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Surf Travel Destination: Samoa

Posted: Friday Jul 31, 2009     By: Waterways     Category: Surf Travel

Samoa and the Salani Surf Resort , a Polynesian Paradise.

Ever wonder what Hawaii would be like if it had been left mostly alone?
Samoa is the answer to your wonderment. Samoa isn't as famous as its cousins Tahiti or Hawaii, but experienced travelers learn that sometimes the place you don't hear much about is the place to go. That is what experienced travelers know about Samoa and the Salani Surf Resort.

The poly (many) nesia (islands) of Samoa are halfway between Hawaii and New Zealand from north to south, and halfway between the Savage Islands of Fiji and the Society islands of Tahiti from east to west. The Samoan archipelago is made up of four main islands – Savaii, Upolu, Tutila, and Tau – and together they were known as the Navigator's Islands by explorers because the Samoans were fearless ocean-goers.

On the southeast side of the island of Upolu, in Samoa (Western Samoa) the Salani Surf Resort offers a relaxing, refreshing taste of untainted Polynesia. Salani is the tropical ideal, so idyllic it almost seems like a movie set – a small, modern surf village close to a small, traditional Samoan village, built at the mouth of a river between the deep, green jungle and the deep blue sea. At 13 degrees south of the equator, the heat can be intense, the coral reefs are sharp, there are critters skittering around in the jungle bush and critters cruising the edge of the reef. Salani Resort puts guests into the heart of this coral jungle experience but places them a little above it all in the 8 fale (bungalows) that are elevated, ventilated, electrified, fan cooled. Windows let the cool breezes in and look out on spectacular views of the river, the mountains and the left reef pass that is within view of the camp. Electric fans and screens keep the heat and the mosquitoes out: "Because of the salty river and the breeze, Salani is a mosquito-free sanctuary - which is really nice," said Sean Murphy of WaterWays Travel.

Salani has three open skiffs – no waiting – to take surfers out to the smorgasbord of surf breaks that were designed by a surfer-loving God to handle the variety of conditions that sweep over and through Samoa year around. Salani Right is to Salani Resort what Lowers is to Orange County: Reliable, but much longer and hollower. Pat O'Connell made the cover of Surfer riding a Samoan wave: "That was the Big Issue of Surfer Magazine in 1997, I think," Pato said. "The cover was a barrel from Salanis. Actually that was one of the first waves I caught there, and that is my favorite surf photo I've ever had of myself. I never surfed the left but it didnąt really faze me because all I really wanted to do was sit in those right barrels anyways. The best thing about the wave in my opinion is that you can get tubed almost every wave, and I could sit so far back in the tube and somehow find the end. The wave bends real hard as it goes towards the channel and I can remember rides where I couldnąt see anything but bending wall and then, bam, out into the channel. If you do eat it you're not going to drown. The wave has power but it's not like the North Shore. I would definitely suggest going there. The food is really good and the beer is cold so what else can you be looking for on a surf trip: Warm water, cool waves and a righteous buzz."

Salani Left is visible from the fale at the resort, and some guests have to pinch themselves to make sure they aren't dreaming. This is the kind of long, tropical left reef that most people stare at for hours on their cubicle calendars. Salani Resort confronts surfers with the reality of their fantasy wave, but keeps an eye on them as the left has power at any size and can handle up to 10 feet.

When the southeast winds blow, The Island is the go. About a mile and a quarter offshore, the island is actually a small islet with a powerful left that breaks in pristine, clear water over a pristine coral reef. This is the tropical fantasy even for people who live in the tropics, and when the swell is down, the diving is world class.

Rusty's is a newer spot, a long, barreling right on the outer reef that is longer than Salani Right but just as hollow. Rusty's ends in a deep channel that whisks you out the back as the Theme from Jaws echoes in your mind. But no worries. Sharks just aren't a problem in Samoa.

Boulders is another option when the southeast winds are blowing, or when the swell has maxed out everywhere else. A 10-minute paddle across an emerald lagoon and a short walk along a black-sand beach takes you to the takeoff spot at Boulders – against the base of a cliff. This is a left point that starts as a steep drop at the base of a cliff, then barrels over boulders, then a rock and mushroom-head coral reef for as long as 150 meters, spitting and grinding as it goes along.

Samoa is the land of the endless summer, but in the winter, the north side of the island picks up swell that has crossed the equator from frigid areas in the north. The trip from Salani to the other side of the island winds through scenery that is closest in appearance to Tahiti, or the east side of Oahu. The favored spot on that side of the island is Tiavea, a large bay with four different waves: a big right on one side of the bay, a shallow left on the other and a rivermouth peak with a right and a left in the middle.

Heaps of surf, as the Australians say, and heaps of time to enjoy more than most people can handle, along with the other attractions of Samoa: spectacular diving, fishing for game fish, hiking in the jungle and freedom from cell phones, email, traffic and the other annoyances of the 21st Century.

Salani Surf Resort is not the obvious choice for a tropical surf adventure, but it might be the best choice you ever make.

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Contact WaterWays Travel for availability and reservations - 888.699.7873