Stab Magazine | The Best Surf Destinations Without WiFi Or Cell Service According To Seven Traveling Surfers

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The Best Surf Destinations Without WiFi Or Cell Service According To Seven Traveling Surfers

Shane Dorian, Mason Ho, Koa Smith, Josh Kerr, Dion Agius, Noah Waggy, and Dane Gudang weigh in. 

travel // Oct 4, 2019
Words by stab
Reading Time: 4 minutes

In an era where you’re expected to be ready and available, phone in hand, tapping back to emails within the hour, completely shutting off is a fine art.

It’s a depressing space we occupy, while the level of education and consciousness expands as does the competition for decent-paying work. If you’re not available at 9:30 PM on a Wednesday night or willing to work on weekends, someone else is. 

With cell towers planting at a higher frequency than trees, 3G service for a fee is available in many countries one would consider second or third world. In Fiji, for instance, you can position in the middle of an ocean and still have the bandwidth to respond to a DM, answer that email, post a cheeky bum shot, or reveal to your followers that you’re at Cloudbreak and it is, in fact, firing. 

But surfing is about escaping, about planting yourself on a floating piece of foam in the ocean and drifting away from your problems, if only for a moment. It’s a pleasure vessel that carries us away from the incessant barrage text messages, DMs, email, phone calls, et al.

In the pursuit of places you can tune out entirely, we tapped seven well-traveled surfers for their favorite all-out surf escapes.

Mason Ho: 

One of my favorite escapes with no WiFi, cell service or technology is a glacier field in Alaska. Personally, there’s no better feeling than being in such a beautiful place next to a fire with whatever/whoever you want, just waiting for a chunk of ice to break off this extremely large glacier wall that’s over 5,000 ft high so you can surf. 

Shane Dorian:

Oh man, I think any boat trip that brings you away from reception will do. I was just on a boat trip in the Maldives for two weeks and we had no cell service and it was so fun. 

Epic waves are all you really need.

Dane Gudauskas: 

Favorite escape with no distractions and WiFi and cell service has gotta be camping around West Africa… One trip that was super memorable was with Kepa Acero and my buddy Kevin Voegtlin who was filming. We were going to meet up with Alan van Gysen at the complete opposite side of the country in the south… our flight from the capital city was canceled. Our only option to make it for the swell was to catch a two day country style bus all the way down the coastline, stopping all over the place in these remote villages to pick up and drop off passengers.  

It was just us three laughing at the situation we were in and waiting at a random bus stop for the next eight hours as bus after bus kept breaking down on its way to our location.  

We didn’t have any distractions other than a book, maybe some cards, but it really just allowed us to acclimate to the people around us. To hear the conversations, the sounds of the cars, the smells. It sharpens your instincts and probably gave me more confidence to become part of the sea of people all around us.  

The bus ride was a memory I’ll never forget too. It was filled with goats and chickens right there alongside all the passengers. We ended up making it to where we wanted to go, deep down in the desert, and missed the peak of the swell but we realized it actually didn’t even matter. We ended up camping out for the next two weeks, surfing our brains out, eating sandy rice with some tomato paste and drinking random warm beers we would come across.

We were in the moment, and on a surf trip with friends. It’s fun having those opportunities to be off the grid, and it’s getting harder and harder to do cause you can pretty much take your phone anywhere nowadays. Without it though, you really connect with the people around you and the environment you are in. It allows those classic times to be seared in your memory and you will be reliving the stories forever. 

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Dion taking the high road in the Ments. Photo: John Respondek

Dion Agius: 

I’d have to say my favourite place for this is Indonesia, on a boat trip – going away for ten days and not having any connection to the outside world or internet distractions and finally having a good excuse for not writing back to emails…

Although the last trip I just did was to an area I’ve never been and we actually had a bit of reception. It came in and out and it sucked. You could see when it would happen; everyone’s phones all the sudden started going off and then, of course, everyone is back on the phone again checking in with work and family and friends. It’s kind of a bummer because it snaps you out of just being there and not worrying about anything, just floating around with no connections or distractions. When service comes in, you get snapped out of it remember the outside world and everything else going on and that kinda sucks. 

Josh Kerr: 

My favorite getaway is Kandui. Healthy food and all-day surfing! Other one is Baja. Plenty of places to escape and stay off the grid down there. 

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This ain’t exactly Big Sur or PNW, but California’s northern coastline never fails to stun. Here Noah Waggy rises above the turbulence. Photo: Teddy Miller

Noah Waggy: 

I like to spend my free time in Big Sur or the Pacific Northwest. Both those areas are powerfully beautiful, you can get away from cell reception and have the potential to score incredible surf. 

Koa Smith:

Ah man, these places are becoming more and more rare! Everywhere seems to have phone reception today. But you can still go on a boat trip to Indo and escape. That has always been my favorite place to unplug. Nothing to do but surf and explore. 


Is this it for places to get away from incessant screentime? We’d love your help. What have you got? We don’t want to blow out your secret spot but we’ll happily sacrifice wave quality to truly get off the grid.    


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