Editor’s Note: There are certain guys out there who just know how to get good waves. Good, uncrowded waves. Both locally and on the road. It takes a little more effort and a lot of time searching. And Nate Zoller is that guy. He comes through the What Youth HQ periodically and raves about the perfect waves he got. Sometimes it’ some weird spot in Orange County. Sometimes it’s Newport. Sometimes it’s Nepal. Or Fiji, as it was this time below. His life seems to revolve around being in the right place, at the right time. And for those of you interested in a life full of better waves, listen this man. He may not spell it out completely, but study his lifestyle. The devil and some really good waves are in these details. Keep an eye out for his recurring column. —Travis
I just had the best month of my life.
I boarded a plane for Fiji the day before Halloween and took the first breath of November upon landing. I made my way on bus and boat to the island of Tavarua. We unloaded on the opposite side of Restaurants because the normal channel was too rough. Up the path I saw artist Kevin Ancell peaking through the flora. In the restaurant was everyone from Bob Hurley to someone who looks like G Love. It was G Love. Seconds later Sal Masekela walks up, eyes rolled back, glistening. “I’ve known Kelly for twenty years and that was the craziest barrel I’ve ever seen the guy get. Hands down.” I was dazed by how fucking good Restaurants was at that moment. Like Damo-Hobgood-Globe-Fiji-Pro good.
I took a deep breath, ripped a board out of the coffin, caught a boat out to the lineup, and took two coral facing free falls. Both were non-make pin drops. I paddled back out humbled.
Don’t look Slater in the eye, don’t look Slater in the eye. Fuck, I just looked him in the eye. I have to say something.
“Hey, I’m the new volunteer lifeguard on the island.”
“You are? Have you surfed here before?”
“Here, let me show you the takeoff spot.”
First hour in Tavarua and Slater shows me his takeoff spot at Restaurants. Like I’d use it. Any farther up the point and we’d be on dry land.
The next day its Cloudbreak. Proper, off the ledge shit. Taylor Steele shows up that evening with a “fly-by-night” Australian film crew. A day later and the swell is up again. Slater breaks his foot using a giant chest mount pole cam 360 tube angle thing and crutches his way to the heli pad on the fourth. What’a guy!
For the next two weeks I am up before the sun and on every available skiff. I am cleaning boats and diving for anchors, doing whatever it takes to make it out to Cloudbreak on a low tide.
I make friends with the local boatmen legends and the sweet Fijian ladies at the restaurant. Good vibes are everywhere on the heart shaped island in the Pacific. Tavarua is still the most classic surf experience possible. It’s life derived by surf, the way it should be.
Goodbyes are tough but I say them after just two weeks. Because my flight to Kathmandu leaves tomorrow out of LAX. And I’m not gonna miss that. To be Continued. Forever. —Nate Zoller