There are some experiences only money can buy and as the crowds build up around the world’s most popular breaks, spending big bucks can be the only way to secure pristine waves within unexplored territory. But it’s not for nothing.
From luxury-appointed cruise vessels to private planes that will drop you directly amongst all the action, high-roller surf trips are what dreams are made of, offering priceless experiences to go with the hefty price tag.
So if you’re looking for the ultimate escape (or just have money to burn) here are five of the best surf trips that will satisfy your wildest surf fantasies.
1. Surfing Sumba’s Left-Hander At Nihiwatu
The Indonesian archipelago is littered with great surf destinations - from the packed breaks of southern Bali to the big-wave mecca of Mentawai, but accessibility and a score of budget accommodation options comes at a price - crowds are thick and the surrounding nature is slowly succumbing to ever-more development.
A short flight southeast of Bali lies the remote island of Sumba, home to one of the world’s best left-hand breaks and the luxury resort 'Nihiwatu'. The wave: 'Occy's left'
With just six bungalows and two villas set across a 2.5-kilometre stretch of private beach, there’s definitely no competing for sun loungers, and with the resort capping the number of surfers at ten per day, it’s no wonder Nihiwatu has developed a cult-like status amongst the surf community.
What To Expect
The team at Nihiwatu is made up of experts in their field - from spear fishing to stand-up paddle boarding and free diving - there are plenty of ways to wile away the hours when you’re not in the surf.
The resort has a strong community-focused philosophy, with profits going back into the Sumba Foundation (over 15 primary schools, 48 wells and 5 health clinics have been built during its 13 years of operation), so you know your cash is going to a good cause. And if you’re in need of a bit of ‘R&R’, venture off on a safari trek to the nearby spa at Nihi Oka where you can spend the day being pampered in a private cliff-top bale, overlooking rice paddies and the mighty Indian Ocean.
How To Do It
- Getting there: an hours flight from Bali’s international airport at Denpasar to Tambolaka in the west of Sumba, then an hour and a half drive through stunning scenery to the resort. If the commercial schedule doesn’t fit with yours, Nihiwatu also organises charter flights each week.
- When to go: March - April and September - November are the best surf months when the trade winds aren’t pounding, but if Nihiwatu isn’t pumping, they can organise surf charter explorations to find some of the lesser-known breaks.
- Wallet damage - While flights to Bali and on to Sumba are relatively cheap (expect to spend $500-$1000 for a round trip ticket, depending on where you're flying from) The resort is not: you'll pay $500/night for the all inclusive resort, and $100/day to surf the wave! Ouch!
2. Eco-surf Fiji’s ‘Frigate Passage’
Sometimes the natural beauty of a region is so spectacular that you almost don’t dare touch it, but when it’s within shouting distance of some of the country’s best breaks, it seems a shame to do nothing.
It was with this philosophy that led to the eco-surf resort of Matanivusi on Fiji’s Coral Coast being conceived around a kava bowl one night. Nestled between a stunning turquoise lagoon and rainforest traversed by a meandering creek, Matanivusi has been designed with sustainability at the forefront and in full conjunction with the local Vunaniu village elders.
Just a short boat ride offshore takes you to three consistent right-hand breaks and one left, and if you venture a little further, you’ll get to the legendary long-peeling left-hander of Frigate Passage.
Designed by surfers, for surfers, the team at Matanivusi revolves around the waves and getting you there.
What To Expect
The spacious bures feature large decks to kick-back on and plenty of glassed walls, allowing you to be immersed in the surrounding landscape - even the loo has a view! With only six rooms on offer, it’s the ideal place to take over with a bunch of mates, meaning you’ll have the waves completely to yourself.
There’s plenty of other water-based activities on offer - kayaking, diving and big-game fish charters to catch Yellowfin Tuna and Mahi Mahi - as well as in-land eco-treks and zip-lining through the dense jungle.
How To Do It
- Getting there - There are direct flights from Australia’s East Coast into Nadi, Fiji, from where its a 2-hour drive up the Coral Coast to the resort.
- When to go - The surf season is split in two in Fiji - one runs from April to October, producing ground swells up to around 10ft, and the second from December through to April during the cyclone season.
- Wallet damage - Prices start at around $2000 for a 5-night package, including meals and boat transfers.
3. Cruise Undiscovered Breaks In French Polynesia’s ‘Peaceful Landing’
Translating as ‘Peaceful Landing’, Tikehau to the northeast of Tahiti is about as a remote a Polynesian paradise as you can find and the destination of the Haumana catamaran’s surfaris.
With just 9 luxury cabins and one opulent master suite, Haumana has hosted some of surfing’s biggest names and sought out the best spots for shoots with Quiksilver, O’Neill and Oakley.
What To Expect
From an onboard jacuzzi to a private massage spa, no detail has been overlooked when it comes to luxury onboard, and with years of experience in these waters, the Haumana crew know them like the back of their hand. The Polynesian hospitality is legendary, so expect friendly faces as you kayak along the shores of remote islands, ringed by pristine sands, and feast on fresh coconuts.
Other than incredible surf, the archipelago is known for big marine animal encounters - hammerheads, manta rays and grey sharks make for awesome diving on the outer reefs, while healthy fish stocks allow you hook barracuda, trevally and io”io bonefish.
How to do it
- Getting there + wallet damage - It’s around $2000 return from Australia’s East Coast to Rangiroa where cruises depart from, connecting through Auckland and Papeete.
- When to go - February through to May is the best surf season when the South swell is on and prices start from around $6500 for a seven-night cruise.
4. Drop In On Maldivian Gems On A Seaplane Surfari
So you’ve cruised remote islands on a surfari and stayed at the plushest surf resorts the world has to offer, but have you chartered your own seaplane to drop in on undiscovered breaks in the middle of one of the world’s most idyllic archipelagos?
The Four Seasons Resort in the Maldives is making this happen with their Seaplane Surfari, taking groups of up to eight surfers across the island-dotted Indian Ocean to find perfect, deserted breaks.
What To Expect
This is surfari flexibility at its peak - flying between waves to capitalise on dropping tides with a speed unmatched by boat charters. With the whole day at your disposal, the expert surf guides from Tropicsurf will aim to get you to as many secluded locations as possible, taking you deep into the surf wilderness of the Maldives.
There is no lack of comfort at the resort - The Four Seasons offers 5-star luxury within the UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve of Baa Atoll, where open-thatched bale huts boast private pools and villas dangle over the translucent waters.
The archipelago is also home to some of the world’s best diving and snorkelling, with immense manta rays and dolphins frequent visitors. But, if you’ve done it all before, try taking a spin on one of their underwater scooters, or for those looking to connect with their spiritual side, there’s everything from tantric meditations to chakra blessings on offer at their overwater treatment centre.
How To Do It
- Getting there - fly to the capital of the Maldives, Male, from where its a 45-minute seaplane journey out to the resort, adding up to around $2000 return.
- When to go - The Maldives are blessed with year-round swells over deep, flat reefs, but if you’re looking for big wave action, then June through to September is the best time to visit during the Southwest Monsoon.
- Wallet damage - Rooms start from around $1000 per night and, depending on the duration, a seaplane charter surfari will set you back anywhere from $2000.
5. Venture To Pohnpei’s Epic Right-Hander: ‘P Pass’
It’s considered the world’s best right-hander and ‘P Pass’, off the remote Micronesian island of Pohnpei, is one of those barrels that should be on everyone’s bucket list.
With open facing reefs picking up swell no matter which direction, it offers consistent, perfect waves within a landscape of rainforest draped mountains, palm-fringed beaches, and exotic local cultures.
What To Expect
The Pohnpei Surf Club has capped surf numbers at 18 to help preserve the island’s natural beauty and their expert guides will negotiate the narrow, shallow in-shore reefs to get you out to where the surf is breaking on the barrier reefs, not only at ‘P Pass’ but also other, little-known gems. The area around Pohnpei is largely unexplored by surfers, meaning there are always new breaks to be found. While you should expect perfect 2ft-6ft waves most of the year, they also get a few Teahupo’o-style waves in between.
On water there’s also kite surfing, diving and some epic fishing on offer, or head inland for waterfall treks through the lush interior.
Their waterfront bungalows are within stumbling distance of plenty of restaurants and bars, meaning you can easily get out and explore the local scene, rather than being confined to the resort.
How To Do It
- Getting there + Wallet damage - At around $1500 for a 6-night package it’s not the most expensive surf resort out there, but with United Airlines the only carrier to Pohnpei (connecting through either Guam or Hawaii), flights are far from cheap (you’re looking at $4000 minimum).
- When to go - The surf season runs from October through to April, with the start of this period offering the cleanest waves.
Priceless Surf Adventures Await - Perhaps you’ve ticked all the classic surf destinations off your list? Or maybe you’re just tired of the crowds, but if you’ve got the cash to spend?
No matter how you justify it, there are some incredible experiences within unchartered territory to be had.
Whether you want a James Bond-esque arrival by private plane or waves where it’s just you and your mates within a paradise you’ve only ever dreamt about, high-roller surfaris are making it happen - so start saving, and Go and get Salty!