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Papua New Guinea Travel

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Papua New Guinea (PNG) is just being discovered as a surfing destination, but it's already dear that there are some very good waves here. Surfing first came to PNG many years ago when Australian expatriate workers brought their boards and enjoyed the wide variety of untouched breaks. Though some locals picked up surfing, it's only in the last few years that a defined local surfing community has developed —thanks in no small part to Andrew Abel. The Austral¬ian, now president of the Surfing Association of Papua New Guinea, started teaching the locals in 1990, do¬nating his own boards to the cause. Interest grew rapidly and now there are around 100 local surfers, from five-years-olds to adults, and the country has own representative surfing team which competes in international meets. Along with the selection trials held before major competitions, there are also an¬nual surfing competitions in Vanimo, situated near the PNG-Indonesia border.

The waves in PNG are seasonal, and definitely at their best during the northwest monsoon season from October to March, the country's spring and summer seasons. During this time the islands pick up swells generated by tropical depressions from the Philippine Sea, which provide steady waves of 1-2m — though they can get up to 4-5m. Three of the best places for surfing are Vanimo and Wewak on the north coast of New Guinea, and Kavieng in New Ireland.

The Vanimo Surf Club in the Sandaun Province is PNG's major surfing resort. The village-style ac¬commodation can cater to four couples and 10 sin¬gles, and overlooks the right-hand point break. The waves are consistent, the people are hospitable and all in all it's an idyllic retreat. The other major surf club is the Nusa Islands Retreat in Kavieng. This newly opened resort doesn't have the population of local surfers that Vanimo has, but it's expected to growand develop as PNG continues to build a reputation as a major surfing destination. Wewak is situated in a rather poor and undeveloped province but the waves around this area are excellent.

New Guinea's southern coast also receives waves from the cyclones in the Coral Sea, and though the surf is inconsistent, when it does arrive it's good. There are numerous reef breaks, and the beach at Hula — where there's a small, friendly surfing com¬munity — has a good shore break. Some practical advice for visiting surfers: take precautions against malaria and take booties for the sharp reefs.

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