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Welcome to the jungle – surfing in the Solomon Islands

You’d be correct in thinking that a surfing trip to the Solomon’s will be one heck of an adventure. The wild and untamed beauty of the Solomon’s features of over 900 islands. It’s a remote, yet accessible destination with a bunch uncrowded waves to discover, many of which remain unnamed. Regularly touted as one of the final surfing frontiers, for good reason. Forget all about modern luxuries and instead embrace an intrepid surfing excursion like no other.

Visualise tidy seaside bungalows with panoramic views of crystal clear waters, loads of super fresh seafood and endless icy cold Sol Brews. As for the waves, expect to find plenty of secluded reef breaks perfect for sharing with a few mates.

Solomon Islands Wave Guide

November to April is the favoured swell season for the Solomon Islands. Waves average about 3-6ft, however, it can get heaps bigger and certain breaks easily handle up to 10ft waves, pending weather conditions. Fact: the Solomon’s are blessed with both a north and south swell direction. Also worth noting is that the same swells which hit Hawaii generally reach here about a week later, albeit at a reduced size, but on the plus side tend to run for a longer duration. Same goes for the large typhoon swells that push down from South-East Asia (predominately Japan and the Philippines). The Western Province region is the most well-known zone for surfing.

Surf Resorts in the Solomon Islands

Here’s a few of my favourite surfer friendly locations nearby to the regions best reef breaks. Alternatively you can always commandeer a yacht and set about discovering a tonne of secretive atolls, complete with reeling rights and long lefts.

Papatura Island Retreat

Step of the map and book into Papatura. This exotic surf escape stay has an enviable beachfront spot on Santa Isabel island. The resort only takes a maximum of 14 surfers at a time, thus you are guaranteed uncrowded waves up here. The resort excels in catering for surfers by way of its dedicated surf guides, epic dining spreads, private beach stretch and dreamy seaside lodgings. Most importantly Papatura boasts a bunch of prime breaks just a short boat ride away including the following;

Anchovies – a right hander that can barrel, wall, twist and backdoor. Offshore on south south/west wind. 

Dolphins – sucky little left, normally clean when outside breaks are big. Mid – high tide

PT’s – offers lefts and rights depending on conditions, when on it breaks for up to 100 metres. Holds a huge swell. All tides best with west or nor west wind. Shifty and consistent.

Kummas – a wally left best surfed on mid – high tide, offshore if blowing northerly. One of the prime waves in the area. Excellent vantage point to take photos from the boat.

Zoli’s – fun left hander with the odd right. A great wave with a hook section at the end that gets hollow.

Blanchey’s – a series of lefts breaking along a 1 kilometre long reef. Barrelling sections, long walls and a few tidy rights.

Tarzan’s – a fun right and left peak on the mainland, a family friendly wave.

Watto’s – a fast left that handles all wave sizes. Surf right next to the island on smaller swells or out in the channel on a big north pulse.

Donuts – a long right hander and a favourite longboard wave.

Fatboy’s Retreat

Supremely located on Babanga Island, Fatboy’s is the epitome of a laid back and friendly Melanesian surfing getaway. Guests will be impressed with the incredible water clarity that surrounds this small boutique retreat and will no doubt be keen on participating in the many ocean going activities on offer here. Obviously, surfing is the numero uno choice however, you best prepare for a litany of adventures such as snorkelling, adrenaline charged off shore fishing trips and world class diving.

Given that the Solomon Islands has the highest marine biodiversity on earth, I recommend you explore its unspoiled seas good and proper to get your moneys worth. Back to the surf, see the below rundown on breaks nearby to Fatboy’s.  

Paelonghi– a fast and hollow right-hander. Works best on bigger swells when all the sections join up to create a flawless ride. Reef cuts are common here aka ‘Paelonggi tattoos’.

Titiana – a long and mellow left aka goofy paradise. Features an easy loop through paddle back. Note: as with nearby Palonggi, this shallow reef break can be risky for inexperienced surfers.

Skull Island – ok so this break is a decent 1.5 – 2 hour boat ride away but, if you score it right this wave is on fire. Arguably one of the longest rights in the Solomon’s, it works best at 3-6ft and needs a medium to large swell to deliver the goods.

Desperates – a very shallow and verrry hollow right hander is also here – Slater is one of the lucky few to have caught this good.

Oravae Cottages

This locally owned and operated property consists of just a handful of picturesque cabins perched on the water, each with incredible rainforest and uninterrupted ocean views. The accommodation is basic yet beautiful, an eco-friendly surfing escape indeed. Bonus; the family that run Oravae are also respected local surf guides and the eldest son, Jeremy is president of the Western Solomon’s Surfing Association. So, yes, you’re likely to find a multitude of hidden waves on any given day. Oravae Cottage is a short boat ride from Gizo township and nearby to famed breaks, Tatiana and Palonggi.

Read this great detailed review of Orvae Cottage from the legends at Get Lost magazine (who also shot the above images).

Local Vibes

Granted, the Solomon’s has had its fair share of political turmoil in the past, but you’ll be pleased to know that nowadays it is a safe destination to visit. On my most recent surf journey here I found all the local crew to be ultra-friendly. They’re proud people that are more than willing to share their far flung island home with curious traveller folk.

Here’s a short Q & A with Jeremy Baea (mentioned above re: Orvae Cottage) who was very welcoming and happy to offer a knowledgeable insight into surfing life in the Solomon Islands.

Q. What’s your Top 3 SI Waves? 

A. Titiana & Paelonghi (both near Gizo) and Maravaghi – a fast left and a super fun right in front of Maravaghi resort in the Florida’s, about a two hours boat ride from the capital Honiara.

Q. Advice for surfers visiting the region? 

A. Bring lots of sunscreen. Always, if possible, get a local surf guide to show you around the breaks. Pack extra fins, wax and leash also good to have a ding repair kit with you. Nearly all breaks will be reef breaks so be prepared and bring reef shoes and a first aid kit just in case. Getting surfing equipment in the Solomons is almost impossible, so if you have any extra wax, fins, or an old board you would like to donate for the local kids that would be much appreciated.

Q. How long have you been operating your surf tours?

A. About 5 years. As part of surfing associations ocean waves initiative, we started surf tours to involve young surfers from local villages in the tourism industry, all money made from these tours go back to help our small surfing communities in local villages. 

Q. Most memorable swell?

A. January 2018 we had an amazing run of swell, perfect offshore barrels 8-10 foot, one week of uncrowded perfection.

Q.  Most undiscovered surf area? 

A. Shortland islands in the far western Solomon’s.

Interesting Solomon Islands History

The Solomon Islands is rich in historical and cultural stories. During WW2 the region witnessed many vicious land and sea battles. After the intense Pearl Harbour saga the yanks began a strategic offence against the Japanese here in the Solomon’s. Loads of war artefacts are still scattered throughout the lands to this day. Same goes, for wartime shipwrecks – there’s hundreds of vessels on the ocean floor throughout the isles which have created a unique place to scuba dive and snorkel.

Interesting fact: a young JFK (pre presidential days) captained a PT-109 (patrol torpedo boat) that was sliced in half by the Japanese in the Solomon’s. His and the crews remarkable tale of survival is well documented on the aptly named Kennedy Island, where they sheltered until rescue. The unpopulated and naturally beautiful Kennedy Island is really close to Fatboys Resort – a top spot for beers and a BBQ. 

Surfing Skull Island is also a somewhat unexpected lesson in history too, for here lies the skulls of vanquished warriors and chiefs passed. In order to enter upon the island itself the cultural custom is to gain permission from the spirit world via a local guide. Skull Island seems hauntingly calm and it’s quite a surreal experience to see skull formations up close and personal, covered in moss and merged with the (super?) natural world.

During my brief Skull Island visit I was encouraged to touch the statue of the local peoples revered fishing God. I did so apprehensively and was surprisingly (though not to the locals) rewarded by landing myself a 12kg wahu and scoring perfect runner waves the very next day. Wonders never cease hey.

Surf Travel Tips for the Solomon Islands

  • Since you’re in the tropics it is strongly advised to take anti-malaria medication. Sleeping under a mosquito net in remote areas is also recommended.
  • Observe and respect local customs. For example; beachwear is fine in resort areas but its best to throw on a light weight shirt if you’re exploring villages.
  • Stop by local markets for fresh produce and a locally crafted souvenirs.
  • Eat lobster every day if you can, it’s the sweetest, freshest and one of the cheapest options to feast on. Lash with garlic and chili on an open flame for best results.
  • A regular medium sized board is a must and maybe a step up board a few inches bigger for when the waves are solid. 
  • Book a minimum 7-10 day surfing sojourn in the Solomon’s to ensure you jag waves and have bonus time to explore the region on lay days.

Getting There

The Solomon Islands is a short 3 hour flight from Brisbane to Honiara. Solomon Airlines offers the best flight schedule and timely connections to the outer islands too.

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