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Travel Reports

Our trip to Western Samoa - 1995

Three years ago I remember noticing an ad in the travel section of a newspaper stating, Samoa, one week for aus$999 including accommodation and airfare. Well fortunately one of my friends was married to a Samoan and having no knowledge of the area myself, I decided to call him. Wave's in Samoa? there are none! he said. I've been there twice and I can tell you straight up, forget about Samoa for surf. Being my only source of information, I decided to shelve any plans I may have had to travel there.

About a year later however, I was talking casually to a good friend of mine by the name of Mick Palmer. Out of the blue he told me of a secret little surfing hideaway tucked away in Samoa. At first I didn't know who to believe. Julian told me that there was no surf in Samoa. Mick cracked up and told me of the many perfect waves he had surfed in Samoa while living there over the past few years. "There is only one way to find out" Mick said and he invited me and a couple of friends over to Samoa for a surf trip.

I was still a bit suspect about the possibilities, so I did some homework and what I discovered amazed me. After studying surfing reports from all over the planet, I found Samoa to be one of the most consistent places on earth for waves. Being smack bang in the middle of the South Pacific, it had to have waves somewhere. So without any more thought, the tickets were booked and we were off to Samoa.






After an eight hour flight stopping off in New Zealand and Tonga, the boys and I finally arrived. Mick was there to meet us and act as our tour guide. He looked like Crocodile Dundee gone troppo and welcomed us with a trusty "G'day fellas, lets go, the surf is pumping!". He then took us to the capital, Apia, where we would be staying for a few days. While we unpacked, Mick told us about the place and its people. He also mentioned that he had just started a surf camp. Samoans he said, are some of the friendliest people in the world, but Samoa is for Samoa, and the people have a proud history.

Christianity plays a major role in the values, moral and lifestyle of the people. When Mick commented that there's no surfing on Sunday!, the boys thought he was joking, but not so. The Samoan people work mostly Monday to Friday, play cricket or rugby on Saturday and when Sunday arrives, everything closes so everyone can go to church, rest and spend time with their families.

Mick commented that the family unit is very strong here. The family is responsible for its members discipline and well-being. Remember that most of the places we surf will be owned by the people and full respect must be kept. The secret to Samoan surf is local knowledge and Samoa only has a couple of surfers. Travelling surfers just don't know where to go when they get here. More often than not they drive straight pass great breaks or are too scared to enter certain villages.

Samoa has two main islands, Upolu and Savai'i, both of which have north and south shores. These receive consistent swell from northern and southern hemisphere storms which dump themselves on Samoa. Samoa can be likened to Oahu in Hawaii. In the southern hemisphere's summer months, the north shore pumps and in the winter the south shore pumps.

The morning of the firsts day arrived and everyone was pumped for action. After picking up Jason Porter, who owns S.O.L. Surf and Clothing Store, we headed out for our first taste of the action. Once out of town, Samoa is beautiful as anywhere in the world. Pristine water, blue skies, palm tree-lined coast with warm waters and soft warm breezes. The crew were stoked.

We reached our intended surf spot only to witness two bodies being covered with white sheets (a double drowning). Two local surfers had paddled out to one of the heaviest waves in the area and were far to inexperienced for what the waves had in store for them. Shaken, but not put off by the unfortunate tragedy, we paddled out into perfect but very powerful reef waves. Mick told us to be careful, but this didn't stop Grant Arkin throwing caution to the wind and pulling some insane stand up monsters. Mick charged and didn't stop smiling. As for me, my second wave saw the end of my session with a wipeout that I will never forget. I was axed, and ended up with an ankle so stuffed I could hardly walk. Scott Elison also hit the deck on a horror. he has lived in Hawaii for many years and needed every bit of his experience to tackle the heavy waves.

After watching Scott and I, Jason decided not to press his luck and helped me back to shore. The boys continued to charge, getting some insane barrels. To finish the day, Scott took another horror wipeout, but our laughter soon stopped as he continued to be held down for over 15 seconds. Luckily the only thing ended up being hurt was his ego.

Not all the waves in Samoa were that heavy, as we soon found out. For the next ten days, Mick took us on the surf adventure of a lifetime. Staying at his surf camp, we surfed many different waves that ranged from three to six feet, usually with only a handful of surfers out. There was never a dull moment. Mick has to be one of the funniest men alive. He consistently found the best waves, and his advice was alway spot on.

  If you go to Samoa, you're in for a great time. If you want to greatly increase your chances for that surf trip of a lifetime, I recommend you do it with Mananoa Surf Camp. The new guide Tim Southall has lived there for a couple of years and has the place wired. Not only will you save time and money, you benefit from our experience over the last 10 years. There's much more to Samoa than the surf, so enjoy. Either Julian was wrong, or he knew I have a big mouth.