Seven secret surf spots
Michel Bourez, a 26-year-old Tahitian, loves surfing along the Maoti reef in Tahiti, near Papara. (Ben Thouard)
When your job is to find and ride the sickest waves on the planet, you undoubtedly come across a few standouts that you want to keep to yourself. But these seven pro surfers were amazingly forthcoming about their favourite breaks – maybe because they know that they are not easy to get to. You will have to be pretty adventurous to follow in their footsteps.
From the world's most rippable waves to the best barrels and sweetest swells, these off-the-radar surf meccas guarantee an epic ride.
Black Rock, Australia
“I was seven when my father started taking me and my brother to surf the Aussie Pipe -- or Black Rock, as locals call it -- nearly every afternoon until dark,” said Owen Wright, the 22-year-old Australian surfer who beat his childhood idol, Kelly Slater, at New York's Quiksilver Pro in September 2011, earning him the biggest prize in the sport's history ($300,000). “With lefthand barrels over a shallow reef, it really doesn't get much better for a goofy footer like myself.”
Getting there: It is about 100 miles from Sydney to Jervis Bay, the closest town to the reef break, which is just south of Booderee National Park. Expect a 10- to 15-minute hike from your car along a bush track to this secluded spot, located on the eastern point of Wreck Bay or Summercloud Bay. Pack your lunch like Wright, who normally brings bananas and a loaf of bread for the day. “I like to just sit on the rocks after a surf and take it all in while eating a banana sandwich,” he said.
Rincon, Puerto Rico
“This must-visit surf break is known as the 'Surfing Capital of the Caribbean',” said 21-year-old Aussie Sally Fitzgibbons, who recently became the first person to win the US and Australian Open back-to-back. “Warm water, quality surf and good food – it’s every surfer's dream. And when you need a break from surfing -- not that I ever do -- you can check out the migrating whales, go scuba diving, horseback riding or take a walk to a magnificent waterfall. It would probably take a lifetime to explore the whole area.”
Getting there:“It is a pleasant 30-minute drive down Carretera Numero Dos from the Marriott Courtyard Hotel in Aguadilla,” Fitzgibbons said. Other perks: most locals speak English, the area operates on the US dollar and cheap car hire is widely available, making it super easy to move around the tropical island. Once there, you have your choice of waves beyond Rincon. “There are literally hundreds of surf breaks!” Fitzgibbons gushed.
“Papara is this little beach break close to the road where everyone surfs. If you look beyond it, you'll see this other wave breaking on a reef way in the back called Maoti,” said Michel Bourez, a 26-year-old Tahitian who finished sixth on the 2011 ASP Men's World Tour. “When I was around 18, I went out by myself with my 6ft 10in surfboard to train for a competition in Teahupoo [French Polynesia]. I knew the waves there were big, but I didn't realize just how big until 10 to 12 footers started coming at me. I had always been scared to go out there alone, but then I caught the best barrel I've ever surfed. My board broke on the third wave I caught – it was pretty intense. After that day, I realized that I could do anything.”
Getting there: “Tahiti is a small island – ask anyone about Papara and they'll tell you how to find it,” Bourez said. Renting a car is the easiest way to get to the break, which you can see from the road. “[From the beach] you have to paddle for 15 to 20 minutes into the deep blue to get to this lost reef,” he warned. “When you finally get there, you're surrounded by big green mountains in the backdrop and total silence. It’s so quiet and relaxing – that is, until a big set comes in and reminds you why you're out there!”