Bucket List: April in the South Pacific

Matt Rott

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Updated 78d ago

The equinox has come and gone, which means, that depending on which hemisphere you are in, winter/summer is over and spring/fall has arrived. April is historically when the South Pacific begins to wake up, so if you could be anywhere in the world right now, Polynesia wouldn’t be a bad choice.

There are a couple of reasons why the South Pacific islands are a good place to be in April. First of all, the season is still early, so the trades aren’t ripping yet, which means that a number of fickle waves that are exposed to the wind are primed to go off. In addition, there’s a good likelihood of swells, although not exactly massive ones. And for most people, that’s a good thing.

A swell such as this in April could set off playful Cloudbreak as well as some of the more remote spots across the area.

A swell such as this in April could set off playful Cloudbreak as well as some of the more remote spots across the area.

Sure, huge Cloudbreak and code red Teahupoo make for good reading, but they aren’t what the average surfer is looking for. No, most people want empty, overhead, tropical perfection, and in April that’s what you’ll find in the South Pacific.

Cloudbreak is dreamy at four to six foot—just ask Jon Roseman, who probably knows that wave better than anyone alive—and Restaurants goes off whenever the swell gets a touch bigger than that. But although they get the majority of the publicity in Fiji, those are only two of the hundreds of waves that will be pumping this month.

And what about French Polynesia? The country is loaded. From the Tuamotus to Huahine to Moorea, there are waves all over the place, most of which face straight into the predominant southerly swell window.

Flexing Teahupoo looks impressive but for the every day surfer, it's a pipe dream.

Flexing Teahupoo looks impressive but for the every day surfer, it's a pipe dream.

© 2017 - Raihei Tapia

Meanwhile, Teahupoo remains the star of the show, and locals like Raimana Van Bastolear know that it’s just as good (and much more user-friendly) in the early season as it is when it’s massive.

The rest of Polynesia is holding too—Samoa has dozens of world-class reef passes with a fraction of the crowd, and Tonga is even less traveled (if you look beyond the known waves on Tongatapu, you’ll quickly discover the untapped potential of the Vavau and Hapai groups). Further east, the Cook Islands rarely ever go flat this time of year, and are loaded with slabby sections of reef perfect for barrel-hounds and bodyboarders.

Even farther east is Rapa Nui, which may politically belong to Chile, but geographically and culturally has always been part of Polynesia. The world’s most isolated landmass, Rapa Nui, has an immense swell window, half a dozen hell waves, and frequent flights to the Chilean mainland, which is a veritable magnet for south swells.

Rapa Nui's looking a solid bet over the next few weeks.

Rapa Nui's looking a solid bet over the next few weeks.

And let’s not forget New Caledonia, Vanuatu, and the Solomon Islands. While technically part of the Melanesian region, these islands sit squarely within the South Pacific, and pick up consistent swells from storms in the Coral Sea—the same storms that produce waves for last month’s bucket list destination.

But perhaps the best thing about the South Pacific in April isn’t southerly at all. Instead, it’s the fact that nearly all of the major South Pacific countries have swell windows that face north as well, which means you have just as much chance of scoring late-season north as you do of scoring early season south.

They also have convenient flights to Hawaii, which has been known to pump in the month of April. So if, for some strange reason, you find yourself getting a bit bored with South Pacific perfection, you can always hop up to Oahu’s North Shore, where you’ll enjoy late-season bombs without the mid-winter crowd. If that’s not enough to get you motivated, then the April fool is on you.

But what makes the likes of Cloudbreak tick? A rare look below the surface into the shallow reef and hyper-wave mechanics.

But what makes the likes of Cloudbreak tick? A rare look below the surface into the shallow reef and hyper-wave mechanics.

© 2017 - Stu Johnson

Cover shot, Danny Fuller at raw Teahupoo by Raihei Tapia


Matt Rott

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