When was the last time you packed up and left for a new destination, leaving routine way behind you in the search for waves? But if you’re going to learn to surf, make sure you do it the right way! Read our complete guide to find out where to begin your awesome new journey and catch your first wave.Read More
The number 13 may be unlucky for some but not for me. Join me as I showcase my favourite thirteen surf images highlighting amazing moments I captured during my two year journey through the Latin Americas. I hope this will inspire you to get out on the road and follow your dreams whatever they may be.Read More
What if I told you there was a place that experienced a constant onslaught of swell and all day offshores for 300 days of the year? Well my friend welcome to Southern Nicaragua. Welcome to the promised land and welcome to perhaps the holy grail of surfing regions. So fancy a surf trip away from the tried and tested surfing meccas of Hawaii, Indo and Tahiti? Want to surf in a cheap, safe and beautiful country with a unique culture and world class surfing conditions then look no further than Nicaragua as your next surf destination.Read More
If you are a vintage car lover then Cuba must be near the top of your bucket list of countries to visit as Cuba has fielded a fleet of close to 60,000 classic pre 1960's cars for the past 50 years. Once you arrive on the shores of Cuba you will be quickly overwhelmed by the sheer volume of classic 1950's cars with Cadillacs, Packards, De Sotos of varying states flooding the chaotic streets of the country.Read More
Somewhere in Nicaragua lies one of the most perfect barrelling A-frame beach breaks that I have ever laid my eyes upon. Beautiful but yet unforgiving this break is definitely not for the feint of heart. This short yet powerful wave will often push your barrel riding expertise and the strength of your board to it's limit. Numerous sand thumping A-frame peaks slab randomly up and down this beach for hundreds of meters and this break is often likened by many a surfer to Straddie on the Gold Coast of Australia, Hossegor in France and even a smaller and more perfect version of Puerto Escondido in Mexico.Read More
With the recent death of Commandant Fidel Castro, one of the most influential men in modern history combined with the relaxation of international trade embargo's by the United States Cuba is currently experiencing key developments in it's history as this island nation finally opens it's arms to cautiously embrace the world. I was fortunate enough to be visiting Cuba during Fidel's death, potentially an instrumental moment in Cuba's modern history, here is my story, view Cuba through my eyes.Read More
Nestled in the most southern corner of El Salvador far, far away from the violence filled streets of San Salvador lays some of the most beautifully spectacular and untouched coastline in the Central Americas....and it just happens to home two of the best right hand point breaks on the planet. Bordering nearby Honduras this isolated stretch of coastline is astoundingly breathtaking to say the least. It is where vast golden sand beaches are lined with row upon row of towering coconut trees which gradually lead their way to ruggedly beautiful lush jungle covered headlands where gorgeous untouched golden bays nestle in between.
For some strange reason this part of El Salvador goes under the radar and so has far has escaped over development from the greed fueled tourism industry...but I fear unfortunately that this will not be the case for much longer.
While this stunning scenery alone is excuse enough to visit this region however once you take the two world class point breaks of Punta Flores and Punta Mango into account any avid surfer surely has no excuse not to visit this wave rich region. These two waves generally require a solid swell before they break and they will not truly light up until the swell hits the 2m mark. While there is also rumoured to be many other quality but fickle waves in the region if one is willing to explore further by boat.
Punta Flores is a classic sand bottomed point break that peels off a rocky coconut tree riddled headland. When the conditions are right this wave can run a couple hundred metres before it ends halfway down the beach. While Flores is usually more of a fast down the line wave on low tide on a good day you can snavel the odd chunky barrel section on the outside while there are also some sneaky barrels on the inside thrown in for good measure. In comparison to Flores's more Northern cousins in the El Tunco region Flores although crowded at times (predominantly with wave hungry Brasilains) has more of a low key vibe and it is easy enough to get your fair share of waves. Unfortunately the same can not be said about it's close neighbour Punta Mango. [Story continued below]
Despite it's isolation and difficult access the world class wave of Punta Mango is deceptively crowded. Imagine our horror after boarding out fishing boat at 6am and traveling over 20 minutes along this beautifully isolated coastline to then arrive at this fabled point break only to be greeted by a horde of close to 40 frothing Brasilian surfers already clogging the line-up. I could not believe my eyes and despite the well groomed 3-4ft lines of swell I would have paid the captain to turn around and drop me back at Flores if I only had my board with me.
Fortunately for me I had my trusty camera on hand so I was gifted the chance to document this famed wave while my Brasilian counterparts all battled away for their share of glory. The crowded lineup was overflowing with bravo and greed with everyone snaking, dropping in and getting constantly sucked over the falls while many a barrel went begging.....a truly unfortunate sight to behold. I don't want to sound like Brazilian hater, I love Brasil, have many Brasilian friends and clearly many Brasilian surfers rip but unfortunately that was not the case this day. However, I had traveled with a crew of solid surfers including Hawaiin Benny Ferris. Benny is a ripper from the Island of Kauai who completely dominated this session and gave me something of quality to shoot....a stark contrast to the rest of the line up who quite frankly were making my eyes bleed with their inept surfing and atrocious water etiquette.
In my humble opinion Punta Mango is tied neck and neck with Punta Roca for the title of the best wave in the country. Punta Mango offers up a slabby ledgey barrel on the outside and then another hollow section on the inside but what tips it for me is the jaw dropping jungle covered mountainous Punta Mango backdrop, absolutely gorgeous to say the least. I absolutely loved my time spent in this picture perfect paradise..... well all barring one small thing......scorpions! [Story continued below]
There are many perks about living in and visiting Central America but I can tell you that being stung by a 10cm long Scorpion is not one of them. Unfortunately for me I was to experience just that late one night in Flores. I had climbed into bed to relax and enjoy a well deserved movie after long hard day of surfing. Suddenly I felt a sharp stabbing pain in my right arm and I rapidly jumped out of my bed only to be confronted by a 10cm long brown Scorpion (similair to the one pictured) sitting gleefully on my pillow. Naturally I started shitting my pants and knowing nothing about scorpions at the time (but some strange reason now I am an expert) my immediate thought was I was going to die and I had to get to hospital fast, real fast.
Fortunately for me the local Hotel employee was an expert on scorpion attacks and after the quick collection and disposal of my angry friend they calmly informed me that I would not die, would only be in pain for three hours and that it was only medium sized one anyway.....like wtf hahaha! Apparently this worker had been stung six times in his life and he said that I was lucky that it was not an albino or a black scorpion as they can be deadly...ok so it's all sweet then? While I did not want to be overly rude and question his local expertise I still felt the need to consult a local medical specialist. The local Doctor merely confirmed the story and informed that I would be in for a wild night and all I could do was sit back enjoy the ride.
So my next six hours were spent going through a whole host of symptoms ranging from numbness in my mouth (at one point it felt like I had popping candy exploding under my gums), tongue, arms and legs to extreme nausea and hypothermia. Not fun if you ask me but thankfully I made it through the night and have a hell of a story to tell. :-)
Having traveled half way through Central America I waited three weeks for a chance of scoring this big wave spot, one of the heaviest if not the heaviest reef in the Central Americas. On my second to last day there my luck finally changed and the beast of a wave finally came to life with only myself and Australian charger Sebastian Miller as company in the water for a solid low tide session.Read More
El Salvador has some of the friendliest local surfers I have met so far on my travels and they are easily among the best local surfers I have witnessed in the Latin Americas. A friendly "hola", smile and respect will go a long way in the surf in El Salvador and who knows you might soon not only be sharing waves but also a cerveza or ten with the locals in El Tunco. Here is my tribute to the local crew of legends in El Salvador. Gracis amigos, enjoy and until next time my friends.Read More
I have to admit given El Salvador's recent reputation for extreme gang violence and a ridiculously high murder rate during early 2016 I was extremely reluctant to even consider giving this beautiful country a visit. I knew the country offered an abundance of swell and was in possession of some of the best right hand point breaks on the planet....but would this be worth potentially risking my life for? After a few solid conversations with good friends who had recently visited El Salvador I was quickly assured that much of the country is relatively safe for the foreign traveler and many of the best waves were easily accessible from safe tourist friendly locations. So what the heck, I decided to take a punt on El Salvador with an initial plan to stay for one week....I ended up the staying five.Read More
The small coastal town of Puerto Escondido, in the Mexican state of Oaxaca is world renown for housing the heaviest beachbreak in the world, Zicatela, aka Mex Pipe. At this world famous stretch of sand over sized swells march up the Pacific coast of South and Central America and come to an abrupt end on Zicatela's infamous shores. I have to admit that I was more than a little intimidated when I first made the decision to visit this wave rich town as a big wave surfer I am not.Read More
During my last week at Misión México I was stoked to have one final fun session surfing with and capturing photos of these amazing kids doing what they love most. On this day we were greeted by a fresh and nicely groomed fun 3-4ft swell breaking off the breakwall and I was quickly out there following around after the frothing grommets who were absolutely ripping.Read More
The magic of surfing. I am pretty sure almost every surfer would agree that the sport of surfing has made a strong positive impact on their lives whether it be from a fitness/health point of view to a lifestyle and even spiritual perspective. Many surfers often allude to the fact that while they are surfing and riding a wave nothing in life seems to matter. While surfing they can easily forget many of life's troubles and return to the beach relaxed with a fresh, clear and unstressed mind. While this may appear trivial to many non surfers out there this form of escapism (or truly living in the moment) is what makes surfing addictive and keeps many paddling back out for just one more wave. For someone who has lived a difficult life and faced many trials and tribulations an introduction into the sport of surfing can be truly life changing. I strongly believe that this has been the case for many children who have lived at Misión México where I have spent the last six months volunteering.Read More
Working with kids and volunteering is something I never really envisioned myself doing but after deciding to leave my life in Australia behind and travel for two years through South and Central America I soon found myself doing just that when I volunteered at children's refuge Misión México.Read More
I have been living in Mexico for well over seven months now. While mostly based at Mision Mexico in Tapachula, Chiapas I also have spent five weeks in the famous surf town of Puerto Escondido and I have visited the beautiful cultural and colonial centers of San Cristobal de las Casas, Palenque, Oaxaca City and the capital Mexico City. In essence I have experienced life here from not only a tourist perspective but also from an everyday Mexican perspective while working in Tapachula. From my experience what I can tell you is that Mexico is definitely a country of extreme contrasts largely dependent on where you visit.
Unfortunately when most people think of Mexico more often than not the first thing that comes to mind is Cartels, drug trafficking and violent murder and this perception and fear often curtails ones potential travel plans before they even begin. However, if one was to purely stick to the well beaten track (the "Gringo Trail") and to solely visit tourist friendly locations such as San Cristobel, Oaxaca, Tulum, Cabo and Cancun one could almost be forgiven for thinking that all of the media hype surrounding the dangers of Mexico has been blown well out of proportion. Many of the aforementioned places are very pleasant, clean, and safe destinations for foreign visitors although simple safety precautions should still be taken. These tourist hubs are filled with strong colonial and cultural attributes and are often of close proximity to some astoundingly beautiful and breath taking natural attractions. These attractions range from stunning Aztec and Mayan ruins to gorgeous Colonial towns, churches and squares. The country is rich with beautiful traditional arts, clothing, festivals and not to mention the mouthing watering (yet stupidly cheap) cuisine. The natural beauty in Mexico is truly jaw dropping with breathtaking waterfalls, forests, mountains/volcanoes and stunningly beautiful beaches...Mexico has all of this in abundance and much, much more. [Continued below]
However, once you venture from the well beaten trail and move away from your popular tourist locations to your more typical Mexican towns, villages and cities you may be able to gain a more realistic view into the real lives of Mexicans. Often life in Mexico isn't always as peachy as the postcard cities and stunning landscapes would have you believe and poverty and crime can be readily abundant if you look hard enough. For the majority of Mexicans life in this beautiful although at times violent country is tough, very tough. Mexicans often have to work ridiculously hard for most of their lives for next to nothing by Western standards but still they are more often happy with what they have than what they don't have. For most Mexicans family and friends are the main focus in their lives and not material possessions.
In the Southern border town of Tapachula where I spent the majority of my time while living in Mexico I was often presented with real life examples of the everyday challenges facing many Mexicans. Tapachula is located very close to the Mexican/Guatemalan border and thus brings with it many of the typical problems associated with a border town. Tapachula is a common staging point for many immigrants traveling through Central America on route to the USA to chase the American dream. This border zone, while not nearly as dangerous as it's Northern counterpart bordering the USA it is still very dangerous at times. It is not uncommon for drug related crime to take place and unfortunately many desperate immigrants often become targets for robberies and ransom kidnappings while young women and even children can become abduction targets for human trafficking and/or for sex workers in the sex industry.
Fortunately during my stay in Mision Mexico I was sheltered from most of these issues...well apart from being followed and aggressively asked for money on three separate occasions but luckily this was the worst of my personal experiences. I was fortunate to not be exposed to the darker sides of Mexican life as many of these dangers usually occurred outside of Tapachula in the smaller border villages. While during daylight hours the town is relatively safe with foreigners very rarely being targets for these more serious crimes.
While not being directly exposed to some of these harsh realities of Mexican life I was directly exposed to the affect of these issues during my six month stint volunteering at Mision Mexico. At Mision Mexico I worked closely with over 32 amazing children who were the direct victims of these issues and many of whom had been abused, abandoned and even homeless in their very short but difficult pasts. I will cover life in Mision Mexico much more closely in an upcoming post.
In essence Mexico is a stunningly beautiful and vibrant country with a strong sense of culture and history while containing some of the most humble and friendly people you will ever meet. While many travelers will never experience life outside of the picture perfect tourist zones please do not be fooled as life outside of these popular tourist hotspots is hard. While the dark side of Mexico can be easily avoided one does not have to scratch to deeply below the surface to discover the hardships and dangers lurking below which is unfortunately often a part of the everyday life of many Mexicans.
Ending on a positive note I would strongly encourage anyone who is considering visiting Mexico to not be put off by these negative issues and much of the negative media surrounding Mexico as most tourist destinations in Mexico are readily safe especially if you do your home work and take basic travel and safety precautions. Please come and experience this beautiful and vibrant country and I can guarantee that you will have the time of your life.