• Before they left for home, Chris Goodnow, Tony Fitzpatrick, and Scott Wakefield made a pact not to tell anyone about the waves at Macaronis/Pasongan Bay. Unlike other surfers who made similar decisions for their own benefit - to prolong their version of "surfers gold" - theirs was an arrangement driven by altruism. They'd seen what had happened to other places in Indonesia when photos were printed in the media and surfers came in droves. Invariably, those surfers didn't understand the local culture and thrust foreign values onto unprepared people.

    No-one knows who surfed Pasongan after them, however it would be over ten years till the wave was exposed to the world via video. Immediately following its exposure the surfers came, just as the trio knew they would, and the Mentawais quickly became the most talked about surf region in the world. Photos filled the magazines and an ever-growing fleet of charter boats plied its waters.

    Did the trio of surfers help the Pasongan locals by staying quiet about the wave? Or should they have devised a plan to prepare them for the onslaught of Western surfers? As he watched the Mentawai Islands assume a familiar economic trajectory, Chris Goodnow mulled these questions over in his head.

    Over the last two decades surf tourism has flourished, not just in Indonesia but elsewhere around the world. Amongst the many places he's surfed, Chris Goodnow has travelled to Hollister Ranch in California, Cloudbreak in Fiji, and Pasta Point in the Maldives. At those waves he saw models of surf tourism that contrasted against the laissez-faire approach at Pasongan.

    When waves are privatised they are inevitability serviced by the wealthy; they become exclusive play areas to those who can afford it. This concept bristles against our innate sense of a fair go for all. And yet when waves are opened to everyone their value is diminished due to overcrowding.

    With these various models of surf tourism in mind, Chris Goodnow ponders the future of Pasongan Bay.

  • From 1980 to present day

    When we returned to Sydney, everyone we surfed with at Manly and Curl Curl knew where we’d gone and wanted to know what the surf was like. We'd decided not to spill the beans. It was painful to see that look on people’s faces thinking “you losers” when we stuck to the party line of “we got a few waves but nothing to write home about - malaria, tropical ulcers, and difficult living conditions”.

    The decision to tell no-one about Pasongan was made while Scott, Tony, and I were in Sipura because we could not see a way to expose the spot for the benefit and not the harm of the gentle people of Silabu and other villages around Pasongan. We were acutely aware that these people had already suffered a great deal of adverse change.

    At the start of the 20th century Western missionaries arrived and taught the Mentawaians that, in addition to the hundreds of ocean and jungle deities they already feared, there was an additional almighty god whose son had died for their sins.

    With the formation of the Indonesian Republic, its Java-based government forced the Pagai people to live in policeable villages near the coast and abandon a thousand-year old lifestyle that kept them deep in the jungle safe from the region’s devastating tsunamis. Once they were shifted out of the forest, the logging company had set up a factory in Sikakap and was in the midst of clear-felling the Pagai islands when we arrived in 1980.

    I’d seen the surfing gold rush that descended on Nias after Erik Aeder’s photos were published, and the last thing the Pagai people needed was the arrival of hordes of surf nazis.

    There is an Indonesian saying that translates as, “To step on a man’s ground, to break his twigs, you must understand his culture”. We figured that if we resisted the exposure that occurred in Nias then, at least for some time, the only other surfers that walked on the twigs around Silabu would also have done their cultural homework.

    We told Martin, our host, that his village was sitting on a gold mine and that one day people from around the world would want to come ride its waves, but whether or not that was a good thing would depend upon how it could be managed.

    Remarkably, the secret held without a leak for more than a decade. I returned to Pasongan/Macaronis for several weeks in May 1981 with Tim Annand, a fellow veterinary medicine student from Sydney. The surf wasn’t as big, the thrill of discovery wasn’t there, and I came home with malaria. The four of us were now too immersed in our careers for further jungle trips, and anyway we swore we’d never go back unless it was with a boat that had a fridge!

    Tim Annand heading upriver ro Silabu in 1981
  • Who was the next to arrive - and who gave Pasongan its current name of Macaronis - remains unrecorded. I’ve heard that a surfer, possibly Peter Reeves from Newcastle, NSW, who'd spent a lot of time at Lagundri in Nias in the 80s, was camping and surfing at Pasongan when Martin Daly turned up in his salvage boat and asked what the spot was called. Reeves – or whoever it was - was eating a bowl of macaroni and said “Macaronis”. In March 1991, Lance Knight was out surfing at Katiet in Sipura when Martin Daly arrived there, giving it the name of Lance’s Right.

    Rip Curl’s 1992 Search video shot from Daly’s boat started the gold rush of Mentawai surf-charters. I was running a research lab at Stanford University in California by that time, but while in Sydney for Christmas I dropped in at the surfshop of an old friend, Julian Taylor. Up on the screen was footage of Tommy Carroll surfing a perfect lefthander I recognised immediately. Asking Julian where it was shot he replied, “Oh you won’t know, Chris, its some ultra-secret new spot”. I laughed, “I think I do know”.

    Scott and I returned to Macaronis in July 1996 with a group of Sydney friends aboard the yacht Katika, skippered by the wise John 'Bucket' McGroder. The good news was that we were out of the jungle away from the malarious mosquitoes, and we finally had a fridge. But by then there were usually one or two other boats anchored off the break plus a few tents in Martin’s coconut garden in the bay, so we spent as much time as possible exploring for new spots.

    Scott, Tony, Tim, and I returned again with our families in 2013 as guests of Macaronis Resort on the other side of Pasongan Bay. With a swimming pool, air conditioning, and a fridge in every room, our living conditions had certainly improved. We caught up with Martin in Silabu who, like us, is now in his fifties with grey hair, his kids proudly expanding the family teaching tradition. The village of Silabu has grown a little, the kids are better nourished, and there is intermittent electricity from a generator and a little income flowing from the resort.

    Out in the bay there were always between two and six surf charter boats at anchor, and the small takeoff spot was packed as densely as pictures you see of the Gold Coast’s Superbank.

    As our teenage sons pointed out, the line-up was way more crowded than any of the waves we surf at home, and much more tense. What was the point of travelling so far to scrabble in a pack of fifty cranky surfers? We surfed the speedy but less perfect outside break to ourselves.

    More than 30 surf-charter boats are now heavily overfishing the wave resource at Macaronis and the Mentawais. Some contribute a tiny mooring fee to Silabu village, but many refuse even to do that. When one of our group was asked by a boat captain to stitch up an injured surfer staying on his boat, the captain laughed when asked where the sharps bin was located and subsequently tossed the contaminated syringe into the bay. Looking at the packed line-up of surfers and boats, Joni Mitchell’s 1970 verse popped into my head: “Pave paradise, put up a parking lot”.

    Chris' children, Julia and Ben Goodnow, surfing Pasongan in 2013
  • On a very optimistic day I can imagine Macaronis, not as a parking lot, but managed as a sustainable resource preserving its value and the purpose of travelling such a long distance. A destination that remains attractive with a finite number of surfers at any one time taking turns to catch waves, governed by an openly accessible waiting list in which all stakeholders have faith. In this vision, each visitor would pay a substantial daily fee into a securely managed 'Silabu Trust', which would disburse the perpetual income from surfing visitors for education, medical services, and infrastructure for the Pagai villages. If surfers could achieve that goal we would avoid following the 'race to the bottom' that has charaterised the waves in Nias and that the logging companies pursued in the Mentawai forests.

    A 20th century ecologist, Garrett Hardin, called the market failure scenario currently occurring at Macaronis the “Tragedy of the Commons”. It was first spelt out in 1837 by William Forster Lloyd, a Fellow of the Royal Society, in describing the fate of common grazing lands used by all the livestock farmers in a small village. In Lloyd’s scenario, each farmer has a right to use the common resource, and each keeps adding more livestock because the marginal cost of doing so is zero and the short-term individual gains worthwhile. All the users know this is unsustainable but lack any mechanism for restraint, so the lands are overgrazed, devalued, and the farming economy ultimately fails.

    Textbook stuff. Yet it’s hard to argue with the idea that all surfers should be free to use the Mentawai waves, just as it would be a nice principle to allow all farmers to graze their cattle and sheep wherever they liked. So the charter boats and land resorts keep adding more livestock to the surfing commons, and the value of 'surfer’s gold' plummets.

    Britain in the nineteenth century addressed the Tragedy of the Commons by making the commons private property. The wealthy land-owners limited access to the private property, and set a fair value for use through the free market. It preserved the lands, but was also a market failure as it sent most of the population into famine.

    Uncrowded, perfect waves have much more esoteric value than food, but in the case of Pasongan what is at stake is the economy, health, and education of the surrounding villages. Can the surfer's version of the tragedy of the commons be avoided by a private property market solution?

    Probably the first application of privatized surfing was for the perfect waves of Cojo Point and other breaks along the Hollister Ranch, west of Santa Barbara in California. Subdivision of The Ranch to well-heeled surfers occurred in the 1970s at the time that Southern California surf was becoming overcrowded. Passing through in December 1978, I happened to be lucky enough to get an invite from a friend of a friend one afternoon, surfing an uncrowded Californian line-up with millionaires who could afford to buy a parcel of private paradise. Good if you can get it, but it didn’t sit well with my own belief that surf should be free.

    In 1978 I also had a first-hand view of the implementation of the private surf camp solution applied for a few years to G'Land by Californian Mike Boyum. I visited G'Land holding a legal permit of access from the head office of National Parks in Bogor and paid no access fee to Boyum. His imposition of exclusive access to G'Land had no basis in Javanese law as far as I could tell.

    By contrast, the private surfing resort at Tavarua in Fiji was based firmly on longstanding Fijian law governing the use of coral reefs adjacent to land owned by villages and their chiefs. Tavarua Resort was developed by Santa Barbara surfer, Dave Clark, and later with San Diego partner Jon Roseman, through an exclusive lease agreement with the nearest villages of Momi and Nabila that had legal rights to the use of the Cloudbreak and Tavarua island reefs. Like it or hate it, from 1982 until 2010 the resort of Tavarua kept the perfect waves at Cloudbreak from turning into 'Crowdbreak'.

    Whether it was a good or bad model depends on your point of view. If you were a villager of Momi or Nabila, or a surfer with the connections to get a week or two slot on Tavarua, it was a model of sustainability. For the villages it provided sustainable income, training, and better living standards. For a surfer with a Californian connection, it was worth saving for years to pay the market rate to surf the barrels of Cloudbreak with a friendly, well-regulated crew of other surfing guests.

    Chris enjoying Cloudbreak before the Fijian decree (Photo Scott Winer)
  • It was a different perspective, however, for the majority of Fijians or surfers. It seemed like a sinister model if you were a member of the other villages around Cloudbreak, an owner of nearby resorts, or an individual surfer who found that Tavarua was already booked out by established groups.

    I was lucky enough to end up on the fortunate side of this equation in 2008 and 2010, as a member of the California-based Surfers’ Medical Association that has been staying at Tavarua and providing health care and advice to Nabila and Momi since the early 1980s. It was a much better model for preserving paradise than what I’d seen happening at Macaronis, but it was not quite a free market any more than the pastures of 19th century England or the Hollister Ranch. The pressures of the majority, who were outside the fence looking in, led the Fijian government to issue a decree removing surfing from the established law governing reef use, making Cloudbreak a surfing commons.

    Australian Tony Hussein Hinde, who discovered all the perfect waves of North Male atoll in the Maldives in the early 1970s, established a sustainable, private property access model at Pasta Point that was and is a pretty good free market model. Any surfer, regardless of who they do or don’t know, can get a booking with the travel agency that Tony and his colleagues established, and be one of thirty surfers at any one time taking turns catching perfect waves in an uncrowded Pasta Point lineup. Bookings often need to be one or two years in advance, and supply and demand has set a substantial price for access. But saving up for ten days of that paradise once every couple of years is worth every cent.

    The first time I surfed at Pasta Point I was struck by the similarities with the lineup at Macaronis – and of course their noodle names - and couldn’t help contrast the outcome of Tony’s experience discovering Pasta and my own discovering Macaronis. Tony had kept the Maldives secret for a long time, but when it leaked out and the gold rush began he came up with a strategy to spare just one of his discoveries from the tragedy of the commons. While Tony was uncomfortable with compliments, I couldn’t help praising him for how he’d engineered a sustainable but equitable solution to avoid a surfing parking lot at Pasta Point.

    Chris bottom turning at another world class left with a noodle name, Pasta Point in the Maldives
  • By contrast, I wondered if Scott Wakefield, Tony Fitzpatrick, and I had let down Martin and the Silabu people by simply keeping Macaronis secret and making no attempt to devise an equitable, sustainable solution to their surfing gold mine? Hinde had visited the nascent Macaronis Resort, and pointed out to me the many factors set against anything but a tragedy of the commons in Indonesia. As a starting point, Maldives land ownership law traditionally governs use of the surrounding reefs out to “where the reef wakes up” - where it is visible from the surface. The laws are less clear for the sustainable use of reefs by traditional owners in the Mentawai. Second, the Maldivian government has pursued a regulated tourism development strategy designed to preserve and increase the value of its atoll destinations, whereas Indonesian development has tended to run it down.

    Which way will it go for Macaronis? Like cowboys spreading across North America several hundred years ago, as long as there were new surfing fields to discover we could avoid facing up to the problems of 'tragedy of the commons' or 'private surfing landed gentry'. But there aren’t many left to discover, so it’s now time we collectively find a sustainable way to preserve both our finite resource of surfer’s gold and the egalitarian spirit our sport inherited from the Hawaiians. //CHRIS GOODNOW

    Read Part 1 of Finding Macaronis
    Read Part 2 of Finding Macaronis

    Chris Goodnow is The Bill and Patricia Ritchie Foundation Chair and Deputy Director of The Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Sydney, Australia, and NHMRC Senior Principal Research Fellow, Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, Fellow of the Royal Society, and Member of the US National Academy of Sciences. Outside of professional life Chris enjoys spending time together with his family surfing at Manly and around Bawley Point on the NSW South Coast.

    (Opening aerial photo of Pasongan Bay SurfAid/Smith)

    At left, Scott, Tony, and Chris, Pasongan Bay, 2013


zenagain's picture
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zenagain Monday, 14 Dec 2015 at 1:52pm

I'm loving these series of articles but this one somehow leaves me with mixed feelings. Having most of this occurring within my surfing life I feel a little sad with the direction surf tourism has headed. I must be one of the few surfers on earth who has never been to Indo even though I've had many opportunities. Pun intended but I kind of feel like I've missed the boat. I look at vids of pumping Mentawais and think just how much I'd love to surf those beautiful waves but then see how crowded they are and think how lucky I am here surfing pretty good waves (albeit farking freezing) with just a couple of blokes out.

I know a bloke whom I wouldn't call a friend who goes every year, snarling, angry, arrogant, selfish, shocking surf manners who takes pride in sharing how he starts and finishes his trip in Bali so he can 'smash a few of the local girls for hire', a walking firecracker of a bloke. The kind of fella who probably adds to the tension at a place like Macaronis as mentioned above. Multiply that by I don't know how many but I'm guessing that he's not the only one like that who goes there.

Maybe I'm getting old but I keep telling myself I have to go there one day but how amazing would it have been to rock up all those years ago to surf something so truly special without snapping too many twigs.

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top-to-bottom-bells Monday, 14 Dec 2015 at 3:33pm

Go to Indonesia Zen Again. Not to prove anything, not to become a more complete surfer, or to tick a place off your bucket list, just go and smell the cloves, stumble through some basic words with a smiling local, and get repeatedly barrelled in bath warm water. If Mr Firecracker crosses your path you wont even care.

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indo-dreaming Thursday, 17 Dec 2015 at 5:00pm

I think everyone feels that way, i felt i had missed the boat first time i went to Indo about 20 years ago, I don't want to encourage people to go to the Mentawais or other outer Islands of Sumatra, but even though you may not get Maccas uncrowded there is other waves that don't have big names that can be almost as good and empty.

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dandandan Monday, 14 Dec 2015 at 6:24pm

Interesting read, and good comment Zen.

I've seen places change rapidly from a semi-secret spot into the 'it' wave of the season, both from the perspective of a surfer and that of a resident busybody anthropologist. To put it simply, in the years I have spent surfing and researching across Indonesia I could count the number of surfers on my hands who have had the capacity to glean any understanding at all of place/culture/religion/economy/society, and the impact they were having on it. Their worldview is pointed to the surf, unable to see the forest for the trees.

In essence, the surfing and the pre-surfing communities are two different places, and the two would meet only in economic exchanges in the local warung. Blame language, misunderstanding, arrogance or otherwise, but in most places, surfing does not blend in to local communities, but instead creates entirely new ones. And in that Pasongan ceases being a village in the Mentawai Archipellago, but a world-class left hander known by most only as Macaronis. Kids stop growing up in the fishing/goat hamlets of Gumulharjo and Ketro but instead in the bodyboarders paradise of Watu Karung. Separate economies emerge, the new and lucrative surfing industry almost always led by and for the profit of expatriate surfers. Surf journalists, photographers, videographers and professional Instagrammers come in and re-write the narrative of a place to transform a fishing village with a complex history into a "simple, laid-back town full of fishermen who are happy with nothing." It's transformative in ways that the average surf tourist will never understand.

What's worse, I have seen the people responsible for advertising and commercialising the surfing experience in Indonesia whinge and gripe about the crowds they have created, and that other developers have followed their lead. They then move on to other seldom visited areas to continue the plunder. Like gold miners, a handful of these (mostly Australian) surfers have bought land through intermediaries right across the archipelago in the off-chance that a new road or harbor might make access to these areas easier and thus profitable. We've all seen how it works: "screw Bali, come surf XXXX in uncrowded waves with just you and your mates" or the ads telling us to go to the Ments in the offseason to get it uncrowded. It's the most ridiculous, contradictory advertising scheme ever and it unfolds with such frustrating inevitability.

For all their talk, those Bali expatriates are no better. They certainly have their handle on the expatriate gossip mill, on happy hour timetables and tedious stories of gangsters and criminals in Kuta town, but when it comes down to it they are mostly like the bloke Zen described above. They're usually no more understanding of Indonesia as a nation or of adat/culture/tradition as a concept than the average two-week surf tourist. 'Good' expatriates, or let's call them immigrants, certainly exist, but so clued-in to crowds and so part of the fabric, they are mostly invisible.

Indonesia is a career for me so I can't hold every bastard up to the high standards I set for myself, but the arrogance and ignorance in the surf-tourism industry would cause riots if it were held by foreign developers in Australia. Despite the good intentions of most, I am often left cringing. The argument has been made that surf tourism is contemporary colonialism, and I very much agree with it.

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thermalben Monday, 14 Dec 2015 at 4:06pm

Wow.. amazing post Dan. 

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lostdoggy Monday, 14 Dec 2015 at 4:58pm

Terrific post, Dan.

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tonybarber Monday, 14 Dec 2015 at 5:00pm

Dandan...a well written post with feeling. I was also fortunate to find a special place but in Bali. Yes, in many ways I fully understand your thoughts and also that of zen. But is this not just a search & discovery of mankind in general. In this case, it is gold for us and for many locals (who were / are fearful of the waters). The paradox I found was that here we were finding nirvana. But the locals looked at us and saw our wealth, our clothes and hence wanted to be like 'us'. Whilst we observed their ways and their land with golden waves. Many of us tried to keep the discovery quiet but that's impossible. Change inevitably rolls on.

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Ontheroad Thursday, 17 Dec 2015 at 12:41pm

Nice Dandandan, you've hit the nail on the head, Mentawai style hammering that is, with that strange song-like rhythm and effectiveness that most westerners will never get their head around. I agree with almost everything you've said, and if you can churn out a comment like that (read: awesome), it'd be great to hear someone with your experience and expertise write an article for Swellnet. After all, it's only the communication of these sorts of ideas that's going to make any difference.

Mentawai's been colonised many times in history, and at the very least the surfing industry there pays surface level respect to local communities (ie. resorts having sikerei come dance, employment etc), its not much and yeah a lot of it's cultural appropriation, but it's a hell of a lot better than those missionary bastards insidiously and deliberately corrupting culture, or the indo government blatantly burning Umma's and banning the tattoos, or the Malaysian palm oil companies. At least there is a bumbling, smiling, lip service from the tourism industry - i'm not saying its great, or that I know the answer, but i'd like to think there's more than one hand's worth of legit surfers out there...

The Mentawai beheaded the first missionary, and yet by the turn of the century 95% percent of the communities had succumbed to Christianity or Catholicism. Is it gonna go the same way with surfing? Are we looking at a another Nias?

Would love to hear your opinion, or read your more of your writing... cheers.

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indo-dreaming Thursday, 17 Dec 2015 at 4:55pm

I know what your saying Dan Dan totally agree, but i think Macaronis is probably at the other end of the scale of things compared to Watu Karung and other areas that are blowing up at crazy rates especially when marketed by some as the last uncrowded piece of Indo.

If you look at Macaronis and you consider how long its been exposed to the world and how much and how many surfers have surfed there, physical change and the footprint left behind is kind of small, a small makeshift photo tower on the point, some bouys and off course the resort, the village has had improvements and a path now leads to the resort, but the village apart from being better off now than many other Mentawai villages infrastructure wise and to a degree living standards is still very much removed from the surfing world, even if you look at that photo above take out the boats and it could have been taken back in the 80,s.

Even non physical aspects of change are not that big i guess because the village is rarely visited by surfers as is quite a boat ride from the wave a good half an hour or less if go by new track from resort to village… (Katiet at HT,s is a different beast though being village right on a wave its much more exposed to surfers)

I guess thats one rare good thing about charter boats in that they may exploit an area and sell it like a product (and the Mentawai's as a product is like surfing gold) but they don't change it too much.(don't take much but don't give much back either)

Its interesting what you say about the two communities, I've noticed this even the first time i went to Indo id look to get out of that community built around surfing and venture into what i guess is the true indo, wherever we stayed first trip be it Medewi or Lakeys first thing id do other than surf is go walk the beach or road looking for the real indo.

Its everywhere in Indo its even in Bali walk down some gangs even behind the main drags of places in Legian and you can find areas that feel like they could be anywhere in Indo, the dogs won't let you walk past them without barking like crazy, the old ibu's surprisingly can't speak a word of english, and there is people selling real homemade indo snacks at real prices and don't even look at selling to you.

You can also find it in places like Nias (Sorake) the line between the two worlds there is also a lot closer than you think, you can even draw it at where the owners live or the road out the back, where you have the same thing a lot of the older people can't speak english and even many of the warungs are no different to the ones half an hour drive away or you can even draw the line not in a physical sense but a mental sense at the losmen itself, if you speak Bahasa Indonesia you can be let into a different community.

I guess its just the mentality of most surfers that the focus is on the wave out the front and its all about just surfing or the Bintang in the arvo and for most i guess language creates a divide, I'm glad i don't get stuck in that bubble but in another sense maybe its a good thing that these places are contained and don't spread to deep into the community?.

A bit off subject but its mentioned in the article and comments and as much as I'm not a fan of places like Nias (Sorake) i was sitting there last time i was passing through thinking where it had all gone wrong? and breaking it down.

And i don't think it's as bad as we first thought or people make out people always use Nias as an example of the worse case scenario… but if you break it down the problem is mostly physical with the destruction of the beauty of the area the loss of beach/sand and loss of vegetation some of this is due to the earthquake making things look a bit ugly and other things like the loss of beach/sand is not related to surfers and is due local sand mining of the beach by locals to make concrete bricks or concrete in general.

The loss of vegetation in part also due to Tsunami but mostly just trying to cram in as many losmens as possible and cutting palm trees etc down to get a better view of the wave or ensure they don't fall and damage buildings.

If you break down the other impacts on the community like alcohol or prostitution etc even these are not that bad and are problems seen everywhere in Indo.

For surfers the crowd is a problem but if you look at the crowd in numbers its actually no different to Macaronis, both waves are rare to get empty but possible and generally the crowd normally sit between ten to fifteen to twenty to thirty.

I think if managed even at this stage Nias (Sorake) could be made into a much nicer place its a lot harder now, it would be nice if we could go back and get the losmen owners all to agree to have a ten metre buffer zone of coconut palms between losmen and beach and between losmens, but if the locals were smart even now they could make the area so much more physically nicer if they started a group that ensured the area was kept clean, the place re plated with coconut palm where possible, that nice fine green grass planted, gardens added and a halt of wall to wall development, even replenish the beach and stop sand mining…but sadly it may never happen.

In regard to places like Nias, Telos and Mentawais it should be also noted that outside of the surfing world these places are developing at a crazy rate and its not fuelled by surfing, its just fuelled by general growth, I've noticed huge growth in the Mentawais and Telos in the last ten year even the last five even the last two, just a general population boom and infustructure boom,airport improvements, new roads, schools, shops, houses areas getting put on 24/7 electricity….i think as time goes on and solar technology gets better and cheaper and batteries better and cheaper its going to make an even bigger boom as raises quality of living just simple things like having refrigeration is huge in these places.

Sorry i guess i kinda went off topic a little.

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Stok Monday, 14 Dec 2015 at 4:55pm

Meanwhile in Melbourne there's an tourism campaign spattered on the trams here about Indonesia, which features a heaving Kandui tube and a surfer getting barrelled in it - and actually captions it as Mentawais.

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Ash Tuesday, 15 Dec 2015 at 5:26pm

I was only thinking of the evolution of surf spots, re crowds and property investment yesterday as we visited Nusa Dua. I could not believe the concrete jungle that has overgrown the place in a mere 5 years. The list is growing fast, I wanted to belt some of the hollywood beautiful people at Ulu's the day before, because I have no idea why they're there, in "81 it was just a long hut and a 2k walk with just the surfers and girlfriends making the effort, now it's a place to sip whatevers and ponce off. The same when 10 years ago we checked out Byron Bay after my last visit in'79 and I could not find anything of the old Byron township that drew people to it in the 1st place. This may be the inevitable future of the island chain where Maccas is just one of so many marketable surf spots. There's no one to singularly blame, but if there is no official government management and protection the place will evolve as others have into an almost un-recognisable uber rich playground.
I like our surfing national parks in Australia, where even though the crowds are present the area is protected from further negative development, and as you have to pay an entry tax to to enter Indo one should be imposed to surf these sensitive remote locations, similar to Ron at Cactus, to give something to the locals and keep them and the place sustainable.

Lanky Dean's picture
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Lanky Dean Wednesday, 16 Dec 2015 at 3:17pm

Excellent article and comments all round. This is the reason i return and use this website."The thinking surfer site". Gold stars all round, cheers ld

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srf Saturday, 16 Jun 2018 at 8:00pm

Some of the comments in this series - If it weren't for the missionary's , at substantial risk of their own lives and a gruesome death - the author at a tender age , many more of the native people , and some of your highly esteemed surfing pioneers , would / may well have , lost their lives , having their heads severed off at the neck - I would consider that a significant contribution worthy of consideration , even here .