Photos: The Shieldsy Chronicles - Samoa
Trigger warning: What follows here is pretty lightweight material and it’s tied in with a commercial arrangement between Aganoa Lodge Samoa and Swellnet.
For some, the idea of this mix of content and commerce is upsetting, so hence this warning. If you’re appalled or peeved, it’s OK to click away, or stick around and tap out some snappy vitriol, it’s all good.
Righto. Mellow photographer Andrew Shield nipped over to Samoa last month in the aftermath of Cyclone Gita. Basically it was to get location shots of Aganoa for the lodge’s promo use, but what surf photog worth his salt isn’t gonna poke around, shoot some surf and lineups and what have you.
“Yeah I hadn’t been over for a few years and I forgot how easy Samoa is to reach,” reckons Andrew. “Basically five hours flight from Brissy or Sydney, a ferry ride, a quick drive and you’re there. Easier than Indo for sure, good for a quick week.
“The wave out the front of the lodge – Aganoa Right – It’s not what you’d call soft hey. It’s pretty hollow and intense on the end section but the center peak gives you a much easier take off with a wall to unload some turns on – the peaks out the front can line up or give lefts and rights like a beachie, but always have a real Pacific push to ‘em. Head high and high tide it’s fun as, and Aganoa Lefts works on low tide – but when it pumps on bigger swells that’s when a lot of the guests are happy to jump in the van and check out the other spots.
“I was only there for a few days shooting resort stuff mostly, there were fun waves out the front but we did a few trips around to the (censored) side and got some fun setups.
“Samoa’s not the Mentawais, but it’s genuinely uncrowded and it’s good times. A lot of surfers come to escape the Indo crowds and discover that there’s actually waves year round.
“As far as the lodge itself, it’s unreal. It’s not five star, but crashing out in those beachfront falés, stars out, waves cracking on the reef, it’s the full South Pacific fantasy.
“I guess that’s why Aganoa gets a lot of couples and families as well as the surf crew. Partners are stoked on the snorkelling, the whole beachfront living experience and super friendly island culture. It’s like if you can’t get a leave pass for Indo, take the wife and kids somewhere closer and easier. And if you like a bit of juice & no crowds, then you’re laughing.”
Images courtesy Pegasus Lodges, and captions by the Shieldsy:
Overview of the Aganoa setup. “The break out front consists of three separate peaks. You can pretty much roam between ‘em.”
Alex Pundyk. “Alex has been guiding at Aganoa for years and has probably racked up more tubes on the right than anybody.”
"He’s a good fella, Alex. He’s going to be roaming around a few of Pegasus’s different lodges training up the guides this year, which he’s pretty stoked about.”
“Put your ear up to the screen and you can probably hear a Vailima Lager being cracked. Samoa’s national beer and it’s a really good beer. Comparable to Boags I’d say.”
“There’s a bunch of breaks about 30 minutes’ drive from the lodge that are heaps of fun. Middles is a sweet little A-frame that breaks through the tides. There’s no real anchorages around so there’s not a lot of passing traffic other than us.”
Pristine Aganoa Right. “Can’t help myself: this is a ring-in from a previous trip. Out the front on absolute fire.”
“I reckon if you’re having trouble convincing your missus to come along, print this pic out and whack in on your fridge.”
“Actually print this one out too.”
Aganoa Lefts: “Aganoa Right’s a high tide break, but the left breaks better on the low. The left’s a bit more stretched out.”
Lee (Samoan name Tofiga Etuale). “Lee’s a classic. He hung around Aganoa as a grom and now is one of their favourite guides. Got the full Gerry Lopez zen master vibe going, not to mention the mo.”
Out Front. “Tubes if you want ‘em.”
“They do a fiafia night every week and it’s always a lot of fun. A bit of culture capped off with a traditional Samoan buffet, an Umu.”
“There’s breaks either side of Middles – as the name implies – but Middles is the pick.”