Author Archives: Derek Dodds
Derek Dodds is founder of the world's first ecological surf company Wave Tribe, surfboard shaper, world traveler, author and Mini Simmons enthusiast.
Author Archives: Derek Dodds
Derek Dodds is founder of the world's first ecological surf company Wave Tribe, surfboard shaper, world traveler, author and Mini Simmons enthusiast.
Chilean poet Pablo Neruda once wrote that “love is so short, forgetting is so long”.
Planning a vacation to Santiago, Chile—Neruda’s birth place is—is a must see. Though you can’t surf in Santiago itself (except for at the wave pool), as it is about 2 hours from the coast by car, you can prepare for some excellent waves near the capital and enjoy this fabulous city before launching into the Chilean coastal towns.
It is nothing short of an adventure in Pacific Coast Paradise. There are endless surfing opportunities—with 300 days of waves per year—and plenty of other things to do as well. In this article we’ll just talk about a visit to the capital. Though Santiago itself sits in a valley not far from the sea, it will likely be your jumping off point for any trip into Chile.
Santiago is the most populated city in the country of Chile and was founded in 1541, which lent it neoclassical architecture since its inception.
Because of its more recent economic growth, it is also juxtaposed with a more modern metropolis design, giving it a neat sense of time travel while walking through it.
Mountains of the Andes chain can be seen from most points in the city and tend to trap the smog from the rapid pace of growth and development.
The city is situated in central Chile, at an elevation of 1,706 feet, which gives it a temperate Mediterranean climate, with low humidity and mild winters.
The reliable waves and plethora of attractions, have secured Santiago as an enviable destination for surfers and travelers alike.
Santiago is filled with many different parks, museums, monuments and markets, all beautifully designed and centrally located, making it easy to explore. Spicy Chile Tours offers free walking tours of Santiago, with a mix of historical information and the best anecdotes and recommendations for enjoying the city,
Be sure to check out the beautifully manicured Cerro Santa Lucia Hill, which is centrally located, making it a great starting point for your exploration and a great start to any walking tour of the city.
Across from the hill is the famous Santa Lucia Craft Market, filled with traditional artisanal crafts that are perfect for souvenirs and a great place to see what people are making with their hands. There are several dozen stores offering various styles of clothing and hand crafted souvenirs—most of which probably are typical of Chile.
Also, not to be missed in Santiago, is the food. Santiago is known for its seafood, which can be found in many of its trendy restaurants. Aqui esta Coco has been popular among the locals and tourists, alike, for its innovative atmosphere and incredible dishes.
If you are looking for a way to relax and rejuvenate yourself, you can take advantage of Yoga Luka which offers a subscription of sorts to local yoga studios for just $2 a session. This gives you unbeatable prices for a variety of styles.
As for accommodations, Santiago is one of the more expensive cities in South America, so you can easily find nice hotels and boutiques to stay in during your visit.
One of the favorites is the Lastarria Boutique Hotel, which has a great location and a very chic yet homey feel; separating it from the more traditional hotels.
It is easiest to get to Santiago via airplane. If you are flying from the U.S., be prepared to pay the $100 USD tourist tax at the airport.
From there you can catch a cab, or a shuttle to your hotel.
If you’re heading straight to the Central Coast, then renting a small car is your best option, with prices from 100-150 US$ for a week.
If you are staying inside Santiago, then you can easily rely on the safe and clean Metro, as it is well-connected throughout the very large city. Metro Santiago has a metro system with five lines and 94 stations, with many holding rotating art exhibitions.
Trains run between roughly 6.00AM and 11.00PM, with each station posting the exact hours for the first and last trains. Buses run parallel to subway lines after hours. (Grab a free PDF of the Metro Map here)
Hotel Aruma is located in Arica very close to the pedestrian walkway that goes to the wharf, shopping district, laundry and walking distance to many different restaurants and services.
They have 16 not super large but clean and comfy rooms to choose from. The Hotel has a modern minimalist design with a jacuzzi to chill in on the roof terrace. They offer a yummy breakfast made with local organic ingredients and tea, drinks and snacks during the day.
Hotel Aruma has good wi-fi and safe parking in a secure lot across the street. The service here is by far the best they will go above and beyond to make you happy and do it with a smile.
With only a $20 difference between this place and other average places nearby, I would definitely stay at the Hotel Aruma.
Hotel Loreto is located a stone’s throw away from Barrio Bellavista, Santiago’s most heterogeneous and cosmopolitan area and is very close to the capital’s city center.
They offer all the usual stuff like wi-fi, satellite tv, heat and a safe deposit box. The biggest plus for this hotel is the amazing customer service they offer. The staff and owners will make your stay as enjoyable as possible and if you’re lucky might even give you some coupons for free drinks at a bar/restaurant near by.
The rooms are very clean and some have great views. The only complaint I’ve seen is that the larger room didn’t seem to have enough furniture and no closet to hang their belongings.
Also be sure to ask for a room with a private bath if that matters to you (does to me) otherwise there are small bathrooms across the hall. Be sure to stop by the courtyard which has an orange and pomegranate tree. Level 2 balconies have roof covers in case of rain and if it does rain they even offer loaner umbrellas for when you want to take a walk to near by Central Market or the Pacific Galleries.
Just looking for somewhere to chill? Well look no further than the ChilHotel cause that’s pretty much all you’re gonna get there.
It’s affordable, safe and quiet. With less than a 3 minute walk to the metro, strong wi-fi, a hot shower and a simple breakfast it’s a perfect place to sleep in between outings.
Do not visit Santiago Chile without having a “Completo Del Domino” Domino is an awesome little place to go grab some cheap eats, a cold beer and people watch while you rub elbows with the locals.
They have a limited menu but still something for everyone. The Completo Del Domino is the most recommended by far, it’s a hot dog made “Italian Chilean style” with tons of mayonnaise, avocado and tomato.
Sounds gross huh? Well apparently it’s not gross it’s brilliant and before you know it you’ll be pouring mayo on all your buddies hot dogs at your next BBQ.
Bahia Pilolcura is a little deceiving to the eye. When you first arrive all you’ll see is a fish market until you find the trap door that leads you down a rickety set of wooden stairs to the basement “dining room”, don’t freak out though you’re not in the middle of a horror movie you’re about to have some really good food.
They only serve seafood but being as it’s located right under a fish market you can imagine how fresh it is.
Try the outstanding ceviche or the grilled swordfish or just ask the waiter what’s fresh and recommended that day.
The service is eh, honestly after your food arrives the waiter will probably forget you’re even there but that’s OK just go back upstairs and pay when you’re done.
This is a cultural experience that you should not miss out on. Super cheap but cash only.
Want to take your lady out for a nice romantic evening after all the hole in the wall joints you’ve hit up so far on your trip? Then Maracuya is the just the place.
Located just outside of the Port of Arica, Maracuya serves lovely elegant traditional Chile dishes with a beautiful view of the ocean. Locals say it’s the best restaurant around. The place isn’t cheap but offers real value for the money. Time to splurge!
Sky Costanera is the tallest building in South America! Inside it’s a multi level high-end mall with movie theaters and restaurants but the main attraction is the top 2 viewing levels.
Many people recommend going the day after it rains right before sunset. The views are incredible. You really don’t realize how big Santiago is until you see it from that far up. There’s no where to eat or anything on the viewing levels yet but that’s OK it’s totally worth it.
Some reviewers stated they wished they had some open air access at the viewing level since they have to take their pics through glass but I can understand how that would be a safety concern. There’s never really too many crowds but it does cost more on weekends and holidays. Look for the signage above every window to help you pick out landmarks!
Fantasilandia is an amusement park located in Santiago. Great for
children of all ages and adults too.
At under $15 per person (as of 9/2015) it’s a great value! It’s no Disneyland/Six Flags by any means but there’s plenty of rides and attractions to keep you busy all day.
The bathrooms are clean and easy to find and don’t forget to bring a change of clothes cause you will get wet on a few of the rides. Some reviewers recommend taking a cab or the metro to get there probably cause the parking sucks.
Around Halloween it’s pretty rad, they stay open late and everyone is dressed up in crazy costumes!
Now for the surfing and what brings people from far and wide. Fall is a great time of the year to plan a surf trip, as the water has had all year to warm up and school is back in session, so the beach is less crowded.
It is also the time before the more temperamental winter has begun. The close proximity of Santiago to some of the world’s best surfing has inspired many surf schools in the area to open up.
If you’re looking for lessons check out Magic Chile International Surf School as the top loved surf school by tourists from all over the world.
Waves suck today? Well then head on over to Wave House to get your fix. Located in the Los Condes neighborhood in Santiago they have everything from Simulators, wave pools and climbing walls.
The instructors are great and the staff is always available to answer any questions you might have. There’s no hot water in the dressing room and the wet suits are a bit worn out so if you have your own bring it.
But if you’re looking for some waves right in the middle of the city, this is the place to go.
Whether you are looking for a relaxing vacation, or one filled with action, Santiago certainly can be the place for you. Central Chile has a temperate climate, making it accessible throughout the year.
Enjoy the weather, the surf, the seafood, and the endless activities Santiago, Chile has to offer.
Open wide!” said Roy Scheider.
Technology is meeting sport again with the advent of various technologies to repel sharks in the hopes of reducing shark encounters and shark attacks.
A relatively new class of patented shark-repelling products (arriving on the scene in 2014, but whose R&D dates back to 2005) is garnering attention as humane and environmentally friendly. The technologies encompass a wide range of acoustic (sonar), electric, magnetic and physical barrier systems.
But do shark deterrent actually work?
What evidence is there for their efficacy- on shark encounters vs. actual shark attacks? How affordable and accessible is the technology? And do the gadgets have the negative consequence of disrupting shoreline ecosystems and harming sharks?
Our research was exhaustive, took us around the globe, and we’re proud to share it with you here!
One company, SharkStopper offers “Peace of Mind” in “Open Waters” and is actively seeking investors via Kickstarter, in order to launch two products: (1) a Personal Shark Repellent (PSR) and (2) a commercial-use Watercraft Shark Repellant.
The first is marketed to “minimize potential shark attacks against swimmers, surfers, snorkelers and just about anyone enjoying open water activities.”
SharkStopper’s PSR shark deterrent is meant to be used in shoreline waters up to 12 feet-deep.
The company says its patented technology “[…] has a dual positive effect of increasing the efficiency of the fishing industry and preserving sharks [sic] lives […] utilized as an acoustic barrier around specific coastal areas where sharks are known to encroach in swimming areas […] and will also help protect sharks from getting tangled in nets and improve the image of sharks in general.”
Speaking of ‘shark PR,’ the shark advocacy group, Shark Allies, says poachers kill 100 million sharks yearly- for their fins or for sport.
There is also the practice of “culling,” defined as the selection and/or segregation of an animal for slaughter, often for the purpose of reinforcing or removing characteristics of the group.
SharkStopper’s founder, Brian Wynne, has allegedly tested the battery-charged, cell phone-light device in conjunction with shark experts- in the Bahamas, Mexican and Hawaiian waters, and in the Seattle aquarium.
Wynne tested various frequencies on various species of sharks before settling on a design that he claims is effective in deterring Bull, Tiger, Galapagos, Caribbean Reef, Lemon, Sand, Nurse, Thresher, Black Tip, Hammerhead and Great White species.
(Note: SharkStopper did not respond to our request for comment on if, or how, the effectiveness of their PSR differs among species.)
SharkStopper’s rechargeable, battery-powered device is worn around a watergoer’s ankle, like a prisoner’s ankle bracelet and emits an acoustic signal whenever it is submerged in water. According to reports, SharkStopper plans to sell its PSR for around $300.
Another company, Shark Shield (of Joondalup, Australia, and with an office in St. Petersburg, Florida), offers similar shark deterrent technology in three patented products:
(the units range in price from $599-$699 and are meant for use in varying depths of water)- surfing/SUP, scuba diving/spearfishing and scientific/military/technical uses, respectively.
(Note: SharkStopper, also, did not respond to our request for comment on if the difference in the units lies in their signal strength.)
SharkShield technology is sold by 25 authorized retailers in the continental U.S., along with mounts, carrying cases, or a 3-Year Extended Warranty for $129.
Shark Shield makes the claim, “With Shark Shield, it’s safe to be wild,” with its units that are capable of, “Managing human and shark interactions with proven Shark Shield [sic] tech supports the conservation of sharks by removing the need for culling.” It describes the mechanism of action this way:
“Predatory sharks have small gel filled sacs knows as ‘Ampullae of Lorenzini’ on their snouts. They use these short range sensors when feeding or searching for food at close range. The Shark POD creates a three-dimensional electrical wave form which creates a very unpleasant sensation impacting the shark’s ‘Ampullae of Lorenzini’.
“When the shark comes into proximity of the electrical wave form (around 3-4 meters in diameter) it experiences non-damaging but uncontrollable muscular spasms causing it to flee the area.”1
Think of the “zing” felt when you lick the contacts of a 9-volt battery: There’s no physiologic damage, but the sensation is not pleasant.
Shark Shield says its testing dates back to 2002. The company has tested shark deterrent in South African waters and cites testimonials and research papers addressing the effectiveness of “electroreception” in sharks. One of these studies claims Shark Shield works in a very particular frequency, and at a shark’s “extremely sensitive” but short “30-60cm range.”1
In other words, the electric impulses emitted by the device don’t attract- only repel- and at close intervals. At least in theory.
We found other companies, like SURFSAFE, SHARKBANZ (which employs patented magnetic technology), and Glycon Technologies (which employs a patented shark-repellent wet suit).
Just what any avid waterman or waterwoman wanted for Christmas! Dude!
One can argue that such low-strength signals differ dramatically from the very harmful sonar that has been shown to significantly- and morbidly- affect large marine mammals like whales and seals.
The U.S. government was sued in Hawaii Federal Court in 2013 (Conservation Council for Hawaii et al. v. U.S. Dept. of Commerce and the NMFS, 2013) for approving the Navy’s testing of its low-, mid- and high-frequency sonar, along with some explosives, in the Hawaii-Southern California Training and Testing Study Area (HSTT). The plaintiffs claimed the five-year project could have deleterious effects on “at least eight protected species of marine mammals” in that acoustic environment:
“Scientists have documented mass strandings; mortal injuries, including lesions and hemorrhaging in vital organs; and behavior changes in numerous marine mammal species following naval sonar training exercises around the world,” the complaint stated.
“Underwater explosive detonations send shock waves and sound energy through the water that can kill or injure marine mammals.”2
But can acoustic or magnetic shark deterrent technology also disrupt the natural habits of sharks?
Various research teams and product developers have tested, and are still testing, the use of sonar to detect sharks in waters, but may not be considering the impact on sharks’ very sensitive hearing.
When investigating mass strandings of whales, likely the result of the use of navy sonar in open waters,
“Necropsies of the animals found gas bubbles in their tissues. This is indicative of decompression sickness, what divers call the bends, and [which] typically results from surfacing too rapidly from depth. It is believed that the whales may have dived and surfaced rapidly to escape the discomfort of the sonar on their sensitive hearing.
“ […] The nearly 100% incidence of [meningitis from Carnobacterium maltaromaticum in 18 juvenile salmon sharks stranded along the northern California and Oregon coasts between 2002 and 2007)] could have also caused ‘disorientation and confusion, which might lead the sharks to strand inadvertently.”3
Dr. A. J. Godknect, President of the Shark Foundation and Shark Info editorial staff wrote:
“Studies on LFAS (low frequency active sonar) [have] only included its effects on whales, ignoring sharks or other ocean inhabitants. Yet scientific investigation on the effects of high sound levels on bony fish and sharks allow the conclusion that LFAS also seriously disturbs or even injures these animals. The subjection of various fish to sound levels of 14- to 150 dB over several hours have led to a loss of their hearing over many weeks.”4
Godnknect says it only takes a sound 40 db higher than background noise to scare off silky sharks, lemon sharks and oceanic white-tip sharks.
Dr. Arthur Myberg of the University of Miami, an expert on fish and shark acoustic studies, told Godknect in 2012, “Noise intensities 30 to 100 times higher than those which only scare off animals will most likely cause injuries.” Myberg says the critical value for sharks is around 180 dB, which is enough to damage their sensitive inner ear.4
Godknect emphasizes that sharks have “excellent” hearing and can detect low frequency oscillations of injured fish at 100 Hz. LFA systems (low frequency arrays, which have active transmitters and passive receivers) transmit sound waves in the 100 to 500 Hz range.
According to the Navy, such waves have an actual output of 215 dB (235 dB in theory) and lie exactly in the range where, 1) sound distributes the farthest distance, 2) sharks hear the best, and 3) the greatest damage to sharks’ inner ear organs is caused.4
The sonar-emitting product Clever Buoy is getting the most attention, currently, and claims to be 100% passive when, in reality, must use both an active transmitter and passive receiver to locate sharks.
We found the Clever Buoy concept to be very similar to the Marines’ and NATO’s SURTASS (Surveillance Towed Array Sensor System), which worked at an output of more than 215 dB (140 dB is the equivalent of a gunshot and can be heard up to 380 km away underwater!) At more than 100 dB, the equivalent of a chain saw, earplugs are recommended. 4
As with the SURTASS, Clever Buoy uses a seafloor-anchored, sonar-emitting box attached to a buoy that contains the processor (receiver). The idea is that one or more of these could dot a shoreline and send a satellite signal or image to a lifeguard. Unfortunately, much more testing is required.
Yet another, Gemini Imaging Sonar, system was tested in Australia in the 1) Ocean Park Aquarium and in waters 2) off the Gold Coast, Queensland and 3) Eastern Gulf of Shark Bay.
“The Gemini 720i 300M (Tritech, UK) system operates at 720 kHz, with 120-degree horizontal and 20-degree vertical beamwidths, and an elevation of –[minus]10 degrees.” It was only tested in waters 7m- and 15m- deep, due to “logistical and time constraints.” The system recognized live and deceased sharks, but it “does not record the raw signal, but as [sic] a series of individual images, which can be reviewed as moving images,” making the instant removal of “backscatter” impossible and impractical. Backscatter also increases with the depth of detection, limiting target detection to mid-water range.5
It appears that Clever Buoy is not associated with the Gemini team (their website claiming that Clever Buoy was the brainchild of Shark Attack Mitigation Systems).
Contrary to regurgitated reports, Clever Buoy has not obtained a patent (not all that difficult to do), but the team has allegedly gotten commitments from Google and Optus (of Australia) to fund, power and translate the sonar images with the latter’s software and solar power source, respectively. (Clever Buoy ambitiously aims to make the current battery-powered system, not only solar-powered but, wave-powered.)
MarketingMag of Australia reports that “Clever Buoy was created to improve the perception of the Optus network”- “Australia’s second largest telco.” “The client brief was to change the conversation from the perceived size of the Optus network to what it can do to improve people’s lives.”
Turns out, there’s plenty of business and politics in sharks and shark deterrent technology! But let’s get back to the all-important science for a minute.
Hauwa T. Abdulkarim, a Nigerian electronics researcher, reminds us that, “The sources of noise underwater include ambient noise in the sea due to sea-state; [sic] shipping noise and wind blowing on the surface is also a significant cause of noise.” (Mitson, R.B. and Knudsen H.P., Causes and effects of underwater noise on fish abundance estimation. Aquatic Living Resources, 2003).
Abdulkarim says of these sonar systems, “The reflected signal is usually buried in noise thereby making the signal unclear with no visible pattern.” However, Abdulkarim was able to design a “matched filter,” in order to “make the given noisy signal have a visible pattern” of pulses to determine the number and distance of sharks.6
The Gemini sonar system was not tested with “movement filters,” due to the fact that their sonar head was not stationary. Testers admitted in their report, ‘[…] the resulting images [obtained by use of movement filters] often lose resolution in the moving target and the process is non-trivial if either the system is moving (even minor movements relating to wave patterns or surge) or there is significant noise e.g. cavitation from waves, vessels or animal movement.”5
So, in essence, despite the rapid efforts to deploy such sonar systems, the results are far from consistent, fully tested, and the levels of sonar emitted cannot be deemed harmless to sharks.
The Gemini team noted fairly that some of their “targets,” “[…] presumably dived to the seafloor and into the ‘blind zone,’ beneath the acoustic beam, at ranges less than 19m.5 The fact that the images returned are so “noisy” and so affected by the target’s range, position, depth and strength certainly suggest more research is needed. The positive is that lower, safer frequencies at shallow depths may still show promise for shoreline swimmers, but the prospect that anyone would rush such technology to market, and possibly change signal strengths emitted- on a whim and without governance- brings up real ethical issues.
Clever Buoy only detects “large” sharks- 6.6 feet or more in length, and within a range of 197 feet (“Shallower water may reduce the range.”) – has been tested in the Sydney Aquarium, the Abrolhos Islands (Western Australia), and is still in the R&D phase.
No one can deny there’s been an increase in the reporting of shoreline shark encounters and shark attacks in the U.S. and worldwide. But some shark experts emphasize it are humans, who are encroaching on shark territory, not the other way around.
We wanted to know if that was true.
We spoke with shark steward, Stefanie Brendl. Stefanie is President and Executive Director of Shark Allies, used to work with Hawaii Shark Encounters tours, and has spent many years around sharks in the water. Although she’s had some experience with various shark deterrents, she says there’s so much more that we should consider, when it comes to sharks.
“My personal experience has been with [shark] deterrents that used either electricity or magnets in some shape or form. And the result was that they worked at times, during certain conditions, on certain species.
“For example, both methods seemed to keep sharks further away on a very mellow day, when there was little stimulation in the water. But when there was a lot of current, splashing and noise or food- and when there were lots of sharks competing with each other- they [sharks] were braver and more excited, and that seemed to override any small electric pulse or magnetic energy they may have been feeling. When there was one, slow moving, mellow-but-careful shark, any small current or movement would discourage them from taking bait. I have seen tiger sharks back away from a free mealwhen a diver with a big camera housing moved too close. I believe it all depends on how interested they are.
“I have no personal experience with chemical and dye deterrents, but the military has used them for years as part of their survival suits and life boats and they seem to work, until they disperse in the water.
“That’s really the problem with anything but sound – electricity, at a small dose won’t reach very far and neither does the magnetic metal. In my opinion, it [electricity or magnetism] will have effect once the shark is up close and still moving slowly but not at a distance, or when the shark is moving too fast to even notice.
“I have no experience with sound deterrents but know sharks react very quickly to the right kind of sound that can attract them, and there are other sounds that will spook them. I believe its depends on the species and what dangers they have to worry about, and whether they have gotten used to a sound. Sharks that never see divers are spooked by the noise of scuba equipment. Once they get used to it, they pay no attention to the divers. The sound of prey gets sharks going like nothing else, i.e. a struggling, vibrating fish. In the Pacific Islands, fishermen sometimes take a empty plastic bottle and crunch it underwater to mimic the sound of reef fish eating, and sharks respond to it. I have not seen them use any sound to keep sharks away.
“I am sure sharks would get scared of the sound of something that regularly hunts them, but I don’t think many sharks in the tropics have to worry much about Orcas. Bigger sharks prey on smaller sharks, and they do not make much sound. I also think the sound has to be combined with some other sign- like other animals fleeing, or a bigger shape appearing in the water to make it more effective.
“I think the only sure, 100% deterrent is dry land. Life in the ocean is complex and conditions change so quickly. There is not one tool that works in all situations.”
Two additional companies, SharkSafe and Shark Alley, have patented yet another unique product- physical barriers- which Brendl believes show a lot of promise! Unlike controversial nets that catch turtles, dolphins and sharks that “have nothing to do with shark attacks,” looser, suspended, plastic barriers act like ‘car wash’ fringe, in the open ocean.
“Fish can actually go through it,” says Brendl, “if they force their way through it. It makes the animals not want to go through it but, if they end up stuck in it, they can go through it.”
The SharkSafe barrier is designed to deter sharks using a combination of permanent magnets and an artificial “forest” of plastic pipes that look like underwater kelp sea bamboo. The R&D, spearheaded by Craig O’Connell of the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, uses “[…] barium-ferrite permanent magnets and barriers made of long rows of PVC pipes anchored to the sea floor. The pipes have special joints that allow them to move in the currents and waves.” 7
The idea required the collaboration of marine researchers and divers and was “based on observations that seals often flee into thickets of kelp to avoid being eaten by sharks.”7
Proof positive that innovation is often rooted in simplicity.
SharkSafe was allegedly tested for a year in the Kwa Zulu-Natal (a.k.a. “shark alley” of Cape Town) , as well as in Australian waters where 460 sharks, birds and other marine life die yearly in more lethal, physical shark deterrent systems.
The results? Despite using chum lure, SharkSafe says zero of 60 sharks swam through the plastic barriers in trials, and with no “by catch” (i.e. no unintended catch).
Not so fast, say S. Africans, who know the waters there.
Shark Alley – a S. African blog perpetuated by moniker “Megalobom”- had this to say about SharkSafe:
“Sharks are capable of ignoring man-made bullshit no matter how much funding went into it.” […] “What would be better,” is, “Put a line of [these] steel poles outside of a Wal-Mart before a Black Friday sale. The humans are drawn to the area for a reason, but my barrier lies between them and their goal. […] SharkSafe has not tried a similar study where sharks are motivated to cross though a barrier that they can’t simply swim around,” but their patents were issued anyway.
Shark Alley says SharkSafe’s trials were not scientific, and that politics were at play. They say that the best, most reliable way to forecast a shark presence is this:
“1. Go to the shore and stick your finger in the water and then stick this finger in your mouth, [sic] if it tastes salty then there are sharks there.
“2. If you’re not prepared to meet one, stay on the beach.”
If our research has proven anything, it’s that innovation in shark deterrent and detection technology is rivaled only by practical and conservationist skeptics and, based on our research, rightly so!
We end this article with the opinion of Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, Shark Research Group’s Dr. Kim Holland. Holland and his team research the behavior, physiology and ecology of sharks and other fish.
“I and my students have quite a bit of experience and have done research looking at what sharks can detect, both magnetically and electrically. The short answer is they are extremely sensitive to electric fields and magnetic fields, and they’ve got very good hearing, as well. Most of the devices tend to dissuade sharks by using electric current, and that’s been tried by a number of companies over the years.
We actually got some money by an oil company whose gear was being damaged by shark bites, and they wanted to know if there was some way of deterring sharks, so we did quite a lot of work trying to find some sort of electrical signature that would be aversive to sharks and turn them away, which is exactly what these other companies have tried to do with various products. And the short answer to your question is that there is no known device- either commercially available or scientifically being tested- that works to deter sharks when they are motivated to attack. It’s not there.
“We’ve casually tested a couple of the commercially-available products over the years and have had sharks swim right through it. The problem is- in order to deter a shark, reliably- you need to have a current that is not just aversive but ispainful. If we were listening to someone scrape their fingers on a chalkboard, that’s aversive, and it might be enough to get us to stop what we were doing; If they gave us an electric shock in a chair, that’s something that would be painful.
So, it’s a difference between being aversive and being painful, and most of the devices that have come up over the years- because you can’t have a huge amount of electricity being used (either because you need a very large power source, or because you would shock the person wearing the system)- you need to come up with something that’s aversive, not painful, and nobody has been able to find that for sharks. So, really, the short answer to all of these questions is- and probably one of the reasons these companies are not returning your inquiries- is because none of them have really shown that they work.”
Regarding the issuance of patents on the technology out there on shark deterrent technology, Holland said this:
“There’s no doubt, that under certain circumstances, occasionally you can activate one of those systems, and a particular shark you’re looking at- whether it’s in captivity, in the open ocean, or at a tourist site- every once in a while, you can see sharks change their behavior, in response to that system being activated. But the problem is it’s not on a reliable-enough basis, and it’s not happening when the shark is motivated- in either attack mode or feeding mode. That’s the difference. You cannot have a device that is strong enough to be painful to a shark, without having a small ‘power plant’ on your back to give it enough ‘juice.’ And even if you had that, when you’d activate it, you could kill the wearer.”
In response to SharkAlly Brendl’s assessment- that if a shark’s in attack mode, nothing’s going to stop it- Holland said, “I would concur with that.”
“There’s another parallel,” said Holland. “Electric fences used with dogs… I’ve had a dog that when he really reallywanted to get out of the yard, he would put his ears back and go through it! In other words, you can see, sometimes- if you did a test with the right animal, in the right mood, with the right setup- there’s no doubt that you can see some of these devices change the animal’s behavior. The problem is that it’s not reliable, and it’s especially not reliable, if the shark’s already made up it’s mind it’s going to bite someone. I’m not disputing the fact that there are occasions when these manufacturers can see changes in the shark, but I would not want to bet the farm on it.”
When asked about the promise of the physical, dangling, plastic barriers, Holland had this to say:
“To be quite candid, I think physical barriers, like the one you just described, are the only really good way of protecting, for sure. Say you wanted to take your kid to the beach, and let them play in the shore break and go swimming, 50 yards out to sea… the best way to make people secure from sharks is to put some sort of physical barrier out, and I think that’s perfectly acceptable. I don’t see any problem with that, at all. And those dangling plastic barriers, the ‘car wash’ analogy is a good one, and I can see where that would work. Most of the sharks that would make the effort to burrow underneath that are the kind that wouldn’t bite people anyway (like white-tipped and such).”
“So, the only real failsafe is to not go in the water. The second is to come up with some sort of physical structure. Because sound or electrical stimuli, or yellow-and-black stripes on your wetsuit, or any of the other cockamamie ideas- none of them have been shown to work reliably in deterring shark behavior.”
When asked if there is an ideal distance from shore, or ideal depth for placement of a physical barrier, or if there is an ethical issue with such, Holland said this:
“No. That all comes down to economics. How much material can you afford? Who’s going to maintain/service it? Is it going to be paid for by a hotel or the county? I don’t [see an ethical problem]. We’re not talking about a lot of territory; we’d only be talking- at the max- an area the size of a football field. It’s not as if you’re disturbing animals in their entire range. I can easily see a hotel on Maui getting the right permits- it being a task, given the permitting in Hawaii- but I can see why it would be attractive to hotels over there. Say 300 yards of the beach, and 50 yards offshore, and that’s almost certain to keep any ‘bad guys’ out. Of course, that won’t do anything for surfers or snorkelers far offshore, but that would probably be okay for the majority of people that just want to go for a swim and play in the shore break, and [would] work for snorkelers within the first 25 or 30 yards from shore.”
We asked Holland the most basic question of oceangoers afraid of sharks: What would you recommend for anyone who actually encounters a shark?
“The most recent shark attacks [on Oahu] are a classic example of the number one safety rule. The number one safety rule is do not go in the water by yourself! That’s because, if you do get attacked, there’s somebody out there to call for help, to help you go to shore, or to help put a tourniquet around you. Don’t go in the water by yourself and, if you are by yourself, find a place where there are other people in the water.”
1 Electroreception in vertebrates and invertebrates. S.P. Collins et al., 2010.
2 Last Ditch Effort To Save Whales From Navy. Courthouse News Service, December 2013.
3 Meningoencephalitis associated with Carnobacterium maltaromaticaum-like bacteria in stranded juvenile salmon sharks (Lamna ditropsis). PA Schaffer et al. Veterinary Pathology, April 2012.
4 Remote detection sonar threatens the oceans. Dr. Alexander J. Godknect. Shark Foundation and Shark Info, December 2002.
5 Detection of Sharks with the Gemini Imaging Sonar. Miles J. G. Parsons, et al. Centre for Marine Science and Technology, Curtin University, Perth, Australia. Acoustics Australia, Vol. 42, No. 3, December 2014.
6 Detecting the Position and Number of Sharks in the Sea using SONAR Technique. Hauwa T. Abdulkarim, Department of Electrical/Electronic Technology, School of Technical Education, Minna, Nigeria. World Congress on Engineering, July 2015.
7 Plastic kelp to keep sharks at bay. Tony Carnie. SciTech, July 15, 2014.
Article by Purna Nemani of Aloha Tech Writers (collaborator, Stefanie Brendl of Shark Allies). All rights reserved. Full and proper citation is required. Video and Photos added by Wave Tribe.
Easter Island is the most remote inhabited island in the world. Would you like to go there?
Traveling is such a gift—throw in some surf and a diverse culture at a far away location (sometimes really far) and you’ve built the perfect adventure.
A place I have dreamed about for years is Easter Island. This island encapsulates excitement, uniqueness and an unexplainable sense of mystery. Easter Island is recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage site, so it must be rad.
Easter Island holds a truly extraordinary place in the entire world. The island has a unique archaeological history. I am sure you have seen you those megalithic statues or what is commonly known as Moai on large constructed stone platforms (also called Ahu). There are 887 of those mysterious statues on Rapi Nui.
Dude, I know you have seen them. it is unknown how or why ancient Polynesians carved more than 25 million pounds of stone to make the Moai.
Nobody knows: maybe aliens?
Keep reading because we’ll examine a few of the theories surrounding the statues and also talk about where to surf on the island.
Enjoy the journey, wherever it takes you.
Easter Island is also know as Rapa Nui. It is a Polynesian island located in the Southeastern Pacific Ocean, at the southeastern most point of the Polynesian Triangle. The capital of Easter Island is Hanga Roa; bet you didn’t learn that in school.
Let’s check it out on the map so you can get an idea where the hell this place is located . . .
Easter Island is a territory of Chile (South America bro) which is about 3,600 km or 2,237 miles east of the island. The island is about 24.6 km (15.3 mi) long by 12.3 km (7.6 mi) at its widest point.
The island has a triangular shape. It has an area of 163.6 square kilometers (63.2 sq mi), and a maximum altitude of 507 meters (1,663 ft). There are three freshwater crater lakes on the island; at Rano Kau, Rano Raraku and Rano Aroi.
Easter Island Location
Due to its remote location, the island is hard to reach. By plane it’s 5.5 hours from the nearest continent with very limited options to get there. The only regular flights are via LAN Airlines. They fly weekly to Tahiti and daily to Santiago de Chile (from Easter Island). With no competition for fares on this route, fares range between US $300-$1200 round trip from Santiago.
Getting to Easter Island can be an expensive affair but, as always, good planning and research can bring down the cost considerably. Booking a flight/tour from mainland Chile can be very expensive.[box type=”info” size=”large” style=”rounded” border=”full”]If you’re flying into Chile on Lan Chile, it’s not very expensive to add a Santiago Easter island return to your international ticket.[/box]
Easter Island can also be easily included in a trans-Pacific route if you’re flying from Australia/New Zealand via Tahiti to mainland Chile as there is a LAN Chile service from Tahiti to Santiago that stops at Easter Island, making it ideal as an inexpensive stopover for a few days. The same applies if you’re planning a round-the-world trip that covers the South Pacific and South America.
Once you have your flights arranged, you can opt to go online and book a reasonably-priced hotel and car (or hotel + tour package) separately at one of the many Chilean tour operators or online.
For more info see Wiki Travel
Archaeological evidence has shown that surfing was practiced on the island as far back as its settlement by early Polynesians, who used roughly crafted boards for transportation and fishing. Easter Island is a haven for surfers of all levels and has been for centuries.
In the early 1990s, the island found its way onto the surfing radar. The best time of year to surf on Rapa Nui is during January and February when the crystalline swells rolls in under a cloudless sky.
However, you can have epic waves at any time of year. But, be mindful of the shifting winds and the occasional rain storm. Tracking the tides is also necessary. The rocky shoreline is exposed during low tide, so you’ll want to keep an eye on those reefs and exposed spots when the tide starts to drop.
The bay at Pea Beach near Hangaroa’s town center is the optimal how-to location and good for a warm up session once you arrive. The crystal clear waters stack in perfectly at high tide, and your gal (or guy) can watch you while sipping a nice cocktail from the shore.
The best spots for adventurous surfers is along the island’s south side of the boomerang-shaped island, particularly the bays of Paka Ai and Papa Tangaroa.
On the west side, you will find large waves, much like Indo where the swells come out of deep water right onto the island’s continental shelf. Check the bays of Tahai and Mata Veri; the latter’s long waves are particularly well suited for big wave riders. The swells on both these sides allow for plenty opportunity. Rent a car and explore.
This video shows a few well known surfers that made their way from Hawaii to Ester Island and scored some great waves.
Surfing classes are informal, don’t expect Kelly Slater style lessons. The best place to saddle up with a board is at the thatched shack beside the tourist information center in Hangaroa, easily spotted by its bright orange walls. Mai Teao, local surf pro and instructor extraordinary, offers classes throughout the week barring inclement weather.
Call Teao (09-212-0473) the day before to set up a time for the following morning. He then will contact the local Chilean military outpost to get the stats on swells, tides and the forecast. A one-hour course including gear (board and wet suit) will cost 20,000 Chilean pesos for a private lesson or 15,000 pesos per person for a small group (half-day board rental only costs 10,000 pesos).
Classes are a great way to learn more about the island’s past, as Teao vividly brings to life the fascinating history of local surfing along with a retelling of the ancient myths and legends involving sea spirit worship and tribal practices. For more on surfing Easter Island see the links at the end of the book.
Dude, Easter Island is way out and there is close to no public transportation on the island. No trains, no buses and no ferryboats as well. But on the other hand, getting around on this small island is not difficult—taxis, rental cars, and scooters are at your fingertips.
Cars can be rented either by the day or by the hour. If they are rented by the hour renters usually have to take them for an eight hour minimum, and the cost is $50 USD. Keeping a car for a full day (24 hours) is obviously going to be more expensive.
Need something bigger? Did you bring your SUP?
The cost for a rental van is quite expensive running about $125 per day. The cost of gas on the island is relatively high and there is only one gas station located near the airport. You can find car rental companies in any hotel and as well as in the main part of town or at the airport.
Most people opt for a 4 wheel drive because of the nasty roads. But stay chill because taxis are always available to take passengers anywhere they want to go in the island.
You can rent a motorcycle, bike or even grab a horse (does not come with racks). With a car, it’s possible to see most of the sights on the island in a few hours. Most locals will also rent out their jeep to you (at a very competitive rate) if you simply ask.
Sample prices of car rental are as follows:
Explora Rapa Nui – Explora Easter Island features 30 rooms in one floor facing the ocean. The rooms extend to the north and south from a central building all having excellent ocean views. The lodge has welcoming indoor spaces which integrate aspects of the local culture.
Rate: $120 – $160 :: Website: No site :: Ocean Views
Tupa Hotel – Tupa Hotel is located 3 blocks from Hanga Roa City Centre and one km from Tahai Archeological Museum. Free private parking is possible on site.
Overlooking the ocean and west coast of the island, Tupa Hotel offers rooms with sea and garden views. Free shuttles to and from Mataveri airport can be arranged. A free Polynesian breakfast is offered daily.
Rate: $120 – $200 :: Website: http://www.tupahotel.com :: Ocean Views
Altiplanico Rapa Nui – Situated in Hanga Roa, this resort is close to Dos Ventanas Caves, Museo Antropologico Sebastian Englert and Te Pahu Caves. Also nearby are Ahu Kote Riku and Ahu Vai Uri. In addition to a restaurant, Altiplanico Isla de Pascua features complimentary wireless Internet access.
Other amenities include a rooftop terrace and a garden. Guestrooms open to balconies with partial ocean views and feature safes and desks. The hotel features a pool and free parking. Anakena Beach is a 15-minute drive away.
Rate: $300+ :: Website: http://www.altiplanico.cl/en/altiplanico-easter-island :: Ocean Views
Chez Joseph Rapa Nui – Peacefully located in central Hanga Roa. Chez Joseph is 50 metres from the beachfront. It offers spacious accommodation, a tour desk, bicycle rental and free parking.
The Chez is centrally located, with local restaurants and bars within walking distance. The hotel conveniently offers a car rental service. Free transfers are provided.
Rate: $95 – $160 :: Website: http://www.hotelrapanui.com/en-us/ :: No Ocean Views :: Central
Mana Nui Inn – Mana Nui offers charming villas with balconies in Hanga Roa´s lively Tahai neighborhood. It is 10-minute walk from Hanga Rora diving centre and 50 metres from Caleta surf beach.
The town centre is a 10-minute walk away. A breakfast with seasonal fruits and freshly baked bread is served daily, and guests can use the barbecue facilities. For dining, Tahai Mall offers several restaurants only 10-minutes walk away.
Rate: $120 – $150 :: Website: none :: No Ocean Views
Hangaroa Eco Village and Spa – Situated near the beach in Hanga Roa, this hotel is close to Ahu Vai Uri, Ahu Kote Riku and Museo Antropologico Sebastian Englert. Local attractions also include Puna Pau and Ranu Kau.
In addition to two restaurants, Hangaroa Eco Village and Spa features a spa tub. Other amenities include concierge desk and massage/treatment rooms. Guestrooms open to balconies with ocean views and feature televisions with cable/satellite channels. Other amenities include complimentary high-speed (wired) Internet access and sofa beds.
Rate: $250 – $600 :: Website: http://www.hangaroa.cl/en-us/ :: Ocean Views :: Luxury
Chez Maria Goretti – Situated near the airport, in the city center, this hotel is close to Ahu Vai Uri, Ahu Kote Riku and Museo Antropologico Sebastian Englert. Local attractions also include Puna Pau and Dos Ventanas Caves.
In addition to complimentary wireless Internet access, Chez Maria Goretti provides a rooftop terrace, free parking and a garden. Guestrooms open to balconies with courtyard or garden views.
Rate: $110 – $210 :: Website: http://chezmariagoretti.com/ :: Budget
Lorana Hotel – Situated in Hanga Roa, this hotel is close to Museo Antropologico Sebastian Englert, Ahu Vai Uri and Ahu Kote Riku. Local attractions also include Puna Pau and Dos Ventanas Caves. In addition to a restaurant, Lorana Hotel features an outdoor pool.
Other amenities include a poolside bar and a bar/lounge. In addition to balconies and refrigerators, guestrooms feature air conditioning along with safes and desks.
Rate: $110 – $210 :: Website: http://www.ioranahotel.cl/ :: Budget
More hotels here: http://www.easterislandhotels.com/hochezgorreti.html
The cultural development on the island has been fodder for widespread speculation. Since the island consists of volcanic rock, the early inhabitants quarried the material into giant statues, some as high as 14 feet, 6 inches and weighing about 14 tons.
This was the reason for the reduction of the rich forestry. The villagers on the other hand used the trees to transfer these giant rocks all over the island as early as AD 700. The majority of the statues are facing out to the sea and are lined along the shore. Their faces and bodies resemble similar statues in Polynesia but have evolved uniquely.
The statues represent male authority and power throughout the societal structure of inhabitants and it is believed that the statues are impregnated by sacred spirits.
Widespread knowledge regarding Easter Island’s eccentric statues has fueled many interesting theories.
One man wrote that Spanish armadas carrying elephants from Africa had been blown off course by typhoons and ended up on the island. The man goes on to argue that the elephants were then used as the force behind the movement of the said monuments. A man named Tom Gary suggests that Easter Island passes on energy to Mexico and South America, kind of like an energy beacon in the middle of the ocean.
The monumental statues of Easter Island have been the source of great mystery ever since the island was first discovered by the Europeans on Easter Sunday in1722.
There is lots of hearsay about the ancient monumental statues or Moai. According to the legend, the Moai “walked” to their respected places in Easter Island and some researchers say that it might be true to a certain degree.
On the contrary, California State University at Long Beach Archaeologist Carl Lipo and Hawaii Anthropologist Terry Hunt stated that, ancient Polynesian might have used ropes and manpower to “walk” the huge figures from the excavation to constructed platforms (reports from National Geographic). In fact, Lipo and Hunt made a demonstration; three strong ropes and as few as 18 people could possibly and easily move a 10 feet and 5 ton Moai replica a few hundred yards.
There are approximately 900 Moai or monumental statues scattered across the island. Some of these statues were placed facing towards the center of the island, on platforms or what is called “Ahu” that was build along the coasts. In local tradition, the Moai are also described as possessing “mana” or a beneficial power. All the giant statues on Easter Island have long ears, and some islanders still practiced ear elongation at the time the first Europeans arrived.
There is said to be a distinct difference between the statues at Rano Raraku and those on the Ahu which is that the statues at the crater have a pointed base, destined to be buried in the ground, while those on the Ahu have a flat base, so that they can stand on these monuments.
The statues at the crater are scattered around in a random manner, whereas the statues at the Ahu, when they were still standing, were perfectly aligned and in a group. Although the giant statues appear scattered haphazardly, they actually form three major groups on the inner slope of the crater, facing north, such that they all have their backs to the face of the volcanic rock from which they were carved.
Since researches haven’t found all the missing links of Easter Island’s culture yet, the reconstruction of their past wanders between myth and reality. One of the most characteristics legends of the island is the one of the seven explorers.
According to this legend, before the journey of King Hotu Matua, following the instructions of a clairvoyant, seven sailors came to the island in search of an appropriate place to settle and plant yams, food that was key for the nutrition of the immigrants. Two of them also bought a moai.
In fact, some deduct that the seven explorers symbolize the seven generations that inhabited the place, or maybe seven immigrant tribes, from which only one survived in order to mix with Hotu Matua’s people.
The researchers concluded that the king died 20 years after arriving to the island, and that he was succeeded by his older son Tuu Maheke.
The last member of this dynasty was Gregorio O Roroko He Tau, also known as the Child King, who died in 1886. Today, there is still a family who claims to descend from the great king Hotu Matua.
The type of religion that has characterized Easter Island from the beginning states a series of prohibitions and precepts, all of them related to what they consider sacred, and which receives the name of Tapu. The religious practice that persists in the island up to this day is called Ivi Atua, and it is based on the immortality of the soul. Their beliefs evolve mainly around Make-Make, the creator god, supreme god and he who is omnipotent.
The Mana is the mental, supernatural and sacred power shared by the chiefs of the tribes, their priests and sorcerers. In general, this power could be used for their benefit or it could be directed against an enemy in order to harm them.
It is said that the ancient islanders resorted to this psychic and supernatural power in order to transport the Moai, and that the statues walked to their destination because of it.
As for death, the islanders believed that, once detached from the body, the spirit would stay close to their family before leaving for the spirit world, located far away to the west.
For one or two years, the deceased’s body remains wrapped in vegetable bits.
Sometime later, when the decomposition ia done, the skull is detached and engraved. Finally, the bones are washed and placed in a stone chamber, where the spirit could meet with their ancestors.
However, the most important religious demonstration is the worship of the birdman, also known as the bird of luck. In the language of the islanders, it is called Manutara.
The date of establishment of this event is uncertain, whether at the end of the 17th century or the beginning of the 18th century. It is a ritual competition that was celebrated in the month of September in Orongo, a ceremonial village in front of the three islets of the island. In the biggest and most distanced of them, called Motu-Nui, the competitors assembled in the caves with much anticipation, waiting for the birds.
Whoever took the first egg of a Manutara (sooty tern) was the winner. Once they found it, the fortunate competitor swam with the egg on his head in order to give it to his chief, who was consecrated as the birdman.
Three days later, the Manutara egg was emptied, filled with vegetable fibers and placed on the birdman’s head, where it would remain for a year.
There are many beautifully crafted structures on the island, here is a listing of the main types that you’ll find and should explore.
Ahus – They are ceremonial structures dedicated to the worship of each descent’s deified ancestors, around which ceremonies, mortuary rituals, assemblies, initiations and celebrations for food distribution were developed. These sacred places protected by specific Tapu were reserved for the nobility, that is, priests, political leaders, warriors and worship specialists, as well as their multitude of servants.
According to local legends, these figures represented ancestral beings of special religious importance, and islanders believed they harbored the Mana, the impersonal and supernatural power that protected the communities that held it. The essential element of an Ahu is a high rectangular platform delimited by great blocks of carved or fixed rocks and filled with stones, gravel and dirt.
The upper part is flat and paved. It is joined with a terrace or square in front of it. Some platforms are astronomically oriented. The oldest structures date from the 6th and 7th century. Over time, these structures evolved and became bigger and more complex. Also, numerous architectonic, esthetic and worshiping elements were added, such as a frontal ramp to access the platform, lateral wings, crematoriums, statues and stone pavement.
Pukao – These are statues that carried cylinders of red slag on their heads. They can weight approximately 11 tons. Their meaning is ambiguous. Some authors point out that they are the representation of a hairstyle or bun; others say it represents a hat.
The absence of the Pukao in several statues suggests it is a more recent feature that was added with esthetic purposes.
Hare Paenga – Its shape is similar to an inverted boat. The floor is elliptic and is defined by carefully carved soleplates of basalt. The poles that supported the vegetal structure were inserted in the top side. The frontal side presents an exterior pavement shaped as a half moon. Generally, the inner space was much reduced and was used exclusively to sleep.
The average size ranges from 10 to 15 meters long by 1.50 to 2.5 meters wide. These houses were inhabited by people of high social status.
Hare Oka – They are houses with a circular floor. Their base is conformed by basalt stones. Studies point out that these houses were temporary rooms, which coincides with archeological evidence. In general, there are no domestic structures typical of other places destined for permanent occupation.
Houses of rectangular floor – Researchers have found around 250 houses like these in the higher areas of the island. The foundation is made of rectangular stones, inserted in the land with concrete. The superstructure is vegetal, but the shape is conjectural. Typically, they are associated to lithic workshops and great stone courtyards.
Tupa – These rooms were used by priests to execute astral observations and determine the beginning of the lunar year, the planting season, harvest seasons, religious festivities and the arrival of migratory birds and fish that were important food resources.
Most of the houses and rooms were built with hay walls and roofs, as well as stick shells. The houses did not have any windows, and sometimes, they presented a stone pavement in front of them.
Easter Islands Food and Drinks
When the resources were depleted and war broke out in the 16th century, the population collapsed. While relying on mainland Chile for decades, Rapa Nui is increasingly learning to be self-sustainable. For the first time in the islands history, they have begun to export products: papayas and beer.
In 2010, Easter Island began selling its first beer called Mahina, which is available as a Pale Ale (4.8%) and a Stout (6.8%). Both are one hundred percent natural and follow a double fermentation process.
Nothing like grabbing a beer after your surf or trek around the island.
On a side note, the company is partially owned by one time underwater diving champion, Mike Rapu.
You can as well drink the pisco sour, a cocktail made of spirits grape, lemon juice, egg white and powdered sugar (or pisco alone for that matter).
On Easter Island there is interesting native music that is deeply rooted in ancient traditions and legends.
The islanders are also good dancers, and seems as though their great passion is to sing and dance. The current dances and songs are stylization of Polynesian folklore and the more recent dances are the Tahitian waltz and the Rapa Nui tango.
Sau-Sau – A popular song and dance of Samoan origin that has become a characteristics dance of the island. Moreover, there are other popular songs as well as dances devoted to the gods, warrior spirits, to rain and love. This is the most important dance in every party. The women show all their grace and elegance through rhythmic movements.
Ula-Ula – This dance is from Tahiti and according to a doctor named Ramon Campbell, is a reminiscence of the original. Generally, couples dance separated from each other to the rhythm of the lively corrido, waving their hips softly from side to side, and resting their feet alternatively on the heel and the tip of the toes. The women make graceful arm movements, waving them from one side to the other in a very harmonious manner, and imitating the act of combing their hair with one hand and looking themselves in an invisible mirror with the other.
All of this is executed with a suggestive and captivating feminine grace. In this type of dance, there usually aren’t any provocative or indecent movements. The dancing is usually alternated with figures where the dancers bend their legs until the heels almost touch their backside in a crouching position, and then rises again, constantly undulating in a rhythmical manner.
Tamure – A graceful Tahitian dance composed of two main aspects. On the one hand, the dancers perform real acrobatics with their legs, as well as extraordinary rapid movements and fairly violent pelvic swings. The men who have travelled to Tahiti are the ones who perform this dance well. In counted occasions, the women dare to execute the steps and figures of the Tahitian tamuré.
Everyone like a little music and you won’t be disappointed while listening to the local music of Easter Island. Traditional music from the island consists of choral singing and chanting, similar to Tahitian music. Families often performed as choirs, competing in an annual concert.
Maea – These are hard and round loud stones that were beaten rhythmically and accompanied the singing groups. These stones were extracted from the seabed because they were resistant. The dances include rhymed sounds made with the throat, and the rhythm is marked with a wooden stick used to hit the ground, a long mallet shaped like a thin paddle called Ua.
Keho – A primitive drum made again of stone. A wide hole is dug in the ground, and then another circular smaller one in the middle, where an empty pumpkin covered with a slab stone was placed. On this stone, a singer or dancer bangs loudly with his naked feet following the rhythm of the music. The sound is obtained from the boom of the air contained in the hole, and the pumpkin served as a sounding box.
Hio (aerophone) – It is a sort of bamboo flute with holes. According to existent references, it must have had a pitiful sound. The Tahitian word “hio” means “to whistle” or “to blow”.
Kauaha (idiophone) – A naturally dissected equine jaw. The inferior maxillary bones preserve all the loose pieces in the dental alveolus, which do not fall out because of their shape. Two sounds are produced when the jaw (which is held by the front) is banged against the ground or the palm of the hand.
Ukalele (chordophone) – This instrument comes from Polynesia and also receives the name of Hawaiian guitar. The box is similar to the guitar, though a lot smaller, and it has four strings.
Guitar (chordophone) – Manufactured in the island, it was used a lot in the past. Today, most guitars are manufactured in the continent.
Upa-Upa (aerophone) – Button or keyword accordion.
Ahu Tongariki is the largest Ahu or stone platforms on the Island. Make sure that this beautiful spot is on your list. Although part of the Ahu was swept off the island in the 20th century, it has been rebuild since then and features15 large Moai. This gorgeous spot sits close to the island’s two volcanoes, the Rano Raraku and Poike. From where the Moai sit, they are perfectly aligned and face the sunset during the summer solstice.
The Ballet Kari Kari is extremely popular for tourists on the island and features local folk music. Guests can also join in the dancing and get a feel for the culture.
A must see destinations is the volcanic crater, the Rano Raraku. Located 1.9 miles from the city center, Rano Raraku was once the quarry that supplied material for 95% of Easter Island’s monolithic sculptures. About 400 moai remains in the area and show a visual record of how the sculptures changed over the years. The sides of Rano Raraku are steep on all but one side and surround a beautiful freshwater lake. The reeds that border the lake were once used by the residents of Easter Island for home construction.
You should also check out Rano Kau. This extinct volcano was formed by basaltic lava flows that date back to over 150.000 years ago. Within Rano Kau is a crater lake that features its own micro climate. The inner slope was the location of the last known toromiro tree in the wild until this unfortunate specimen was chopped down for firewood.
At the southwestern point of the island is the stone village of Orongo. The 53 houses that make up the village were discovered by archaeologists in the 1970s and were eventually restored to their former state. This village was once the center of the birdman culture. The birdman was devoted to bringing the first egg across the rest at Orongo. Orongo eventually became a ghost town until its renewal as a popular tourist site. For visitors to the area, this dramatic location offers a glimpse into the past glory days of Easter Island.
Don’t miss Anakena Beach, it is lined by Moai. The beach is very ideal spot for a swim. The road that leads to the beach passes an ancient ceremonial site that is worth a stop. The site features the Orongo or what the locals call “Navel of the Earth”.
1. Private Site
4. Research on Statues
5. National Geographic Article
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Pick up a Wave Tribe DIY Surfboard kit here
Our ocean is becoming a trash receptacle—yea, that majestic blanket of love that propels you into delightful moments of surfing ecstasy could be (or already is in some places) nothing more than a liquid dump.
It doesn’t sound too appetizing does it?
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicted The Great Pacific Garbage Patch back in 1988, but unfortunately that prediction fell on deaf ears and society continued to dump garbage in the ocean at alarming rates.
When I first heard about The Great Pacific Garbage Patch (TGPGP) I imagined an island of trash floating aimlessly in some remote area of the Pacific—but as I found out, that image is flawed.
In fact, you can’t even see much of the TGPGP because it is made up of tons of tiny plastic particles that are a result of asphotodegradation—a process of partial degradation caused by sunlight.
Here is the raw deal, plastic is not biodegradable and as those plastic pieces break into tiny particles they cause environmental havoc on the marine eco system. Fish, birds and marine mammals ingest much of the plastic which can rupture their organs or cause starvation.
However, the most fundamental issue is caused by microplastics near the surface of the ocean which block sunlight from reaching plankton and algae below. If this necessary part of the marine environment is challenged in any sufficient way, marine life will disappear in large numbers from the smallest fish to the largest animal on the planet—the blue whale.
Without plankton the entire marine ecosystem would collapse.
Here are four things you can do today to help reduce the trash in the ocean:
1) Stop using plastic—or reduce it in every aspect of your life. No plastic water bottles, no plastic bags (always use paper when possible) no plastic packaging, just say no—to plastic.
2) Stop eating ocean harvested fish—yep, the majority of TGPGP, about 705,000 tons, comes from lost, broken or discarded fishing nets. I know this is going to be a hard one, but of all the things you could do it would be the most impactful.
3) Participate in beach clean-ups and pick trash off the ground when you see it. If we prevent trash from entering the ocean and waterways we have a fighting chance to help reduce the future growth of TGPGP.
4) Support Algalita Marine Research Foundation—created by Charles Moore, the man who discovered the TGPGP in 1997. Algalita’s mission is to the protection and improvement of the marine environment and its watersheds through research and education on the impacts of plastic pollution. Moore’s foundation is our best hope of finding a solution to TGPGP.
Wishing you a responsible journey ahead—as surfers we must stand up for the health of our oceans, imagine what it has given us in this life, it’s time to give back.
We do have a new iTunes App, something I developed for you for FREE.
You see, I love to make lists—especially before I travel to a foreign country. This little app will help you remember everything you need to take on your next surf trip.
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People say you can’t get anything for free anymore but they are wrong. Here it is. Grab it and leave us a review—we’d be stoked. Or search for Wave Tribe in the App Store on your phone.
Need a place to go?
Try one of these on for size—surf travel articles—Wave Tribe style.
Wait, don’t go yet . . . there is one more thing you should know before you go back to Facebook. Well, you know we have a Heal The Oceans campaign . . . but damn, what about the land?
We wanted to do something for MOTHER TIERRA too, so we just launched a partnership with Trees for The Future,
Wave Tribe will gladly plant a tree in the Brazilian rainforest with each purchase.
We call it: Buy One, Get One Tree.
Let’s review—eco surf products made from hemp and other sustainable materials, an international campaign to help Heal The Oceans, and a commitment to plant trees with every purchase.
Dude, are you kidding me—quit shopping at the mall!
~ Derek, Wave Tribe Founder & Tree Lover-Planter
Rich & Derek,
Not sure if you guys remember me, but I built a couple wood SUP boards back in April and you gave me a pretty sweet deal on your Sup Eco Cork Deck Pads.
I am sitting down today to write my promised reviews of the product—I hope you didn’t think I had forgotten. I wanted to get some real use out of them to help write a better, more honest review of the pads—and I’ve loved them!
I wanted to thank you again for setting that up—the pads have been awesome.
You’ve got a great product, I tell everyone who listens my story of putting these boards together and the amazing support I got from Solace and Wave Tribe.
It was a pleasuring to have both of you respond to my email back in April, it’s been a pleasuring paddling with your pads, and I hope to keep spreading the word for your brands!
Have a great week & cheers!
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What does it mean to pre-board? Do you get on before you get on?”
~ George Carlin
A surf trip is an opportunity to see new places and to discover yourself through the expression of who you think you are beyond the borders of your country—it will expand your mind and enrich your life in very meaningful ways so please don’t wait to do it—in this article we will explore surfing southern France.
I have been traveling for over a decade in search of waves and experiences along European coastlines and I can tell you that there is much adventure awaiting you.
Surfing in Southern France was written with the help of a French local surfer with over 30 years of experience surfing in southern France, we asked him to help us create this Surfer’s Guide to Southern France. And he said yes, trés cool!
We will talk about the known spots in the southwest of France, unfortunately only the known ones. We were told by the locals that if we speak about the secret surf spots we could never have another chocolate French croissant and believe me this is a great punishment that we want to avoid—with a little creative exploration you’ll find some unknown oceanic French jewels while surfing southern France.
Most of the known spots are crowded in the summer but you can find empty line-ups off the beaten path or during the fall and winter. The fall is our favorite time to travel to surfing in southern France and can be exceptionally warm. September and October serve up some solid swell with spring-suit or trunkable type conditions and is mostly outside of the European busy travel season (especially October).
It will be cheaper and the surf will be more consistent in the off season—June through the beginning of September can be packed like a Mexican pinada and unless you like the sardine feeling we’d recommend staying away from this season. Of course, you can go in the summer too—it’s a different place with topless girls and bronzed Italians, in winter the only thing topless will be your red wine bottle.
The winter can be brutal—you’ll want a 5/4/3 wet-suit with hoodie, gloves, booties and a bottle of tequila tucked into your wet-suit to keep you warm. You’ll need 3/2 full suit in October and sometimes into November. I lived in Lacanau in the winter of 2010, it can be punishingly cold (like snow-on the-beach cold) and the waves can get so big that you won’t be able to surf. But there will be many days in the winter with perfect uncrowded waves. Spring can also be enjoyable but the swells are less frequent and come from a different direction—May can be fun.
In mid September the tourists go back to work, so the surf is not too crowded, except in the areas of Biarritz, Hossegor, and Lacanau. The best surf is around Hossegor and Biarritz/Anglet. There are always a lot of surfers there, no matter of the season and sometimes a few pros dangling about—especially before the professional contests (usually in October).
A surf trip is an opportunity to see new places and to discover yourself through the expression of who you think you are beyond the borders of your country—it will expand your mind and enrich your life in very meaningful ways so please don’t wait to do it.
The French southwest coast is mainly exposed to full west swells (much like southern California), which means that the off-shore wind is mainly from the east. Here are the wave facts:
Insider’s Tip. There are a lot of small towns and unknown surf spots between Soulac and Lège-Cap-Ferret; in the Médoc between Biscarosse and Seignosse; in Les Landes between Capbreton and Anglet, and further south of Biarritz. Don’t limit yourself to the top name breaks, get in the car and explore and you’ll find some real gems.
The best surfing in southern France is in fall during September, October and November. These three months are synonymous with ze’ French Power, with off shore winds, barrels, and some big swells. Water temperature is still good south of the Aquitaine region, between 60° – 70° Fahrenheit.
View Southwest France Surf Spots in a larger map
There are various ways to travel to Southern France. The biggest French airport is obviously in Paris, but there is one small international airport in Bordeaux called Bordeaux Mérignac and hour flight from Paris. Flying into Bordeaux is the most convenient and most direct route to the surf.
There is also a national airport in Biarritz and this is a good second option if you can find an airline that flies there. There are numerous trains from Paris to Bordeaux (3 Hours on the TGV Fast Train) and Biarritz (5 hours)—in fact train travel in Europe is a great way to get around and if you take the fast train it can be quicker than flying and much cheaper to transport your boards. You can take your boards on the Train no problem.
From the States I recommend flying into Paris or Bilbao, Spain. It will cost you about $800 – $1200 round trip in the off season to fly from the Los Angeles, California, and it takes about 12 hours.
I recommend flying into Paris and hanging out there for a few days before or after your surf adventure (always depends on swell of course). The first thing you need to know is that Paris is split into districts, think of them as small neighborhoods.
I also suggest at least two days in Paris near the 6th district, it’s close to most everything and has great shopping and dining. It will cost you 50 euros to take a taxi from the Airport to the center of Paris and it will take between 20-40 minutes. You can also take the train but it’s a pain in the arse if you have boards and luggage with you. You’ll save like 30 euros, no really worth it in my opinion.
Insider’s Tip. One of my favorite places to eat in Paris is La Maonnina Italian resturant at 10 rue Marie & Louise. The telephone number is 01 42 01 25 26. There are tons of places in the 6th to eat.
All trains departing for the southwest of France leave from Gare Montparnasse in the 14 district (an easy walk or Taxi ride from the 6th). You’ll want to take the TGV fast train to the south of France to Bordeaux, Dax or Biarritz. The train ticket to Bordeaux costs about $100 each way. Once you get to the south you’ll want to rent a car at the train station or airport ($500 for one week).
Booking your train tickets in advance can save you lots of dinero. Book your train tickets online here: http://www.idtgv.com/en/
It’s a little tricky to pre-book the car on the internet at the Bordeaux train station but with a little persistence you can do it. The train station is called Bordeaux Saint Jean Train Station and the car rental companies on location are Sixt, Avis, National, Europcar. The easiest way to book is to do it directly through the company websites.
I usually fly into Paris and out of Bordeaux Mérignac (BOD) airport (you can fly to many other European locations from Mérignac) and they always let me pick the car up at the train station and drop it off at the airport at no extra charge. You can ask them about this when you go to pick up the vehicle.
If you fly into BOD and need to get to the train station there is a bus that will shuttle you either way for 7 euros. It leaves every 45 minutes and takes about 30 minutes depending on traffic. Give yourself an hour if you need to make a train or flight.
At BOD the pick-up is in front of Terminal B at exit 11. Look for the sign in the picture above. If you taking the bus from the train station to BOD look for the same sign in front of the train station in Bordeaux.
If you decide to rent a car get the insurance. On one trip when I got home there was a letter waiting for me telling me that the rental car company had charged my card an additional 250 Euros for a small scratch on the fender, not trés cool.
Pay a little extra to avoid those unforeseen charges, it sucks to get a large bill that you didn’t expect in the mail after an epic surf trip. On the main highway watch out for the radar cameras—you’ll see a warning sign before you hit the radar zone but if you don’t slow down and you see a flash you will get the ticket in the mail or the car rental agency will charge your card for the infraction. Sometimes the police will set up stops or use radar on the smaller roads leading into towns.
The French usually have border agents at the toll booths going back into France so you might want to dispose of any Moroccan goodies before you cross the border. I’ve never seen the Spanish stop or screen anyone going the other way.
Take soft racks. We recommend Wave Tribe Hemp Racks! Seriously though, cars in Europe aren’t like American behemoths and most likely you’ll end up renting a smallish car. Once you pile your wet-suits, wine, luggage and boards into the cramped space you’ll wish you had racks. Oh yea, don’t scratch the roof with the racks (see above) or leave your boards unattended—they might disappear.
Another option is to fly into Spain and drive up to the surf in France from Bilbao. It’s about a 3 hours drive from Bilbao to Bordeaux and the flight from the USA is about the same price. It’s a really easy drive and the car rental companies don’t mind that you cross the border into France or visa-vera.
Do you hate border crossing? Bad memories of Mexico? Well, where to grab your coffee and croissant is your greatest worry while traveling between Spain and France, the border crossing is a non-issue, you just drive straight through. If you do get stopped it will be on the French side at the toll booth.
As we all know, flying with boards is not that comfortable and can be very expensive. That’s why I must talk about surfboards in France. There are a lot of surf shops all along the coast, like everywhere in the world. You’ll find small funny surf shops, but also the branded surf shops. You’ll find exactly the same brands of surfboards in France as in US or Australia—and let’s not forget those cheap Chinese and Thai surfboards.
Another option is to rent your board. Nick at Ocean Gypsy Surf (http://oceangypsysurf.com) has a fine collection of surfboard rentals. He is located in Labenne Ocean, 5 minutes South of Hossegor and 20 minutes North of Biarritz. Send him an email firstname.lastname@example.org or call him 33 (0) 6 33 82 14 26 to reserve a board.
There are many different places for eat, from the worst to the best. Don’t worry about it before you come, if there is one thing that the French people don’t joke about, it is food and wine. You’ll find very French restaurants, but also food from all around the world. One thing to keep in mind is the afternoon eating schedule, the French tend to start lunch around one and they finish eating around three and if you arrive too late they might not serve you.
Vegans will find it hard to eat in France and vegetarians that eat cheese are in paradise. Grab a bottle of red, a French baguette from the bakery and a chunk of blue cheese and you are golden. You’ll also find a lot of street markets, organic or not. If you have an apartment, buying food at the street market and cooking it at home is the cheapest way to eat. But you’ll need a place with a kitchen, another reason to get an apartment.
If you like red wine, like me, then you are in the most bountiful wine zone of France with so many delicious Bordeaux’s that your head will spin when you walk into the store to select one. France’s first extensive vineyards were established by Rome in around 122 BC in today’s Languedoc and then later perfected in Bordeaux.
The major reason for the success of wine making in the Bordeaux region is the excellent environment for growing vines. The geological foundation of the region is limestone, leading to a soil structure that is heavy in calcium.
In Bordeaux, almost all wines are blended. The typical blend consists of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon (and/or Cabernet Franc), with small additions of Petit Verdot and Malbec. So, my friends, the real gift the French have is in how they blend those varietals.
However, the French use one other interesting trick call chaptalization, which means they add sugar before undergoing barrel-ageing. In the south you can get a good bottle of Bordeaux for 4 Euros, so it won’t break your wallet either. Great red wine and sick barrels, what else could you ask for?
Accommodation will run $50-$100 a night in most places and your food budget is up to you. Shopping for fresh groceries and preparing meals will be much less than eating out every meal.
Finding an apartment for part of your trip is what I recommend, most breaks in the south are within a reasonable driving distance from each other. You could do a ten day trip (with car) for about $2000 USD, less if you camp and prepare most of your own food.
Add a few nights in Paris, some good meals out, and a few bottles of Bordeaux and that low budget could easily double.
If you want to go to France in the summer, during July and August, it will be very expensive.
Insider’s Tip. Accommodation is much easier to rent and most summer rentals sit unoccupied during this season. You’ll be able to get long term rentals for about 40% less. Check out http://www.homelidays.com for great rentals. Also check camp sites (where you can rent mobile homes) and surf camps.
The well-known surf spots are more expensive.
Be forewarned, you must book your accommodation very early in the year for travel during the high season—if not you’ll be sleeping on the beach, which might be cool too.
There are camp sites in every coastal city, prices vary depending on the popularity of the area—for example camping in the popular spots like Hossegor or Lacanau are much more expensive. You’ll find the prices on the internet. Here are some resources:
There are not many guest houses in France. Chambres d’hotes are the way to go, you rent a room in a family house and can share meals and learn about the culture. Rooms can be offered in a home or in a spare room in the garden.
This is highly recommended for people that want to learn about French culture and lifestyle. You can, if you want, eat with the owner in some situations. There are a lot of different prices; this site is a good resource.
This can be a fun way to travel, spend time in someone’s home or on their couch. France has a big representation on this site.
There are thousands of hotels in France. You’ll find all types of prices. You can book them on the internet:
You might want to consider renting a place for a week or longer. There are lots of websites offering long term rentals. Here are a few links to get you started. I have used homelidays and liked it.
Lacanau is a small quaint town and a nice place to start your trip. The further south you go the more crowded it will be. From Bordeaux train station it’s about 45 minutes by car to Lacanau or about 1.5 hours to Hossegor. You’ll want to check the surf reports to see what’s the haps, but if there is swell all those places will be working.
Lacanau has a lower profile surf scene than its cousins in the south and is more laid-back, it feels more rustic and is a good place to ease into the southern vibe. You’ll find less crowds in this region and have the opportunity to explore some of the lesser surfed breaks to the north towards the Bay of Biscay.
SearchForWaves.com is a great resource for surf forecast in southern France while on the road. You can check surf spot information at:
Surfline also has a forecast page:
Wannasurf France section is good for chatting with local surfers and learning details:
Good site for wind:
But yea, this is the age of the widget so here is the swell forecast for you . . .
The best waves are in Médoc, suggests our French local. Even if it’s perfect, you can surf alone or just with your friends. The waves only break on sandbars and there is a spot on every baïnes—every 300 to 400 meters.
A baïne is a kind of big hole in the beach, parallel with the ocean, made by the currents. At the door of the baïne, you’ll find the sand bars. Be careful when surfing the baïnes, people die every year from the currents and they can be tricky to manage in big swell.
Insider’s Tip. A nice hotel-resort in Lacanau for less than 100 Euros a night is the Vitalparc at Route du Baganais. The website is http://www.vitalparc.com and the phone number 33 (0) 5 56 03 91 00. I have stayed there a few times, it’s about 5 minute drive to the ocean and has nice dining and even a Spa for your lady. Want a massage after your long session?
The worst thing about the Médoc is that there aren’t a lot of sheltered spots and the wind can cause some real havoc. When the wind is onshore, it’s best to look inside the mouth of the river called the Garonne—here you’ll find some off-shore waves, but usually a bit smaller than other places.
You can also check the waves north of Lacanau towards Soulac. The waves tend to get smaller as you travel north—depending on the swell and also remember to watch the tides.
My favorite place to surf is right in town at Lacanau and here is a surf school if you are look for one.
There are a few really good sandbars and jetties that produce barrelling waves when the conditions are right. This place changes on the tide swings and can look totally uninviting at low tide and then turn on at high tide, so keep an eye on it and don’t be surprised if it jumps within a few hours.
You can go hang at Le Kayoc where they have free wifi and watch it. Le Kayoc is the restaurant at the end of the main drag and looks out onto several breaks. The food is ok.
The best waves in France are around Hossegor, Seignosse and Capbreton—simply put, the surf is world class in this area and this is where they hold the professional surf contests each year.
There is a very deep fault at the bottom of the ocean in front of this region (much like Blacks in California). This means that the swell arrives extremely fast onto the sand bars, creating very large and powerful barrels (like the one on the previous page). Unfortunately, this region is cursed with the same wind issue as in the Médoc.
You can surf big waves in la nord (north) in Hossegor—from 12 to 14 feet. The southern beaches in Hossegor are a bit more sheltered from the larger swells if that’s more your style. So if it’s too big in the north, try hitting the southern beaches. It can be twice as big on the northern beaches—it’s a strange phenomenon, just a few hundred feet north it starts to get much bigger.
If it’s really big try heading for Capbreton, you can surf sheltered waves at the Santosha, but just as in le sud that damn French wind blows hard and could ruin your session. I have had some great sessions over the years in this region and I find the French trés cool in the water. Always remember to be respectful of the locals and other surfers in the water and follow courteous surfing etiquette—no snakes.
The Basque country has a wide variety of waves with wonderful quality—this is one of the most beautiful coastlines in all of Europe. The mountains and ocean are married at the same place. That means that in winter time, you can have a surf session and a snowboard session on the same day.
In Anglet and Biarritz you’ll find hollow waves on sand bars. If you go south from Biarritz you’ll find a lot of different waves on reefs and sand bars. There are a lot of sheltered spots in the Basque region and it’s the best place to surf when the wind is howling or the surf is gigantic. A solid swell at Biarritz can be super fun with options at Anglet five minutes away and playful reefs in the southern part of the city.
Insider’s Tip. I recommend the Hotel Le Bellevue in downtown Biarritz located right in front of an excellent surf spot and close to shopping and great food (check out the Italian right across the street). There are also beautiful walks along the boardwalk. The hotel is located at 5 Avenue Edouard VII. The phone number is 33559030450 and the email email@example.com
Surfing at Grande Plage in Biarritz can be really fun, it’s a thumping wave and when it’s going the peaks shift around so you can get waves even in the crowd if you work it.
Try sitting outside near the rocks to catch some of the larger sets.
You can find miraculous waves without too many people if you hunt for the right spot, or keep going south to Spain—a totally different experience, one you will not want to miss!
San Sebastian is only about 30 minutes from downtown Biarritz and if the swell is too big in France it might be perfect in San Sebastian—check out the map. The winds are also different in Spain and sometimes it can be totally blown-out in France and glassy in Spain.
San Sebastian is a very protected spot that is protected by huge cliffs from the north and south. It’s a nice day trip from France. Follow the signs out on the main highway and head toward Spain, the boarder is about 30 minutes from Biarritz. You’ll go through several tolls on this route so grab some spare change. Depending on how deep into Spain you go you’ll need about 20 euros each way.
Most of the tolls are automated, you throw the change into this bucket and the gate opens. It’s a pain if you don’t have the exact change, in fact they will make you turn around if you can’t pay.
Once you enter Spain the coast make a large sweeping turn here and the beaches go from facing west facing to north facing in just a few miles. Thus the more northerly swells slam right into Spain, providing epic waves just around the corner.
San Sebastian is a fun wave and will hold plenty of swell.
Try and find a parking spot at the north end of the beach against the cliff. There is also a paid parking structure two blocks off the beach, just follow the signs. Don’t leave any valuables in your car.
Insider’s Tip. Try the People’s Cafe on the main beach at San Sebastian for an awesome post session beer and watch the other surfers while basking in the sun. The have excellent sandwiches and really fresh bread and cold beer.
You can’t miss the wave at San Sebastian, there is a left off the jetty and a fun right next to the rocks at the north end of the beach. Sometimes it breaks in the middle section too, depends on the swell.
This is a fun place to hang out for the day and you’ll be surprised how different Spain is compared to France.
If you have crossed the boarder into Spain you are not far from one of the premiere waves in Europe—Mundaka. The tides, wind and swell have to be just right but if you are lucky you might score this wave.
If there is a lot of swell I’d check it for sure, it needs 3-5 meters to work. Mundaka is situated on a beautiful cliff overlooking a breathtaking rivermouth. Look up the river and be blown away by the immense beauty of this place.
Getting there by car look for the Gernika exit right before (coming from France) the city of Bilboa. Follow the signs towards Bermeo and eventually you’ll drop right in to Mundaka about 20 minutes off the main highway. If you get lost along the way just pull over and ask any local: “Donde esta Mundaka?”
Once you are in Mundaka prepare yourself for a small maze of streets, work yourself towards the harbor—the main break is right in front of the harbor opening. If you have a van you can even camp right in the main parking lot above the break, but as always be respectful and if the police come to your vehicle offer to buy them a beer.
To get to the main break head toward to harbor and jump in next to the boats (see picture below) and paddle about 30 yards into the lineup.
Insider’s Tip. The best place to stay in Mundaka is the Hotel El Puerto. The hotel is literally right next to the main break and for less than 100 euros you can watch the waves and sip a cervesa. Make a reservation at http://www.hotelelpuerto.com/ or give a jingle at 34 94 687 6725
Check the middle and inside sections of the waves too, sometimes if the peak is crowded the middle section can be super fun.
Most people know Mundaka as a fun left but if the sandbars are setup just right you can also surf a sweet barreling right.
When we were there in 2012 we surfed some of the best right tubes of the trip. You just never know in Europe.
There is also a super fun beachbreak across the bay and a reef break near the island at the mouth of the river. Do some exploring, you’ll be stoked!
Have a great trip, let us know what you think of the Wave Tribe Surf Travel Guide Series and don’t forget to check out Wave Tribe for great eco surfing gear before your trip.
Go out there and score some waves. Traveling will change your life and is one of the most precious activities you will ever do!
Derek Dodds, Founder Wave Tribe
PS. Bali, Cabo, Peru, Brazil, South Africa Surf Guides in the pipeline—always free to the Wave Tribe family!