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Sweet Ride: Surfing in Liberia

2 minute read

Remember the surfing scene from Apocalypse Now? Robert Duvall storming a heavily fortified beach while blasting “Ride of the Valkyries” so his men could catch a wave? Francis Ford Coppola was arguing that war is crazy. The given was that surfing is crazy. And Coppola was right. Surfers will go anywhere for a decent wave.

Sri Lanka’s civil war (not to mention the 2004 tsunami) has never stopped surfers from making the pilgrimage to its southern and eastern beaches. The great whites that cruise the waters off Cape Town don’t discourage boardriders from attempting the Dungeons — home to some of the world’s biggest ridable waves. In season, Hawaii attracts hurricane heads. But you’d think even the wildest wave rider might pause at the prospect of surfing Liberia.

Quite the opposite, in fact. For most people, Liberia is best known for its two civil wars between 1989 and 2003. But among surfers, the country is celebrated for its faultless point breaks and, when the winds pick up, some world-class tubes. It didn’t take long after hostilities died down for the more intrepid to return to Liberia’s beaches (indeed, some gnarly old U.N. hands will tell you they never left). So while the whole country can count just a handful of decent hotels, the lead surf spot at Robertsport on Liberia’s western tip now boasts two full-fledged surfer resorts, the Silversand Surfer Camp (www.surfliberia.com) and Robertsport Surf Camp (www.surfingliberia.com), with another on the way. All offer comfortable tents — some on stilts, with balconies, clean water and electricity — and surf lessons, of course.

“The big deal is that it has three quality point breaks right next to each other,” says Nathaniel Calhoun, 29, a board rider from the U.S. who has surfed Robertsport many times. “It’s unique. It’s untouched.” Add in great weather, spectacular beaches and villagers who’ll invite you over for a seafood dinner, and that’s loco Liberia, dude.

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