Want to get off the grid, enjoy a tropical paradise and surf empty waves? Well Vavaghio Surf Camp in the Solomon Islands is what you’ve been looking for…
Vavaghio Surf Camp in the Solomon Islands is one of those rare, off the beaten track gems in the surfing world that everyone dreams off.
A place where you can get off the grid, unwind in paradise and score epic, uncrowded waves.
One of those proper surf adventures that reinvigorates the stoke.
So if you’re keen to put in the extra time and effort for waves here’s everything you need to know about Vavaghio Surf Camp…
REVIEW – Vavaghio Surf Camp, Solomon Islands
Where Is Vavaghio Surf Camp?
Situated in the Solomon Islands, which lie just above Australia and to the East of Papa New Guinea, Vavaghio Surf Camp is nestled on the island of Santa Isabel – about an hours internal flight from the capital of Honiara.
How To Get There
If you’re looking for empty lineups and tropical perfection you’ve got to be prepared to put in a bit of extra travel time.
On paper the trip to get to the Solomon Islands and Vavaghio Surf Camp doesn’t seem too bad, but in reality you’re on island time so be prepared for some delays and mishaps!
Flying into the Solomon Islands themselves is pretty easy – it’s less than a 3 hour flight from Brisbane direct into Honiara with Solomon Airlines – and from there it’s an hours internal flight out to Suavanoa Airport.
Although admittedly I say airport in a very loose way – it’s a grass airstrip on an island and the ‘terminal’ is merely a shipping container with a few plastic chairs outside!
From the airport its a 2 hour boat trip along the coast to the surf camp itself – situated in part of Santa Isabel Island – where you’ll find islands vibes, tropical waters and a host of uncrowded waves.
The Camp & Accomodation
Vavaghio is a small and intimate affair, catering for just 8 guests, which makes it ideal for small groups as you can easily book the whole camp out for the ultimate surf trip with your buddies!
Easily recognised by the iconic jetty, the camp itself sits about 25m back off the shoreline, nestled amongst the rainforest.
Room wise there are 2 cabins within the camp – both sleeping 4 – however you can opt to rearrange the bed layout into a private double if you wanted. All beds comes with their own mozzie net (essential as you’re in the jungle, so also bring lots of repellant!) and each room has a big ceiling fan to keep the breeze going.
Honestly though you’re going to leave all the windows and doors open at night anyway to keep air circulating and fall asleep to the sounds of the jungle!
When it comes to creature comforts you are a bit more back to the basics here – with no wifi, no phone signal and no hot water. But at the end of the day you’re not going to be heading to this part of the world and sit on your phones – a surf trip to the Solomon Islands is a totally different kind of adventure!
The two main breaks around Vavaghio are Marista and Kologhose – both of which lie around 5 minutes boat trip from the surf camp jetty, around the corner of the nearest island.
Marista is the right hander. It’s a short but punchy reef which can offer up some hollow sections when the swells pumping. Best surfed on a mid tide, as it gets super shallow on the inside when it hits low.
Kologhose sits just across the channel from Marista (so again juts 5 mins from the camp) and offer up a long, walling left hander. It’s less hollow than Marista, but certainly a lot longer and is suitable for a wide range of surfers as it breaks across a much deeper reef.
There are also plenty of other breaks scattered across the nearby reefs and coastline from Vavaghio – but in the end we just surfed these two as they were the perfect size and super consistent…and if it’s not broken don’t fix it hey?!
2 daily guided surf trips are included with a stay at Vavaghio, however keep in mind this isn’t offered on a Saturday due to religious reasons.
When it comes to refuelling after a long day in the water you need to be well fed – and the food at Vavaghio definitely do just that!
The best way to describe the hearty home cooked meals at Vavaghio is “island style”, so expect plenty of incredibly fresh fish, seafood, kasava (a local root vegetable similar to potato), rice and fresh fruit.
Sure the base ingredients don’t change heaps, but they certainly mix up the flavours to keep it tasty and during our stay fish curry, ginger baked tuna, fish goujons and even oyster kebabs were served up.
As a veggie I was well catered for as well (let them know in advance if you have any dietary requirements) and although it was fairly repetitive I was always left with a full belly.
You also have access to unlimited drinking water as well as tea and coffee too.
And of course they have an ample supply of cold beers for that post surf refreshment!
Straight up – this isn’t going to be the cheapest surf trip you ever embark on!
Prices for Vavaghio start around $176AUD per person, per night – prices do vary depending on the amount of guests and the length of stay.
The camp isn’t constantly open, so 9 times out of 10 you’ll have the camp to yourself – which is pretty epic, but does mean the price can fluctuate a lot.
This includes fan room, 3 daily meals, unlimited drinking water/tea/coffee and 2 daily surf trips to the surrounding breaks.
On top of this you then need to add in your flights – into Honiara and then onwards to Suavanoa.
You can get both flights combined with Solomon Airlines going from Brisbane > Suavanoa from around $979AUD return, and in some instances you can get some awesome deals booking Vavaghio as part of a package deal too.
If you can work out a combined price that’s the best way to go as the internal flight from Honiara > Suavanoa can cost around $600AUD as a return on it’s own.
A Word Of Warning
As Vavaghio is so remote there are a couple words of warning for travelling surfers in regards to the journey to/from the surf camp.
Be aware though that your internal flight from Honiara > Suavanoa is on a Twin Otter plane so space for boards is limited and first come first served basis, so I’d advise only 1 board per person.
…in fact on our flight one persons board had to be left behind and took a few days to arrive and I’ve heard stories of boards being delayed by up to 3 weeks. Just a word of warning!
Also I’d strongly advise a night in Honiara either side of your internal flight to allow for delays. Our flight back for example was delayed by 7 hours (and due to lack of phone/wifi we didn’t find out until we arrived at the airport!).
With this in mind I’d get a solid travel insurance which covers delays and missed departures – especially if you’re jumping on another flight close to your return from the Solomons or book your flight out of the country with an airline other than Solomon Airlines.
Other Things To Do
There is plenty of world class fishing all around the Solomon Islands and Vavaghio is no exception. Grab a spear gun and head out with the local guys to see what you can get for dinner or grab a rod and trawl for huge GT and even below fin tuna off the boat. The camp offers dedicated fishing trips at extra cost.
Chill In The Lagoon
On a high tide when the waves aren’t working head out to the nearby lagoons and enjoy some of the most epic tropical views you could imagine. Seriously words dont do the colours justice! If you’re looking for those postcard perfect shots a paddle in the local dug out canoes here will up your Instagram game!
With plenty of reefs all around the island there is some pretty epic snorkelling to be done when you’re not surfing. For the best action track down a bait ball for some serious action – including tuna and reef sharks!
Into twitching? Well the Solomon Islands is pretty awesome for bird watching and there are plenty of spots around Vavaghio to tick the native species off your spotting list!
Even if you’re not a bird watching enthusiast I highly recommend heading a little up the coast just before sunset to watch the frigates coming into roost for the night – there are hundreds of them. A great little detour on the way back from your afternoon surf, especially with an epic sunset!
Would I Recommend It?
So would I recommend Vavaghio Surf Camp? Well I’m the first to admit that it’s not going to be the best choice for everyone.
If you’re looking for a surf trip with the creature comforts of home then nope, I wouldn’t recommend heading there!
However, if you’re looking for an epic surf adventure, are happy going off the grid, don’t mind a few mishaps along the way (plane delayed for 7 hours anyone?!) and want to score uncrowded waves in a tropical paradise – then yes Vavaghio Surf Camp will be right up your street.
Sure it’s not the cheapest place to surf or the easiest place to get to – but the rewards are well worth it.
So overall, for the surfer looking for somewhere new to explore and pumping waves to surf it’s a rare gem – and somewhere I hope I can head back to soon!
Solomon Islands Travel Tips
Malaria – the Solomon Islands is a malaria zone so I’d highly recommend stocking up on anti malarials for your trip and give yourself enough time to get the dosage started before arriving.
On that note too, pack plenty of mozzie spray as you’ll be out in the jungle!
Spare surf gear – don’t expect to be able to find anywhere to grab spare surf gear, so make sure you pack a spare set of fins, at least one leash, plenty of wax and a ding repair kit just incase
Sunscreen – make sure you have plenty with you as the sun can be pretty fierce. Go reef safe and a decent organic zinc too.
Visas – many countries get a free visa on arrival in the Solomon Islands (including the likes of Australia, New Zealand and United Kingdom) but make sure you double check with your embassy as visa regulations change all the time.
Currency – The Solomon Islands use the Solomon Islands Dollar ($SBD), you can exchange money at hotels in Honiara and there are plenty of ATMs there too. Don’t expect any such amenities on the outer islands though so bring enough cash for those post surf beers!
Wifi – internet in the Solomons is pretty slow at best in Honiara and many surf camps don’t have it on their islands yet, so get ready to kick back on island time and enjoy a digital detox!
Religion – the majority of the Solomon Islands is Protestant, however around 12% of the country are Seventh Day Adventist, so be aware of changes to opening hours, transport times and even surfing on Saturday as a result.
Have you stayed at Vavaghio Surf Camp?
What did you make of it?