The humble surf guide has come a long way since surfer’s first started to document their journey’s. Bruce Brown’s The Endless Summer is often tipped as the catalyst for the modern era of surf exploration and the surf guide, but pockets of dedicated wave riders were charting coastlines decades before Brown brought surf travel to Hollywood. Early exploration of Southern California led naturally to forays into Baja and eventually Mainland Mexico, while the development of rudimentary wetsuits allowed for exploration north of San Francisco. Meanwhile, Australians were busy charting their own coastlines. Soon, the most accomplished from both continents began making yearly pilgrimages to Hawaii.
With no fanfare and no surf guide in existence, a handful of intrepid explorers started looking further afield, riding cargo freighters around the globe and sharing the surf gospel with locals in any number of African, European and Asian countries. Soon these foreign enclaves of stoke grew beyond their geographic limitations, with the natural response being greater regional exploration and new discoveries. By the time Brown and his subjects loaded boards and camera gear, garbed themselves in snazzy suits and purchased a fistful of airline tickets (laying the foundation for the modern jet-set ideal—minus the suits!), surfing was already a global happening. All that remained was for this phenomenon to be documented. First came the magazines, then the surf guides, wads of information, OS coordinates and a new surfing world at your finger tips. The whole publication industry was turned on its head with the advent of the internet, surf forecasting sites like surfline and surf guiding sites like wannasurf allowed the documentation of surf spots in a whole new way.
Today, with relatively cheap and convenient travel options, surf-centric tour operations in nearly every known surf zone and Google Earth beaming a God’s-eye view of the planet’s coasts into every home with a computer and Internet connection, it would seem that the age of discovery has passed—that our oceans have no more secrets to keep. Fortunately, this could not be further from the truth. Although it is easy and often tempting to simply follow in the footsteps of those who have come before us, using their writings in surf guides and a number of online forecasting tools to guarantee that we score waves during our precious few weeks of holiday, for those willing to trade a sure thing for the thrill of adventure there are still thousands of new lineups to be charted. Whether they require arduous voyages to uninhabited Pacific atolls, patiently waiting for a monsoon swell in the South China Sea or simply taking the time to check an out-of-the-way corner during a swell of uncommon direction, these lineups are ours for the finding. All we have to do is look.
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