We’d been walking through dense bush for at least three miles following a narrow path running along the arid, deep-coved south-west coast of the island. Our eyes were riveted on the ocean beyond, hardly able to curb our enthusiasm, as we made out the inviting lines of swell caressed by a light off-shore breeze. We’d been here, in the very centre of the islands, for less than two hours but we were already under its spell.
During the long flight that brought us from continental South America, watching the endless azure-blue expanse through that little round window, I was struck by just how isolated this chain of 48 volcanic dots on the map actually is, scattered like gravel in the deep blue ocean, more than 1000 km from the mainland coast. I was thinking about those first Spanish explorers, and of course about the famous British naturalist Charles Darwin, who landed here in 1835 from his equally famous 3-master, The Beagle. It was much less of an adventure getting there for us, and once we’d finished with the immigration formalities we quickly piled our board bags into the taxi with our local contact and guide, Danny. He gave us a quick run-down on the plan: “the swell has dropped a bit, but there are still plenty of good waves to ride today – if you’ve got the energy. We can drop your bags off at your lodgings then go check out some of the spots if you like?”. That’s how, after 36 hours of travelling and four different flights, we found ourselves off on a route march up the coast, bags on our backs and boards under our arms. We eventually stop in front of a little makeshift sand-walled wind break from where we can see three or four similar looking set ups rolling over the reef. The first looks a bit dicey, but 300 metres further on there’s a beautiful-looking shoulder high left with not a soul in sight, smooth as silk and tight as Lycra. We set off at race speed along the path, then in what seems like a flash, Danny and Alexis are off across the black rocks and into the water. Bare as a baby of any trace of human activity, and with the endless deep blue as our only reference, you quickly get the impression of being at the very edge of the known world. This natural paradise oozes serenity and we all gradually succumb to its charms.
Alexis might have thought he was the only one on the wave apart from Danny, but was surprised to find himself sharing the break with some seriously big sealion companions, cool as you like, racing right alongside, then back up on the break in a blink. We didn’t expect that, or the giant turtles chilling out in the gentle roll at the end of the break. It’s a reminder that nature is very much king here. And rightly so. Danny’s in fits of laughter, but manages, “Sorry, forgot to warn you we wouldn’t be alone. No kidding though, watch out for the turtles, you could hurt them, but they could have all your fins off just like that”. Alexis takes note, explores the spot and finds the excellent, rolling lefts, perfect for some long backside sequences, all the way to the turtles. What better for getting rid of your jetlag? Suddenly the tiredness kicked in, so we left the spot to itself again and headed back to the village before darkness fell, 40 minutes’ walk through the thick, dry vegetation.