Papua New Guinea is still relatively new on surf tourism’s radar. That’s not for lack of waves, though–all year around, PNG has the potential for a vast variety of setups. From June through to October, south swells pump over a barrier reef that wraps around the entire southern seaboard. From November through May, the northern side, full of world class waves, turns on for months on end. There’s a huge number of different waves, ranging from thumping beach breaks and long, running points, to barreling, shallow reef breaks.
For hundreds of years before surfing became what it is today, villagers in Papua New Guinea rode waves on planks of wood called palangs (or splinters). In many places in the world, overcrowding is evident almost everywhere you look. It’s hard to find a wave to yourself these days, and even the most far flung destinations aren’t immune. But Papua New Guinea has a surf management plan that might be worth looking into, especially for places where overcrowding is becoming a real issue.
Since a large portion of PNG’s land is owned by traditional clans, the Surfing Association of Papua New Guinea came up with a way to keep everyone happy when the inevitable influx of surfers made their way there. Local coastal communities own the land and the reefs, and with that ownership comes the responsibility to care for them. PNG’s Surf Management Plans “enlist sustainable quota limits in exchange for fees and levies.” In short, you pay for your session, which sounds bad. But hold on a second.