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Tales of Tahiti

Tahiti doesn't just hand out ‘tales’ to weary surf bums traveling from Southern California… Tahiti hands you a beautiful scenic landscape and plenty of epic waves that demand a good ride. As best friends, our trip to Tahiti turned into the trip of a lifetime, returning our rental car a day late because we weren't done with Tahiti and Tahiti wasn't done with us.

We were not welcomed by flowers or photographers at the airport and we weren't staying at the Hilton and enjoying room service; That's not how we like to ride. To us, simplicity was key.

We got to capture the beauty of Tahiti and the moments of two friends having the trip of a lifetime, while meeting great people and most importantly drinking lots of the local nectar. 

We sat down with Spencer and PK to find out about the debauchery and tales that made this one hell of an adventure

I hear the first day was a little rough.

Yeah it was, it felt like a typical first travel day where everything that can go wrong did go wrong. Not everything but most, but hey we were in Tahiti and that's all that mattered. Our adventure started when we lost all the camera gear.  Apparently it was over-sized, when we gave our luggage at LAX we just expected it to be loaded, problem is we forgot to tag it. We landed at midnight and no sign of the most important bag!  We didn't even have a receipt for it!

So  how did you get to your hostel at 12 at night?

Also we didn't reserve a car. in hindsight, probably something we should have done. When we got to the front of the car rental line they told us "no more cars" WTF!! So we got a taxi. The taxi driver then proceeded to drive the wrong way for 45 minutes. It turns out our hotel was 45 minutes in the opposite direction. Finally after a two hour drive we finally found the right hostel! As soon the gate opens even throught the dark we could make out an extraordinary place with a pool and beach right out front. Oh my God this place was amazing! Things definitely started to look up.

You woke up in the morning looking for camera gear, but besides that how was your first actual day there?

It was a great first day. We woke up with fresh bread and fruit on our front balcony overlooking the water, does it get any better than that?  We were staying in a part of Tahiti called Papara. The property was two acres with three bungalows and walls that backed up onto Papara beach break, which is where the contest was being held the next day. Totally epic, we bodysurfed all morning. Green mountain backdrop on crystal blue, clear water, such an epic first break to body surf.

What happened to the Camera gear?

We got good news, the camera gear had been found. The problem was getting back to the airport to get the gear.  We opted to rent a tiny five speed hatchback. We got our gear back and it was time to get some epic shots of this amazing place. We hadn't lost much time so we were stoked.

So you got a rental too! All seems well now.

Cruising around in our little hatch back rocked. The Tahiti Pro at Teahupoo was being held an hour down the road so we drove there in the morning, only to find out it was a lay day, bummer! However we did  run into a few pro surfers like Joel Parkinson and Josh Kerr so that made up for it. Teahupoo is really small so there wasn't a whole lot to do on the lay day so we decided to go back and get in a sunset session at Papara. I was stoked to get some prep in for the bodysurf competition the next day.

What kind of mindset did you have for the Slyde Tahiti Bodysurfing Competition?

In California we are lucky to have some epic breaks and conditions however, the reef breaks in Tahiti are a step above what I was used to at Zuma. I cant believe the locals get to surf this all the time, I'm jealous! The reef breaks are so much fun. I expected some good riding at the competition but it was insane how good the water men are there. The guys were doing some crazy cool moves, spins, lazyboys. I ended up finishing third so I was stoked on that, all around it was an amazing competition.

Did you hit any more spots besides the competition beach at Papara?

Hell yeah! The Tahitians are incredibly hospitable - We met a few locals at the competition. Simon, who won the competition, what a legend. He has lived in Tahiti for five years, but was originally from France. Apparently his first year in Tahiti he lived in the middle of the Island to learn traditional living, talk about being an epic adventurer. Mathias was a lifeguard in Tahiti, this was his first bodysurfing competition. We invited them back after the contest for a few beers and we formed a lifelong friendships over some cold Tahitian brews.

We ended up hanging with them for most of the trip. They were chill, we were chill, so lets all f#$king chill. They showed us around the island to all the secret locals-only spots. We hit up some solid gnarly reef breaks with them, mostly by boat. It was truly an experience neither of us will ever forget.

So you ended up with a boat even though two days before you didn’t even have a car?

Simon’s two friends owned a kind of pirate looking ship that they were setting up to sail around the world. These two guys were probably 50 or 60 years old, and the boat looked like it was used in World War One, it was hilarious. They had a little dingy that would take us out to the reef every night and wait around for us while we bodysurfed until dark, then it would take us back to shore, rinse repeat everyday, epic adventures.

sounds like you should have cooked them dinner for an experience like that!

Actually it was the other way around. That night they invited us back to their place for a traditional Tahitian meal. Simon had been cooking all day for us, he had it cooking over hot stones and a fire  three feet underground. For those who know me know I'm not much of a fruit or vegetable guy, however Simon had all sorts of that deliciousness in his fire pit along with whole fish and lots of coconut. Actually everything had coconut in it. The fresh caught fish was insane and the whole fish was wrapped in banana leaves. Oh my god, absolutely unreal. I might be more of a fruit and vegetable guy now.

Who else did you end up hanging out with?

Philippe was our other friend that took us out to another long left near Teahupoo. Our phones aren't working of course, its pouring rain, and we were supposed to meet him at the beach break where the competition was located. I just said f@#k it lets go find this guy. Turns out we couldn't find Philippe haha. Finally thirty minutes later Philippe shows up with a 10 foot fold up boat and I start regretting the whole ‘locate Philippe’ thing.

Please tell me you got into that boat.

Haha ya we did, so we’re assembling this boat, like unfolding it and sticking strait rods into the sides to keep it open. He had a little five horsepower engine that putzed us out there and it worked like a gem. It was similar to a lot of point breaks, but with the reef obviously. Kind of like Zuma in Malibu where this massive face just shows up immediately right in front of you. The water was so clear and you could just go forever. When I looked below it felt like I was just flying! What was also different for me was that Philippe wanted us to introduce our selves to the line up and wish them luck. Not used to that, but really loved the atmosphere and vibes the locals were laying out to us. Still though, probably one of the best lefts I've been on.

Did that experience follow by another locally cooked Tahitian meal?

No no, we cooked most of our meals back at our bungalow. Our place was right next to a grocery store so we would wander into there every few days to pick up our dinners. Hot dogs that exploded in the microwave and really bad steaks were the usual haha. One night was spaghetti which was really good, but Philippe took us out for local burgers which were also bomb.

So how were the final two days then?

Interesting to say the least. We stayed at this really nice hotel which felt really good haha. Awesome and normal food along with air conditioning. I got to see a traditional Tahitian dance performed on our last day and that was free, so it turned out to be really cool. Both Mathias and Simon joined us for that as well because Simon used to work for the hotel. Later on that night the boys took us to the airport and gave us the tourist-type of necklaces and big hugs goodbye. Totally a group of guys I’ll be in touch with for the rest of my life.

Anything else crazy or interesting that happened?

The one thing that made me go like ‘holy s#$t’ was bodysurfing that left with Philippe. I was always a little panicked seeing how close the reef would get. It was new, interesting and different from the sand bottoms back in California. The best break I have ever bodysurfed in my life and I will never forget that location and experience. Also, our flight back home was filled with Kelly Slater, Nat Young, and all those guys. I got onto the plane with a new Slyde handboard and Kelly walked on with this massive trophy haha.

Any last words for those who are already jealous of such an awesome trip?

Do good things in your life and you get to meet awesome people. I made cool friends that I will have for the rest of my life out in the middle of the ocean, so hell ya. The sport of bodysurfing is getting bigger and bigger and Slyde is the forerunner of it all.