Riding The Waves

by Chuck Hollis

Surfing crystal-clear waters around the world…

Driving through the hills near Sayulita, this little restaurant looked so interesting I had to stop. The people were clearly having fun, with a huge fish on the grill. You could have easily missed the place, tucked away just off the road in the dense, tropical landscape. All the tables were outside under the canopy. By the looks on the faces of the locals, I could tell most tourists don’t bother to stop.

We had some laughs right away, given the modest amount of Spanish I speak. Minutes later, I was served some of the best soup I’ve ever eaten… with freshly grilled fish, and to top it off: avocado! The conversation flowed as if language didn’t matter—there was a mutual interest in hearing each other’s stories. By the time we left, everyone there was smiling and waving us goodbye. This is why I travel…

The Point Break
I had never been to this part of Mexico: Nayarit. Puerto Vallarta is an old tourist destination just across the state border in Jalisco. The airport there is easily maneuverable, much like those in central Illinois. It helps tremendously to work with a travel agent who knows these little details. Teri Cook and her team are professionals.

An early flight from St. Louis provided beach time by noon. Within the first few hours, I could see why Nayarit was the way to go. Phenomenal accommodations, with countless places you’d never expect to find just a short drive away. While I love to discover those random spots along the way, I was searching for waves, and La Lancha provided! The experience was complete—after parking along the highway and hiking through the woods, we emerge with a breathtaking view of the point break from the cliffs. Given the right combination of tide, wind and swell direction, the wave can be quite powerful.

Sitting out in the lineup, I kept seeing these giant rock formations just off the coast a few miles. When I asked the locals about it, their faces would light up. Islas Marietas (the Marieta Islands), it turns out, is one of the most beautiful places I have seen, truly a natural wonder. The boat taxi was easily found, and had us there in about 15 minutes. Crystal-clear water, snorkeling, fishing, navigable caverns and whale watching all encompass this stunning island chain. And besides, I’ve always enjoyed the view of a coastline from off-shore. You really get a sense of the geography of an area that way.

Another Side of the Planet
Life has a way of providing opportunity if you’re looking for it. A week later: Hong Kong. Sixteen hours on a plane, that was a first for me. I loved it! If you ever have the chance to go, Sai Wan beach is a must.

There are many things about that part of the world that immediately grab your attention—and hold it. The size, scale and number of buildings… you can’t imagine the massive density unless you see for yourself. A friend of mine said it best: “It’s a vertical existence.”

A 25-minute cab ride, though, will take you to an altogether different way of life. Gorgeous. By way of the fishing village, Sai Kung, take a boat taxi from the pier—the ride alone is worth the entire day. And you won’t believe what you’re seeing. From the determination of the fishermen, to the cliffs, the bounty of the South China Sea, the untouched beauty: waterfalls, mountain streams… oh, and the waves. On another side of the planet, I found myself right back in the water on a surfboard. I could go on and on…

The world is a beautiful place. Go enjoy! a&s

Chuck Hollis is chief executive officer at Junction Ventures and has surfed all over the world.

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