cooked meals as you can imagine.

4. The Eats

Everyone knows the post surf hunger feeling that can only be satisfied by a meal that could feed a small village. Everyone that goes to Australia, surfer or not, has to try a Tim-tam slam. What is a Tim-tam slam you ask? It consists of two simple ingredients, Tim-tams and milk. Combine the two and you have the perfect post surf snack. The second unique Australian dish I recommend is chips, cheese, and gravy. Combine french fries, mozzarella cheese, and your favorite gravy to have a true blue aussie meal.

The Goods

5. The Scenery

Last, but definitely not least, is the landscape. I was never really big into photography before this trip, but the views in Australia certainly changed my perspective. There is no place else in the world that can rival the landscape of Australia. If you get the chance to go to Australia, do it, it will certainly be life changing.

Cairns Australia

“There IS surf in Texas, well kind of…”

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Photo: Rob Cortinas | Spot: Galveston, TX | Date: May, 2014

Photo: Rob Cortinas | Spot: Surfside, TX | Date: May, 2014

It doesn’t come every day. Nor every week. But now and then, when low pressure systems form in the Gulf of Mexico, stoke builds in the surf shops and bars of tropical wax fly off the shelves.

Yes – in Texas, we have waves.  Good waves…Kind of.

Photo: Scott Ellwood | Surfer: Mark Stolley | Spot: South Padre Island | Date: September, 2005 (Hurricane Rita)

Photo: Scott Ellwood | Surfer: Mark Stolley | Spot: South Padre Island, TX | Date: September, 2005 (Hurricane Rita)

From Galveston to South Padre, you can find us nestled amongst a region better known for its burgers, fishing, football and beer. While the surf community in Texas may be small compared to the length of its coastline, it is hands-down the most tight-knit I have ever seen.

According to Galveston local Scott Toth, “Texas surfing is 90-degree brown water, seaweed, wind chop, horrific flat spells, on-shore winds, wicked cross currents, Portuguese man-o-wars, sea lice, hurricanes and the most stoked surfers in the world.”

Photo: Rob Henson | Surfer: Gabriel Prusmack | Spot: Galveston, TX | Date: August, 2014

Photo: Rob Henson | Surfer: Gabriel Prusmack | Spot: Galveston, TX | Date: August, 2014

Mariah Almond (Houston, TX) describes the predicament as “a twisted love affair.” Every Texas surfer is stuck in it. The relationship isn’t pretty. It’s disheartening to continually see 10-day “ankle to knee high short period wind swell” forecasts. Nonetheless, there’s a reason we stay.

Photo: Rob Cortinas | Surfer: Pato | Spot: Galveston, TX | Date: unknown

Photo: Rob Cortinas | Surfer: Pato | Spot: Galveston, TX | Date: unknown

Damien McDonald, a native of Gold Coast, Australia, has been living in Texas for the better part of four years and is the owner of two surf shops in Galveston: Southern Spears and Texas Surf Co. “There are two things that really caught me by surprise when I moved here,” he explained. “One: the Texas surfing community is as strong as any surfing community in the world, period. Two: Texas produces a plethora of rippers!”

Photo: Scott Ellwood | Surfer: Morgan Falkner | Spot: South Padre Island, TX | Date: September, 2008 (Hurricane Ike)

Photo: Scott Ellwood | Surfer: Morgan Falkner | Spot: South Padre Island, TX | Date: Sept., 2008 (Hurricane Ike)

While the Gulf Coast doesn’t consistently offer much, we take what we can get and make the best of it. The amount of progressive, above the lip surfing in the state is simply astounding. Any shortboarder in Texas knows how to drive hard down a line (because we sink if we don’t) which has helped us learn to find launch ramps even on the smallest days. The boards we ride are generally short, fat, and ugly, but we’re surprisingly good at getting them in the air!

Photo: Rob Henson |Surfer: Tyler Bacquet | Spot: Galveston, TX |Date: July, 2013

Photo: Rob Henson | Surfer: Tyler Bacquet | Spot: Galveston, TX | Date: July, 2013

Now and then, we do get lucky. When conditions align, it even gets overhead. On any given swell, groms and grandpas alike share the peaks regardless of ability.  According to 17-year-old California transplant Tyler Bacquet, “In Texas you see it all. Texas surf culture doesn’t take anything for granted. Knee high, 25 knots onshore, 15 guys out and everyone is absolutely frothing. Booties with boardshorts, boardshorts over wetsuits… No shame. No hate. All love. All acceptance. All stoke.”

Photo: Scott Ellwood | Surfer: Shane Wiggins | Spot: Corpus Christi, TX | Date: December, 2006

Photo: Scott Ellwood | Surfer: Shane Wiggins | Spot: Corpus Christi, TX | Date: December, 2006

Perhaps it’s because we are surf-deprived the majority of the time, but Texans do get freakishly excited for each other in the water. I have seen entire lineups whoop and cheer when a logger pulls a cheater-five. In 44-year-old Bronson Hillard’s opinion, “There’s no better group of people to share the surf with than Texans. Texas surfers are like Aussies and Hawaiians blended together to form Redneck Aloha!” (Having lived in both Australia and Hawaii, I have absolutely no idea what he means by this… Nonetheless, the term was quickly embraced by Texas surfers on social media, so I guess we’ll go with it.)

Photo: Rob Henson | Surfers: (They'd kill me) | Spot: Galveston, TX | Date: August, 2014

Photo: Rob Henson | Surfers: (They’d kill me) | Spot: Galveston, TX | Date: August, 2014

Every surf community takes pride in its identity; it’s simply more enjoyable to paddle out when the lineup consists of familiar faces. Texas is unique in that the community is not limited to individual towns/breaks. It is quite common for surfers from Galveston, for example, to casually make the southerly jaunt to Corpus Christi (five-hours) or to South Padre Island (eight-hours) when a swell comes through, giving us the opportunity share the water (and a beer) with our distant neighbors. 18-year-old Joey Romano describes the community as, “One big family where background means nothing as long as you are out having a good time.” While this may sound simplistic, it’s entirely accurate. Even if you are not a native of the state, where you came from is irrelevant; if you have the motivation to paddle out to one of our breaks with a smile on your face and contribute a positive vibe, then you are one of us.

Photo: Scott Ellwood | Surfer: Nathan Floyd | Spot: Corpus Christi, TX | Date: March, 2013

Photo: Scott Ellwood | Surfer: Nathan Floyd | Spot: Corpus Christi, TX | Date: March, 2013

In Texas, not a single ride down a line is taken for granted. We froth on waist-high windswell and tuck inside chocolate brown barrels (it counts as long as your head is inside, right?). Our water is warmer. Our community is closer. Our stoke is strong. We know who we are, and we don’t really care whether or not the outside world believes us when we try to explain that “there IS surf in Texas…kind of.”

Cheers to all of “y’all”!

Photo: Scott Ellwood | Surfer: Tasha Rivard (author) | Spot: Corpus Christi, TX | Date: November, 2013

Photo: Scott Ellwood | Surfer: Tasha Rivard (author) | Spot: Corpus Christi, TX | Date: November, 2013

Photo: Rob Henson | Surfer: Tyler Bacquet | Spot: Matagorda, TX |Date: December, 2013

Photo: Rob Henson | Surfer: Tyler Bacquet | Spot: Matagorda, TX |Date: December, 2013

Photo: Rob Henson Surfer: Stephen Lazenby Spot: Galveston, TX Date: August, 2014

Photo: Rob Henson | Surfer: Stephen Lazenby |Spot: Galveston, TX | Date: August, 2014

Photo: Scott Ellwood | Surfer: Justin Jalufka | Spot: Corpus Christi, TX | Date: December, 2006

Photo: Scott Ellwood | Surfer: Justin Jalufka | Spot: Corpus Christi, TX | Date: December, 2006

Photo: Rob Henson | Surfer: Jarrad Williams | Spot: Galveston, TX | Date: May, 2014

Photo: Rob Henson | Surfer: Jarrad Williams | Spot: Galveston, TX | Date: May, 2014

Photo: Scott Ellwood | Surfer: Mark Stolley | Spot: Corpus Christi | Date: January, 2011

Photo: Scott Ellwood | Surfer: Mark Stolley | Spot: Corpus Christi | Date: January, 2011

Photo: Rob Henson | Surfer: Connor Eck | Spot: Galveston, TX | Date: September, 2013

Photo: Rob Henson | Surfer: Connor Eck | Spot: Galveston, TX | Date: September, 2013

*Huge thanks to Rob Henson, Scott Ellwood, and Rob Cortinas for contributing photos!*

Azores Surf Trip: Days 3 & 4 Cheezin’

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Days 3 & 4

azores

Heaven

With a report worse than the first Waist high day, we decided to scour the west side of the island. What an awesome few days indeed! Same plan: drive until lost, find somewhere amazing to see, repeat until you get your bearings and get lost again.
We happened upon a lot of churches, and stopped at what seemed like a tiny spot on the hill. No tourist kiosks, no gift shops, no bus stops, just a small road in a beautiful city somewhere around Remedios. One of my favorite set of non surfing photographs on the entire trip.
We continued on a long winding steep road, stopping at a couple of streams along the way to make it atop the now dormant volcano, finding probably one of the more well known locations called Lagoa das Sete Cidades or “Lake of the Seven Cities.”  Such an incredible view and story to it. I snuck a shot of Guillaume cheezin’ hard.
Cheezin'

Cheezin’

Directly across is a “ghost hotel” that was a 5 star resort in the middle of absolutely nowhere with the best view, that was built and went bankrupt in 6 years. What used to be heavily guarded after being seized was now open and stripped of its beautiful craftsmanship. It was a very surreal, yet amazing thing to see. I hope one day this gets reclaimed and fixed.
We finished the day trying to scour some more surf, and ended up just taking a relax day, as the report for tomorrow was pretty insane (at least for us). 5-9ft at 16 seconds. First 5 star report of the trip with a heavy period. We had no idea what to expect and wanted to wake up early and well rested.
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AZORES SURF TRIP DAYS 1&2: The Plan is to Have No Plan!

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Dailystoke community members Kyle and Guillaume won a free trip to the Azores courtesy of Dailystoke!  Here is how Days 1 and 2 went.  Share the stoke…and note these guys got bumped to first class.  Not bad, fellas.  Dailystoke is the #1 site on the ‘net for surf giveaways — so join our community today and don’t miss out!   
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I’m going to preface day 1 just a little bit, due to the fact that our plane left at 11:45pm the night before and arrived at 7:00am the next day, so We can count that as the same day. To say we were “stoked” was truly an understatement. I had never left the country before, so the concept of being somewhere this foreign was exciting and scary all in the same. With boards strapped to the roof of my tiny car and bags packed with camera gear and wetsuits (literally, that’s all we had room for), we left for Logan. After going through all of the tedious work of getting our tickets and passing security, there was a small hiccup in Guillaume’s ticket that got us bumped to first class. Seriously, SATA airlines rocked through this whole trip. Hands down the number 1 airline company I’ve ever dealt with to date. Our boards, as long as they were under 15lbs, actually flew free! We haven’t even left the United States and already we were off to a good start.
Fast forward inflight airline food and movie jokes aside, a short 5 hour plane ride and we were descending on Sao Miguel. Seriously, what a beautiful island through and through. A crescent of sun managed to break through the cloud cover we flew through just enough to make the Ponta Delgada side of the island absolutely SING green. Just seeing that gave me enough butterflies to wake up. We departed the plane and gathered our boards and gear in one of the tiniest airports I’ve seen, and grabbed the rental car.
Everything we had BARELY fit in the little ford we had rented. Although that was seriously the perfect sized car for the whole tip, after I quickly learned driving around here can be dicey. It’s not hard to find you rself on dirt roads, or two-way city roads that were barely large enough for one car. The first few days getting used to this my anxiety level was through the roof. No dataon our phones and a lack of a GPS didn’t help either, and our map was for large roads only, so after lots of accidental one-ways, roundabouts, and nerve pinching tiny roads, we made it to the hotel and unloaded. The view was unreal both day and night, and was instant adventure fuel for touring the entire island.
PIC2 azores trip
We grabbed a few snacks from the deli down the road, threw on our trunks, packed the boards and suits and decided to hit the entire island on day one. We literally crawled and scoured the entire coastline. Who cares if you got lost? The island was so small that you could judge your distance and location from how close to a populated city you were. That was probably one of the most interesting and perfect days to do this, as the surf reports showed it was pretty flat everywhere so It gave us a good chance to see as much as we could now and save the surfing for the rest of the week.
Our first stop (and I’ll use that term loosely because we got lost) was in Furnas.  After taking a couple wrong one ways winding through a very steep rainy part of the mountain, we stopped because we saw smoke, so naturally our interest peaked as to what this could be coming from an area that was similar to a rainforest town. There were hot springs everywhere! One thing you had to experience for yourself though was the smell. That sulfur mixing in the water is so strong, only a half an hour of checking things out and I felt like years of sinus congestion was blown out. A couple quick videos and we headed anywhere that resembled an east or costal direction.
We made the loop around the east of the island and continued after not seeing much on the surf radar. Then, somewhere along the northern coast we stopped when I freaked out looking at an insane break from the highway. I cautiously parked my car in what would look like a cow pasture driveway and snapped a couple shots on the coast.  Back on the road to continue the adventure, we came across the city of Ribeira Grande.
PIC3 azores trip
This would prove to be the place we ended up spending the most time in our week there between Monte Verde and Santa Barbara. This was also the ONLY location we happened upon other surfers. We stopped at the Monte Verde surf spot first and grabbed a bite to eat by the Municipal salt pools in the “snack bar” known as “Let It Be” (we quickly found out that this is very typical to find snack bars through the entire island) My traveling buddy Guillaume is actually southern French and speaks it very well, so with a mix of our English, his French, and my Spanish, we managed to somewhat communicate with people at all of our locations. The lady who worked there was probably my favorite on the entire trip. She rifled off as many languages as possible to Guillaume. I watched semi awkwardly with a smile, lost in translation, but after Guillaumes quick conversation, she knew we were surfers and wanted to watch the ocean, so she promptly sat me down on the best view in the house, and about-faced me out (whilst I ‘m sitting in my seat!) to watch the surfers. “Here, you sit and watch the water, not the restaurant!” as she pointed out. Man was she a trip, and the food was always spot on here. We were never too picky, but a good burger or fish and a beer were right around 5-6 euros. That ended up being a spot we frequented a lot, and you couldn’t beat the view.
Full and now craving some type of action, we drove around a little more, getting lost a lot along the way until we happened upon Santa Barbara. This is probably the most common surf location on the entire island. It had a very long break from a nice parking lot all the way to its large cliff side on the west point of the beach. Again, another “snack bar” was here as well. What a beautiful black sand beach teeming with lava rock! We looked from the parking lot down at a small waist high wave and figured, why the heck not? No ones in the water, so we might as well get in there. Not to mention, we just came from surfing 40 degree waters on the east coast in full winter suits, so throwing on a 3/2 was nothing.
PIC4 azores
Within 20 minutes, we must’ve either sparked interest, or just beat quitting time on the island, because we were soon filled with about 20 surfers. It was definitely odd at first, and we certainly got a few stares, but it s understandable being the only two kids in the lineup speaking English and euphorically laughing about being in such a tropical location and how cold dark and rocky our east coast break we left was. After saying a couple of funny phrases and watching people crack a smile or laugh a little, we realized many of them spoke a lot more English than we thought, so little bits of conversation was key to getting in, and having people recognize us for the week.  Not to mention the key elements that got us noticed was not dropping in on other people, staying in your spot in lineup ect. A little respect here goes a long way, as you will read in our future days at this break.
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Stunning Surf Photography Book: Distant Shores

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Chris Burkard has released a new collection of remote surf photography, and it’s absolutely stunning.

Distant Shores is a powerful book that draws you in, captures you, and whisks you away to experience every awe-inspiring moment. With each page turn, you are transplanted to the next destination and can almost feel the temperature drops, offshore mist or warm sun in each landscape.

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Over the last eight years, Chris has traveled around the globe to compile the surfing photography featured in Distant Shores. From these travels, we’re treated to exotic coastlines including Alaska, Chile, India, Japan, Norway and Mexico. From coastal fog to the laughing smiles of local children, every shot tells a rich story.

DistantShores

Chris’ photographs open with a panoramic view, allowing us to sit back and immerse ourselves in that setting. His photography captures giant mountains while a surfer creates graceful lines in the lineup below the mountain range.

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“[The water] is such a unique thing to shoot. Such a unique thing to try and be a part of and document. I really love the idea of documenting something that’s so fleeting, something that’s not going to be there tomorrow.”

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And what beautiful surfing it is. Flawless aerials, deep bottom turns and barrels and fanned sprays are featured throughout the book, juxtaposed by quiet moments of contemplation before paddling out. The book presents a glimpse into the overall experience of surfing these exotic locations by portraying photos of landscapes, locals and other environments with their beautiful waves.

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“We’re always seeking out a new place that hasn’t been surfed or a place that the surface has barely been scratched. We’re looking for new ways to document it, new ways to explore it.”

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“Photography is an opportunity for me to go out and see the world and bring something back…being able to come back with those experiences to share with the people that are important in my life.”

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This photographic collection also features an interview with Chris Burkard. It provides great insight into his inspiration, career progression, the mechanics of his techniques, and what destinations lie ahead.

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Distant Shores is an absolute must-have for any library, but it should really be featured on your coffee table. It’s inspiring to flip through and you’ll be itching to grab your board (and passport) immediately.

You can pick up Distant Shores here.

DS1

Dailystoke goes to Mainland Mexico: Toobs ensue

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When my old buddy Chris suggested I jump on a last minute $300 flight to Colima, on the central West Coast of Mainland Mexico, I really couldn’t give him any answer but, “How big of boards should I bring?”

“Well, give the fact that we’re going to have access to a jet ski the whole time we’re there should eliminate the need for the big guns.”

“Jet ski? Like step-offs? This just keeps getting better!”

“Yeah, pack your bags, we leave from Tijuana at 2:00 am Tuesday.”

Two days later we were crossing the US-Mexico border at San Ysidro bound for warm water solitary waves. The forecast looked promising, with a solid 5-8 ft 14 second period NW on its way to meet us.

We landed at about sunrise, and were met by a certain incognito ex-pat big wave surfer who would be our guide for the week (to protect the innocent, and more importantly, the guilty, names have been omitted). We headed straight westward and were in the water with the ski as quickly as possible to avoid the predictable onshore noon wind. The waves were pumping, the water was 80, I’ll just let the photos do the talking…

Chris scoping the scene.

PK slotted.

PK looking pretty comfortable in there.

PK in his happy place.

Chris with some steez on a sandy one.

Gopro Hero3 FTW

Chris with a hell of a view.

Finally Reid whips into a round one!

Chris closes out the trip with a clean little one.

Paradise, really.  I’ve already booked my flight for July to go back.

-PK

Dailystoke in The Azores: Surf Spot Rundown, Go Get It!

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Another Dailystoke writer and I spent a week in the island paradise of The Azores.  What blew us away on our visit to the Portuguese island chain, was how high the “waves to surfers ratio” was.  Not that there are many surfers on the island to begin with, but as you’ll see, when swell lights up the coast, there are numerous places to be alone.  Like many remote island communities whose economy is driven by fishing, and whose folklore and bedtime stories are fed by sailors that did not return, the Azorians are afraid of the ocean that surrounds them.  Even our fearless guide seemed to always be talking about how sharky our sessions felt.  Thanks Ricardo…

But one thing we did do on our trip was hunt for waves.  If I could somehow get back every dollar I’ve spent on gas driving up and down the California coast looking for waves, I would be a rich man.  Not surprisingly, surfers all over the world operate similarly.  From the minute we landed, we were frothing for waves and started putting miles (kms) on the rental car, and there was lots to see.

Like I had mentioned in the previous post, The Azores is a volcanic island chain with an amazingly varied coast.  Exposed to swell from all directions, there’s rarely a flat day if you know where to look.  The main island of Sao Miguel is about 30 miles long and 10 miles wide, so you’re never farther than an hour away from any surf spot.  Our surf guide has been on the island for about a decade, and knows every nook and cranny that pulls in waves.  In the week we were there to explore, we saw about a dozen spots that can turn on with the right conditions.  We saw some flat, and we saw some firing, and we never saw a crowd.

I’m going to give a rundown of the spots that we visited, but I do so with the understanding that some will be impossible to find without the help of someone with local knowledge.  Let’s start with the most obvious, and end with the mysto.

Santa Barbara:  The main surf beach on Sao Miguel is a half mile long black sand beach on the north coast at Ribeira Grande.  It’s the only place we ever saw other surfers, and it’s easily marked on every map.  Shifty sand bars, a rock cliff and reefy wedgy on the west side, and a rocky reef on the north side, if there’s north swell, there will be a wave (or many) here.  There’s even a deep water big wave spot about 200 yards offshore that can hold 20 foot+.  We heard stories of the only time someone tried to ski to it, got stranded outside the beach break, and had to be rescued by the Coast Guard.  Are you man enough to be the second to try?

Spinach:  Directly to the east of Santa Barbara, this is another large stretch of beach with a (dirty) river mouth sandbar.  We never surfed it but we were told it can be as good or better than Santa Barbara, and since it’s tougher to find down a scary narrow alley, can be less crowded.

Milicias: This is the closest beach to Ponta Delgada, about 10 minutes west of the harbor.  The parking lot is just past the cliffside church in the photo below.  This steep beach break is south facing and we were told, can be as good as beach breaks get.  Think wintertime perfection at Blacks, but with predominantly offshore winds and board shorts in the summer.  There is a deep water canyon, lots of peaks, and no crowds.  You convinced yet?

 

The Slab at Maia: At Ponta de Maia, on the north side of the island, there is a reef slab left that was created by a landslide from the cliff above.  We never saw it break, and it’s more of a bodyboard spot, but when conditions are right, it’s the most critical wave on the island.

Ponta Formosa:  This small beach break to the east of Ribeira Grande was dead flat when we were introduced to it on the first day.  There is a small cafe called “The Mill” at the bottom of a steep hill.  Parking is tough, but we’re told theyserve the best burger on the island.  We can’t speak to the burgers, but the post-surf beers were some of the best, and most earned, we had ever had the pleasure of drinking.  Needless to say, we saw a lot of action there later in the week.  We had solid N swell, 12 feet at 15 seconds, with  SW wind at 25 knots, gusting 50.  Challenging doesn’t begin to describe it, but bombs were had.  Anyone want to volunteer to sit on the beach and shoot next time?

Monsteiros:  Pronounced moose-trrey-oosh, which took us a week to learn to say, means “The Monastaries”.  It’s named for the rock formation at the mouth of the harbor that resemble, you guessed it, rocks.  The harbor is on the Northwesternmost tip of the island.  This was the longest spot to travel to, as the coastal roads are windy and meander through the countryside.  Gorgeous, but less than direct.  The mouth of the harbor has both a left and a right reef point, about 20 yards away from each other.  The makings for a pretty epic wave park if you ask me.  We had W swell when we saw it, but also W wind and too much tide.  I want to surf this spot when it’s on!

Rabo de Peixe: Just to the West of Ribeira Grande, is a small fishing village with a harbor.  Unfortunately, the story is not all good here.  This used be the most perfect and lengthy left rock point on the island, but a new addition to the existing break wall has caused the wave to be less than perfect.  The Surfrider foundation got involved during the engineering of the addition, but the builders ignored the recommendations.  The result is the wave energy and sand now have no exit, resulting in a wicked backwash on the inside.  We saw swell here, but surfed elsewhere.  Keep meddling civil engineers out of our precious resources people!

Ribeira Quente: This is another south facing break that we saw totally flat, but with amazing potential.  Down the mountain from the volcanically active town of Furnas, this remote fishing village is far from the surfing population.  The wave is an a-frame reef that breaks off the break wall of the harbor.  The right (we were told) is a hollow and shelfy short wave that closes out into the rocks, and the left is equally hollow but is much longer, makable all the way down the length of the jetty and finishes in a channel.  Apparently, the thing to do in summer is surf until you’re noodled, then drive 20 minutes up into the crater and have a soak in the volcanic hot springs with the visiting Norwegian co-eds (which we did, sans waves, and the girls, unfortunately).  I’ve got my summer flight booked already, do you?

Santa Iria:  I culminate our wave tour with the most remote, and basically impossible to find spot on the island.  The irony is that you can very easily see this wave break from the road, at the bottom of a 1,000 foot cliff.  In fact, there is a parklike viewpoint just off the highway that teases you to try to navigate the drop below.  It might just be worth your life to try, with a hundred yard cobblestone barreling point on the left, and a shorter right barrel on the opposite side of the cove.  When we finally saw it break, we were led to the 1.5 mile goat trail, but even if I wasn’t sworn to secrecy, my directions would be worthless to you.  Over a river, through some woods, dodge electric fences, you get the idea.  Not to mention the rocks on the point (the last 300 yards) are so slippery, you have to wear shoes to navigate them. We got some great waves this day, but only saw about 10% of its potential.  This is another spot I will surf perfect and alone one day in my life.  Just me, a buddy, and the hammerhead sharks that come from thousands of miles to breed in this cove…

 

Well, that was partially more comprehensive than I had planned, but as far as I’m concerned, if you have the balls to fly over 2000 miles to an unconventional surf destination, you should have the tools to score.  There’s no doubt that this is a world class surf destination, and will be popping up on surf travel sites sooner than you might think.  But what makes it world class isn’t how amazing the surf can be but rather the combination of surf and the things to do on the island when conditions are less than perfect.  There’s no better way to take your mind off not surfing than soaking in a 100 degree hot spring in what feels like the set of Jurassic Park.  More on that, in the next post…

-PK

 

 

Dailystoke in the Azores: Go, You Won’t Regret It

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Now, I had heard of this little volcanic island chain in the middle of The Atlantic Ocean, but amongst all of the worldly traveled surfers I know, I’ve never even heard of anyone going there.  Imagine a 500 year old charming Portuguese city and countryside making sweet sweet love to the Hawaiian Islands.  Breathtaking doesn’t even begin to describe it.  Well, me and another dailystoke writer were lucky enough to spend a week finding out what this special place had to offer.

Approximately 900 miles from Lisbon, Portugal, and 2200 miles from the East Coast of the US it’s quite literally in the middle of the ocean.  Exposed from all sides to deep water, open ocean swells, and with an extremely featured coastline, the place is a swell magnet.  In the 6 days we were on the main island (of 7) of Sao Miguel, we saw black sand beaches with perfect sandbars, cobblestone point breaks, slab reefs, deep water big wave reefs, harbor jetties, lefts, rights, a-frames, all capable of firing when the conditions are right.  Not to mention it has a similar climate to Central California, but because of the Gulf Stream, the water never drops below 65 or so, and is as warm as 75 through the summer.

If you don’t know already, Portuguese is a tricky language, and the dialect they speak on the islands is even trickier.  We were told that native speaking Portuguese have trouble with it a lot of the time.  If you found yourself deep in the Louisiana Bayou, would you be able to understand Cajun?  Or even call what they speak English?  Similar.  Good thing almost everyone on the island, especially the younger generations, speak excellent English, as well as a half dozen other languages.

Traveling there is relatively simple.  We flew from San Diego to Boston, then direct to Ponta Delgada, the only city on Sao Miguel.  The population is about 100,000 and when you’re in the city, it feels like it.  Busy streets, restaurants, and bars.  But drive 10 minutes in any direction, and you’re all alone to explore.  Important to note, rental cars all have manual trannies, so make sure you, or your boyfriend can drive stick.

The economy on the island is not one I would call “booming”.  It is mostly local agriculture and dairy farming, with the main export being big game fish.  They’re trying to push tourism pretty hard, and for good reason.  There is LOTS to see there.  And with daily flights from all over Europe, there is quite a population to draw from.  The island is on the Euro, which stings when you exchange dollars, but for an island, everything’s CHEAP.  We spent more cash in one day in Boston on the way home than we spent the whole week in the Azores (Guiness and Jameson ain’t cheap!).

The island of Sao Miguel is only about 30 miles long and 10 miles wide, but it’s incredibly diverse geographically.  Misty volcanic peaks and craters, rolling green hills, therapeutic hot springs, jagged coastline, picturesque lakes, all lie within a few miles of each other.  Luckily, negotiating the island is pretty easy since a modern highway system was built.  Not so luckily, the city, and all of the towns were built before cars existed.  Signage is laughable, the roads are one car wide and carry two way traffic, and the grid looks like a spider on acid laid it out.  We, however, had the benefit of a very experienced surf guide that made exploration fast and easy.  Unless you have a month to learn the island on your own, I would seriously suggest doing the same.  Pay for my flight and maybe I could be persuaded to show you around 😉

The next half a dozen posts or so will outline some of the amazing experiences, and great surf we had on the trip of a lifetime.  Stay tuned!

Surf Chicama Peru One of The Longest Breaks

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Imagine a wave so long that you have to get out of the water and walk back to the break after you’ve ridden it for almost a mile! Welcome to Peru- home of one of the longest surf breaks in the world: Chicama.

Not only that, all you goofy-footers out there (you lucky, lucky surfers), Peru has almost all left breaks! Another crazy addition to the mix is that Peru’s seasons are the opposite of those in the Northern Hemisphere, so our winter is their summer.

How cool is that!? To learn more about the surf in Peru, there just happens to be a great video: Peel: The Peru Project, by T.J. Barrack and Wes Brown. It shows surf pros not only ripping it up on gnarly waves, but also visiting crazy sights, such as the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu. So much to surf and see, so little time!

 

Dream Contest – Cloud Nine (Philippines)

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“Hollow, Powerful and Superfast – as it sucks back off the coral grab your courage with both hands and give it your best. If you don’t hesitate you’ll get the wave of your life. This wave breaks boards and bones – you have been warned”*

Situated in the Philippines, midway between Manila and Davao, is one of the world’s best A-frames, Cloud Nine.  Though it was prominently featured in one of the surfing trades some 15 years back, and there have been a number of WQS events there, this Philippine dream has yet to have hosted a world event, or gotten the travel status of some of the world’s World Tour events.

*quote courtesy of a review on wannasurf.com

Canadian Surf, Eh? Wetsuit Technology Aids Development, Check this Vid

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Wetsuit technology has made surfing possible in places we previously would never have considered surfable. It still sounds strange to me to use Canada and surfing in the same sentence, but make no mistake about it – there are Canadian surfers enjoying epic Canadian waves.  If you’ve already explored the many tropical destinations so well advertised in every surfing publication and are looking for something different, consider heading to the wild north where you’ll find uncrowded waves, spectacular scenery, and friendly locals.

Kiribati – Going off the surf map

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Looking for tropical South Pacific perfection without the crowds? Look no further than the island nation of Kiribati. Pronounced Kiribas, the name is an indigenous pronunciation of Gilberts (say it quickly and you’ll hear the connection), from the British Captain Thomas Gilbert, who “discovered” the islands in 1788. Independent since July 1979, the Republic of Kiribati is comprised of just over 30 atolls.

Kiribati is one of the few places in the world where the government regulates surfing, requiring licenses for those who wish to surf there, and allowing no more than eleven surfers in the water at a given time. Sounds like a dream right? Wrong. Though the atolls are ringed with numerous perfect reef breaks, the republic is in dire need of help as it remains among the poorest nations on the planet. Widespread health issues persist, technology and communications date back to the 1920s, population overcrowding is out of control, sanitation infrastructure is virtually non-existent, and inter-island flights are completely unreliable. Conditions on the islands are so poor, even the U.S. Peace Corps has been rumored to be pulling out of Kiribati in recent years.

Problems aside, it’s not a bad place to go for a surf trip, though getting there won’t be as easy as just getting on a plane. There’s quite a bit of info on the web about various reefs and breaks on a few of the atolls, as well as a surf travel company or two who specialize in arranging local surf guides. Do your homework online and go well prepared. Get out there, get off the surf map and go explore.

Aruba Surf Spot: Arashi Beach

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You won’t find huge waves in Aruba, but if you end up there as I did and are looking for surf:  head north on Route 1 and check out Arashi beach.  There is also a semi-secret surf spot right after Arashi (Arashi Bay?) where all the locals hang out.

Aruba is cool because you can just take the bus everywhere–you don’t need to rent a car.  To get to Arashi, take Route 1 and then 1A until it basically ends (towards California Lighthouse).  Rodgers beach is at the other end of the island, but you can hop the bus there too.  Arashi is a good locals beach and a decent place to surf–not huge waves but the place is ridiculosuly pristine and on a quiet end of the island waaaaay away from all the touristy stuff going on in Palm Beach (place sucks, stay away).  At sunset, stick around and look for the locals that brought out the BBQ and cold beer every night.  Nothing like a few cold beers at sunset…

Iceland recap – the photologue

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Walking out for an early with my Icelandic host, Georg.

 Georg, ready to get wet.

 Over 100 yards of seaweed covered lava rocks, just to get to the break

 A very welcoming set.

 A view down the beach rocks.

 

 

An other Icelandic local.

 Waterfalls running down from one of Europe’s largest glaciers.

 This black sand beach wasn’t quite working, but the potential is there.

 Almost looks photoshopped. Bob Ross would be proud.

 The road to the glacier.

 Mountain lake number 25789231.

 Looking back at the ocean from the foot of the glacier.

 Notice the buildings in the foreground for perspective on the size of the mountains.

 Yet another waterfall along the roadside.

 A small island off the west coast.  Seems to have a few slabs awaiting swell and surfers.

 Same coast, more unseen slab potential.

 Snow covered channel entry.

 Journey to the center of the urf.

 Come to Iceland prepared to drive through miles and miles of lunarscape such as this.

 What Iceland trip would be complete without a stop at the blue lagoon?

 Off into the snowy sunset.

Surfing Barbados – paradise found

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The world headquarters for Malibu Rum sits on the west coast of Barbados, 100 feet from the Caribbean sea. The water there is flat as lake, as if the surfing gods punished the spot for knocking off the name of a secret spot in California. And while Malibu rum is no Barbados treaure, plenty of surfing treasures can be found on the island. Just up the coast is Duppies. A diagonal shot across the island is the world class Soup Bowl. As if that’s not enough, Malibu (in reverse) can be found with the left at Freights Bay, which, when breaking, will be more Malibu than Malibu rum will ever be. Such is surfing in Barbados – a break for every swell, and a wave for every surfer. And to top it off, you’ll need only tropical surf wax.

Barbados sits some 13 degress off the equator, a couple of hundred miles north of Venezuela. The west coast faces Central America, and the east coast is the Atlantic ocean. Soup Bowl sits on the east coast, with its jagged reef permanently being bashed by huge swell. Frequently blown out, and frequently overhead or more, Soup Bowl is where every Barbadian surfer wants to be.

Says Christian Boos, instructor at Zed’s Surfing Adventures and 2008 Barbados Longboarding Champ: “Soup Bowl is an excellent break, if inconistent.”

And while driving on the left takes some getting used to, you’ll be happy to have made the trip even further south than Puerto Rico for decidedly uncrowded waves, generally perfect weather and all the premium rum you’d want with Mount Gay Eclipse.

A surfer getting spit out of a barrel won’t get you pregnant

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Metaphor time! If getting barreled is the closest thing to an orgasm, than this is the closest a man will ever get to a woman’s. It’s common knowledge that a female orgasm last much longer compared to a Male’s, and to put this in layman’s terms, a man’s peak would be compared to a quick tube at the pier. Where a woman’s time in the “Spirit World” would be more like Ozzie Wright’s ridiculously long barrel in Indo, click here.

Get my drift?

That is the difference between what’s happening inside a woman’s mind, compared to a males, during an orgasm…

I have no idea who this is, but this is seriously one of the deepest tubes I’ve ever seen in Mexico that wasn’t Puerto Escondido. This has to be the same spot Andy Irons won the “Somewhere In Mexico” Rip Curl event back in 2006. You can watch that swell clicking here. It was Andy and Taylor Knox in the final, and Andy popped a big air for the win. Thinking back, there were so many good barrels in that event that picking a favorite would be like choosing your most memorable orgasm. For a man that’s impossible, because they’re all equally amazing regardless of who made them happen.

Cheers!