International Surf Travel Update

It seems Australia is not going to open up for international travel any time soon.


It has been a pretty crazy year so far, and it seems there is still more to come. While some countries are declaring themselves as COVID-free zones, there are still so many that are a long way off. Brazil is going through the roof, and South Africa has a while to go before the disease hits its peak.

What it has done is curtailed travel for the foreseeable future. There are so many stories out there of when travel will be open, and we can go surfing again. Still, it is such a dynamic situation, that the rulings could easily change or be revoked should there be an outbreak.

Just a couple of these is all we need to keep going for a while.

In Indonesia you can now travel and head out on a charter or to a land camp, providing you are inside the country’s borders at this present time. If you’re lucky enough to be there and manage to get up to the Mentawais, there are going to be plenty of empty line ups for you to enjoy.

There are a few changes that we are going to experience when travel starts again, and these also seem to change daily. The common-sense concepts are that there will be social distancing at check-in, and a few temperature checks, as well as masks, being worn at all times.

On a plane, there are some attempts to have all middle seats unoccupied, but not all airlines can afford to do this. Other airlines are going to simply stop issuing any further tickets when the capacity has reached 60%, allowing for plenty of space for passengers.


On arrival, there are also mixed responses happening at the moment. Every single person who arrives by plane in Portugal has to undergo 14 mandatory quarantine. In Fiji you will be tested on arrival, and only if positive will you be quarantined for 14 days. This can be a bit of a problem if you’re chasing a particular swell.

Most hotels and accommodation options will have strict sanitizing protocols in place. All the larger hotels and guest houses will no doubt be cleaned, fumigated and sanitized often enough every day. The problems possibly lie with Third World countries as well as Airbnb options, where there is very little control of protocols and sanitizing equipment.

Much of the processes are common sense, however. Travelling surfers should all be aware of what needs to be done when it comes to social distancing and keeping clean. It would obviously be a good idea to stay at a warm place, with much of the camp existing outdoors. Some of the surf camps and lodges in the Mentawais around Playgrounds area comes to mind.

Toledo, Keramas, on a good day. © WSL

It’s a playoff between risks and uncrowded conditions, and most surfers are going to choose the latter. Anywhere uncrowded in Indonesia is going to be worth the risk. Still, it does seem that getting into the countries are not that much of a problem. Getting out might be a little bit harder.

In Australia, the Tourism Minister, Simon Birmingham, stated recently that borders will most likely be closed until next year, which puts Indonesia off the cards until 2021.

Still, remember that beaches are closed in South Africa and it is against the law to surf. While most beaches are not being attended to by Law Enforcement, other places like the town beaches of Durban, are out of bounds. Paddling out at the iconic New Pier and North Beach will see you arrested, fined and maybe getting a criminal record as well.
In some places it seems surfing is still a crime.

Jordy Smith, north of Durban, a few years ago. © WSL

The good news is that Urbnsurf in Melbourne is set to reopen on Friday, June 19th, and it could well be a good place for the Surfing Doctors to have some sort of conference in the future.

All you need to know about Urbnsurf is right here, just click on the Beast Mode image to see it all.



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