Adventure isn’t something that’s been consigned to the history books or made obsolete by Google Earth. It’s out there for those who seek it. You just have to want to look. Like modern-day treasure hunters who search for lost pirate loot, surfers know that the proverbial gold exists in remote Madagascar, waiting to be discovered. And like the pirates of old who sailed these waters, South African surfers Slade Prestwich, Frank Solomon and Grant “Twiggy” Baker set out to map, navigate and find their own piece of blue-water paradise.
Traveling around Madagascar in search of new waves isn’t easy. Saltwater crocodiles, sharks, malaria and suspicious locals top the list of concerns, as does the risk of injury in such a remote location. Detailed preparations had to be made: Tree tents were packed, electronic shark-shield devices were fully charged, all known anti-malarials were ingested and a Malagasy-speaking guide was brought on board. Even so, when the surfers arrived offshore, villagers initially thought they were child smugglers and fled (human trafficking is a real peril in isolated areas of the island). They were reassured only once the outsiders had received the chief’s blessing to set up camp and “play on the water.”
In the days that followed, the group came across what they’d been looking for: a stretch of coastline with numerous setups that lit up with various swells. On the final day, while sailing home, an unexpected pulse set the ocean rolling and the last wave hove into sight: an unknown right reef-pass barrelling with 5-foot pristine waves in a windless sea. Perfection. Treasure found.