This summer was one to remember in terms of waves. With the south side of Kaua’i seeing its biggest swell in years and some out of the ordinary north swells, there was no shortage of great rides. Roughly 2,600 miles south of us is Tahiti, and the fascinating thing is the surfers over there get to surf the south swells before they travel up to Hawai’i. I was able to visit Tahiti with Micah and bring Spirit of CAN. along for the ride.
Our Summer is their winter below the equator. The magnitude of the swells they receive are pure and powerful. The week we were there happened to be the biggest swell in the last 15 years. You can imagine the energy on the island and in the water. We had no idea what we were in store for.
As we left the island of Oahu en route to Tahiti, we felt a sense of adventure and excitement. This was only just the beginning. As we arrived in the Papeete we were greeted with drummers and dancers, and it was midnight! I knew it was going to be a good trip as we strapped our boards to the roof of our Ford Fiesta. We were then on our way to the end of the road, Teahupoo.
We got in late on the day of our arrival, so we went to sleep entrusting the roof over our heads to welcome us into the new day. And welcome it did. We woke up and went straight to the beach. It was a scene out of a movie. A rainbow poured right into the surf break. Teahupoo was awake.
Our days consisted of surfing, boating, eating the best food we’ve ever had, meeting new people and sharing CAN. along the way. We were fortunate to meet a man named Coco and his wife. He was full of pure joy and drove us on his boat for a ride we would never forget. He surfed his boat up the face of the waves with ease and knew the reefs like the back of his hand. Something that really stuck with me is the spirit of the people in Tahiti. Anywhere you go on the island you see positivity, people helping one another, and a true embodiment of what the Spirit of CAN. stands for. This was a beautiful lesson for us.
Being that we traveled to Tahiti in their winter, it meant it was also their rainy season. Each day the Earth was watered and the ocean was replenished. The opportunity came when the waves were perfect and the sun came out for a visit. Me, micah and some friends paddled out to the break. The water was not too cold and the current was strong. This wave was like nothing I could ever have dreamed of. The risk was extreme but the reward was too great to not try. There were just a handful of people around, no boats, no photographers just like how I thought it always was. This was very comforting. Some sizable waves were coming through and it took me a while to work up the courage to go for one. And then it came, the wave that beckoned me to go. My first ride at Teahupoo is one I will never forget.
As we enjoyed the next few days at a local homestay, we kept seeing the swell get upgraded. It would be a full moon the day the swell hit, and perhaps too big to even surf. With the unprecedented wave heights and full moon, coastal flooding was going to be intense. With these factors we decided to load up the fleet of Fords and head to Moorea with word that a secret wave could be good.
As we were on the ferry you could feel the swell on the way. The moon was high and we settled into our shack on the beach. Down a dirt road with wild dogs that greeted us, we saw waves glowing in the moonlight. We slept only as needed and awoke to waves like never before. This was a wave perhaps even more risky than I have ever surfed before.
Moorea left visions of stingrays, healthy but treacherous reefs, wild dogs, waterfalls and sharks. We had French pastries and the best poisson cru (kind of like coconut milk poke) ever. Although our week was coming to an end, it felt like a lifetime of memories were made.
Mauruuru. This is thank you in Tahitian, and it is all I can say for this experience. I am inspired by the people and beauty of the islands, and hope to return one day soon. This also sparked the travel bug for me. I hope that this left you with a bit of exploration in your heart too.