Admit it: at some point in your life, you’ve had a silly surf-travel fantasy. Whether it was a rum-soaked fortnight with Anna Kournikova on Tavarua or a frostbitten slog with a bunch of stinky dudes on the edge of Greenland, a dream is a dream, and who’s to say yours was dumber than mine?
As a teenager, my fantasy was to discover a pristine right-hander in the Seychelles, an idyllic Indian Ocean chain known for small, bad waves. Honeymooners and natural beauty, yes, but spitting tubes? Hardly.
My dad had an ancient issue of Surfer magazine showing a guy longboarding on clean, chest-high Seychelles lefts. For a 14-year-old accustomed to booties and fullsuits, those waves were ideal—tame, warm, inviting—and I was determined to go there someday, because if the Seychelles had a perfect left-hander, there had to be a perfect right nearby.
A few years back, magazine editors laughed when I said I was planning a Seychelles sojourn. There’s no surf there, they promised. Too fickle…too expensive…too windy…you’ll get skunked, for sure. Theoretically, I was more likely to find surf on Mars (or Greenland, for chrissakes, but that’s another story).
But because those editors dissed my trip, I vowed to conversely diss them by scoring where no writer or surf-traveler had ever scored before.
Descending into its small airport, my particular Seychelles island had green summits wreathed in cloud, veined with waterfalls, eschewing traditional geography of a traditional place. Its white-sand beaches were flawless, fronted by turquoise lagoons, backed by dense groves of coconut palms and takamaka trees—historically, Seychelles is reputed to be the original site of the Garden of Eden, and upon first glance, I could see why.
The Edenic aura was enhanced further when, moments before touchdown, flying over a reef pass not far from shore, I spotted a classic, telltale whitewater symmetry—it was a perfect right-hander looping along the reef, eventually expiring into a bluey-green channel, where two dark men fished from a pirogue.
The wave seemed fake, like one of those kitschy paintings hawked to tourists in Waikiki, and my Seychelles hideaway was a decidedly unmodern place, sunny and slow, way off the surf-travel radar, sunken into the periphery of an equatorial ocean long revered for its treasure, its piracy, its mystique. But not for its rare barrels, which, if you listened to magazine editors, were completely nonexistent.
Next time, I’ll bring Anna.