The pilots were white and young. The plane typically held 12 people, but only six today because they removed a row of seats to accommodate our boards and camera gear. In the door of the plane there was a mat. It said, "Welcome." "Welcome to your deathtrap," we joked. The plane looked too small, the pilots too young. Were they clean-cut or still unable to grow facial hair? Hmm… Well, the island was so damn close we weren't going to balk now. We sat down, strapped in and took off. As the plane wobbled to a few thousand feet, one of the pilots, the babyface from New Zealand, began taking pictures of the clouds with his iPhone. I was sitting behind him and leaned forward and asked, "How'd you end up working in Indonesia?" He looked over his shoulder and said, without A hint of irony, "This is the only country where they'll hire you without any [flying] hours." Huh. The waves we were risking our lives for were new, but not undiscovered. We learned the island was holding, not from Google Earth or from the friend of a friend of a crazy backpacker in Thailand, but by the photos on the surf camp's website. And YouTube videos. But still, the waves were new, geologically speaking. The peak that sat in front of the camp where we'd be staying was not there a few years ago. A few years ago, the reef was buried beneath too much water to create the rippable, barreling A-frame that awaited us. The swells would just sweep right over it. So what was different now?
The ground moved. An earthquake, a big one, raised the island nearly 10 feet in one fell swoop. And with that swoop some waves died, and others were born. The circle of life. The wave we would be staying in front of was one of the newborns. Fists clinched, squirming. A beautiful thing, really.
And it's during plane rides when you think you might die — which is to say, most plane rides — that deep thoughts surface. So if these waves that we're going to surf are new, created just a few years ago, that means it's impossible for every wave to be discovered? It can't happen. Because Mother Nature, that crafty temptress, is constantly making new waves. And that's a comforting thought. I picture California fracturing after the great quake of 2019 and Rincon being ruined, but Windansea turning into an actual decent wave. Trestles starts to barrel and The Ranch becomes just a great place to go tide pooling. It could happen. It probably will happen. It —
"You guys are surfers, right?" The pilot interrupts my deep thoughts. We're getting close to the island.
"Yeah," I say.
"Cool," he says. "I'll fly really low to the coast so you can see the waves."
Before I could protest he'd put his headphones on and began to dip the nose. I sighed, and wondered what new editor would be born following my death. Then I got out my iPhone and started taking pictures. There were so many waves. —Taylor Paul
Inside this Issue
A PUNXSUTAWNEY CRACKUP
Mitch Coleborn, Nate Tyler, Conner Coffin and Miguel Pupo live stir-crazy Groundhog Days during the making of a SURFING MEGAzine. What is real? What is for show? And what the hell is a MEGAzine, anyway? You'll see. Photos by Tom Carey. Words by Taylor Paul.
A PUERTO RICAN PARABLE
Sleepwalk off the plane, press the button for a coffee, hop in the Chariot and get shacked before dawn. The lines between dream and reality in Puerto Rico can be blurry, but assistant editor Brendan Buckley paints a vivid picture of your path. Photography by Jimmicane and Daniel Russo. Guidance by Laird.
AL BE OK
Maui's 21-year-old Albee Layer landed the first double alley-oop and a week later packed bombs at Jaws. Pre-tty standard, really. But those feats are not enough; he craves more. SURFING's Nathan Myers travels to the Valley Isle and gets into the mind of Maui's outspoken prodigy. A tsunami looms in the distance.