While some exotic surf zones around the world are starting to struggle to manage crowds, tempers and expectations, Papua New Guinea has a ‘Surf Management Plan’ that appears to be working really well. White Horses magazine was intrigued by the idea that the rest of the surfing world could learn something important from this small island nation.

Andrew Rigby. Photo: PNG Surfaris / Chris Peel

Crew involved:

DOP: Shane Peel from My House Pictures
Drone filmer: Glen Glaydon,
Surfers: Felicity Palmateer, Andy Mooney, and friends
Direction/Edit: Gra Murdoch & Shane Peel

This clip broadly sketches out the Surf Management Plan, and shows how it’s possible for Surf Tourism to be sustainable, and how everyone can benefit if we all do the right thing.

The successful controlled development of Papua New Guinea tourism and benefits afforded to locals through the Surf Association Abel Reverse spiral management scheme created over the last 22 years has resulted in a unique and unprecedented approach to the creation of an equitable and sustainable surf tourism model that can be applied to other niche tourism sectors around the globe.

Photo : PNG surfaris / Chris Peel

This model has caught the attention of the World Bank through the IFC who funded the SAPNG Strategic Master Plan. The SAPNG is now embarking on their draft stage of their Bill for an Act of Parliament known as the SAPNG Surf Management and Development Act.

Photo: PNG Surfaris / Chris Peel

PNG has unlimited surfing potential from October to April during monsoon seasons and thousands of miles of coastline just waiting to be explored- not to mention breathtaking scenery and pristine atolls. Located just south of the equator and 100 miles to the north of Australia. PNG enjoys warm waters and consistent waves, complemented by the rich and diverse traditional culture time of its people in its premier surf destinations of Vanimo, Wewak, Madang and New Ireland provinces.

Great surfing isn’t all that PNG offers. The same winds that surfers enjoy also make for perfect kite surfing which is relatively undiscovered. The warm waters of PNG are uncrowded and ideal for kite enthusiasts. The reef breaks provide great action for wave rider, while the pristine blue lagoons lure flat-water fans. Visit PNG from late May through to November to take advantage of the Laurabada trade winds, providing consistent 10.25 knot winds.

Kite surfers should focus their attention on the southern part of PNG. Areas around Port Moresby and Milne Bay have optimal conditions and stunning scenery. Fifteen minutes from Port Moresby, Sero beach’s large lagoon gives way to a surf break 500 yards out. Daugo Island is a 20 minute boat ride from the Port and one of the best local spots to kite surf. Two hours down the coast, Hula is a large peninsula that receives the full brunt of Laurabada winds, creating the optimal environment for kite surfers.

MV Golden Dawn has been providing diving charters in Papua New Guinea and has recently begun offering Kitesurfing charters.

It sounds like something from a post World War II cargo cult: Three decades ago, an Australian pilot leaves a surfboard in a remote village in Papua New Guinea called Vanimo. The village, which lacks rudimentary facilities like electricity or running water, becomes surf crazy. Twenty years on, surfing is not only a pillar of village life but also a means to prestige. With no access to economic or educational advancement, village life is hermetic. A spot on the Papua New Guinea national surfing team is the way to see the wider world; the only way.

Feature Credits:

Directed and Shot by Adam Pesce
Produced by Perrin Chiles
Edited by Kim Roberts
Score by Jesse Voccia


The Grass Roots documentary is an extended version from upcoming filmmaker Beau Eastman. The documentary showcases not only a surf trip to amazing waves but also the positive ripple effects that surf tourism can have on the host community. Join Beau, World Surfaris boss, Shaun Levings and son Jai on the trip of a lifetime.


Photo: PNG Surfaris Chris Peel. Rider: Andrew Rigby

The PNG Explorer is a live-aboard ship designed for surfing, fishing, diving, and general tourism in PNG. Its home port is Kavieng in the northeastern archipelago of New Ireland Province.

Steve Arklay Photography

Your hosts, Andrew and Jude Rigby, are committed to establishing PNG Surfaris as the best tourism live-aboard in the country through providing exceptional service, preserving a high safety standard and by promoting sustainable tourism which benefits local communities and has a low impact on the environment.

Joel Coleman Photography

Fly into Kavieng then straight onto the air-conditioned comfort of the “PNG EXPLORER”, a 23m steel vessel kitted out with all mod cons and safety gear. Cruising along at a comfortable nine knots, the “PNG EXPLORER” and her crew will ensure you have the charter experience of a lifetime. Leaving Kavieng, your destination will be much further afield to the many islands and reefs still being explored for surf. There are many known breaks that you will visit but many more that we are yet to discover.

Other options:

Nusa Island Retreat is set on an idyllic point surrounded by a beautiful swimming beach teeming with marine life. It is the perfect choice for those seeking that elusive slice of paradise. The environmentally low impact retreat is within easy reach of Kavieng township (just two minutes by boat). At 2.5 degrees south of the equator, the perfect tropical weather will ensure a superb Melanesian holiday.

Vanimo Surf Lodge has a range of surf breaks on the north coast of Papua New Guinea neighbouring Indonesia’s territory of Jayapura. The concept of the Vanimo Surf Lodge was born from friendly conversations between Andy Abel and David Ryan after a few early expeditions in the early 1990’s.

Turpira Surf Club has access to up to seven uncrowded breaks and Ulingan Bay is one of the most consistent swell magnets in Papua New Guinea. Tupira Surf Club, Ulingan Bay is located approximately 180 kilometres north of Madang Town and approx. a 2 hour scenic drive from Madang Airport by sealed road along the beautiful north coast of Madang.

Rubio Plantation offers basic traditional accommodation and a home-stay vibe. For the surf adventurer looking for a new location with guaranteed no crowds. This surf-rich east coast of New Ireland is unchartered by mainstream surfers and the potential for world class waves is endless.

Source: http://www.sapng.com/

Steve Arklay Photography


The battle that local surfers in PNG face in just finding/securing an old/new fibreglass surfboard to simply enjoy what we take for granted, is an ongoing challenge in the village communities as the sport evolves. The growth of SAPNG affiliated surf clubs in PNG in all divisions is inspiring the growth of the surfing culture and way of life and donations will help SAPNG to further expand its reach to established and yet to be established new surfing destinations in remote village communities. The donations will be distributed through SAPNG established networks.

Photo: PNG Surfaris / Chris Peel

For most, Papua New Guinea is not a well-known destination for surfing, however, people have been surfing here for hundreds of years. New Ireland has become known to surfers only over the last 15 years, with the opening of Nusa Island Retreat who was the first to promote surfing and cater for travelling surfers in and around the Kavieng area.

Steve Arklay Photography

While many international surf destinations rapidly pass through stages of initial discovery and early years of limited exposure and exploitation; all too often the once pristine surf destination quickly becomes overexposed, overexploited and overcrowded. The magic is lost as the resort operators & tour operators quickly take control, resulting in overcrowding and over development with the primary goal becoming profit generation for the operators.

Steve Arklay Photography

Fortunately, PNG has had the foresight to observe and identify the many shortcomings of over-commercialisation of surf resources in various other mainstream locations. The Association, its Clubs, Resource Communities and ultimately the commercial tour and service operators have necessarily aligned and agreed to the establishment of Surf Management Plans in order to promote sustainable growth of surf tourism in line with agreed expectations and benefits at each level of the PNG Surf movement.

Photo: PNG Surfaris / Chris Peel