Discovering Vanimo Surf Lodge, PNG

02nd Aug 2020

Surfing in Papua New Guinea has grown in popularity over the past decade. With thousands of miles of coastline and hundreds of possibilities, PNG is a surfers paradise.

It is also the only surfing region on earth with a dedicated surf management plan that supports operators, guides and non-for profit partners. The benefits for surfers are immense. Imagine surfing perfect waves with no crowds….GUARANTEED! This is exactly what you will get at Vanimo Surf Lodge located in the countries North West. 

Still a relatively ‘secret spot’ with a plethora of breaks to suit all levels of surfers skill level. 




1. Where is Vanimo Located

PNG certainly is the Land of the Unexpected.  Vanimo is located 2 degrees below the equator on the north shore of mainland Papua New Guinea just a few hours north of Australia and approx. 1. 5 hr flight from the capital city Port Moresby and an hour drive east of the Indonesian border. 

It is the North-Western most region of PNG picking up loads of swell all year, but with the best period being from about October – April/May.

2. Historic Facts

Vanimo Surf Lodge concept started with local Andy Abel and Dave Ryan back in 2007. The lodge opened in 2011 with Australian investors and local landholders designing and building the lodge from all local materials and employing local staff along with ex-pat managers who trained the local staff. A dedicated Team of Australian doctors visit annually to provide volunteer help and education at the local hospital…and to surf ‘occasionally’ of course. 

3. Waves

Consistent swells are generated from the West via from monsoons and typhoons in the Phillipines and from the North East with large Pacific Hawaiian winter swells. Size range can fall anywhere between 2-10ft on a variety of Rights and Lefts.

Vanimo’s go to/must surf wave is a classic right hander just in front of the lodge. Sorry ‘no names’ here, check it out for yourself inside the tube. 

4. Food

Meals at Vanimo Surf Lodge are mostly made from locally sourced fresh seafood, meat, chicken, and vegetables, and cooked in the traditional way for another cultural experience. Vanimo Surf Lodge also serves exceptional PNG coffee beans by plunger and the occasional afternoon fresh made baked cakes. Breakfasts are typically a mix of eggs, bacon, baked beans, fresh fruits and toasts.

5. Non-Surf Activities

Fishing from the beach or boat, rainforest bushwalks, swimming, snorkelling, village and markets visits, SUP paddling, coconut bowls

6. Quirky Cultural Customs

It’s a common occurrence to see locals chewing betel nut, otherwise known as ‘Areca Nut’.  

The Areca nut is the seed of the Areca palm, which grows in much of the tropical Pacific, Southeast and South Asia, and parts of east Africa. It is commonly referred to as betel nut, not to be confused with betel leaves that are often used to wrap it. For those who have tried it, its a sour taste that can give a sense of numbing in the lips and gums after chewing. It can also leave a pinky/red residue. 

Other quirky customs include – Men and women swimming in seperate streams, local girl surfers have the nose of their surfboards painted pink so that the boys don’t take off with them and use the boards all day.

7. Things to be aware of

The Vanimo surf regiuon is well managed thanks to the Vanimo Surf Area Management Plan(VSAMP). Through VSAMP tourism is a sustainable solution which provides benefits for the community and the tourists so it does not get out of control like many other locations around the world. The Vanimo village locals have a school and a few churches and are a very conservative, proud and visitor friendly bunch. They love a chat with the visitors especially the kids as you wander through the village.

PNG is one of the only surf trips in the world where you can see your money going towards the greater good of the local community. This money goes towards education, health and hygiene. 

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