Micronesia has some of the best waves in the world. Expect warm, crystal clear water, with perfect powerful waves. In Pohnpei, waves break far from the beach, similar to Tahiti or Fiji, either on the barrier reef or near a reef pass. It is not possible to check the surf from shore, so the only way to get to the waves is by boat. Most of the swells that reach Pohnpei are generated by North Pacific winter storms (does not necessarily have the same swell window as Hawaii) and from typhoons in the Western Pacific. Pohnpei surf season goes from early September thru early May. Up to four feet, the waves on Pohnpei are user-friendly. Once the surf gets bigger, you enter another level of surfing. Late take-off’s, fast down-the-line rides, and hollow barrels are what you will find.
The Pohnpei Surf Break Down
No, Pohnpei is not always 8 to 10 ft with top to bottom barrels and pro surfers like you see on surf magazines. Those days do happen 2 to 5 times depending on the year.
On most days during our surf season the Pohnpei surf scene is comprised of around 10 to 20 laid back surfers on the whole island. During the off season you will be lucky to find someone to surf with at one of the off season spots or on a odd day at P-Pass.
Most swells that hit Pohnpei are from the north with size ranging from 2 to 6 feet. At this size P-Pass and most of the other waves in Pohnpei are for the intermediate to advance level. On a 2 to 3 ft day and a high tide P-Pass is a very easy and friendly wave to ride.
Ninety per cent of the waves surfed in Pohnpei are located on reef passes. The other waves are all located on bends on the barrier reef. These waves located on the reef bends are almost secret spots hardly surfed, but with unbelievable perfect days. There are around 3 bends on the north side that would be the best wave in the area if they were located anywhere else in the world. Because there's no way of checking these waves except by boat, and in most cases by leaving another perfect wave, these reef bends are hardly ever surfed.
There are no beach breaks or waves breaking close to the island in Pohnpei. All waves in Pohnpei break on the barrier reef and do require a boat ride.
The weather is always hot. The only time you might feel cold is during a rain squall as the boat is moving. Bring a rain jacket for these days and lots of sun protection for when it is not raining. The ocean water is always warm, around 80+ degrees.
Pohnpei is heaven on earth for surfers and one of the friendliest places to surf in the world. It's a little bit far from it all and expensive to get to, and this is the main reason this beautiful part of the world has been left untouched by tourism and surfers.
The Surf Season on the north side of Pohnpei is from October through April with occasional swells in September and May.
Winds have a tendency to blow very light and variable from August through November. Trade winds will blow from December until around June or July.
Trades winds can be perfect offshore. During every winter there will be a time when the trades will blow stronger for an extended period of time, then suddenly dying out into perfect conditions for surfing.
It’s a perfect right hander. P-Pass is a short for Palikir Pass. Palikir is the name of the area in which this wave is located, a district of Pohnpei.
Palikir Pass is by far the number one wave in the region. Not only perfect but also works under most conditions. The predominant trade winds are always off shore or side shore.
Any swell from the NW to NE will make it work being the best swells for Palikir Pass the straight north. Too much E on the swell and it starts missing the pass (Palikir Pass faces a perfect NW and the wave still has to wrap around and into the pass). Too much W and the wave start to close out on the inside. Anyways, most swells that hit Pohnpei during our surf season are from the north with small variations from the east and west which is the best direction for Palikir Pass. Most swells that hit Pohnpei in the winter range from 2 to 6 feet with occasional bigger days.
Swells here have nothing to do with Hawaii or anywhere else in the Pacific. We are located between Honolulu and Manila and a completely different swell window. We do require the same kind of low pressure systems as Hawaii, but from a different location in the Pacific Ocean.
Under small conditions Palikir Pass is a easy wave for a novice surfer. Once it reaches 4 to 5 ft and up you enter a different level of surfing. Even at that size it is a easy and perfect wave to ride with a predictable take off and absolutely perfect wall and sections. On up to a 5 ft day you can ride the wave all the way is until it becomes a 2 ft wave or you can just ride the first two barrel sections and paddle back for more.
On most days there is no current at Palikir Pass. On some extreme tide days the current can get strong and move towards the channel. The tide variation on Pohnpei goes from 3ft to almost 6 ft on the most extreme tides of the year.
P-Pass holds good all the way to 10 ft (Hawaiian size here!). At this size or bigger, the wave will start doing a double up similar to Shipsterns in Tasmania. Our guest Mark Matthews from Australia called it a tropical Shippies on the biggest day ever surfed.
We have seen a few perfect waves on the 12 ft + range rolling through but to get into one of these waves you would have to be towed in. Days over 10 ft happen as often as the Eddie Aikau contest in Hawaii. Once every few years!
Well, if you don’t like those giant days with lots of pro surfers and photographers around, you won’t see any on most days at P-Pass. As we have mentioned before on most days you will be living the South Pacific dream setup with a crew of friendly surfers out sharing the line up. Because all waves in Pohnpei are perfect surfers do take turns.
If you want to be part of the friendly crew of surfers that share these line ups, DO NOT BACK PADDLE OR PADDLE AROUND, DON’T DROP IN, and DON’T BE SNEAKY. The wave is perfect and everyone out is polite, so wait your turn, enjoy the ride and come back out for another one.
Palikir Pass has been surfed by the best surfers in the world — by all world champions from the last 15 years (everyone of them), the best female surfers, free surfers, and hundreds of regular surfers like me and you.
The main reason why people love and talk about Palikir Pass is because a regular guy can come out here and ride a wave, which at any other break in the world would have dozens, if not hundreds of locals and pros surfers fighting for that same ride. No chance, not here in Pohnpei. Here you will have a shot at riding a wave you see mostly in a photos or movies, without the hassle you would find at other well known spots around the world.
For sure, the ride of your life!
The second most surfed wave on the northwest side of Pohnpei is the Main Pass (Sokehs Pass), located right in front of the Pohnpei Surf Club. It breaks under the same conditions as P-Pass, but it is always bigger, and has a shallow inside section. If you like challenging yourself and surfing big waves, Main Pass is usually twice as big. It has a west and a north take-off spot, a long wall and an incredible inside barrel section. If it had to be compared to some other wave, it looks a lot like Sunset Beach in Hawaii on a 10 ft (Hawaiian!) day. Here, bigger is always better. On smaller days you have to surf far inside, where the reef is dry at any tide.
The east side of Pohnpei has some beautiful waves as well. More than anywhere else, here you will need all the knowledge of our surf guides to score some good waves. The east side has 3 different passes that work in totally different conditions from one another. There are lefts and rights from 2 to 10 ft.
During the month of May, we sometimes get surf from North Pacific storms. June is usually flat, and by late July the winds die out, shifting from absolutely no winds to variable. During the months of August and September, some breaks usually over-exposed to onshore conditions come alive due to the no winds or offshore conditions, east swells generated by trade winds east of Pohnpei, and southwest swells generated by the strong monsoon southwest winds that blow from Western Micronesia and the Philippines. These waves hit the east to southwest sides of Pohnpei with less power and size. Local knowledge and a good surf guide are essential during this time of the year. If you are lucky enough to be here on one of these summer swells most likely you will be the only surfer around.
The best way to check these far away reefs on the E, SE and S side of Pohnpei is taking the day to explore this beautiful side of the island or let our guides take the jet ski for a ride and check every possible break in a short period of time. The jet ski and a phone call can save hours of searching for surf and guide you to the best waves on the island.
Pohnpei’s reefs are always shallow on the inside. Since our boats are always in the channel, there is no reef walking when you paddle in and out. Most surfers do not use booties, but they can be very helpful at times. Remember, the reef is always there. Surf smart and safe!
Pohnpei is like any other surf destination: it rains, goes flat, or gets windy and stormy. Then again, it gets perfect, and when the back-to-back swells start hitting, there is no better place to live the surfer's dream. Here, it does come true.
Pohnpei still is one of the most peaceful places to surf on this planet. Let’s keep it that way! So far, we’ve always had a friendly and sharing line up. So remember: Don’t drop in. Don’t back paddle. Kiters and windsurfers remember, surfers have the right of way. If they are out, please wait for them to come in, take turns or kite or windsurf on one of the other passes.
Most waves in Pohnpei are small board waves. No need for Hawaiian guns unless that’s what you like riding.
The Pohnpei Surf Club has a large quiver of surfboards available for guests to use. With the expensive charges airlines are charging now days, it is always good to know that we do have surfboards for you to use if you break all your boards, if conditions are different then the ones for your boards, or if you are just flying through Pohnpei on business, or do not want to bring a surfboard.
The Pohnpei Surf Club also has a nice quiver of Naish Stand up paddle boards (9’6”, 10’4”, 10’6” and 11’4”) for you to cruise down the river or over beautiful reefs, or try to surf on some small days, all available for our guests.
To check our SUP’S go to http://www.naishsurfing.com/naishsurfing/index.php
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