We journey to Sri Lanka in search for warmer weather and find wild elephants, crazy tuk tuk drivers, and some waves to boot. Read on...
This is one of most common questions we are asked when people are looking to book their surf trip to King Island.
Most of our guests are often one-track minded on surfing Martha Lavinia, which is understandable considering the manysurf photos published of Martha and it being voted as one of the best beach breaks in Australia by many surf magazines.
It is easily the most photographed wave on the island with its perfect “A” frames breaking along the 5KM sandy stretch of Martha Lavinia nature reserve, crystal clear waters backlight from the Northern sun makes it extremely photogenic wave. It is enough to make any surf frother put Martha on their bucket list of waves to surf before they die.
And yes, Martha is one of the most perfect waves I’ve seen in my life. However, King Island is certainly not all about Martha! I sometimes feel like I’m talking to a brick wall when I say that, “there are many other amazing waves around the island”. Just not as well known, or other secret spots that we are obliged not to speak of. One of my most memorable surfs last year was at Phoques beach with just my good friend out in the water, a 100metre barrelling left hand bank that just kept getting bigger and hollower all day. Many of our guests have also been coming back saying they had the "best surf of their lives" at Red Hut beach. If you take the time explore King Island you will undoubtedly find some gold all to yourselves and be left asking the question, “Where is everybody?“ Chances are they are probably surfing another spot that you haven’t found yet.
OK so back to Martha. Martha needs a meduim to large size swell to break, enough to wrap around both sides of the island to form those perfect A frames. When trying to forecast Martha we generally look for swell to be 4ft and above on Swellnet’s surf forecast at Barwon Heads (Victoria) with a SW wind - this is usually a good indication Martha will have some great waves around the 2-3ft range. Although it can still break when Barwon Heads is 3ft on Swellnet’s surf report. Note, swells hit King Island about 6 hours before hitting Barwon Heads. Martha is usually best on a low tide when the sand is shallower, on high tide it can often be too full to break properly on smaller swells. Martha can have more mood swings than my boss, it can be pumping one minute and quite the next, it’s worth packing your lunch and fishing rods and spending the day there if you know there is good swell about as it can switch on pretty quickly.
Don’t be fooled though, Martha may look like the perfect barrel but it’s by no means easy as it looks;) If you are lucky enough to get into a Martha barrel and then fortunate enough make it out, it will leave you smiling for weeks.
I hope this helps some of you keeping an eye on the weather reports hoping to catch this great wave. King Island and Martha Lavinia beach is such a special place just to be.
It was a relationship with many highs and lows. A rough and rocky ride with the worst bloody steering, oftern you brokedown, or got bogged down along the way but you always got us there in the end. “Stella” our trusty Toyota Hilux is no more. She was as cheap as they came. We found her on the side of the road in need of some TLC, and she gave back to us in spades before eventually succumbing to the abuse of many surfers on a mission to explore King Island’s many great waves and finding untold riches. Alas, she is now tainted beyond repair… and we must move on and let go.
Fortunately we have found a new love - “The Beast”. A middle aged Nissan Patrol with 7 seats and enough room up top for a quiver of surfboards and fishing rods. The Beast has more accessories and lights that it probably needs. She has a 48 inch lift kit with tractor tires fitted needing a ladder to get up and ride her. Enough recovery gear to get you out of the trouble. More lights than the MCG, you can now happily keep surfing all day AND night. A rear camera for… umm all that crazy King Island traffic!? An alarm system which would have been very handy in Melbourne’s west, but slightly overkill on a small island where no one is going anywhere fast.
We picked her up from a suburb we’d never heard of far out in Melbourne’s western suburbs where all the pimped out cars are found. Parked on the grass as we rocked up, it was love at first sight “this is the one” I said to Anatole, all those other cars we have been looking at were just fleeting romances. Anatole remarked, “Don’t be fooled by her stunning good looks, its what’s on the inside that counts”. Before Anatole had a chance to give her a good shake down and test drive I was handing over wods of cash to a dodgy looking bloke and signing the paper work.
We’ve been driving The Beast around Barwon Heads and doing a couple missions down south Vicco on some 4WD tracks putting her through her paces. She’s a weapon alright, easily passing over any terrain and soft sand we could throw at her. She is perfectly suited to the riggers of King Island apart from that one small thing…. the black liquid leaking from her engine?! I do recall someone once saying to me “be wary of buying any car thats parked on the lawn… it probably means that they are trying to conceal the leaking oil underneath”. Anyway, a couple trips to the car doctor and a lot of $$ later she has past the KI test with flying colours. Time to ship her over to her new home at King Island for our guest to trash... I mean enjoy! Enjoy!!!
Farewell, I hope you have a long and happy island life. May your rust spots be few, and waves you find many.
Not only is King Island renowned for having great surf, the island also has plentiful supply of both crayfish and abalone!
So in-between surfs, why not go for a snorkel around many of the island beautiful pristine beaches and catch yourself some dinner. Don’t have any dive gear or forgot your weight belt? No worries, we at King Island Surf Safaris have got you covered. At our cottage where our guests stay, we have complementary dive and fishing gear for you to use on your trip. So you don’t need to worry about lugging your 20KG weight belt on the plane, instead focus on battling with monster 5KG Southern Rock Lobsters.
What better way to finish a great days surfing than a cook-up of cray's and abalone on the campfire - My mouths watering just thinking about it...
If you can’t catch a crayfish in King Island then you should probably rule out a career in catching crayfish for a living. Fortunately, you can just buy one instead from Donna and Max of King Island Seafoods – (03) 6462 1774. It’s also fascinating to watch the professionals unload their boats full of crayfish at the Currie Jetty and put us all to shame.
Just make sure you pick up Tasmanian Fishing licence before you leave if you want to fish or dive on the island.
Local environment and the community.
We all share a responsibility to preserve and improve the beautiful coastal environment in which we are lucky enough to enjoy.
Apart from great waves, part of the attraction King Island holds is the unique and pristine coastal environment and the friendly community that exists here - This is constantly reaffirmed to us, through the acknowledgement from each and every guest that visits the island.
The islands 1800 population have a strong sense of place, and the people who live here are deeply connected to the island, the sea, and its natural resources which underpins the islands main industries and leisure activities. The coast plays a strong bearing on the culture of King Island. The responsible management of these natural values is fundamental to protecting the Island’s way of life for the community as a whole.
The tourist market is important to the economy of King Island and is seeking to grow for future prosperity. Approximately 6% of the Island’s labour force is directly employed through the tourism industry. Of course with the money you spend during your stay on King Island feeding directly back into the community, King Island Surf Safaris also employs, partners and works with local businesses and people to ensure the community and environment benefits. We also make a direct financial contribution. $25 of your payment goes towards King Island Natural Resource Management Group* (KINRM). King Island Surf Safaris matches this dollar value giving a total of $50 for every group that travels with us. We have chosen a local organisation to make sure 100% of the money goes directly back into the island. We are always looking at how we can continually improve, and be a leader in sustainable tourism in surf travel so others can enjoy the islands unique environment in future years.
*KINRM promote co-ordinated and integrated management of natural resources, which will contribute to the economic and environmental sustainability of King Island. Want to learn or do more about where your money goes? volunteer or donate? Visit: http://www.kingislandnaturalresources.org
Responsible surfing tourism.
Apart from the stunning beaches, part of the attraction surfing KI is the lack of development and crowds due to its remoteness. In order to maintain the islands surfing charm, King Island Surf Safaris are committed to only taking small groups of surfers over to the island at one time. This keeps the number of surfers in the water down, if fact most of the time when you visit it will just be you and friends surfing the waves at King Island. Our core focus is to preserve this uniqueness for those guests that visit us future.
King Island does have a small population of local surfers that live on the island and as when visiting any place, you need to be respectful of the local surfing community and the environment you are in. All guest’s who visit the island are fully briefed by us to be respectful of where they are, move on from a break that already has enough surfing it, leave as little impact on the beaches as possible, stick to existing tracks etc. We find the uniqueness of the island naturally attracts a type of persons that is seeking this solitude in a surf trip and are generally very respectful and sensitive to the island and people. The KI people are some of the most friendly and welcoming people around, and will happily help or give you advice on where to surf or anything else you are after.
A few things to keep in mind when visiting:
- Stick to designated 4WD or walking tracks. Before you drive, decide if you really need to take your vehicle on the beach. When driving on the beach, drive on the wet sand below high tide mark. This way you will have less impact on the shorebirds and it will avoid dune erosion.
- Vehicles are prohibited on the beaches within Lavinia State Reserve
- Bird nesting season is from September - April. Please take particular care during these months.
- Fishing licenses are required when fishing KI.
- Take in, take out! Don't forget your rubbish & pick up any litter - Leaving the place cleaner than you found it.
- Leave the gates as you find them! Access to some beaches is through private land and we don’t want to inconvenience the owners.