February’s Best Surf Travel Bets: All of the Pacific Ocean
No insider information needed to verify the North Pacific for surfing during the month of February – but the whole Pacific basin?
Although it’s only winter in the Northern Hemisphere, the Southern Hemi decided to jump into the spring game, coming back to life during the slowest time of year, from a perspective. climatological. And that’s why we picked points scattered across the Pacific as the top February surf travel destinations – some spots are close to home and some are full day away. Before choosing the easiest route from the choices below, or posting at home on the West Coast or North Coast, take a look at January recommendations. Tackling the grueling and expensive trip to Micronesia would have resulted in a sample of “the best season ever,” as our observer at Pohnpei Surf Club reports.
Sometimes the effort is worth the reward.
Close to the house
Yes, it’s February. No, this is not the typical month you think you will mark in Central America or mainland Mexico. However, recent (and ongoing) storm activity in the underworld would support the opposite. While nothing is significant or XL in size, the stretch between Puerto Escondido and Panama will benefit from a series of fun Southern Hemi swells at the start of the season throughout the first half of the month, and likely beyond.
Climatologically, the summer months in the southern hemisphere (December-February) are the slowest months for the South Pacific swell. We often see a direct high pressure swell crushing easterly storms, limiting its spread further north across the Americas at this time of year. Sometimes the underworld opens with flanking high pressure that slides just west of these storms, sending modest to even amusing swells towards the Americas. And don’t forget that the North Pacific is always open for business – some areas, like northern Costa Rica, offer many options as the NW swells of modest size and long period also filter.
However, all eyes are on the South Pacific. A series of storms have already developed, blocking fun swells from S-SW during the first two days of February. After a promising start to the month, we’ll see another round of low pressure systems slide from under New Zealand, sending overlapping SW / SSW swells for the 8.e-15e. Beyond that, the model’s predictions suggest that we will continue to see an active trend over the South Pacific, leading to a southern hemisphere swell supply for much of the month. Favorable seasonal winds prevail throughout Central America and mainland Mexico (although the offshore flow can be windy to locally strong in some areas) as good conditions generally accompany the southern Hemi swell early in the season.
A little further to fly
Before storms and swells head for the Americas, they cross the archipelagos of the South Pacific as they exit the Southwest Pacific. One of the first landing points is Tahiti and the other islands of French Polynesia. Definitely don’t expect Code Red swells in February, but medium-sized swells, even occasional ones, are possible during the month. Thanks to the thunderstorm activity emerging under New Zealand, we’ll see some fun SW / SSW swells moving for the 3rd-7e. Here is an SSW swell further south moving through the 9e-11e. High pressure wobbles over the South West Pacific over the next few weeks, limiting swell production at times, but storms will continue to rotate below New Zealand, offering the potential for more swell in the extended range.
The northern French Polynesia exhibits also provide opportunities this month. The North Pacific, particularly the western side of the basin, has been active with several storms recently developing off Japan and the Kamchatka Peninsula. The model is predominantly zonal, as the stronger wind and resulting swell are better oriented to the east and west. Regardless, the strength and location of these storms will still allow for a fun NW swell run for the northern exposures during the first half of the month.
A series of small to fun NW swells over a longer periodrd-6e. Meanwhile, the guiding model has a larger, complex low developing near the Kamchatka Peninsula during the first week of the month, sending a longer period of swell to the northwest around the 10e-13e. This pattern of storm activity in the Pacific Northwest appears to continue into the second half of the month, increasing the potential for more swells (probably small / fun) for those same breaks. The bottom line? Thanks to active storms in the North Pacific and South Pacific at the start of the season, an array of tropical options are available around French Polynesia and Tahiti this month.
Broaden your horizons
A little off the radar but flanked by famous surfing destinations like Indonesia, Australia and Fiji, Papua New Guinea (PNG) can provide Indo-esque waves, idyllic palm tree backdrops and a crystal clear water without the traveling masses of these other places. One of the reasons, in a country made up of 600 small islands and a little over 5,000 km of mostly unexplored coastline (in waves), it is always a challenge to plan and find good surfing. With an active Pacific Northwest in early February, PNG is a viable option to mark empty waves on vibrant coral reefs this month. And should everything that’s really worth finding be an easy task, anyway?
A strong and intense low developed off Japan at the end of January with a north-south fetch directed towards PNG to start the month. The longer period northerly swell filters through the islands during the 2nd-4e offering a fun sized surf. Then we’ll see a bigger storm develop in the Pacific Northwest. Although the strongest swell is directed more west to east, angular spread sends more swell from the north towards the 6e-8e. Then, strong high pressure sets in north of Hawaii in the second week of February, resulting in a high north-eastern milking well for the region. Although this is not an ideal swell direction (a long N period swell is best), options will arise on the windward side of the islands.
Know before you go