Pohnpei is the most wind friendly island in all of the Caroline Islands (Micronesia). The Trade Winds are the predominant wind throughout out the Carolines. These winds are offshore and side offshore for most breaks on the north side of the island of Pohnpei. Even on days when the trades are blowing strong, P-Pass and Main Pass hold their perfection. If the wind blows side off shore, the waves wrap the reef so much that the inside section faces perfect off shore conditions, the reef blocking the wind chop. On other islands of the Carolines (Kosrae), the trade winds blow side shore to on shore. Even light trade winds (the predominant wind on the region) will blow out the only decent break on the north side of Kosrae. The reef at P-Pass (Palikir) is one of the easiest user friendly reefs in Micronesia. P-Pass can be surfed at any tide, with no booties required. On other Micronesian islands, low tides mean exposed dry reef and even the medium tides can be pretty sketchy, shorter rides and even exposed coral heads. In Pohnpei, you can surf all day, no waiting for the tide, not to mention, you can surf on Sundays (on some Micronesian Islands, Sunday is a sacred day and you cannot work or surf). It is a law! Pohnpei has the longest, most consistent, rideable wave on any tide or swell coming from the N, NW and NE out of all the Caroline Islands (Micronesia). Pohnpei is exposed to Typhoon swells to the west and strong north swells without anything blocking the swells for 2000 miles. The Carolines can get fickle, however P-Pass is the wave magnet of the region.
The Pohnpei Surf Club has been the longest operational surf camp in all of the Western Pacific. Located a short 15 minute boat ride from Palikir, they have the most comfortable fleet of boats on the island to take you to P-Pass or whatever other wave will be working on that day.
Micronesia has some of the best waves in the world and Pohnpei has by far the best one in Micronesia. Expect warm, crystal clear water, with perfect powerful waves. In Pohnpei, waves break far from the beach, similar to Tahiti or Fiji, either on the barrier reef or near a reef pass. It is not possible to check the surf from shore (close by), so the only way to get to the waves is by boat. Most of the swells that reach Pohnpei are generated by North Pacific winter storms (does not necessarily have the same swell window as Hawaii) and from typhoons in the Western Pacific. Pohnpei surf season goes from early September through to early May. Up to four feet, the waves on Pohnpei are user-friendly. Once the surf gets bigger, you enter another level of surfing. Late take-off’s, fast down-the-line rides, and hollow barrels are what you will find.
The Pohnpei Surf Break Down
No, Pohnpei is not always 8 to 10 ft with top to bottom barrels and pro surfers like you see on surf magazines. Those days do happen 2 to 5 times depending on the year.
On most days during the surf season the Pohnpei surf scene is comprised of around 20 laid back surfers on the whole island. During the off season you will be lucky to find someone to surf with at one of the off season spots or on an odd day at P-Pass.
Most swells that hit Pohnpei are from the north with size ranging from 2 to 6 feet. At this size P-Pass and most of the other waves in Pohnpei are for the intermediate to advance level. On a 2 to 3 ft day and a high tide P-Pass is a very easy and friendly wave to ride.
Ninety per cent of the waves surfed in Pohnpei are located on reef passes. The other waves are all located on bends on the barrier reef. Because there's no way of checking these waves except by boat, and in most cases by leaving another perfect wave, these reef bends are hardly ever surfed.
There are no beach breaks or waves breaking close to the island in Pohnpei. All waves in Pohnpei break on the barrier reef and do require a boat ride.
The weather is always hot. The only time you might feel cold is during a rain squall or when the boat is moving. Bring a rain jacket for these days and lots of sun protection for when it is not raining. The ocean water is always warm, around 85+ degrees.
Pohnpei is heaven on earth for surfers and one of the friendliest places to surf in the world. It's a little bit far from it all, and used to be expensive to get to, and this is the main reason this beautiful part of the world has been left untouched by tourism and surfers.
The Surf Season on the north side of Pohnpei is from October through April with occasional swells in September and May. Winds have a tendency to blow very light and variable from August through December. Trade winds will blow from December until around June or July.
Trades winds are offshore. During every winter there will be a time when the trades will blow stronger then suddenly dying out into perfect conditions for surfing. For most of the time you would not find a place on earth with such perfect wind conditions. Palikir Pass can handle trade winds unless they start blowing too strong or with a lot of north in it which is rare.
It’s a perfect right hander. P-Pass is a short for Palikir Pass. Palikir is the name of the area in which this wave is located, a district of Pohnpei. Palikir Pass is by far the number one wave in the region. Not only perfect but also works under most conditions. The predominant trade winds are always off shore or side shore.
Any swell from the NW to NE will make it work, with a straight north being the best for Palikir Pass. Too much E on the swell and it starts missing the pass (Palikir Pass faces a perfect NW and the wave still has to wrap around and into the pass). Too much W and the wave start to close out on the inside. Anyways, most swells that hit Pohnpei during our surf season are from the north with small variations from the east and west which is the best direction for Palikir Pass. Most swells that hit Pohnpei in the winter range from 2 to 6 feet with occasional bigger days.
On most days Palikir can be surfed at any tide and the reef is a lot more user friendly than Indo, Tahiti or Fiji. There is no reef walking unless you might have to retrieve your lost board on a really low tide day.
Swells here have nothing to do with Hawaii or anywhere else in the Pacific. Pohnpei is located between Honolulu and Manila and a completely different swell window. They do require the same kind of low pressure systems as Hawaii, but from a different location in the Pacific Ocean.
Under small conditions Palikir Pass is a easy wave for a novice surfer. Once it reaches 5 ft and up you enter a different level of surfing. Even at that size it is a easy and perfect wave to ride with a predictable take off and absolutely perfect wall and sections. On up to a 5 ft day you can ride the wave all the way in until it becomes a 2 ft wave, or you can just ride the first two barrel sections and paddle back for more.
On most days there is no current at Palikir Pass. On some extreme tide days the current can get strong and move towards the channel for 30 minutes to one hour and then stop. The tide variation on Pohnpei goes from 3ft to almost 6 ft on the most extreme tides of the year.
P-Pass holds good all the way to 10 ft (Hawaiian size). At this size or bigger, the wave will start doing a double up similar to Shipsterns in Tasmania. Guest Mark Matthews from Australia called it a tropical Shippies on the biggest day ever surfed.
Well, if you don’t like those giant days with lots of pro surfers and photographers around, you won’t see any on most days at P-Pass. Those days only happen a few days a year. As we have mentioned before, on most days you will be living the Warm Pacific dream setup with a crew of friendly surfers sharing the line up. Because all waves in Pohnpei are perfect, surfers do take turns.
If you want to be part of the friendly crew of surfers that share these line ups, DO NOT BACK PADDLE OR PADDLE AROUND, DON’T DROP IN, and DON’T BE SNEAKY. The wave is perfect and everyone out is polite, so wait your turn, enjoy the ride and come back out for another one.
At Palikir you can surf at any tide meaning no waiting for the tide or winds to come up. The only time you might walk on the reef is if you lose your board, and most of the time the winds will blow it right to the channel, where the boats can go pick it up.
The main reason why people love and talk about Palikir Pass is because a regular guy can come out here and ride a wave, which at any other break in the world would have dozens, if not hundreds of locals and pros surfers fighting for that same ride. Here you will have a shot at riding a wave you see mostly in a photos or movies, without the hassle you would find at other well-known spots around the world. Off course it also always depends on your level of surfing, so stay within it.
For sure, the ride of your life!
Once the north swells are in and the trades are blowing, no one wants to surf anything but Palikir Pass. But there are options on the right days. On a high tide the Lighthouse can be a fun wave, and the Main Pass always bigger and challenging. To surf the Main Pass you have to make the wave or you might be in for some serious reef walks.
The East side has really fun and perfect waves from August until mid to late December. The West side also has some epic spots and on a giant swell there are other options that can go from a fun escape to the most epic ride of your life. No kidding.
As for most of the other waves in Pohnpei, you hardly see any surfers around as most don’t know about them, or where and when to go. Leave it to Pohnpei Surf Club to get you there.
Optimum surf conditions:
Swell: Any type of Nth
Wind: Surf all-round the island so variable