Submitted by scottishsponger on Mon, 08/20/2018 - 12:38
I'm looking a booking a trip to P-Pass in late December this year, but wondering what my chances of scoring good swell will be. I was there in early January this year and scored three back to back large swells, with head-high plus waves for over a week. I'm wondering if this was a rare fluke and if I should go back around the same time of year. My alternative choice is Samoa. Can anyone shed light on which destination is a safer bet for swell in December?
I presume by Samoa you're referencing the North Coast?
Both are a little fickle in December, it'd be hard to have confidence in one over the other.
December is at the beginning of the Palikir Pass season and it usually has lighter winds than later in the season. I've been a few times and found the swells cluster so you have good periods - which might contain a few unreal swells - and then bad periods.
Thing is, if you're going in December and you unfortunately jag a lean period at P'Pass there's an increased chance there'll be little wind so you can head around to Mwand Pass. It's a good, meaty wave, and consistent too as it picks up north groundswell and easterly tradeswell that propogates across the North Pacific. There's another long right south of there but I forget it's name. You need a high tide early to get the boats through a tricky part of the lagoon.
I've surfed Tiavea on the north side of Samoa, which is a great wave, if a bit fickle. The rest of the north coast is a mystery to me but I've driven it a few times. Amazing stretch of coast and I can only imagine how good it'd get in a big north swell. There are setups everywhere.
Hard to be definitive but my hunch would go with P'Pass.
I've never been to P-Pass but it appears to have a few more options with respect to swell direction and the origin/positioning of swell producing storms.
Samoa and the surrounding regions/countries are very sensitive to direction and the origin storms are usually a long way away. There's some truly amazing set ups in that region and they each have their own very specific needs. As much as it has potential it will always be VERY fickle.
I'm not cheap,
But I'm free.
Would the same Npac low deliver swell to both areas? Local goss says that Samoa is sometimes good Nov-March because of lighter winds and still a chance of Southerly swells,maybe even Big ones. But I can see why you'd want to go back to Palikir around the same time of year if you'd already scored a great run there. U might get lucky twice ;)
Thanks Stunet, I’ve locked in Pohnpei. I never got to surf the other waves around the island as P-pass was perfect every day, but I got the impression they’re a bit guarded and semi-secret. Where did you stay when you were there? Were they willing to take you to the other spots on the days that the conditions suited them? Was this by boat or road?
Thanks Ray. I’d have to be incredibly lucky to score a similar run of swell there two years in a row, but you never know! Ive actually been to Aganoa on Savai’i in December and scored a decent South swell that got the main break there firing for a few days. Based on what the locals said though, this was surprising for this time of year. This side of the island then went flat but the other side picked up long range swells from the Northen Hemisphere winter. These were pretty small though by the time they reached Samoa.
I think you’re right crg, there’s some incredible set ups there, but consistency at that time of year is questionable. I think I’d have to be luckier to score Samoa in December than Pohnpei at the same time of year. It’s the access to the other waves on Pohnpei that concerns me though. The other waves are nowhere near as exposed (media-wise) as the fabled p-pass and understandably the local operators may want to keep it this way. Be interesting to know how the other spots are accessed and who travelling surfers have got to take them there. There’s only two accommodation options (for surfers) as far as I know.
Only been once but know a bunch of people who’ve been to ppass plenty of times but only one who’s surfed another wave other than ppass. Most of the other waves need either massive swell or light/less common wind directions. I’m sure the operators don’t mind taking you to the other north spots IF they’re working but you’ll be missing a day at ppass.
It's less about those waves being secret and more that they're just not as good as P'Pass, and they also cop the trade winds. But like I said, if you get a gap in the trade wind cycle, which is likely that early in the season, then they're very good options. Before booking speak to the operator and ask very specifically if they go to Mwand Pass (pronouned 'Mond', I think) if the winds allow for it.
My first trip I did a few trips over to the east coast, surfing Mwand and the longer right south of there, and really enjoyed it. The second trip they wouldn't even consider it.
One afternoon the swell was too small at P'Pass but the models had it 5-6ft on the east side and a trough had moved in early morning making for utterly still condtions all day - low cloud, light rain, mirror glass. The guide said the wind would be up on the east side but I logged onto the real time obs for Kolonia Airport - the wind sock is about 2kms from Mwand - and there'd been no wind for around eight hours. By my guess it would have been big, slightly lumpy, yet completely surfable. A shitload of tropical fun. Instead the punters had to drink mai tais all arvo.
So speak to the operator and get that straight.
The problem with P'Pass (and also Main Pass and Lighthouse) is that swells east of NE don't get in, so those waves don't really get background swells. If you don't get a proper N or NE swell then you really don't get much at all. And yet the east coast is constantly rammed by trade swells, sometimes very big trade swells as the trade belt has run a few 1,000 clicks from east to west before it hits Pohnpei.
Hope that helps...