For all you surfer dudes on sailboats, consider a cruise to the north coast of Papua New Guinea. Tom and I just left Vanimo, in Sandaun Province (“sundown” for being in the far west of the country) where we stumbled on the first ever Papua New Guinea National Surfing Competition
, at Vanimo Beach, purported to have the most reliable breaks in one of surfing’s hottest new places. The competition would pick the team for this year’s South Pacific Games in Samoa.
We didn’t actually witness any of the competition sets, but we did see sing-sing groups with bare-breasted women and naked old men in penis protectors escort the Prime Minister into the village. Tom got to shake the PM’s hand, and I raced into the sea after a bunch of hollering children and saw him launch a surfboard to open the event. We drank very sweet neon-colored cordial and hobnobbed with more “wales” (white people) than we’ve seen together since leaving Australia four months ago.
The surfing is good November into April, during the northwest monsoon season. Which means a trip eastward like we’re doing, from Indonesia back to the Solomons. There are very few yachts here and the people are happy to see us. We anchored off the village itself for the festivities, but stayed in a more secure, quiet anchorage a quarter mile away. The bay’s traditional owner, Eddie, owns a small store in the village and was happy to be asked if we could stay, and the locals showered us with enough fruit to have exotic salads every day. Alternatively, there’s a guesthouse in the village which when we arrived was hosting three French, one Japanese, several Aussie surfers and a couple of ballcap-backward Californians making a documentary on the village. The competitors were housed in the village’s two surf clubs.
Vanimo Village is taking a warning from more unhappy business alliances, such as the timber industry in Vanimo town, where Vanimo Forest Products is Malaysian-owned and the money is flowing outbound. The village is promoting its surf tourism as a home-grown business. It’s not fancy; those who want more than island food can stay in the hotel or motel in town.