Pohnpei Surf Club
All year round warm water surfing in a riverside setting close to all amenities. Easy access by boat transfers to a choice of waves including P-Pass.
LowPressure Stormrider Surf Guide says
Pohnpei is often confused with the ancient Italian city of Pompei, rather than a speck in the Pacific Ocean, forming part of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), lying more than 5000km (3,200 mi) southwest of Hawaii. Further confusion occurs because the FSM is one of 8 island nations inside the region of Micronesia including, Kiribati, Marshalls, Palau, Nauru, the Northern Marianas, Guam, Wake Island. The FSM is made up of more than 600 islands scattered across over 3.9 million square kilometres (1.5M sq/mi) of the Pacific, divided into the four states of Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei, and Kosrae. Being mostly low coralline atolls, Pohnpei is different since it’s the tip of a 5 million-year-old extinct shield volcano. The entire island is made up of black basalt rock, surrounded by a deep lagoon up to 8km (5mi) wide, circled by many linear, patch and pinnacle reefs. Referred to as the Garden Island of Micronesia, Pohnpei sits in the middle of the “Pool”, the warmest ocean temperatures in the world, fed from the east by the Northern Equatorial Current. Secretly surfed by a lucky few until a Surf Report Issue in Feb 1998, the media have frenzied over some of photos depicting the smoking barrels of P-Pass.
Find more general info about when to go and statistics on the Low Pressure’s Stormrider Guide website.
Condition descriptions provided by the Operator
Micronesia has some of the best waves in the world and Pohnpei has by far the best one in Micronesia. Expect warm, crystal clear water, with perfect powerful waves. In Pohnpei, waves break far from the beach, similar to Tahiti or Fiji, either on the barrier reef or near a reef pass. It is not possible to check the surf from shore, so the only way to get to the waves is by boat. Most of the swells that reach Pohnpei are generated by North Pacific winter storms (does not necessarily have the same swell window as Hawaii) and from typhoons in the Western Pacific. Pohnpei surf season goes from early September thru early May. Up to four feet, the waves on Pohnpei are user-friendly. Once the surf gets bigger, you enter another level of surfing. Late take-off’s, fast down-the-line rides, and hollow barrels are what you will find.
The Pohnpei Surf Break Down
No, Pohnpei is not always 8 to 10 ft with top to bottom barrels and pro surfers like you see on surf magazines. Those days do happen 2 to 5 times depending on the year.On most days during our surf season the Pohnpei surf scene is comprised of around 20 laid back surfers on the whole island. During the off season you will be lucky to find someone to surf with at one of the off season spots or on a odd day at P-Pass.Most swells that hit Pohnpei are from the north with size ranging from 2 to 6 feet. At this size P-Pass and most of the other waves in Pohnpei are for the intermediate to advance level. On a 2 to 3 ft day and a high tide P-Pass is a very easy and friendly wave to ride.Ninety per cent of the waves surfed in Pohnpei are located on reef passes. The other waves are all located on bends on the barrier reef. Because there's no way of checking these waves except by boat, and in most cases by leaving another perfect wave, these reef bends are hardly ever surfed.There are no beach breaks or waves breaking close to the island in Pohnpei. All waves in Pohnpei break on the barrier reef and do require a boat ride.The weather is always hot. The only time you might feel cold is during a rain squall or when the boat is moving. Bring a rain jacket for these days and lots of sun protection for when it is not raining. The ocean water is always warm, around 80+ degrees.Pohnpei is heaven on earth for surfers and one of the friendliest places to surf in the world. It's a little bit far from it all and expensive to get to, and this is the main reason this beautiful part of the world has been left untouched by tourism and surfers.
The Surf Season on the north side of Pohnpei is from October through April with occasional swells in September and May.Winds have a tendency to blow very light and variable from August through December. Trade winds will blow from December until around June or July.Trades winds are offshore. During every winter there will be a time when the trades will blow stronger then suddenly dying out into perfect conditions for surfing. For most of the time you would not find a place on earth with such perfect wind conditions. Palikir Pass can handle trade winds unless they start blowing too strong or with a lot of north in it.
It’s a perfect right hander. P-Pass is a short for Palikir Pass. Palikir is the name of the area in which this wave is located, a district of Pohnpei. Palikir Pass is by far the number one wave in the region. Not only perfect but also works under most conditions. The predominant trade winds are always off shore or side shore.
Any swell from the NW to NE will make it work, with a straight north being the best for Palikir Pass. Too much E on the swell and it starts missing the pass (Palikir Pass faces a perfect NW and the wave still has to wrap around and into the pass). Too much W and the wave start to close out on the inside. Anyways, most swells that hit Pohnpei during our surf season are from the north with small variations from the east and west which is the best direction for Palikir Pass. Most swells that hit Pohnpei in the winter range from 2 to 6 feet with occasional bigger days.
On most days Palikir can be surfed at any tide and the reef is a lot more user friendly than Indo, Tahiti or Fiji. There is no reef walking unless you might have to retrieve your lost board on a really low tide day. Swells here have nothing to do with Hawaii or anywhere else in the Pacific. We are located between Honolulu and Manila and a completely different swell window. We do require the same kind of low pressure systems as Hawaii, but from a different location in the Pacific Ocean. Under small conditions Palikir Pass is a easy wave for a novice surfer. Once it reaches 5 ft and up you enter a different level of surfing. Even at that size it is a easy and perfect wave to ride with a predictable take off and absolutely perfect wall and sections. On up to a 5 ft day you can ride the wave all the way in until it becomes a 2 ft wave, or you can just ride the first two barrel sections and paddle back for more. On most days there is no current at Palikir Pass. On some extreme tide days the current can get strong and move towards the channel. The tide variation on Pohnpei goes from 3ft to almost 6 ft on the most extreme tides of the year. P-Pass holds good all the way to 10 ft (Hawaiian size here!). At this size or bigger, the wave will start doing a double up similar to Shipsterns in Tasmania. Our guest Mark Matthews from Australia called it a tropical Shippies on the biggest day ever surfed. We have seen a few perfect waves on the 12 ft + range rolling through but to get into one of these waves you would have to be towed in. Days over 10 ft happen as often as the Eddie Aikau contest in Hawaii. Once every few years! Well, if you don’t like those giant days with lots of pro surfers and photographers around, you won’t see any on most days at P-Pass. As we have mentioned before, on most days you will be living the South Pacific dream setup with a crew of friendly surfers sharing the line up. Because all waves in Pohnpei are perfect, surfers do take turns.
If you want to be part of the friendly crew of surfers that share these line ups, DO NOT BACK PADDLE OR PADDLE AROUND, DON’T DROP IN, and DON’T BE SNEAKY. The wave is perfect and everyone out is polite, so wait your turn, enjoy the ride and come back out for another one. Palikir Pass has been surfed by the best surfers in the world — by all world champions from the last 15 years (everyone of them), the best female surfers, free surfers, and hundreds of regular surfers like me and you. At Palikir you can surf at any tide meaning no waiting for the tide or winds to come up. Unless we are on some extreme low tides and powerful swells, we just move a little up the reef. The only time you might walk on the reef is if you lose your board, and most of the time the winds will blow it right to the channel, where the boats can go pick it up. The main reason why people love and talk about Palikir Pass is because a regular guy can come out here and ride a wave, which at any other break in the world would have dozens, if not hundreds of locals and pros surfers fighting for that same ride. Here you will have a shot at riding a wave you see mostly in a photos or movies, without the hassle you would find at other well known spots around the world. Off course it also always depends on your level of surfing, so stay within it.
For sure, the ride of your life!
Once the north swells are in and the trades are blowing, no one wants to surf anything but Palikir Pass. But there are options on the right days, or for the right surfers. Other waves on the north side will always be bigger the Palikir and very possibly, shallower. On a high tide the Lighthouse can be a fun wave, and the Main Pass always bigger and challenging. To surf the Main Pass you have to make the wave or you might be in for some serious reef walks.
The East side has really fun and perfect waves from August until mid to late December. The West side also has some epic spots and on a giant swell there are other options that can go from a fun escape to the most epic ride of your life. No kidding.
As for most of the other waves in Pohnpei, we hardly see any surfers around as most don’t know about them, or where and when to go. Leave it to us to get you there.
Always make sure to get good travel insurance. 99.9% of our guests have never needed to use it, but for the other 00.1%, it’s a way to get home safe and alive. Be safe and smart when you travel. Get travel insurance!
Pohnpei's Other Waves
When the North Swells are on and the trades are blowing, Palikir Pass is the place to be. But if you happen to be in Pohnpei during our off season, early season, or one of those days where the weather and surf do strange things, there are other really perfect waves in Pohnpei, most of them hardly ever surfed (or even seen). We like searching for new gems and we know when to do it. With around 12 reef passes, bends and corners all around the island, there has to be a few other good rides to be found on the right days. None of the pictures on this page are of Palikir Pass. Pictured here are 14 different waves. Like we say, every pass has it’s day.