Elkhorn Slough Safari Natue Tour in Moss Landing, California

All too often, people driving south on Highway One head straight to Carmel or Monterey, bypassing all the North Monterey County coast has to offer.

Salty old Moss Landing, halfway between Santa Cruz and Monterey, is a great place to turn off Highway 1. Moss Landing, 100 miles south of San Francisco, is still one of the busiest commercial fishing ports on California’s central coast. It offers a glimpse into coastal life past and present. When the boats come in, the docks hum with activity as the catch is unloaded. And the mighty ocean brings crashing surf to the quaint fishing village’s two large sandy state beaches, where walking, surfing, shore fishing and horseback riding are popular beach activities.

For the outdoor adventurer, Moss Landing is the gateway to the Elkhorn Slough, one of California’s largest remaining relatively undisturbed coastal wetlands.

One of the best ways to visit this precious natural wildlife habitat is with the Elkhorn Slough Safari, a two-hour guided nature tour on a 27-ft stable pontoon boat that takes you right down the main channel which winds inland for seven miles. With Captain Yohn Gideon’s keen eye you won’t miss a thing as a naturalist guide offers an educational in-depth look at slough ecology, its fascinating history, and many of the slough’s over 200 species of birds.

“The way you involved everyone in reporting and counting the sightings was a great touch, Captain Gideon,”said one of our safari members.

It is one of the best places in the world to see rafting otters. You can watch them playing, feeding by cracking their clam shells and socializing. In addition, harbor seals have an active rookery of newborn pups in the spring and summer months.

Plan Some Water Parks Into Your Vacation

If you can’t take the heat any longer and are tired of hiding in the house to escape it, you should consider going to some water parks. You don’t have to spend a lot of money when you go to them in order to have fun. All you have to pay is a fee for admission and you are free to enjoy all of the rides. If you have children, take them with you. There is no reason why you have to hang out by yourself. You can enjoy a great family outing and bond with your children at the same time. The best part is you get to stay cool and fit in the process.

Unlike most adventure and theme parks, water parks are places that have something for everyone. It doesn’t matter how old everyone is, the activities are run so that everyone can enjoy age appropriate activities. It is possible to spend more than a few days at these places and never get bored. So, when you feel the need to go somewhere and do something that doesn’t involve any strenuous activities or a large infusion of cash, you can’t go wrong with going to some water parks.

If you are not sure where any of them are, go online and do a search for them. Find out about the experiences of others that have been to these places. Find out if there are any specials being offered to entice you to take a trip to these establishments. Depending on when you decide to go to these places, don’t forget to check the weather in advance. This will help you tremendously especially if you are going to places that are outdoors. Make sure that it is not going to be cold either. You don’t want anyone to get sick or be unhappy because they can’t enjoy themselves as much as they would like too because of the weather.

Many water parks are actually a part of a resort. This means that if you want to stay for a few days, then you have the option of making reservations at the resort itself. If you choose this option, many resorts do offer special pricing to help make it more cost effective for you and your family to have a great time at their establishment. If you want to take a vacation, make sure you do a little research on what other entertainment events and venues are nearby.

Also, find out what you need to bring with you before you go to any water parks. Make sure you are fully prepared to enjoy the day in the water before you start traveling to get there. Even if you can’t swim, you will still be able to find a lot of things to do like going down the slides and playing in the pools. There are plenty of lifeguards and safety personnel on staff to ensure that everyone has the best time possible while staying safe.

Amenities In Hotels That You Actually Need

Different hotels offer a variety of amenities. Although some of the perks of being a guest are obvious, such as prompt room service and skilled maids, others are not. Of the many possible amenities, some are far more useful than others.

Coffee and food are two of the more important amenities to look for in hotels. And if there is a coffeemaker in the room, all the better! Some places have stopped putting a maker right in the room, but sometimes if you ask for a complimentary cup to be brought to your room, they’ll do it. Others have just made it difficult to find the coffeemaker, so if you’re having trouble locating it, call the front desk and ask. If you don’t mind going to the lobby, many hotels have gourmet coffee chains or smaller coffee carts in their lobbies. And when it comes to food, find out just what it means when they claim there is a complimentary breakfast. Even if it is extremely basic it can come in handy, especially if you have kids. That way they get something to eat without wasting money by only nibbling at a tiny amount.

Shuttles can be fantastic perks. Some hotels offer airport shuttles only while others also offer shuttles to major tourist spots. If you’re visiting a theme park, find out if your chosen location offers a shuttle service, and if so, how often? Also ask if there is a charge and how much it is, so you can figure out if it’s worthwhile.

Free Internet access can be surprisingly difficult to come by at the fancier places. Basic motels often offer free Wi-Fi while the more upscale locations sometimes charge. If you need to check your email for work or even if it is just pleasure, make sure you find out what the Internet availability is ahead of time. Don’t assume it’s going to be free. If there is a charge, find out if it is per-day or per-use, and decide just how important that amenity is to you. Sometimes you have no choice but to have Internet access and other times you can go without.

Take into consideration whether or not there is any form of free entertainment. The most popular form is indoor pools, but some hotels also offer game rooms, board games, and movies. Ask the front desk what they have, because there may be times when you need to keep your family entertained without leaving the room or building. If there is a pool, ask about rules for use. Wherever you choose to stay, make sure they have the amenities you and your family need for a pleasant trip. Sometimes it’s the simple things that make the difference between a good trip and a great one.

Holiday & Travel Guide For Bali

Beaches

Bali in Indonesia is a small island that can be pretty much navigated around by car in around an hour, but it has some beautiful beaches with many activities available. Like the popular Kuta beach, for example, where water sports like wakeboarding, surfing and swimming are offered and on the beach there are activities like kite flying as well as slingshot activities. But if you’re looking for something more relaxing while you’re lying on the beach then there are many pleasurable experiences to be had with wonderful massages, manicures and hair braiding. It’s ideal for those of you wanting to bake in the sun and be pampered at the same time. For family fun there is a brilliant waterslide park called Waterbom. It is filled with exciting slides and exhilarating raft experiences, along with wall climbing and tubing. There is plenty to do there for a full day excursion in this tropically green and lush environment.

Sightseeing

There are so many highlights to this small island as it is crammed with culture and nature, from volcano tours and botanical gardens to amazing rice fields and trips to see the beautiful Hindu Temples that are dedicated to different spirits. These Temples are dotted all around the island. The court house Kerta Gosa is a fabulous building built in the 18th century that has now become quite famous for its bright and lavish ceiling paintings that depict the hell that awaits the law breaker. Some of the buildings in Bali are truly amazing and there are so many photo opportunities.

Shopping

As to be expected on such a small island, there are no malls, or international chain stores, but what there are is plenty of buying opportunities, because this small island has plenty of small shops selling designer fashion ware. There are also open air markets to tempt you with handmade clothing to your personal preferences, beautiful jewellery and many handcrafted items. Not forgetting the bright and wonderful art work. The prices are excellent, but a little haggling won’t do any harm. You won’t be going home empty handed, so be sure to leave some spare room in your suitcase.

Eating

There are many eating establishments in Bali, but very few selling typical Bali food like suckling pig with rice. Most of the restaurants and hotels sell international cuisine to appeal to the tourist market. Eating out in Bali is very cheap and not to be grumbled at as there are very few cheap places left nowadays. The outdoor markets sell some delicious fruits for you to taste and there are beach hut vendors selling snacks and drinks.

Nightlife

There are plenty of nightclubs and bars around this small island, but they don’t open until around midnight and the best place to be at that time is in Legian; any of the taxi drivers in your resort will take you there. The clubs are very popular in this area, it is very well known as it’s more upmarket, the place where everyone dresses to impress in their designer clothes. International imported drinks can be very expensive in these places though, so don’t expect the night life to be cheap.

Melbourne – What a Marvellous City to Spend a Few Days In

In the 1880s Melbourne was known as Marvellous Melbourne. This was a time of great economic prosperity and optimism and perhaps some kind of accepted and tolerated decadence. In just ten years the population of Melbourne had soared, doubling to almost half a million people. It was a boom time, the city sparkled and buildings were born which made Melbourne the envy of many. Indeed, Melbourne was larger than many European capitals and the architecture rivalled that of New York.

When next you are in Melbourne have a good look at the ornate, architectural style of many of the older buildings, especially as you travel up Collins Street. Money simply flowed in and banks, hotels and coffee houses sprung up in golden fashion. Melbourne was bursting to show off its wealth and nothing was going to stop it. It was almost a reckless approach viewed in comparison to Sydney at the time which was seen as slow and steady. Melbourne is full of pomp and splendour now due mainly to the extravagances of the 1880s. As you walk the streets of Melbourne look out for the many domes, spires and turrets which lay testimony to the bullet proof feelings of the time.

Not long in the future though, in the early 1890s, the economy took a turn for the worse. Banks closed their doors, stockbrokers stumbled and many thousands lost their jobs. The golden era was over but the splendours still remains today.

Apart from architecture there is so much more that Melbourne has to offer. The theatre for instance. No matter when you go to Melbourne there will always be a host of world class shows going on at the same time. I recently saw the world first production of King Kong. A hugely, spectacular show which was born in Melbourne, became instantly successful, and will no doubt travel overseas once the production runs its time out here. You can choose to watch theatrical productions in classic, old wordly style venues such as The Regent Theatre where King Kong is showing or more modern venues which may have superb acoustics.

Restaurants and cafes are everywhere! And these days with our incessant desire for ‘everything food’ we almost demand that our restaurants serve nothing but quality. To this end Melbourne has come to the party because the food here is a gastronomical delight. Flavours and tastes from all over the world can be found side by side and you don’t have to travel far to find something to your choosing.

Finally, we must have a little to say about sport because this is where our gladiators take to the field every weekend in winter to fight for the glory of their club and fans at the mighty MCG; the Melbourne Cricket Ground. This stadium, the biggest in the Southern hemisphere, can hold almost 100,000 spectactators and if you are lucky enough to get a seat at an AFL Grand Final then you will see a spectacle and hear a mighty roar that you will not soon forget.

No doubt you will need some form of Melbourne accommodation and this is another area where Melbourne will not disappoint. Everything from the very budget to the very not budget can be found here. We stayed at the Grand Hyatt Hotel when we went to see King Kong and found it to be a sensational hotel with impeccable service. Have fun in Melbourne.

Holiday & Travel Guide For Auckland, New Zealand

Sightseeing

Auckland is the largest city in New Zealand and very popular with tourists, it truly is amazing and there are plenty of things to do in and around this city, so there is something to suit every traveller. If you want to get your adrenalin pumping then there are quite a few activities to do this; how about sky jumping for example? Get strapped up and free jump from one of the largest buildings, the Sky Tower. If this is a little too daring then there are plenty of bungy jumping experiences to wean you into the sky jumping. For those of you who enjoy activities a little less thrilling, then you have more than enough excursions to fill your criteria, from beautiful botanical gardens to fascinating aquariums, along with whale and dolphin safaris.

If history is more your thing then you will not be short of sights to see; the city has an excellent museum. You could then visit Howick Historical Village with the wonderful Maori buildings housing many historical artefacts from the area. There is also a Maori guided tour, with the guides telling you all the ancient stories about these historical tribes. There is so much to do that you will need more than a month there to see it all. If you are a nature lover and don’t mind a 90km cruise or a flight out to Great Barrier Island to explore this untouched paradise, then you will be truly amazed with the marine and bird life and the native forests. There are endless places for you to explore in New Zealand and there is a wealth of water sport readily available too.

Beaches

The closest beaches to Auckland are the east coast beaches, with beautiful clean sand beaches and perfect waters for water sports and swimming. If you want a more rugged ocean for surfing, then the west coast beaches are for you. All of Auckland’s beaches are within an hour or so from the city, and with around a 100 of them you’re sure to find one you like.

Shopping

You won’t leave Auckland without purchasing something, whether it is for you or as a gift for someone else. There are many department stores and up market classy designer shops, selling fashion clothing, home wares, jewellery and much more. There are open markets selling tourist souvenirs like arts and crafts and traditionally handmade carvings, whatever your budget there is something for you. In the down town areas of the city, you will find plenty of duty free shopping too.

Eating

Auckland has a variety of cafes and restaurants, selling international cuisines to suit your taste, with sea food being a popular variety of dish. You will find most of the restaurants have a menu to suit your needs.

Nightlife

There is plenty of nightlife in and around the city, but the waterfront is where you will find the more classy venues and bars. You won’t be short of evening entertainment in this cosmopolitan city with a choice of theatre performances and comedy shows, to flashy casinos and trendy bars.

Dog City Guide to San Francisco

Suzy my pet Shih Tzu and I continued our U.S tour of the countries best dog friendly cities with an exciting trip to San Francisco. A throbbing nightlife, panoramic views of the sun, sand and sea, warm people and great food pretty much sums up San Francisco. Famous for its bays and the picturesque view of the Golden Gate enveloped in white fog, San Francisco is a traveler’s destination to the core.

The best time to enjoy the spoils of San Francisco is from September to November, when the weather is pleasant. The city offers some of the best in International cuisine, is a paradise for shoppers and much to see. Some of activities you can get involved in include sailing, surfing, walking, cycling etc. You will often find people surfing over some of the biggest waves with their pets or dogs.

Stay

If you are looking for accommodation in San Francisco the best location is close to the ocean or at a place that can provide you with a view of the rising mist over the Golden Gate. We found one and it was the Best Western Tuscan Inn Fisherman Wharf situated at 425 Northpoint Street. They didn’t charge me any additional fee for getting Suzy and I used to leave her at the hotel’s kennel when venturing into the swimming pool. What’s more, my room had a mini-bar, coffee maker, refrigerator, hairdryer and a free high-speed wireless Internet connection.

This hotel is located right at the heart of the Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco, and it has an unbeatable location. I get to see the Golden Gate first thing when I wake up. It is very close to the North beach, and the famous Pier 39.

Note: If you are planning to make a reservation in advance then type “I am bringing my dog.” You need to mention this clearly in the additional comments and requests box in the online reservation form.

Check-In: 3PM

Check-Out: 12PM

You can check out some other dog friendly hotels in San Francisco like:

-Campton Place Hotel -340 Stockton Street

-Crowne Plaza – Union Square -480 Sutter Street

-Days Inn – Lombard St -2358 Lombard Street

-Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco -757 Market St.

-Harbor Court Hotel -165 Steuart Street

-Holiday Inn -50 Eighth St

-Hotel Cosmo -761 Post Street

-Hotel Diva -440 Geary Street

-Hotel Metropolis -25 Mason Street

Play

The Golden Gate Bridge

Suzy and I walked across the Golden Gate Bridge and it was an extraordinary experience. The view from the Golden gate of the bay and San Francisco city is spectacular. It was an evening walk just around the time when the sun set and left the sky in a myriad of orange and red colors. It felt more like Suzy walking me then me walking Suzy. Dogs are permitted on the Golden Gate but only if they are on leash.

Timings:

March 11, 2007 – November 3, 2007: 5am to 9pm

November 4, 2007 – March 8, 2008: 5am to 6:30pm

Waterfront Carriage Rides

From Austin all the way to San Francisco, Suzy and her fascination for horses! It is said that if you want to see the city in the true San Francisco in style then head for the carriage rides. Suzy loved every moment of the smooth and sometimes bumpy ride around the waterfront.

Alcatraz tour

It was my Shih Tzu’s idea to visit the infamous federal prison at Alcatraz. She was the one who wagged her tail but I think it was a good idea. Alcatraz is considered to be one of the foremost tourist destinations in San Francisco and was home to Al Capone, Robert “The Birdman” Stroud and George “Machine Gun” Kelley. It can be reached by traveling in a ferry. You can use ferry services to visit:

-Angel Island

-Oakland/Alameda

-Sausalito

-Tiburon

-Vallejo

Dog Parks/Beaches

I had a rollicking time with Suzy in San Francisco as there were many parks for her to play in. I watched her chase a butterfly at some of the San Francisco off leash parks and even caught her panting for breath behind the smallest shrub. Some of the San Francisco beaches also allow dogs like the Baker Beach at Lincoln Blvd and Bowley St/Golden Gate Nat’l Rec Area. Dogs are allowed on this beach off leash but under voice control. It is situated 1.5 miles south from the Golden Gate and you can almost walk down there from the Golden Gate Bridge. Suzy and I had a long sunbathing session and then we took a walk closer to the water. Another nice beach is the Burton beach near Skyline Blvd./Hwy 35. It is a popular dog friendly beach and park.

Some of the other off leash parks in San Francisco include:

Alamo Square Off Leash Dog Park -Scott Street, between Hayes and Fulton Streets

Alta Plaza Off Leash Dog Park -Steiner and Clay Street

Bernal Heights Off Leash Dog Park -Bernal Heights and Esmerelda

Brotherhood Mini Off Leash Dog Park -Brotherhood Way

Buena Vista Off Lead Dog Park -Buena Vista West at Central Avenue Grooming

After all the sun and sand on the beach, the first thing a Shih Tzu like Suzy needed was a nice haircut and bath. You can choose from mobile grooming salons and grooming centers. I chose the classic pet grooming mobile services. They really know how to pamper a small dog and Suzy was made to feel extra special.

Their basic services include:

Shampoo

Grooming

Hand dry and brush out coat

Cleaning Pads

Cutting Nails

Ears and eye cleaning

Express anal glands

Their specialty services include:

Flea and tick shampoo

Brushing teeth

Medicated oatmeal and herbal shampoos

De-skunking

Rejuvenator or hot oil treatments

You can also try out the following grooming centers in San Francisco:

Four Wet Feet: 4599 18th St

South Paw: 199 Brannan St

Russian Hill Dog Grooming: 1929 Hyde St

Wags Pet Wash & Awesome Accessories: 1840 Polk St

Shop

Any pampered puppy needs good and healthy food, clothes, toys, and a leash. Suzy is definitely a pampered puppy. There are plenty of dog boutiques in San Francisco to choose from. We visited the B & B Pet Supplies located on 4820 Geary Blvd. They sell dog treats, toys, food, training supplies and various other accessories for exotic pets too. The staff is really good and extremely helpful. You can also find some of the most spectacular clothing and apparel for your dog. This Shih Tzu certainly did. Suzy’s favorites were the leather leashes with fluorescent colors and faux crocodile prints. Not the most bashful of small dogs.

Other San Francisco pet boutiques include Babies at 235 Gough Street. Babies has everything your pampered pet could possibly desire from luxury pet dishes to houndstooth dog beds to luxury Cosmo Dog Carriers to dog tees and hoodies from Urban Hund. Everything a growing pup needs, or so Suzy says. I’m still trying to get her to leave the store so our next tour may be slightly delayed.

A Hiking Guide to Easter Island

Ask me which Pacific island has the most to offer hikers and I’ll probably answer Easter Island. Here on an island 11 km wide and 23 km long you’ll find nearly a thousand ancient Polynesian statues strewn along a powerfully beautiful coastline or littering the slopes of an extinct volcano.

The legends of Easter Island have been recounted many times. What’s less known is that the island’s assorted wonders are easily accessible on foot from the comfort of the only settlement, Hanga Roa.

Before setting out see the sights, however, visit the excellent archaeological museum next to Ahu Tahai on the north side of town (the term “ahu” refers to an ancient stone platform). Aside from the exhibits, the museum has maps which can help you plan your trip.

The first morning after arrival, I suggest you climb Easter Island’s most spectacular volcano, Rano Kau, where Orongo, a major archaeological site, sits on the crater’s rim. But rather than marching straight up the main road to the crater, look for the unmarked shortcut trail off a driveway to the right just past the forestry station south of town. It takes under two hours to cover the six km from Hanga Roa to Orongo, but bring along a picnic lunch and make a day of it. (If climbing a 316-meter hill sounds daunting, you can take a taxi to the summit for around US$6 and easily walk back later in the day.) Once on top, you’ll find hiking down into the colourful crater presents no difficulty. It may also look easy to go right around the crater rim, but only do so if you’re a very experienced hiker and have a companion along as shear 250-meter cliffs drop into the sea from the ridge.

Another day, rise early and take a taxi to lovely Anakena Beach at the end of the paved road on the north side of the island (you should pay under US$10 for the 20 km). A few of the famous Easter Island statues have been restored at Anakena and you could go for a swim, although the main reason you’ve come is the chance to trek back to Hanga Roa around the road-free northwest corner of the island. You’ll pass numerous abandoned statues lying facedown where they fell, and the only living creatures you’re unlikely to encounter are the small brown hawks which will watch you intently from perches on nearby rocks. If you keep moving, you’ll arrive back in town in five or six hours (but take adequate food, water, and sunscreen). This is probably the finest coastal walk in the South Pacific.

Almost as good is the hike along the south coast, although you’re bound to run into other tourists here as a paved highway follows the shore. Begin early and catch a taxi to Rano Raraku, the stone quarry where all of the island’s statues were born. This is easily the island’s most spectacular sight with 397 statues in various stages of completion lying scattered around the crater. And each day large tour groups come to Rano Raraku to sightsee and have lunch. However, if you arrive before 9 am, you’ll have the site to yourself for a few hours. When you see the first tour buses headed your way, hike down to Ahu Tongariki on the coast, where 15 massive statues were reerected in 1994. From here, just start walking back toward Hanga Roa (20 km) along the south coast. You’ll pass many fallen statues and enjoy some superb scenery. Whenever you get tired, simply go up onto the highway and stick out your thumb and you’ll be back in town in a jiffy.

An outstanding 13-km walk begins at the museum and follows the west coast five km north to Ahu Tepeu. As elsewhere, keep your eyes pealed for banana trees growing out of the barren rocks as these often indicate caves you can explore. Inland from Ahu Tepeu is one of the island’s most photographed sites, Ahu Akivi, with seven statues restored in 1960. From here an interior farm road runs straight back to town (study the maps at the museum carefully, as you’ll go far out of your way if you choose the wrong road here).

A shorter hike takes you up Puna Pau, a smaller crater which provided stone for the red topknots that originally crowned the island’s statues. There’s a great view of Hanga Roa from the three crosses on an adjacent hill and you can easily do it all in half a day. A different walk takes you right around the 3,353-meter airport runway, which crosses the island just south of town. Near the east end of the runway is Ahu Vinapu with perfectly fitted monolithic stonework bearing an uncanny resemblance to similar constructions in Peru.

Easter Island’s moderate climate and scant vegetation make for easy cross country hiking, and you won’t find yourself blocked by fences and private property signs very often. You could also tour the island by mountain bike, available from several locations at US$10 a day. If you surf or scuba dive, there are many opportunities here. A minimum of five days are needed to see the main sights of Easter Island, and two weeks would be far better. The variety of things to see and do will surprise you, and you’ll be blessed with some unforgettable memories.

Matakana NZ – Your Insider New Zealand Holiday and Travel Guide

Just one hour’s drive north of Auckland is Matakana district; a region blessed with beautiful beaches, lush countryside, boutique wineries, market gardens, lively cafés and fine-dining restaurants.

Matakana Village is the hub of the region with its mix of original, renovated township buildings and the newly developed Matakana Village Complex.

Every Saturday, Matakana Village Farmer’s Market swings into life. The place for serious foodies, savour a spiced hot chocolate while browsing through stalls replete with fresh organic vegetables, free-range eggs, freshly baked breads, homemade sausages and locally produced meats, relishes and cheeses.

A wander around the village will uncover a world of culinary pleasures. Matakana Patisseries is a much loved local haunt and is famous for its pies, artisan breads, french pastries and ‘melt in the mouth’ chocolate éclairs. For the best coffee and home-made muffins in town, stop by Black Dog Café. Blue, Matakana’s organic ice-cream café, makes mouth watering ice creams, sorbets and smoothies. A cone of their signature blueberry organic ice-cream is a must.

Take morning or afternoon tea at the Brookview Teahouse for a delightful experience of exquisite sandwiches, small cakes, tarts and pastries. At the Vintry, enjoy the wines of the region without driving to the wineries. Tucked away by the Matakana Cinema, the Vintry offers local Matakana wines by the glass or bottle.

Matakana is also the home of internationally known Morris and James Pottery and Tile Works. Beautiful handcrafted and glazed terracotta pots, tiles, plaques and wall art, free pottery tours and Cosi, their licensed courtyard café and bar are among the many reasons to pay a visit.

And if you are visiting with kids, there’s the Matakana Country Park; a farm and equestrian theme park featuring playgrounds, a petting zoo, horse riding and miniature train rides.

With more than 20 boutique vineyards, it’s no wonder Matakana has gained a reputation for world class wines and sensational food.

If you only visit one winery while in Matakana, make sure you visit Ascension. This multiple award-winning wine estate and restaurant dares to be different yet gets it right every time. Ascension specialises in hand-crafted wines using grape varieties rarely found outside Matakana and their popular restaurant, the Oak Grill, marries their wines with food to perfection.

For a unique experience, visit Heron’s Flight, the only vineyard in NZ that specialises in Italian grapes. Over the years, the vineyard has evolved into a Tuscan style farm and restaurant where vines intermingle with figs, mulberries and olive trees.

Matakana Coast is known for its stunning scenery, rolling hills and pristine beaches.

Goat Island Marine Reserve is a must visit. Teeming with fish and other sea life, the best way to experience what’s on offer is by snorkelling and diving or if you want to stay dry, taking a cruise on a glass bottom boat.

Further north lies Pakiri beach, 30km of beautiful, undeveloped, pristine white sand beach. The road to Pakiri Beach is a windy metal road but absolutely worth the drive. Go walking or experience this coastal wonderland on horseback with Pakiri Horse Back Rides.

You can also enjoy the surf at Omaha, sail at Kawau Island, soak in the hot pools at Waiwera Thermal Spa Resort or enjoy the splendour of the Matakana district’s 3 regional parks; Tawharanui, Mahurangi, and Scandrett’s. These parks provide some of the region’s most beautiful white sand beaches, rolling pastures, shingled bays, native coastal forest and wetlands.

All In The Family – A History Of The Sacred Rules Of Surfing And Surf Etiquette & How To Apply Them

The rules were originally simple and went like this.

o Don’t drop in on another surfer’s wave

o Don’t be greedy

o Respect the older surfers.

That was about it, and for a long time, it was all that was needed. But as time progressed, as it has a tendency to do the simple art of surfing got a little more complicated. The rules had to develop to keep up with the changing behaviour and size of the crowds.

As we stand today, all experienced surfers know the basic rules, and most apply them to one degree or another. But the rules are not set fast, they are not written down on stone tablets for all to see and follow. They are actually more like collective wisdom as to what is acceptable behaviour in the water and what is not, that is passed down the generations of surfers – very similar to other forms of tribal wisdom. The problem with this is like all tribal lore, as the tribe expands, the lore gets distorted and lost.

As you go through this chapter try to remember that the rules are not law, they are intended more as a guide. As these suggestions have grown from the collective conscience and experience of millions of surfers you rip yourself off if you ignore them.

o Have fun, but not at the expense of the other people in the water.
This one’s pretty simple, it means don’t take your surfing too seriously, but do be aware that what you do will affect others in the water. You can apply this rule by simply learning the following rules.

o Don’t drop in, (this means don’t catch a wave that someone else is already riding. The surfer on the inside, closest to the breaking part of the wave, has right of way).
The simplest and best way to apply this rule is ‘one wave, one surfer’, and for the beginner that’s the only way to look at it.

*It’s interesting to note that in the world of competitive surfing, there are no grey areas with the drop in rule either. It’s used in its simplest form, one wave, one surfer, and there are heavy penalties for breaking this rule.

Outside of competitive surfing there are grey areas with this rule, but they have a tendency to be confusing and usually only apply to the more difficult surfing conditions. By default this is also the realm of the more experienced surfer.

The drop in rule is one of the longest standing rules in surfing and it stems from basic common sense.
If you drop in on another surfer’s wave, you’re not only stealing something that someone else has worked really hard for, but you’re also putting yourself and the other surfer in danger.

This is also the most consistently broken rule of all, and the one which, when broken will cause the most friction in the line-up. Drop in on the wrong person, and you could find yourself in a pretty spooky situation, some people get radically upset when this rule gets broken.

Why does this rule get broken so much?
Well there are many excuses, but they all can be put into two major categories – greed and frustration.

Greed: The greedy surfer just decides that, this wave is mine regardless of whether it is or isn’t. There will be many rationalisations for this; e.g. local’s rights or ‘I’m a better surfer than you and wont waste the wave’, or some such self-righteous rubbish. Sometimes it’s sheer intimidation, in an attempt to force other surfer’s to leave the water, but if you’re honest about it, it’s all about greed.

Frustration: The justifications may be different here, but the behaviour is not. It’s still about, ‘I’m not getting what I want, so I’ll take yours instead’.

It’s interesting to note that those who are greedy usually drive those who drop in out of frustration, to this behaviour, thus it becomes a self-perpetuating cycle. There is also the crowd factor. When locals at any given break feel hard done by, they will usually start to drop in on the tourists in the water and although this frustration is understandable, it’s not acceptable.

Then there is also the learner, or hire board factor. This is where there are people in the crowds, who not only don’t know that ‘dropping in’ is considered the most heinous of crimes, but who think that it looks like really good fun to jump in on someone else’s wave. This all triggers frustration.

The Grey Areas

Except for the final grey area mentioned here, for the beginner it’s better to just see the ‘drop in rule’ in black and white, i.e. ‘one wave, one surfer’. The grey areas are tricky to say the least, and they are best left to the more experienced surfers to judge.

1st comes into play when the surf is crowded.

You see a surfer paddle into a wave, the wave sections in front, you think that he/she is not going to make it. What do you do?

Well, if you’re experienced enough you’ll be able to tell if the surfer on the inside is going to make it, or not. If not, it would be considered OK to take off on the same wave but you had better be 100% sure about it, because if the surfer does make it, or would have made it had you not taken off, then you’ve just dropped in.

2nd is when someone ‘snakes’ you.

If it’s really obvious that someone has snaked you, then this is a time to be assertive and keep going.

3rd applies to those who choose to share waves. These people have made an agreement to do this – it’s not an open invitation to do the same with people they don’t know.

o Don’t be a snake, a snake is a surfer who constantly paddles to the inside, or turns inside someone after they have started to paddle into a wave, and then invokes the drop in rule. In other words try not to be greedy.

This is pretty self-explanatory, but to understand why it’s so important we could take a look at where this rule came from.

It is one of the newer rules in surfing, i.e. it has come into use over the last 15-20 years due to the increasing crowds.

It’s an easy rule to apply and will gain you respect from the more experienced surfers, yet it’s often broken, even though snaking is considered to be really bad form.

How Did Snaking Come About?

Over the years as surfing became more popular the crowds started to increase, and as this happened suddenly there weren’t enough waves for everyone to just take what they wanted. It became necessary to ‘jockey for position’ as the term once was. This meant putting yourself into a position where you were the surfer closest to the inside of the wave, and therefore had the right of way.

As the crowds continued to increase, this jockeying became more intense; it soon got a new name, hassling. Surfers became more aggressive and tried to be the best at hassling to get the most waves. This was an already uncomfortable situation. When someone had the idea of quickly paddling inside while another surfer was taking off they would then turn and jump to their feet. The result was that the surfer who had actually earned the wave, would take off convinced that the wave was theirs, only to hear someone behind yelling ‘Oi’.

The surfer who had done the snaking would then loudly invoke the, ‘don’t drop in rule’ to shift the blame over to the victim. Nice behaviour huh?

This tactic soon came into common use at the more crowded surf breaks around the world. The people who used it quickly became known as “f***ing snakes”. Hence the name ‘snaking’ was born, and we had a whole new style of hassling.

For many this was just the last straw. The consensus among the surfing world was, ‘this has gone too far’. The, don’t be a snake rule was born.

This rule is not just a bunch of sour grapes from the old surfers that can’t keep up with the kids. It is a rule that, like the drop in rule, is strictly enforced at all levels of competitive surfing, from weekend club rounds, all the way up the ladder to the professional world tour.

However, not being a snake is easier said than done.

There will come a time when you’ll find yourself in a crowded situation and it will appear that if you don’t drop in, then the only way to get a wave is to snake someone.

Being a snake may make you feel powerful, and for a short period of time, you may even get more waves. But it won’t take long before the other surfers start to resent you, at the very least they will start to deliberately drop in, and you’ll be made to feel very uncomfortable in the line-up.

o Don’t paddle through the line-up. This means don’t paddle out where the other surfers are riding, it’s very dangerous for all involved.
OK we’ve dealt with this one thoroughly in chapter six but a little background knowledge of where this came from will go a long way towards understanding its relevance today.

In the ’60s and early ’70s, before legropes were common, this was not so much a rule as it was a survival tactic. If someone fell off, then his/her board would come flying in towards the beach. If you paddled out anywhere in the area of the line-up or white-water you were in serious danger of being knocked unconscious. Also, the older styles of boards were really heavy and very hard to turn, that paddling through the line-up would also mean getting run over. People simply didn’t do it; it was way too dangerous.

As surfing progressed, and people started riding lighter boards with legropes, the need to hassle for waves became a dominant factor in the crowd’s behaviour.

Sometimes to get a wave, it became necessary, while paddling out, to quickly sprint into the line-up to grab a wave that was ’empty’ or that someone had just fallen off. This was because the increasing crowds had made everyone’s wave count lower, and no-one could afford to waste a wave.
To put this into perspective, we need to realise that at this stage in surfing the beginners were still keeping to the tradition of learning away from the more experienced surfers – they were using the inside bank or kiddies corner.

Then in the late ’80s two things happened at almost the same time, the explosive popularity of surfing in the mainstream populous plus the sudden resurgence of longboarding.

Over the next ten years the crowds doubled and the whole thing fell apart, people were getting run over and hurt, the old wisdom of not paddling through the line-up became an important survival strategy once again. But the newcomers had seen otherwise, and it’s hard to teach someone a new strategy when they have seen you employ another, re-education is not easy, just ask any dictator.

The ‘don’t paddle through the line-up’ rule was re-born from necessity, it became very important for both the surfers paddling out and for those riding the waves.

Applying this rule is very simple, just paddle wide, around the break, in the deeper water (see chapter 6).

o Do show some courtesy and respect to both the more experienced surfers and the locals.

OK this one is the oldest and possibly most important of all the rules. Sadly, it is often ignored or fobbed off as not important on a regular basis, by both the newcomers to surfing and the more experienced younger surfers.

In the past surfers showed great respect for those who had been surfing for a long time. This was the surfing world’s version of tribal wisdom – of respecting your elders. It’s important to remember that these people have put in the time, and they have earned their spot in the line-up. These surfers also have a wealth of acquired knowledge that most can benefit from, if they bother to ask.

It’s important to distinguish the difference between the more experienced surfer, and the older newcomer. It’s not unusual to see older people learning to surf these days. Very small minorities of these people try to impose themselves upon others as some kind of authority figure just because they are older. There is wisdom in respecting your elders, but in the line-up it works a little differently. The elders are those who have done the time in the water.

Whichever way you look at it, the more experienced surfers have done their time, they have learned the rules and they have persisted with their passion for surfing. They have earned a little respect. The simplest way to give it to them is to learn the rules yourself, and then apply them.
The local’s part of this rule is based on simple common sense. As I’ve said before, when you’re surfing away from your home, you’re surfing in someone else’s home. Treat the locals the way that you would like to be treated yourself.

If you’re headed for a popular tourist destination, it’s really smart to remember that the locals there are probably under constant pressure from the crowds. This kind of pressure would make anyone hypersensitive to bad behaviour in the water.

o The surfer on the wave has right of way, if paddling out, try to stay out of the way.

This one is really simple, and is just an extension of the ‘don’t paddle through the lineup’ rule.

Where the two rules are different, is that this one is aimed at the fact that no matter how hard you try, there will be times when you get caught in the line-up, and you have to make a decision about what to do.

This is all about taking the hit. The wisdom of taking the hit from the white-water is obvious, you may get knocked back a short distance, but you won’t ruin someone else’s hard earned wave, or put yourself in danger of being run over. You will also quickly earn respect for doing this.

o Use common sense where crowds are an issue, if you turn up to a break that is already heavily crowded, then consider surfing somewhere else. Adding to an already frustrated and aggressive crowd won’t help you, or them.

This one also came about as a result of the growing crowds; but it is more an optional suggestion than a hard and fast rule.

Some people are happy to surf in the crowds, in fact some even thrive on the aggression, weird but true. If you don’t feel comfortable in an aggressive crowd, then don’t paddle out into one; it really is that simple.

This is not just about you; it’s also about consideration for others. You really do need to ask yourself, how important is it for me to surf here? In most cases you’ll realise that what’s more important is that you get wet, not where you get wet.

o Wear a legrope, occasionally you’ll see a surfer in the water that is not using a legrope, they are usually very experienced and rarely loose control, they are the only exception to this rule.
This is a controversial rule.

The legrope has been around for about thirty years now, and there are two schools of thought regarding its use – those who are for, and those who are against.

Those who are for, appear to be the majority. They see legropes as a necessary piece of safety equipment for today’s crowded surf.
Those who are against will often argue that legropes are responsible for many of the problems that we have with today’s crowds.

Author’s note* I have included this rule because like all the others, it is what the majority believe to be correct. However honesty dictates a confession that I am one of the minority who is against the use of legropes in most conditions, and I won’t pretend I’m not biased about this topic.

The two arguments:

Those who are for, believe that the legrope is an essential piece of safety equipment. It means that your board is always close by after a wipe-out, and that there are no boards flying in to the beach, thus making it safer for all concerned. There is also the added bonus of increased confidence leading to a more rapid increase in skill, when learning. There is real merit in this side of the argument.

Those who are against believe that legropes encourage surfers to not play by the rules; they make people lazy and therefore careless, and they are responsible for many injuries and some drownings.
If you don’t have to worry about losing your board it becomes much easier to break all the other rules.
There is also a concern that legropes encourage those who cannot swim well to feel a false sense of security when surfing. The belief is that legropes should be a tool for the more experienced surfer, in larger waves as a safety measure only.
This all translates as, if you take away people’s legropes in smaller surf and when learning then those who break the rules are rewarded with a long swim to the beach. People then have a tendency become much better surfers, swimmers, and take more notice of those around them in the water. Told you I was biased.

Whichever side of the argument you’re on, it’s really about taking responsibility not only for your own safety but for the safety of those around you, which leads us into the next rule.

o Always hold on to your board when a wave hits you. Throwing your board away and allowing your legrope to do the job for you is very dangerous to the other surfers in the water.
This one really is self-explanatory.

This rule is also one of the newer rules that has become necessary with the growing crowds and the common use of legropes in all surfing conditions.

Originally a surfer simply wouldn’t consider letting go of the board when a wave hit, in any conditions other than huge surf when it would be way too dangerous to hang on to it. This was simply because if you didn’t use a legrope then you’d have to go for a swim back in. If you were using a legrope, then there was always a good chance that you’d wear your board in the face if you let it go.

In the present day however, many surfers both beginner and experienced have developed the lazy habit of just allowing their legrope to do the job for them. This is a major No No.

o Never use your board as a weapon or as a means of protection from a possible collision. Many beginners will throw their boards in front of another surfer when afraid of a possible collision. This is incredibly dangerous.

This one came about as a direct result of the recent explosion in the popularity of the ‘learn to surf’ and ‘hire board’ industries. This is not to say that these industries are responsible for this rule becoming necessary. It is just that there are now a much higher percentage of inexperienced surfers in the water, who, apart from perhaps a two-week surf school course, have never actually surfed before. This can result in a large number of surfers in the water, who really don’t have the experience to know what to do in a situation when a fast response is needed.