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Surf Trip Tips with Serene Gunnison

Nick Ricca · May 14, 2017, 8:44 AM HST (Updated May 24, 2017, 3:38 PM) · 0 Comments
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Serene surfing in Sumbawa.

With winter swells gone and summer flatness near, It’s time to chase the waves elsewhere and take a surf trip. For the first installment in our new travel tips series, Maui Now caught up with Ha’ikū’s Serene Gunnison. The 20-year-old surfer has already accumulated a slew of travel experience and can shed some light on what it’s like to find waves away from home.

What inspires you to travel?

I think growing up on such a small island has inspired me to travel. It’s really important to me that I experience what the world is like away from Maui.  Traveling somewhere far away and being immersed in a culture so unlike you our own is so cool. There’s no better way to get outside your comfort zone than through travel. Every time I travel I do see, and experience things that I wouldn’t have had the chance to at home. It helps you keep an open mind.

Tips on traveling with boards?

Board fees can break the bank. I’m always sure to check the board fees of the airline I’m thinking of flying before I book. You don’t want to get slapped with a fee that’s just as much as your ticket. Avoid China Airlines, their fees are some of the highest. Also, Hawaiian Airlines only allows two boards per bag. If your flight goes to or through O’ahu and you need to bring more than two boards, Aloha Cargo will ship them straight to HNL. It’s only $45 for boxes under 10′.

What boards do you bring?

I usually bring two, my regular board and a back up. If I’m traveling to a place where I know the waves are more powerful, like Indonesia, I’ll bring a step up. I usually just wrap the nose and tail in towels for protection. Some people will wrap the rails in cardboard too. I’ve been pretty lucky so far, but sending boards on any flight can be a roll of the dice.

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What are your travel essentials?

Always bring a lock, absolutely essential. Also, a copy of your passport, ear plugs, extra earbuds or headphones, a small first aid kit, and an extra jacket in your carry on.

Local kids in Sumbawa.

Craziest experience you’ve had while traveling?

One time I saw a security guard whip a man in an airport in Sumbawa, Indonesia. I also almost got stranded overnight on a tiny island in Panama, and after our rescue boat finally arrived it started sinking. That was wild. That same trip I had an encounter with a baby sloth and we totally had a moment. It was epic.

What advice can you give to others coming from Maui? 

If you are looking at flights from Kahului it can be pricey. Sometimes I will book flights out of Honolulu then book a separate ticket to Oʻahu. When I was planning my last trip to Australia, tickets from Maui to Brisbane with a stop on Oʻahu were about $800 one way. Flights from Honolulu to Brisbane were only about $400 one way, so after I booked a separate flight to Oʻahu for $60, I had saved myself nearly $350.

Sunrise in Dominical, Costa Rica.

Any cheap flights or deals you know of?

I always use Google flights when booking. It brings up a calendar and shows you the cheapest dates to fly. It also can show you if one destination is cheaper than another. For example, Oakland is usually much cheaper to fly to than San Francisco.

Dream destination?

Lakey Peak, Indonesia. I’ve been there a few times but I could live there, I love it. Cuba, Portugal, and Chile are on my list too.

What’s the best and worst part of traveling?

The worst part of traveling is when things don’t go as planned, which is absolutely inevitable. Whether it’s missing a flight, getting sick, or getting robbed, something is bound to happen where you question why you’re even traveling in the first place. The best part, however, is all of the people you meet along the way and all of the experiences and memories you gain. My most funny, wild, and crazy memories come from traveling. It makes the bad parts all worth it.

Nick Ricca
Nick is a surf photographer, filmmaker, and writer from Maui. He is a contributor to Freesurf Magazine.
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