Archive for the ‘surf trip’ Category

Michael Kew on his new book “Crossings”

Friday, March 30th, 2012

“Crossings” is not about surfing. But surfing is woven throughout and, hey, there’s a groovy dude with a board on the cover. So what’s this stout 480-page book saying, and why should you go to Surfbeat Galerie this Saturday eve? The fact that I’m both interviewer and subject here makes for a dubious and literally self-absorbed riff. And — upon today’s arrival of my third printing — shamelessly self-promoting. For this, I apologize. Profusely. Sort of.

MICHAEL: What birthed “Crossings?”

KEW: Three things. A 10-year (starting in 2001) chunk of world travel,, and New Year’s Day 2012. Self-publishing a book has become incredibly easy, and once 2011 died, I felt it was appropriate to cram a bunch of my travel stories together and boil them into one neat little package that you could set on your nightstand or stuff into the back pocket of your MC Hammer-style parachute pants. You still have a pair, right?

MC Hammer.

MICHAEL: I never wore those.

KEW: Liar. You’re a child of the ‘80s. You had MC Hammer tapes and you liked his videos on MTV.

MICHAEL: Did you just say I lied?

KEW: Did I? Anyway, moving on. When I was 25, I earned a stack of cash by writing for an online start-up (thanks to Evan Slater). I was homeless, and, aside from a few childhood trips to Baja, had never left the United States. This was because I had zero dollars growing up, zero dollars in college, and despite reading about the world in National Geographic and Surfer and worldly mags like that, it was easy to hang in California and breathe familiar air. It still feels that way, but eventually city limits end up being just that: limiting.

Carwyn Williams.

MICHAEL: Where did you go first?

KEW: France. Almost everyone in the plane clapped when we landed in Paris. That was cool. (The only other time I’ve since experienced such patriotic clapping joy upon landing was last summer in Kingston, Jamaica.) So, at the urging of Surfer’s Steve Barilotti, one of my mentors, I aimed to rendezvous with Carwyn Williams, a legendary Welsh surf star who had expatriated to Seignosse. I don’t recall why, but I wanted to write about surfing in Wales. Carwyn was supposed to take me there. From Paris I flew to Biarritz, where Carwyn and a hilarious carload of dudes collected me. We drove straight to a pub and got drunk off of Stella Artois lager. I spent most of my two weeks in Seignosse down with influenza, but I did get to share a room in Carwyn’s house with Ted Grambeau, another one of my mentors, and that led to a jaunt to Norway’s Arctic Circle, my first official trip for Surfer magazine. We found epic waves. But Carwyn never left Seignosse; I still don’t know why. After Norway, I ended up in his hometown of Mumbles and survived to pen a story about it for The Surfer’s Journal. I wrote nothing about France.

Ted Grambeau.

MICHAEL: In those 10 years, did you visit other countries and write nothing about them?

KEW: Yes, probably about 20. Greenland is one I really should have documented.

MICHAEL: Greenland must’ve been interesting.

KEW: You can say that again.

MICHAEL: Greenland must’ve been interesting.

KEW: Dude….

MICHAEL: Haha, okay…so why should anyone want to read “Crossings?” Why should anyone care?

KEW: Anyone with even a dusting of global curiosity will enjoy this book. It’s not about surfing, so a non-surfing reader won’t be alienated. It’s travel writing, not surf-writing. It’s world culture, world environment, world politics, and occasionally world-class waves. It’s an intimate, personal portal into some of Earth’s obscure regions, mostly small dots on the map. And much of the travel was done solo, exposing me to cultural experiences I would not have had if I was insulated behind a gaggle of jockish pro surfers.

MICHAEL: How can somebody get a copy of “Crossings?”

KEW: Easy…[visit Kew's site to order a copy]. Or, if you come see me at Surfbeat Galerie on Saturday, flip me a Jackson and I’ll hand you signed copy. A trip around the world for $20? MC Hammer would dig that.

BE HERE: Saturday, March 31, 8 p.m., Surfbeat Galerie, 22 Anacapa St., #5, Santa Barbara, Calif. Phone 805-450-6268. Live music by Brother Bird (who is Catherine Clark, Johnny McCann, Travers Adler). Beer and wine. Art by Ricky Brotini. “Crossings” readings and signing and sales. Yes. Good vibes. Yes.

  • To learn more about author and surf-scribe Michael Kew visit the Peathead Blog and check out this recent interview.

Surfing England

Friday, September 30th, 2011

When we think of the England many of us don’t typically think of surfing.  I myself am guilty of being one of those people.  It wasn’t until I booked a trip there that I  found out that there are actually some good waves.  So two weeks ago I boarded a ten hour flight, rented a car, and drove out to the SouthWest coast of the country to check it out.

What I found unfortunately wasn’t what I had hoped.  Hurricane Katia that hit the East Coast of the U.S. seemed to take a toll on the UK’s weather, destroying any chance of me paddling out. I did though, bring back the low down on the spots I checked out and what to normally expect.  Below are some of the spots I checked out:


As you pull into the harbor there’s a right reef break just to the right.  It doesn’t always break but when it does, it’s on.  This spot is said to attract all the good local surfers when a swell is in and can get pretty heavy at times.  It may be a little difficult getting to though because it does break off the rocks.  Best break is between ¾ to low tide.  (Not to mention the tides here are insane! Tides aren’t what I’m used to in Southern California…. I’m talking changes of around 25 ft)

St. Michael’s Mount:

I woudn’t recommend this spot for surfing, but if you like to windsurf it’s great. There were about four or five guys out windsurfing that day.  There’s also a sick little castle off-shore on its own island that can be walked out to on low tide and reached by boat during high tide.  All around it’s a cool place to check out if you want to see something you won’t typically get in Southern California.


This spot is more suitable to all levels of surfers because of its many breaks.  It breaks both left and right and has several peaks from the bay to the point.

Fistral Beach/Newquay:

Fistral sits right in the heart of the string of beaches they call Newquay.  First thing I thought about this place was it reminded me of Huntington Beach, Ca.  It seemed to be the most similar to the Southern California breaks. It’s said to be the most famous surfing beach in Britain.  It’s good on low tides and NW to SW swells.  September to December are the best months and it’s crowded most of the year.


Woolacombe is best for beginners and you can find breaks all along the 2 mile length of beach.  It’s good on NW to SW swells and E winds.


Croyde has two main points: Baggy End Point which has a right-hand reef and Dwonend Point which tends to be the most surfed.  Crowds are pretty heavy so it can get pretty competitive when paddling for waves.  Baggy End Reef is best on Spring high tides and breaks in bigger swells.  Downend Point isn’t good below 4ft and is best on low to mid neap tides.

If you’re ever traveling to England, check out these spots.  As they say “over the pond,” Cheers!


What to Bring on a Surf Trip to Baja

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

Thinking about making a surf trip down to Baja? Here is a short list of things you should bring with you:

  1. Passport
  2. Vehicle Insurance
  3. Mobile Phone
  4. Cash

Passport: Effective January 1st, 2009, all U.S. citizens are required to be in possession of a passport when traveling back surfing mexicofrom Mexico. Previously, you could slide back in with a driver’s license or birth certificate. But they are getting stricter so its best not to risk it and always make sure you bring your passport. Otherwise your ‘trip’ could become a ‘stay’. Check out entry requirements here:

Mexican Insurance: If you’re headed to go surfing in Mexico, then chances are you’re bringing your own vehicle across. Under Mexican law, motorists are required to have insurance, or “proof of financial responsibility”, in the event of an accident, even if you did not cause it. As a foreigner traveling in Mexico, the only way of demonstrating this financial responsibility is to have sufficient real currency to cover damages, or an insurance policy from a Mexican company. U.S. or any other non-Mexican insurance does not cover your liability for potential accidents, nor does it fulfill the basic requirement for insurance according to Mexican law. While some U.S. car insurance companies cover damage to your own vehicle up to a short distance into Mexico (25-50 miles), they do not cover damages to other parties. This is why any U.S. policy must be accompanied by at least a liability-only policy from a Mexican insurance company. Check out, where you can easily buy Mexican Auto Insurance online and print out your policy from home before you go!

Mobile Phone: Let’s face it, things can go wrong in Mexico (or anywhere for that matter) but if something does go wrong its best to have a means to call for help. U.S. mobile phones work in Mexico, although most companies charge expensive usage rates of at least 99 cents per minute. If you’re in a jam however, its worth it! Plus, you’ve got a great excuse to get off the phone faster than normal with the significant other, “sorry honey…gots to go, this call is expensive”. So hopefully you’ll spend more minutes in the water surfing and less on the phone, haha.

Cash: Many places in Mexico are ‘cash only’ establishments. Fortunately, U.S. dollars are widely accepted. So changing currency may not be necessary. However, make sure you bring enough cash to last the duration of the surf trip. You don’t want to be the guy mooching cash from your buddies because you forgot to load up before crossing the border. ATM’s accept most U.S. bank cards and are widely available in cities, but once you’re off the beaten path, good luck!

Bali: Surfing Paradise

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

If this video doesn’t make you want to grab your surfboard off its rack and go surfing than I don’t know what will…

I went on a surf trip to this spot about ten years ago when I was a post grommet teenager. Had the time of my life with my best friends, surfing barrels, riding scooters, drinking Bin-tang. If you’ve never been to Bali before it’s a must do surf trip. Bring at least a couple of surfboards because chances are you’ll need a back up board or two.