Waves for Sale

Tavarua lifted pay-to-play surf travel out of the dirt. The resort was comfortable and clean, with a growing list of list of amenities, and the food was excellent. Not only was the island mosquito-free, but heart-shaped, and Tavarua cleverly marketed itself as a place were a hardcore surfer could in good conscience bring a nonsurfing mate.

In the late 1970s, a surf spot on Java named Grajagan, on the island of Java, became home to the first pay-to-play surf camp. Over the next decade, prepackaged surf travel caught on in a big way. By 1988, Sydney’s Surf Travel Company—the original surfing-only travel agency—listed nine destinations in its brochure, from Indonesia to Baja to the Philippines. The camps themselves were owned by Americ...

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