Surf nations slowly reopen their borders
"There'll never be another year like 2020."
It's been said a few times now, the implication being that fires, floods, and pestilence have combined to make 2020 our own annus horribilus. Yet every week or so I'm seeing a video of someone making the best of the situation. Take Anthony Fillingim for instance, the young Costa Rican surfer who was at Kandui when COVID broke out and had a decision to make: head home, or take a chance and ride it out in the Mentawais.
Anthony chose the latter, and fortunately for him the virus hasn't been as lethal as first suspected, surfing was legal, and the borders stayed shut. He found himself in a time warp; it'd been thirty years since the Mentawais had been so uncrowded and no-one else was coming, not for a long time.
Indonesia had planned to open their borders again on the 11th September, however the government is now signalling that they may not reopen this year. Despite this, surfers from countries still allowing their citizens to travel - and Australia isn't one of them - are allowed to enter Indonesia if they buy a 60 day visa. The visa costs USD $1,700.
As of this week, Kandui Resort has begun facilitating access to the visas, with payment made to the resort who'll handle the paperwork with the Indonesian government. Prospective travellers need only book with the resort (10 days minimum stay), and then get a COVID swab to enter Indonesia. What happens upon return differs from country to country, but even two week quarantine may be worth an uncrowded ten day stay. Time to soothe the shoulders and let the cuts and ulcers heal.
For surfers already within Indonesia the process is far simpler, though COVID swabs are still necessary when passing through airports.
Meanwhile, Fiji has ostensibly closed its borders, yet like Indonesia there are still ways to enter, though it'll cost far more than $1,700. People can only enter Fiji by yacht, and so far thirty boats from Australia and New Zealand have sailed into the Pacifc nation.
Travellers can either set their Automatic Indentification System so the Fijian government can track them to confirm they've quarantined at sea, or complete it at Port Denarau - which is the closest port to Cloudbreak and Restaurants.
Meanwhile, over in the Maldives, which opened its borders just over a month ago, uncrowded sessions are happening from north to south. According to World Surfsris, the first foreign surfers into the country were a French crew of seven surfers, including Antony 'Tep' Colas.
"The sight of Cokes, six foot glassy and offshore with one boat in the channel was a dream come true. I haven't seen it like this since the early 2000s when I started coming here," said Yep.
See footage below of Kyllian Guerin, who was with Yep, at Cokes.
Since then a small trickle of surfers from Europe and the US have been making their way to the Maldives.
Below is a list of nations and their estimated dates for reopening the borders:
- MALDIVES - Opened 15th July .
- INDONESIA - Planned to open on 11th September however recent news casts doubt on this.
- SRI LANKA - Planned to open on 1st August but has delayed for an indefinite period.
- PAPUA NEW GUINEA - Closed until further notice.
- SAMOA - Closed until further notice.
- FIJI - Closed until further notice, unless entering by yacht.
- TONGA - Closed until further notice.
- NEW ZEALAND - Propsed trans-Tasman bubble still on hold.
- MICRONESIA - Closed until further notice.
- TAIWAN - Closed until further notice.
- SOUTH AFRICA - Border re-opening planned for mid-September though could be as late as January.
- AMERICAS - Open with tight restrictions.