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The Wave - Around the World in 80 Waves (41-60)

Around the World in 80 Waves #41 Mayumba, Gabon (photo : John Callahan/surfEXPLORE) : Thundering phosphorescent left pointbreak trio destined for the hardcore explorer. First Point stands up for 100 metres between igneous rocks, bearing its teeth. Second Point, at high tide, is three times as long, peeling at pace. Third Point is a series of shallow sections snapping passionately at the sand, inviting the goofyfooter. The prime season is from April to September, usually 4-6 ft everyday. A gruelling 700 miles roadtrip south from Gabon's capital Libreville, Mayumba is a dilapidated timber town, with an unhurried atmosphere, two places to stay, and copious bars serving local iced Regab beers and playing infectious Afro-zouk music. John Callahan and his surfEXPLORE collective documented Mayumba in 2010 under stellar conditions, naming First Point 'Tam Tams' after the best tavern in town, Tam Tam Week-End Bar.

#42 Medewi, Indonesia : Curling cobblestone and sand left pointbreak near Pekutatan village, west Bali, with gorgeous (despite the muddy waters) easy-to-ride sections. This is a real Southern Californian-style wave, smooth, and always enjoyable. Peelers 400 metres long have been reported during once-a-season swells. Dawn patrols are vital as the wave is wind affected. If you don’t mind a bit of wind crumble, crowds disappear when the breeze strikes. There is a black sand beachbreak either side (the silt colouring the water), and losmens on the point. The drive from Denpasar can be gridlocked with traffic, so best stay locally. The season is May to October, for south to southwest swells. Balinese morning glass is ideal. All tides break from two to four feet. “I rate this as the top longboard left in Indo,” says Australian noseriding stylist Belinda ‘Bindy’ Baggs.

#43 Millers Right, Indonesia (photo : Paul Kennedy) : Amazing horseshoe bay right reef in Tarimbang, Sumba, Nusa Tenggara, with ludicrous velvet walls, sometimes 200 metres long. The first section has a ruler-edge shoulder, the middle allows cutbacks as the wave refracts, and at low tide there is a predicable barrel at the tail end. Long enough to spread out the usually solid crowd. Normally cut into a series of take-off spots on smaller swells, or in southeast trade winds. Can break year-round, but best between March and October on southwest swells. All tides are good, holding 2-8 ft. Strong arms are a massive asset for the extended paddle.

#44 Mompiche, Ecuador (image : Paul Kennedy) : Evergreen left pointbreak running 300 metres over reef and hard-packed sand in the equatorial northwest verde province of Esmeraldas. The low tide take-off, over shallow basalt, throws a funky 10 metre tube section, then the wave bowls for countless roundhouses, before walling towards the inside for long slides, and ultimately a floater onto the beach (packed with scuttling crabs that scuttle away as you walk). The swell season is October to March, when a north or northwest pulse, and a northeast wind delivers 3-6 ft perfection. “I came here in the late ‘90s and it still remains the best tropical left I’ve ridden,” says multiple Welsh and European Champion Chris Griffiths. “We had a seven day swell, and minute long rides - real leg-burners.”

#45 Mona Liza Point, the Philippines : Righthand playground of reef point, peaking, swinging and peeling for 100 metres along a finger of flat rock near San Juan, La Union, on the west coast of Luzon. You can paint your style to perfection on the open walls. There’s a vibrant local scene. This is the surf culture capital of the Philippines, with travelers, Japanese and Australian expats and friendly Filipino crew, including national champion Luke Landrigan. There are easy beach breaks just north in the bay with surf schools and lessons. The northeast monsoon, Amihan, between November and April, blows consistent 2-4 ft north fetch swells, clear skies, and light offshores. Mona Liza hosts an annual surf carnival and jamboree every February. Enjoy.

#46 Mount Irvine, Trinadad & Tobago (photo : Baby Marmotte) : High-octane, high performance right reefbreak, reeling like a point into Great Courland Bay, Tobago. Often framed by catamarans, this is one of the Caribbean’s best surfing vistas. The season is November to April when 2-6 ft north to northeast swells will blow offshore all day. Mid to high tide is best. It gets crowded and the paddle is gruelling. Let the locals dominate and a good attitude might be rewarded with a few offerings. Even the left over shoulders are first-rate. Be prepared for sudden hollow sections over shallow coral. Opt for the paddle from the bay rather than the locals-only jump from the point.

#47 Nine Palms, Mexico (photo : Jocelyn Mathe) : Majestic desert point right just north of San Jose del Cabo, southern Baja. Offshore in summertime west winds with minute long rides scattering take-off spots over soft white sand. All tide is fine. It’s never hollow, but fast and playful. You can hit the lip, glide or weave turns. Twenty cutbacks per ride are possible. After a set, prone in, walk up the beach to the point, clamber over some rocks and jump into the line-up at the take-off spot (be sure to move to the back of the queue. Everyone has to line-up, even in paradise!) May to October produces long fetch Pacific south swells, resulting in all-day sessions. Stay hydrated. Mexican tropical storms (chubascos) produce swells anytime from August to November.

#48 Noosa Heads, Australia : Mesmerizing line-up of aquamarine peelers on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, and maybe the finest set of right longboard pointbreaks on the planet. ‘Noosa’ in aboriginal means ‘place of shade’, and the pointbreaks are set in a National Park teeming with koalas and pandanus palms. There is a choice of five beauties: Granite Bay, Tea Tree (spinning 300 metres over satin smooth boulders), National Park (or Boiling Pot), Johnsons (or Little Cove) and First Point (or Main Beach). You can walk to all of them along a manicured wooden pathway. Facing north, the points need a juicy cyclone swell in the Coral Sea to fire-up to white heat intensity. This happens between December and May, peaking through February and April when the annual Noosa Festival of Surfing gathers the world’s elite longboarders for a one-week noseriding jamboree in the spirit of the 1950s and ‘60s. Noosa is showcased in all its glory in Thomas Campbell’s retro-revival film Sprout (2004). It’s also home to 2007 ASP World Longboard Champion Josh Constable, and single fin specialists Belinda ‘Bindy’ Baggs, Harrison Roach, Matt Cuddihy and Jai Lee.

#49 N’Tirift, Western Sahara (photo : JS Callahan/surfEXPLORE) : Hypnotic steam-powered sand bottom right pointbreak, peeling for 200 metres, 60 miles north of Dakhla. This is a seasonal octopus fishing village and the shoreline can be linked by a colony of bright blue fishing boats, tents and rugs anytime during the November to March northwest swell season. Outback sets rise like black-bodied whales, lining up before hitting the inside bar, wrapping and spinning faster and faster. Three tubes on one ride are possible. Or stay on the shoulder for turns and flow. Easy to ride. After a long one, walk around the beach and paddle out at the top of the point. Low tide is faster, high slower, mid on the push the best. There is an even better right called La Sarga on the southern tip of the Dakhla peninsula, but it remains off limits due to a Moroccan military base.

#50 Ollie’s Point, Costa Rica (photo : Alfonso Petrirena) : Isolated rivermouth right, peppered by hot offshores, and breaking for 150 metres in the arid Guanacaste Province. Northwest Arctic 3-4 ft swells between December and April combine with blistering dry season winds. Beat the breeze at dawn. Low tide is best. Watch out for crocodiles. Boat access is possible from Playas del Coco or Tamarindo. Riding a Robert August built single fin, Californian Robert ‘Wingnut’ Weaver placed Ollie’s Point firmly on the travel map, styling drop-knees and feathering fives in Bruce Brown’s The Endless Summer II (1994). The film helped launch surf tourism in Costa Rica. “The wind opens out the sections for cover ups and the longest stretch fives imaginable,” says Wingnut.

#51 Pacasmayo, Peru : Desert coast charm, panning and cracking left down a pointbreak for 1,000 metres. Weary two mile rides are possible. Pacasmayo picks up more swell than her neighbour, Chicama. It has a sharp bottom, and is fairly powerful. There is almost constant south and southwest swell, biggest between April and October. Offshore southeast winds are common. Low to mid tide is best, and anything from 3-8 ft will be ballistic. Dense la gurua fog is common between April and November. Peru has surfing pedigree: Fisherman are reputed to have been riding waves on reed boats in the northern coastal villages of Pimentel and Huanchaco for 3,000 years. And when Peru hosted the 1965 World Championships, local Felipe Pomar won in style.

#52 Pasta Point, Maldives (photo : Andrew Shield) : Beautiful coiling left reef, unravelling like spaghetti for 50 metres down Chaaya atoll, and exclusive to 30 surfing guests at Dhonveli Resort. Often breaking like sheet glass, the water can be so clear that it is hard to make out the curvature of the wave. The reefs below are thriving, a web of electricity crackling just under the skin of the sea. April to October is the season for south swells, usually 3-6 ft. Northwest winds are favoured and low tide is best. A long right (with a shorter left) called Sultans is a quick dhoni ride away on Thamburudhoo island. Light-footed Australian Harley Ingelby won the 2009 ASP Longboard World Titles at Pasta Point under sensational conditions.

#53 Pavones, Costa Rica : Series of cobble-bottom left points, peeling for a jaw-dropping mile, hidden in the hot and humid far south near Golfito. Pavones demands a pumping southwester swell, usually hitting between April and August. Crowds get tetchy, so stay cool. There are three sections: outside, where expats and regulars pick off sets that can run 300 metres, taking a high, fast line. Then a hollow racetrack. And finally, the plush, slower, user-friendly inside point, breaking past The Cantina, and opening out for lip-tickling rides, stalls and cutbacks. At high tide the so-called ‘La Esquina del Mar’ section peels for 150 metres, tight to the shore, inviting a long walk back up the point, or an ice-cold Imperial beer.

#54 Punta de Lobos / Pichilemu, Chile : Swell-bombarded left pointbreak, sweeping 400 metres over sandy sections, with easy and open cool-water walls. The main point is just south of the surfer-friendly fishing village of Pichilemu. It breaks all year, the chilly Humboldt Current pushing storm after storm up from the Arctic. South (surazo) winds, low tides and anything in the 3-10 ft size range is right on. Pichilemu is the Chilean surf capital, arguably one of the most consistent surf areas on the planet. There are contests, crowds and pollution, but Brazilian visitor and 2007 ASP World Longboard Champion Phil Rajzman claims, “It’s the best left in the world. You can charge it for one mile (if your legs are strong enough!).”

#55 Pipa, Brazil : Vibrant and mellow equatorial pointbreak framed by pink sandstone cliffs, south of Natal in Rio Grande do Norte. Pipo needs a solid groundswell to come alive (most likely between November to March during Brazilian summertime), when you might share the set-up with dolphins. Long smooth walls blaze over sand and reef. Further into the bay, Lajao is a super consistent punchy, sometimes hollow, right beachbreak working all year at 2-5 ft in east to southeast trade wind swells. Praia Da Pipa (Kite Beach) is a cosmopolitan traveller town, and has been a surf centre since the 1970s, with schools, camps, cobblestone streets and buzzing nightlife.

#56 Pleasure Point, USA : Multiple set of rubber-smooth right peelers (and shorter lefts) spread over four peaks in Santa Cruz. The name says is all. Pacific bliss. From Sewer Peak (a bowling right and gnarly left) through First Peak and Second Peak (the longer open-faced reelers) to Middles and The Hook you’ll witness the fine-art of flowing northern Californian surfing by the locals. Robert ‘Wingnut’ Weaver is a regular here. Pleasure Point is a super consistent year-round spot. It breaks in both warm summer south swells and cold winter 6 ft north swells, spinning off the Aleutian Islands from October to March. Tide range is large, and low to mid is best.

#57 Pottuvil Point, Sri Lanka : Stunning sand bottom right pointbreak that, on its day, can be the longest ride in Sri Lanka - a leg-sapping 600 metres plus. The southwest monsoon produces offshore winds all along the east coast, and 3-6 ft surf from April to October. During the northeast monsoon, the east coast is flat, making Hikkaduwa, Midigama and Marissa on the west coast the magnets. Pottuvil Point is a 30 minute tuk-tuk ride from Arugam Bay, and, like its neighbour favours later season conditions when the sand-bar has formed. Low tide is best. Massive, groaning granite rocks mark the take-off for thrilling rides tight to the beach. When it’s small, if you’ve packed the retro board you won’t regret it - your reference point is Thomas Campbell’s film Sprout (2004).

#58 Puertecillo, Chile : Marathon-length left pointbreak, running 300 metres and tucked into stunning, pristine surroundings southwest of Navidad in Cardenal Caro Province. It hollows out more and more with size, but is an easier ride when below head high. Antarctic lows pump southwest swells from 3-10 ft year round. Low tide and a south wind is best. Watch out for rips and rocks. There are no facilities for surf tourism in the small beach town, making four wheel drive access (along a private road) with locals essential. Camping permits are required. Threatened by development, Puertecillo needs to be mapped as a world class surf break to survive. “Speed through the sections like nowhere else,” says Phil Rajzman. “And the landscape is untouched.”

#59 Punta Conejo, Mexico (image : Punta Conejo Resort) : Superb and salacious sand-bottom right pointbreak in Salina Cruz, East Oaxaca, occasionally lining up for 400 metres at low tide. Nearby is Punta Chivo, a softer right point wave beside a casual fishing village. The Salina Cruz area hosts surf camps, tours and schools, capitalizing on the region’s multiple choices, including Barra de la Cruz (La Jolla), which hosted the legendary 2006 ASP Rip Curl Search in flawless caverns. Punta Conejo breaks regularly at 2-6 ft from April to October on southwest swells. Unfortunately this is also the rainy season. From October to April the surf can be blown out by a strong northeast trade wind known as the Tehuano.

#60 Punta Roca, El Salvador : Fast and fantastic right pointbreak, snapping at the heels for 300 metres over shallow boulders. La Libertad was once war-torn, but is now a surf-boom town. El Salvador’s south facing coast has perfect exposure to southwest swells, best between May and September, but possible all year. Commonly a solid 4-6 ft. Take advantage of offshore mornings as the wind swings at lunchtime. Leg-ache and noodle-arm certain. Low tide is best. In 1977 director John Milius travelled here with surfers Billy Hamilton, Pete Townend, Ian Cairns, Gerry Lopez and cameramen George Greenough and Dan Merkel to shoot Big Wednesday (1978). Punta Roca stunt-doubled as Malibu (‘The Point’). Billy ‘Matt Johnson’ Hamilton styling on a red log still inspires surfers today.

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