There are few places in the world that does not “allow” us to get some fun surf session for some reason. Here are some perfect waves that you are not allowed to surf compiled by surfeuropemag.com.
Nihiwatu AKA God’s Left
If you’ve seen The Drifter, Taylor Steele’s ponderous documentary about Rob Machado’s solo quest for purity, soul and isolation in the Indonesian archipelago, then you’ve perhaps wondered about the identity and whereabouts of the long, barrelling left-hander that appears towards the film’s end (not the one right at the end that every cunt and his dog flocks to whenever’s there’s a decent swell, but the one before that). Machado seems to stumble upon it quite by chance as he journeys across a remote island equipped with nothing but a surfboard, a tent and an enviable array of dense curly locks.
The reality is rather different. Since 2001 Nihiwatu (Sumba Island, Indo) has in fact been the site of a luxury resort, where these days a room for the night will cost you $900 USD — a price which includes food but not non-alcoholic drinks, nor the 21% government tax and service charge, nor your reservation for one of the day’s ten available “surf slots”. If you’re not staying at the resort and have not paid for a “surf slot”, you can’t surf the break; if you try to, you will be kindly asked to leave, possibly by a local wielding a machete.
Pasta Point, Maldives
Pasta Point, situated in the North Malé Atoll, has for years been the exclusive preserve of guests (30 surfers max.) staying at the resort established by Australian surfer Tony Hussein Hinde, who was shipwrecked on the atoll back in 1973. Hussein married a local woman, became a naturalised Maldivian citizen, and secured sole rights to the long, peeling left-hander, setting a precedent which has since been followed by various foreign investors in the region. At the time of writing, of the eight islands with surf in the atoll, six are either occupied or in the process of being occupied by exclusive resorts; according to surf travel specialists Luex, only four or the seven world-class waves are currently open to all tourists and local surfers alike. And this number may rise yet…
“If there was any question as 2 whether we’ve ruined the Mentawais, the sobering reality of 16 boats @ 1 average break tonight confirmed it,” tweeted Kelly Slater in 2012. If “ruined” is synonymous in this context with “crowded”, then the Mentawai Islands’ ruin was always inevitable: the demand for picture-perfect waves has only grown since the turn of the millennium, and the Indian Ocean — in combination with the light and variable local winds, the extraordinarily dense concentration of ideal reef set-ups, and the even denser concentration of surf camps and charter boats — continues to supply them. And, by the same token, Nihiwatu, Pasta Point and the Ranch remain “unruined”.
But in recent years there have been movements in the direction of exclusivity, even if the prospect of fully exclusive resorts, after so many years of unrestricted access, is unlikely. The resort at Macaronis, for instance, is exclusive to the extent that only twenty surfers can stay there at any one time, and only two charter boats are allowed to visit the break per day. Meanwhile a new surfer tax is due to be introduced next year — nationalisation, as opposed to privatisation, of waves — although initially, at least, the amount will be relatively small, and the number of visiting surfers is unlikely to be affected. Each surfer will pay a US$76 fee in exchange for an obligatory plastic wristband, valid for a 15-day stay; charter boats will pay a presumably additional sum of US$380 for the same period, and any film crews will be charged US$1520. In theory the islands’ native inhabitants will be the direct beneficiaries of this money, although Indonesian politics have a history of widespread and systemic corruption.
The minuscule heart-shaped island of Tavarua is one of the natural wonders of the surfing world. Kelly Slater calls Cloudbreak his favourite wave on the planet; CJ Hobgood says the same thing about Restaurants, the island’s other world-class left.
But the island is also home to perhaps the original exclusive surf resort, even if nowadays the waves are open to all. Two early visitors from California set up camp on the island in the early ’80s after negotiating a deal with the local tribes that guaranteed guests exclusive access to the surf, an arrangement that would last until 2010, when the Fijian government opted to lift these restrictions. “A lot of people saw the exclusivity as a negative thing,” says Shane Dorian, “but it really didn’t exclude anybody. You just had to stay on Tavarua, which was an awesome place to come and visit.” No doubt it was — even more so back then — but it was also an extremely expensive place to come and visit, effectively excluding all but the extremely well-off (your opinion on which may or may not bear a close relation to the balance of your bank account). Many a giant, perfect wave went unridden as a result.
Vaguely interesting fact: the scene where the raft gets smashed in the movie Cast Away was filmed at Cloudbreak.
The Ranch, California
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Source: surfeuropemag.com / Billy Wilson