Booking a boat trip might be the single biggest purchase you’ll make in your surfing life. However despite the cost, there are still plenty of cowboys out there who can turn a trip of a lifetime into a nightmare experience. We talked an experienced captain, boat owner and travel operator to ensure that your mission as successful as possible. 

Do Go With Experience

“Experience is a key. The longer a boat has been operating in the area the less likely things are going to go wrong. Because when things go wrong that jeopardise your time in the water. Be that breakdowns or fuel issues or whatever, you’ll find the most experienced crews are better prepared and will max your time in the water.” Steven “Sooly” Swell Owner of Huey Surf Charters

Do Check Number Of Surfers Onboard

“Always check number of surfers on the boat. There should never be any more than 10 surfers on board. We've seen recently some boats are in the Mentawais doing trips there with 14-20 guys. That’s obviously a-rent-a-crowd, but also just plain unsafe.” Matt Cruden, owner of Resort Latitude Zero and the Mangalui 

Don’t Fall For Discounted Trips

“Beware of cheap trips or heavily discounted trips. If they are discounting, they will discount on your trip. They will cut down on fuel, meaning you can’t go to all the places you want to go. They’ll have less money for maintenance, which will affect reliability. Beware of the too-good-to-be-true price, because they usually are.” Sooly 

Don’t Book With An Operator Without Local Offices

“When transferring money overseas be careful as you will never get money back if things go wrong. Use a trusted, reputable company that you can come back to with local regional offices. Make sure the operator has public liability insurance and has an office in your own country so you can be sure they can’t hide from you.” Jamie Grey, CEO of The Perfect Wave 

Do Ask What’s Included

“Always ask what is and isn’t included in the price. Do they include beer or are there any extras you have to pay when you arrive? Dodgy operators often charge for a variety of things like harbour fees, visas, added transfers and extra beers and once on board there is no getting around paying them.” Matt Cruden 

Do Ask Questions, Lots of Questions

"Email the owner and ask the hard questions. Do you travel at night? Do you have all the safety equipment? When was the last refit done? Also ask for recent photos, not old ones on the website. Pics of the engine room, beds and kitchen will give you a good indication of the boat.” Sooly

The Tender 

“The  tender is a big thing. Everyone has one, but some are those little plastic things, but look how big the tender is and how big the engine is. Can it get you back to Padang in an emergency for example? They are also great for splitting up the pack. If you have six kooks and four shredders it causes tension on a boat. With a good tender half the crew can bolt ten clicks up the coast and score waves that suit their ability.” Sooly

Do Use Dedicated Surf Travel Agency 

“A good surf travel agent takes all the hassle out of herding the cats and getting the group, payments and arrangements together. The flights are crucial too as many surfers don’t leave enough time for transfers or if there is a delay such as when boards don’t arrive. The agents will get the best prices and the best flights to make sure it all goes smoothly.” Jamie Grey

Size Matters 

“The size of the boat is big factor as it relates to personal space. After a week on the boat if you are constantly have to brush past people and side slip to get past, the boat shrinks, every day. Cabin fever doesn't come into if you have space and different chill out areas. If you need to get away, you can. That’s so important.”  Sooly