Photo: Suitt

Taylor Knox sans singlet in Hawaii, free as a bird but still hungry as ever. Photo: Suitt

Caught up with Taylor Knox fresh off a jaunt to Mexico. It was a strike mission to Baja, him and a tight-lipped crew chasing rumors of daylong offshores beginning at dawn. They crossed the border before sunrise, got barreled all day, and returned home before midnight. It was a different itinerary than we’ve grown to know the 18-year World Tour veteran to be on, and it’s something he’s still getting used to as well. After nearly two decades of surf trips where he’d share the lineup with the other best three dozen surfers on the planet, Knox has spent the last couple of years acclimating to the freesurfer vibes he’s heard so much about (“Mostly from Machado”). He’s traveled just as much but in far different fashion, and has gained a new energy now that he’s off any WSL leash. He claims he wants to keep moving as much as ever, that the travel bug bit him hard. “The desire to sit still hasn’t hit me yet,” Knox admits. “Don’t know if it ever will,” he adds. “But maybe that’s a good thing.” Here’s Taylor Knox’s travel to-do list. Unfortunately, Top 34, it’s invite only.

1. SOUTH AFRICA

Photo: Ellis

"South Africa is incredible, the country holds so many good waves. Such a variety of surf, plus I love the people and have plenty of good friends there, the place is insane. So that'd be No. 1, for sure. It's different now too because the fact that I can throw a twin-fin, a single-fin, and bonzer in my board bag when I travel. I probably don't bring as many boards as I would on Tour, because it's fun to bring a bigger variety of boards to try different stuff instead. The stress isn't there of, 'I need two 6'3"s and two 6'4"s,’ or going to Teahupoo and stressing that you broke three boards in an hour and a half…so that mentality isn't there anymore, to have two of every size, boards for choppy waves or glassy waves, that train of thought doesn’t exist. This next time, I'll get to experience South Africa in an entirely different way." Photo: Ellis

2. AUSTRALIA

Photo: Frank

"Australia, that's for sure. That country, it's kind of like California where there's a massive amount of coastline. So road trips are great there, you can just get in the car and drive up and down the coasts. Definitely looks a lot different than California but it has that same vibe of California country. After I retired, my first trip was actually just in California. Took a road trip north, drove up the coast, it was a great break to get my head clear and surf with some friends, start that new chapter and get ready for whatever that was gonna bring. So I have plans to get another trip like that together, but in Oz." Photo: Frank

3. TAHITI

Photo: Noyle

"Tahiti, you can still go there and get away from crowds, especially if there isn't a contest. It's rough going on surf trips with the entire World Tour. I remember being in Fiji with some perfect waves, thinking, 'Man, if I was just here on a normal trip, I'd probably catch about 20 more perfect waves.' But since you've got the world's best surfers out there, no wave goes unridden or ripped apart. Everyone there for a contest is always willing to go, they've all got something to prove, no one is pulling back. So you get way less waves in that kind of situation. To go to Tahiti without there being an event is on my to-do. I remember going there when I was young, 17 or something, I went with Rob Machado and Colin Smith, surfing for Team USA. Ever since then, going back there for surf trips, going back for contests, I just love the people and the waves there, every one of 'em." Photo: Noyle

4. EUROPE

Photo: Ellis

"I'd like to get up to Northern Europe, and to hit Scotland in the U.K. and Ireland. I haven't been to Scotland, so I’d have to get there first. I love Europe, the coastlines there are great, but also there's so much else there that’s not on the coast I haven't had the chance to see. It'd be cool to cruise around and soak up the history, the culture, the architecture that I might have missed out on when I went there just for contests. So many different cultures in such a small space. And then yeah…there's always the waves." Photo: Ellis

5. CHILE

Photo: Glaser

"Then Chile, the only time I've been to Chile was for a contest, and that was way up in North Chile. So I'd like to go to South Chile and surf those lefts. It’s great because I surf more now on trips, for sure. Before, you'd go out to contests and sit around and wait all day, waiting for the call and your heats, but nowadays, if the waves are good I can just surf all day. My wave count will probably even out in the end though, because if you're on a surf trip and the waves are crap, you don't have to go out like you had to in a contest, where you’d be surfing no matter what. Though that shouldn't be an issue in Chile." Photo: Glaser


More DEPARTURES:
Perspectives On P.O.V. With Mikala Jones: How the D.I.Y. documenting of surf travel has changed the game
How To Be a Good Host, With Raimana Van Bastolaer: Welcome in travelers like the mayor of Teahupoo
Top Seven Summer Surf Trips in The U.S.A.: Do it for the red, white, and blue