Fun Level 10/10 Crowd Level 10/10
To the jewel in the crown, Santa Isabel which is home to two of the best surf stays in the destination ‘Kagata Surfin Frens’ and Papatura Island Retreat but the latter is without doubt one of the best surfing set-ups to be found anywhere in the South Pacific.
Managed by Australian expats Pete and Margie Blanche, Papatura sits on a beautiful sandy beach facing the main island of Santa Isabel, and is protected from the ocean winds. On the seaward side of the island sit several good surf breaks including Anchovies, PT’s, Kumma’s, Zoli’s, Donuts and Tarzan’s, the latter offering a perfect A-frame with barrels going in both directions. There are several more breaks around the reef directly outside Papatura and each one will have its day depending on winds, swell direction and tides.
The journey to Papatura is worth the effort – Twin Otter flights to the grass strip at Suavanao and a five-minute boat ride to Papatura Faa Island and the retreat which boasts a good selection of standard boards from stubby-nosed fish through to rhino chasers and a selection of Mals.
Best of all, Papatura Island retreat limits the number of boardriders to a max of 14 at any one time – so with more than 20 different breaks to choose from, you’re guaranteed an uncrowded surf.