>Panaitan surfing tour


>

In recent years Panaitan Island has been a hot bed of controversy in the surf world, due in large part to the building of a surf camp on the island, which happens to be a World Heritage Site. The island itself is essentially a horseshoe containing several world-class, shallow, thumping waves and some outer-reef, deep-water phantoms that break infrequently. Knowledge of the island was protected for years by the guys who made the open-ocean passage to it until the camp controversy shoved it into the spotlight.

But just because we all now know about it doesn’t mean we’re all jumping into a hired boat and heading straight there. The spots on the island aren’t a bunch of playful sandbars or fun pointbreaks — they are expert-only, and staying there is even less inviting, because the island is part of the Ujung Kulon National Park, which means they’ve worked hard to make sure the tiger, snake, and shark populations are thriving. Oh, and that’s not mentioning the clouds of mosquitoes …

On a message board, here’s how a self-professed frequenter of the island described it: “Anybody that comes back more than once does so on a boat because it is the only way. You have gotta have a desire for heavy duty juice and poundings if this is your cup of tea. It is not the thin lipped perfection of the Mentawais and not the super user friendly zone of Bali with all the options to suit different levels.”

Many Web sites suggest wearing “safety gear,” and more than one refers to surfing there as “reckless.” But rumors abound that One Palm Point has produced the longest left-hand barrel rides ever …

Still want to go?

Crowds
Crowds are minimal due to the sheer intensity of the waves when they’re firing. Early pioneers of the place wore wetsuits to protect them from being pureed by the reef. Getting to the island involves taking on some pretty serious seas, too. All these factors and more keep the crowds lean and … well … mean.
Hazards
Other than a never-ending razor-sharp live coral reef, jagged cliffs, inescapable double-overhead waves, sharks, plagues of mosquitoes, tigers, numerous snakes, the possibility of getting lost at sea on your way to the island, and possibly an albino rhinoceros or two, none to speak of.
Pollution
None. This is pristine wilderness on the scale of Call Of The Wild.
The Seasons

Summer
November through February is not the right time of year for Panaitan, which wants the heavy winter swell action from the south.

Fall
As the Roaring 40s start raging, swell starts arriving. Typically, the first south and southwest swells of the year arrive in mid fall (late March), and by the time winter has officially started, all bets are off.

Winter
Winter (May-September) is prime time for those gutsy/stupid enough to risk it.

Spring
Spring sees the end of the southern swells and the onset of summer.

Reading
Surfer Magazine’s online piece about the camp.