Surf Travel Tales
By Sean Walker
Jun 7, 2002, 11:47am
Getting Deep in Samoa
When I first arrived in Samoa I had no idea of what to expect. All I had to go on was a few accounts from friends who said that April was a great time to go because it was the start of the south swell season, but before the SE trade winds that blow side shore on the south side of the island. I went down there with my girlfriend to experience the resort first hand after hearing excellent reports of others who had traveled to Samoa about their tales of a beautiful island in the South Pacific with perfect waves peeling on coral reefs surrounding the white, palm-lined beaches.
From the moment you step off the plane, the Sa'Moana Resort takes care of everything, from picking you up, to three delicious meals a day, to shuttling you by 170 horsepower speedboat to the reefs everyday. Below is my account of what went on during the trip:
After flying all night across the Pacific, we were picked up by the van from the Sa'moana Resort for the hour-long ride across the island to Salamumu Beach . A few hours later the sun rose and we were treated to paradise, a fale thirty feet from the beach with some head-high peaks on the reef out front. I surfed for a few hours on the reef out in front of the resort on the high tide and then decided to relax in a hammock with a good book. Paradise . That evening we were treated with fresh fish caught earlier in
Is this sick or what......?
The day by one of the surfers staying at the resort. After a beautiful sunset and a few Vailimas, the local beer, and I'm convinced I could spend an eternity here.
On our way to where the boat was docked, we saw lots of animals along the road including groups of pigs with a dozen piglets following close behind. The swell was a bit too small with some onshore winds so we headed off to the Island. Nusafee Island , also known as Devil's Island , had lefts wrapping around it along the colorful coral reef that wrapped enough to be slightly offshore on the inside. The island itself was only about 200 feet from end to end and was covered with dozens of palm trees. Out on the reef, there were three different take-off spots to chose from with the outside one being the bowliest but fastest, a shorter left in the middle, and the inside barrel section, which was the wave of choice for most of the guests. We all got a couple of fun ones before heading back for lunch and an afternoon at the resort. On our way back we checked out Boulders, which is a world-class left point breaking along a jagged 15 ft cliff. There was not enough swell because it has to be at least 6 ft to start breaking, but when it does it can offer the best and most challenging waves in Samoa. That night we were treated to 'fia fia night' which started with a lobster dinner, continued with singing from the local villagers, and finished off with a fire throwing show where four of the men from the village hurled sticks with fire on both ends around their heads and juggled them in every direction.
On our third day, the surf was still small so I spent the day checking out the beautiful resort. For a different perspective, I took a paddleboard out to get a good view of the island. From the palm-lined white sand beaches, the lush green jungle ascended to the mountain range that runs.
Just tuck in here for a while....along the center of the island. The only signs of development that could be seen are a few small houses scattered about which contrasted sharply with thoughts of home, work, traffic jams, and freeways.
This morning we awoke to the same swell conditions, but decided to head to the north side of the island to get some waves. We surfed Pudding Rock, which was a fun right-hander off of a rocky headland. There were plenty of fun waves that wedged off of the rocks then had an occasional bowl section on the inside. The other guests at Sa'Moana this week included 4 Aussies and 8 or 9 guys from San Clemente and Dana Point, including surfers Marshall Daza, his daughter Kristen Daza, as well as several members from the San Clemente chapter of the Surfrider Foundation including Pierce Flynn (former Executive Director), Mark Cousineau, Steve McGeary, Dave Kaplan (President of Surf Dog records), Jim Donlin, John O Malley and Reed Lenz. This was Marshall's second trip to Sa'Moana and he said he prefers it to Tavarua because at Sa'Moana they take a maximum of 12 surfers ensuring no crowds and at Tavarua the number was more like 30 which can get out of hand. The vibe was way mellower at Sa'Moana, where you could surf 5 or 6 different world class line-ups on the south shore alone without being hassled by anyone, including Coconuts, Boulders, Siumi lefts, Outside Siumu, Devil's Island , Spot X, and Salamumu, all of which had several take off areas and people were spread out. We had still not encountered any other surfers on the island at this point and wouldn't for the entirety of the trip.
It was Sunday, so local custom dictates that we cannot surf any locations along the shoreline or in front of any local villages because the Samoans believe that this is a day of rest, which forbids any sporting activities. We were still able to take advantage of the increase in swell by taking the boat out to Coconuts where it was overhead and tossing barrels. Coconuts is a barrelling right-hand reef that felt a lot like Lance's Right in the Mentawais Islands , except that it wrapped around the reef more. The two different take-off spots offered tubes off the take-off with the outside one being more of a peak and the inside section that would barrel for 30 yards if you can get enough speed. We traded off good waves while I found the inside of a few barrels. After about five hours of the surfing the hollow peaks with a number of people getting caught inside and pushed across the reef only to have to paddle around, exhaustion set in. It was obvious because everyone was having a rough time making the long paddle back to the boat that looked like it wasn't getting any closer.
The Accommodation.... Lovely.
We went back to Coconuts again and it was a bit shiftier than the day before, but a few good barrels popped up now and then. Another reef we spotted the day before across the channel from Coconuts was looking pretty good as well. It was a fast, bowling left that had three different takeoff sections and was called Outside Siumu. Half of us surfed the right at Coconuts while the other half surfed the left at Siumu while the boat went back and forth between the two for anyone to get some food or take a break. I got barreled and came out of almost every wave including a pretty late drop on a set where I just sneaked into the barrel before getting shot out a few yards down the reef. I was feeling like I could make almost anything until I pulled in on a deep wedging one and paid the price with a few cartwheels and a bounce off the reef. With a few scrapes on my arm, I called it a day. That night was barbeque night where we ate some great BBQ fish, pork and chicken and recounted the day's best rides.
Today, we took a late boat trip out to the Island and scored some really good waves. The lefts were barreling off the takeoff and then wrapping around the reef. Most of my waves consisted of a late takeoff to rail grab into the tube, come out a few yards down the line and then do a few turns. The rain came up a bit, but it brought some stiff offshores that offered two hours of tubes. Everybody was getting good waves, even Paul, the resort owner.
The tide was late in the day so I decided to hang around the resort and surf the left down the beach called Salamumu. It was a little too shifty so I came back and surfed some overhead peaks in front of the resort.
Once again, the high tide was late in the day. After a good breakfast, we headed into the capital of Samoa, Apia , to do some shopping at the flea markets and get lunch. The flea markets were pretty cool with lots of nice crafts as well as some hand-carved weapons that the Samoans used in wars in the past. When we got back to the resort, the waves were fun and peaky so we paddled out for a few before dinner. It was 'Fia Fia' night again, and local singing and dancing during our lobster dinner was the entertainment of the evening.
We went to Island but the swell was only chest high. It was rippable, but there weren't too many barrels. In the afternoon, we went snorkeling on the reef in front of the resort and it was like entering another world. Many different shapes and colors of coral were displayed for us with fish darting in and out of the caves. The best sea life we saw were probably the many bright blue starfish that were about twice the size of my hand.
We were up before dawn for the early morning high tide at Coconuts and it was clean, glassy, and firing! The only other surfers at the resort now were the four Aussies and we traded of heavy barrels all morning with a few that were sucking out some much that none of us wanted a piece of them. The biggest sets would hit the top of the reef suck
Light Evening Fun....!
out so much that the trough of the wave was well below sea-level and the back of the double-overhead wave was only about 3-4 feet. It looked a lot like pictures of mid sized Teahupoo in Tahiti , but a right. It was by far the best day of the trip. After the session, we headed to some waterfalls to jump off of and wade in the pools below.
It was a clean day out at the Island with some overhead left barrels coming in every once in a while, but so glassy that the reef looked like it was only inches below instead of a few feet. After plenty of good waves, we headed back on the boat only to spot a pack of about 30-40 dolphins playing around. We drove the boat through the middle of the pack a few times and the dolphins would ride the wave pushed off the bow of the boat and jump out of the water inches from our dangling feet. I've never seen anything like it, and it was the perfect end to the perfect trip.
It was definitely one of the best trips of my life because the resort offered everything I was looking for in a surf trip. We were staying in a really nice fale on the beach, getting taken out to perfect reef passes where the only crowd would be the people on our boat, and they served us the best meals we could ask for every day. Compared to most of the other surf trips I have been on, what really stood out was the lack of crowds at the reefs. In the Mentawais, G-land, and Jeffrey's Bay, the crowds can be horrific with up to 50 guys out at a time, but in Samoa there were never more than 10 guys out at any time. Along with no crowds, from the minute we got off the plane until we had to leave for home, everything was taken care of by Pure Vacations and staff at the Sa'Moana surf resort, and I'd like to thank them for the great hospitality.
Sean Walker is an avid surfer who has been surfing since he was nine and is currently sponsored by Billabong USA and Ocean Gear Surfboards. His travels in pursuit of perfect surf have taken him to Indonesia , Australia , South Africa , Reunion , Costa Rica , Mexico , Hawaii , and now Samoa . This trip was sponsored by Pure Vacations Limited, Europe 's leading Surf Travel Company.