WOMENS TRIP 18 – 28 JULY 2013
See below for information
Pioneering salt gypsy Ainsley Ocean`s personal journey from NZ – Canada – a tiny Indonesian island is so rad and so inspiring, I`m gonna leave it to her to explain…
Where are you from and how did you find yourself living the salt gypsy dream of surfing in the tropics everyday for 10 years?? I was born in New Zealand, my family immigrated to Canada when I was 6, I grew up in Edmonton, Alberta, a land of cowboys and fields of wheat. I drove out to Vancouver and out to Vancouver Island when I was in grade 11, and got a taste of the Wild West Coast of Vancouver Island. By the time I was writing my last exam my volkswagon bus was packed and I left, heading out to the coast to learn to surf.
The West Coast of Vancouver Island is gorgeous, wild, full of adventure and spirit (or it was 20 years ago). I moved to Tofino. I saved my money and travelled to El Salvador and Costa Rica and got my first taste of tropical waters, and travelled with my board and guitar in tow. On return to Tofino I swore to move to a tropical location as wearing a 6mm wetsuit and crunching through ice puddles to get to the surf had grown old.
I had a small nest egg of savings and moved to Hawaii. Ahhh aloha, what a great decision. I moved to the Big Island of Hawaii. Though the coastline is rugged and lacking in beaches, there was warm blue waves, turtles, mangoes, space to breathe and lots of surfing women. You could be in the lineup with more women than men in those days. After putting in my time of sunburns and reef scars I had finally begun to improve!! Riding longboards/shortboards, anything I could get my hands on.
I met my husband, John E. Ocean, we pooled our resources and bought an organic avocado farm. It was heavenly, built a small house and ran a business, Ocean Avocadoes. We would toil away on the farm and spend our winters on the North Shore of Hawaii, Oahu. Big waves, amazing surfers. We would also travel to Fiji every year for at this point my favourite wave in the world was Cloudbreak. We found a small surf camp called Tavarua and watched them grow over the years into the first class resort they are now. I learn`t a lot. We did this for about 8 years. After 9/11 happened, the North Shore became even more crowded. I couldn`t get any waves, I was tired of watching everyone else get waves. Farming was tiring us out. We decided to sell everything and find somewhere to surf, live, have sandy feet, while we were still young.
We considered moving to Fiji but then were approached by some investors to build and invest in the Mentawai Islands and what eventually became Kandui Resort. We sold the farm, packed up what we could fit into our boardbags and left in search of our dream of surfing, sandy feet and a simple existence. We were dropped off on the island in the Mentawaiis with a tent, some tools, an Indonesian dictionary and a lot of dreams. After 2 years, we had completed Kandui Resort. It was gorgeous, an effort of love.
Kandui became a huge success, after the first couple of seasons we became a bit disenchanted and felt the need to explore and create again. We decided to create something that was more a reflection of who we are and could offer us a better lifestyle.
Then we created Togat Nusa Retreat. It has been a long journey to get here but we have created something yet again that is beautiful, soulful. Not sacrificing our growing sense of what is important to us: sustainability, personal connection and the planet`s best interests. We built Togat Nusa from the ground up. It has taken us since 2007. Every structure and piece of furniture is a work of art. This is our last year of construction. All the structures and pretty much all the furniture is built from scavenged dead wood from the beach, fitted together with thought and creativity by my husband, John E.
We are small, just 4 bungalows and a restaurant. We are focusing on small groups with personal, soulful service. Personalising our guests holidays especially for them. We are a private island so the setting is unreal, crystal blue waves breaking all around, a beautiful lagoon. We offer yoga, surfing, snorkelling, massage and delicious food made to guests preferences. All the ingredients for an epic island holiday. Our trips are 10 or 11 days, with 8 guests a trip. You are brought by speedboat transfer to and from Padang, West Sumatra, which takes about 4 hours. Once you get here, the island is yours. Use your imagination and enjoy.
What have been some challenges living amongst a totally different culture from where you grew up? How have you overcome these? For me personally as a woman, my challenges have been the lack of a community. This is changing. I am growing friendships which take time. It has challenged me as a woman to really figure out who I am, what I need to stay balanced but also growing as a creative individual, create healthy boundaries and routines, and surround myself with people who inspire me and see me for who I am. I think I have broken, intentionally and unintentionally, all rules of feminine conduct in West Sumatra and I have paved the way for surfer girls to come and feel comfortable being who they are. With all our fabulousness, come on girls get out here.
It`s a pretty contentious topic and you are right in the heart of it, so how do you see surf tourism impacting on the local communities where you live? I think this is a delicate question and one I have thought about a lot, to say the least, being involved in development out here in the islands. I think it is good. As an industry, we are moving towards new regulations as a community which I think will help all involved. Togat Nusa Retreat employs 90% Mentawai employees which most of them have been working for us since day 1, building this place and learning invaluable tools along the way. We are challenging ourselves to be very conscious of how our operation effects our local environment and local villages and give back skills and inspiration.
Being in the tropical sun is pretty taxing on our skin. Do you have any skincare products you swear by? I am very sun-conscious and try my best – unless it is super duper going off, not to be in the sun during the heat of high noon. I swear by zinc, I always wear zinc on my face and my surf hat, I always have that and tends to look like I have a hunchback when it is shoved in my rashguard. I always wear my rashguard. As far as moisturising product, I save my pennies and use Origins products whenever humanly possible, these are all organic and heavenly, as soon as you put them on you feel like they are energising your skin.
Favourite breaks in the Ments (I won`t name any – Spot X is fine!): Scarecrows, the left out front of the island. I am not just saying that either. It used to be Maccaronis when I was working on the boat. Nearby, Maccas its crowded and gets really thick when the swell gets bigger, but Scarecrows has many faces, handles big swells, an easy take off. I just get more waves and that`s what it is about for me these days. I can longboard here also which brings me a lot of joy.
Words you live by…
Figure out what your truth is, live your truth, try, visualise, breathe, be grateful, don`t be afraid of change, appreciate the people you care about, do what brings you joy and share your joy, stay and be conscious and aware, make lists
Top 10 essential surf travel items:
something that makes me feel pretty
if not on the island – boots!
a nice piece of fabric, can either be a scarf, blanket, towel, beach blanket..endless possibilities
a notebook to write down ideas and experiences
WANT TO GO?? SO DO WE!!
Lucky for us there is a women`s trip locked into the Togat Nusa schedule, here are the deets:
July 18 – 28
$250/day + $400 for speedboat transer from Padang + return flights from your home country
Prices is all-inclusive except for drinks at the bar (so bring some cash)
Island discount for a group of 8 = $1000 off the group booking total
All ladies booked on this trip qualify for 15% discount at the Salt Gypsy surf boutique* and $20 off for your own pair of bespoke surf leggings yeow!
*Discount not applicable to Alope wetsuits.
Keen? Email Ainsley: email@example.com
and mention you saw this on Salt Gypsy to receive your discount code
OR Email Danny: firstname.lastname@example.org
All images provided by Ainsley Ocean