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Teiki Mathieu Baillan surfing a self-made Alaya surfboard in Macaroni, Mentawaï, Indonesia. Photo by C. Naslain, 2009.

Surf spot atlas made by surfers for surfers
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 Samoa Western

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By surf tourist , 24-06-2003

STI - Although I agree in principle with your stand point - some of your arguments do not make any sense: eg. to compare local wages with 'western' wages. If the workers are getting paid eight times the local 'typical' wage then that is 'relatively' good. I would like my employer to do that. Comparing their wages to a clients bill is also easy but not very smart. What about a chambermaid's wages vs the cost of a penthouse in a big NY hotel, or a ferrari salesmans wage vs the cost of the car, or an oil-worker who finds a new oil-field etc... Also you clearly haven't run a business. You ignore sunk-costs (building the resort), customer demands (imported 'western' foods etc), other running costs (apart from wages), long periods with few guests and no income, and both taxes and "taxes" which will contribute to the local economy...


The bottom line is that STI happens because there is a demand. Still, any resort which tries to 'own' a wave has gotten a long way from their surfing roots!

By Amsamsurf@yahoo.com , 24-06-2003

Regarding the global surf tourism industry's economic exploitation of Samoa - There are quite a few postings on this site concerning the negative aspects of the global surf tourism industry (STI) in Samoa. For anyone who cares about such things, here is the low down about what is going on there, for in addition to the inevitable conflict between independent surfers and the STI over wave rights, the STI is economically exploiting the Samoan people. While Samoa has certainly received economic benefit from visiting surfers, not everyone involved in the surf tourism industry there has shared in that benefit equally. The STI has taken a huge bite out of the Samoan pie while leaving only scattered crumbs for the locals. For example, while Waterways Travel (owned by Peter Murphy) likes to boast of the great economic benefit it is bringing Samoa, its resort at Salani is a self-contained operation supplying its own food, transportation, accommodations, etc. So even though Waterways supposedly pays rent to the family which owns the land the resort is located on (I say “supposedly” because as is typical in Samoa with its communal system of land ownership, there is a family dispute over land rights and the money is tied up in court), Salani village itself has been cut out of the economic loop. So at best, Salani villagers receive minimal economic benefit from the STI’s presence there. So while Waterways charges as much as US$120 per day per surfer to stay at its Salani resort, it pays its Samoan employees as little as US$4 per day! (To put this into proper perspective, ask yourself this: Would you work over three hours just to buy a tube of toothpaste? Probably not! Yet at US$4 per day that is what those Samoan employees must do.) Obviously other expenses such as food, fuel, insurance, etc., as well as any Australian and American expat employees (only about US$100 per week) must also be paid, but something is seriously wrong when a Western owned resort pulling in as much as US$1800+ per day (just do the math from their ads) pays its Samoan employees the pathetically low wage of only US$4 per day. Oh well, I guess that is just business as usual as another fucked-up-the-ass Western multinational corporation ruthlessly exploits a poor 3rd World country and its people (move over Nike). But at the same time this is also a sad, sad commentary on the ethics (or lack thereof) of those surfers who support and patronize this sort of thing! The STI justifies its exploitation of the Samoan people by claiming that not only are its Samoan employees paid the prevailing wage for unskilled menial labor in Samoa (about US$0.50 an hour), but they are also spared the trouble and expense of making the hour-long journey into Apia, the country’s capitol and only real city where most low wage service jobs are found. Although one could argue over whether or not these claims have any validity, at the end of the day the STI is still profiting quite handsomely from the use of an important natural resource in Samoa, her world class waves, and should be held to a higher standard than are locally owned businesses. So while the STI boasts of its contribution to the local economy, it is really interested in only one thing: sucking the fattest profits out of its surf camps as it possibly can. Though independent surfers might not spend the same exorbitant amounts as STI surfers, they still do spend a fair amount of money on food, beer, lodging, transportation, etc., money which goes directly to locals (a very important consideration). Yet Waterways’ resort at Salani has actively and aggressively chased non-STI surfers away from the village. And it certainly isn’t helping the village in any non-economic ways either. Just ask the resort’s manager (who has been aptly referred to by others as a “gay midget”) if they have any ongoing environmental, education, or health projects in Salani village, and the best he will be able to come up with is that they “have a permanent anchor rope for their boat out at the break” (actually a fairly standard practice on coral reefs). Oh yeah...they also recycle their beer bottles (but this is no big deal as 99% of all beer bottles are re-used in Samoa anyway). Ask villagers what Waterways has done for them and they will tell you that the most the resort has done thus far is lend them a vehicle to get to the hospital. And of course, although the STI advertises heavily in mainstream surf media, it does nothing to support indigenous Samoan surfers. Hell! Waterways even went out of its way to prevent native Samoans from learning to surf when boards given to Salani villagers by visiting surfers were later retrieved by Waterway personnel from the resort. Its motive for doing so quite clear: If villagers ever got good enough to claim their waves at Salani this would mean the end of Waterways’ resort there! Moral of the story: Do not use any global surf tour company to travel to and/or surf in Samoa, and when there stay only with locally owned and operated businesses. In fact, do not patronize any STI anywhere in the world at any time (Fiji, Indonesia, etc.) as they are all the lowest of scum sucking bottom feeders in the surfing world. Learn how to do it locally and do it yourself. Others have. You'll be glad you did!

By Choi , 21-06-2003

OAM is ignorant - Boulder's being the only quality wave? Open your eyes son, get off your ass and do your homework. Solosolo, Tiavea, Coconuts, Salani, and Nu'usafe can all put up mechanical waves. There's plenty others too, but your bent ass is gonna have to find em. Boulders can get sick, but the specific swell direction from the SE is actually pretty rare for a perfect session. Nobody ever bothers to mention that the South shore will basically stay head high and glassy or offshore during the entire summer. I agree with you on one thing- fuck the resorts, find em yourself! You will be rewarded if you put in your homework.
Before you go incorrectly using the word "truism" again, look up the words "self evident" and quit disrespecting the waves in Samoa. The locals are fantastic and could benefit greatly from a locally created infrastructure which transports people into Samoa's frequently fantastic surf.

By Bean , 18-06-2003

Can go off - I have spent a good amount of time surfing samoa. Samoa does seem fickle to me as well, although I have experienced completely excellent, long barrel rides at the island off the south shore, Boulder's, and yes, the left at Salani. Most of the time during the big swell season the wind really seems to screw everything up, and in the off season, when the winds are good, there's not really enough swell to make the premier breaks go. If you stay there a week, definitely don't count on epic surf. If things align correctly though you will be blessed!

By anonymous , 17-06-2003

fickle - I stayed on the southern shore of Upolu for 5 weeks during may and early june. There wasn't a single day that I would have called epic! We had 2 pretty good days at Coconuts and 2 slightly above average days at Boulders. Everything else was very average at around head height and onshore. Early morning and dusk is your only chance of avoiding the trades. Coconuts needs to have a perfect swell, (very rare), to stop it from sectioning and when Boulders is on it can get very crowded. One day we were out it was around 4-5' and there were 20 people out. All the other waves are very short and sectioning. You are lucky to get more than 3 moves on a wave.
I'm not sure what that dude was smoking who said there were "very, very good waves" because I was there at the same time and staying at the same camp, (Maninoa) as him and unless he was heading out for the midnight waves then forget it.
On the good side, Maninoa Surf Camp rules. Cheap, lots of food and a wicked surf guide, an Australian named Tim.

By OAM , 09-06-2003

Sal will lie to get your money - How could those previous posts be from anyone other than employees at salani. The left there is no where near the quality lefts in Fiji or the Mentawai's. Hawaii 10 years ago? I heard that one in Surfer mag when these sellouts first started the ad campaign. No way does Samoa get the clean groundswells needed for Hawaiian style perfection TRUEISMS: 1.There are quality, mostly short ledging waves in Samoa. 2.Boulders is the highest quality break. 3.Moderate and above tradewinds make all (quality) breaks unsurfable. If you want to get a handle on what's true and not just rent a video with some boulders footage, as this will be your favorite wave there. Maybe if you're a regular coco's will be but boulders still has better form. Oh, and longboards don't fit into the waves here. Think suckout airdrops + shortboarders + shallow = longboarders sitting in channel. MAKE SURE not to stay at salani. The locals are getting fed up with this resort, and there are better, cheaper places to stay that generate income for the locals.

By descendent@punkmusic.com , 04-06-2003

Cheap Stay - I have come back from Samoa just last week. it was pretty good most of the time, but you do have to get into it quite early because of the trades. still i got some really really good waves most of the time i was there, (14 out of about 18 days). Stay at Maninoa surf camp. the best place to stay by far. paddle access to about 4-5 reefs, and boat transfers to a few others. cheap with two massive meals included a day.

By true , 31-05-2003

Great Waves - I stayed at Salani for 2 weeks during their winter and got blown out for the first week. The second week, however, i experienced the best waves that I had ever seen in my life, particularly at the left. Better than Fiji, as good as the Ments but heavier. No bullshit, 6 second dry barrels everywhere. Closeouts? Definitely not. Very heavy perfection? definitely.

By xlsurf , 28-05-2003

a great time - I stayed at salani camp two years ago and it still is very fresh in my memory . There were a couple of guys complaining at the camp about the down time but for me being from the northeast coast of the US , i couldnt relate
The place relise on certain tides but
when you score its magical . I surf boulders 6-8 and 5 ft salani rights . 6 out of 7 days . bring a thicker board to get in early .lots of h20 moving on the big days .Its hawaii a hundred years ago

By mikedenton72@hotmail.com , 04-05-2003

i need all the info i can get - Hey people.... My friend and I want to come to samoa and surf but after reading all these message I'm kinda in limbo about it. Our trip would be in sept of this year, if anyone can give me any info on the surf or just some advice on this it would help out a lot. e-mail me back with any info

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