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Pacific Atawwwl

“So we travelled across the Pacific to reach this atoll (pronounced “Atawwwl by DP) pretty sure it’s one of the biggest in the world and from Google Earth it looked a pretty promising setup with a bunch of corners and reef passes and it looked like one of the most dreamy places you could ever think of…”
“Aesthetically, its really breathtaking, right? The water is as blue as it gets, there’s manta rays swimming in three feet of water and there’s some good surf here, but it’s hard to find…”
Aesthetically, its really breathtaking, right?
“There’s only one flight in and out of here a week, and the fact that it’s so mysterious and unknown made me feel like I had to go.” There’s plenty of time and space in trips like that.
“It has this lagoon opening on the west side of the island and it looked promising and the trade winds were directly offshore. But the waves never seemed to happen the way we wanted them to happen. I don’t know why…”
We wonder what the kids are seeing day-today. When they look around them. Most western surf groms would be mind-surfing this wave non-stop.
But mostly they were happy to be around us as we explored, looking for the right break in many long sections of straight reef. “The local people here are very warming and they live a simple life. They seem to really enjoy that and I guess that’s why they are so happy as they don’t have much to worry about…”
But where there’s a will there’s a way and you can get stoked riding a door if you have to.
“Being a surfer looking for new waves, you kind of rely on old information and you end up surfing the same place all the time. I pulled back form a couple of contests just to see what this place was like. I may never come back here, but there’s something about coming to somewhere new that makes it special.”
“So the cell phone doesn’t work here and emails take about 45 minutes to download, so it’s quiet, yeah…” On the atoll, not being connected to the worldwide web means one thing: not being connected to the worldwide web. There are books and sleep and a different pace. It’s okay to do nothing. It’s okay to do something. Everything is just okay on a Search like this.
Dillons pad was not 5 stars, hell, not even 1 star, but, hey, check the actual sky!
“After a while, I needed to surf with someone else. So I got the camera guys Nick and Jon to put down their tools and paddle into a few with me. They were pretty stoked about that…”
“I had a couple of surfs with Dillon,” said lensman Nick Pollet. “And it was hard, the waves were tricky, but Dillon got a lot of speed and really rode the place well. He got a lot done…”
“The reef can sometimes stick up in random places and the swell seems to come out of shallow water. The waves were fun to surf, but you could hit your fins on the bottom easily. I may not ever come back here but this has been a very special trip for me…”
“It’s the sort of place that a lot of surfers around the world would give their right arm to spend time here, “ said ace photog Ted Grambeau who has been to over 100 countries on The Search.
How’s the weather? “Yeah, it’s sunny, super sunny. I think I have to watch that next trip! You could call it deceptively beautiful…”
After 8 days, and with the only flight for another week about to depart, we gave the last word to cinematographer Jon Frank, who has also been a Search stalwart for many years. “Pack your things into one suitcase. Just one suitcase. Work hard, grab some cash, buy a round the world ticket. Grab a board and go overseas and see it. And then if you get to paddle out into some pristine lineups, well, how good is that?”

When an 8-foot swell hit Hawaii’s Oahu we tracked its movements in various directions and finally zeroed in on a remote atoll many, many miles from the densely populated line-ups of the famed North Shore.

Isolated, stinking hot and with limited entertainment other than breathing, there was really only one man we knew who could not only handle the pace (or lack thereof) and enjoy it.

Enter Malibu’s Dillon Perillo. Part vagabond, part bon vivant – he was only too happy to put himself on a solo journey into the furnace and find … well… nothing really!

“This is something that not many people get to do anymore. There’s always a chance for new surf with all the seismic activity around the earth and with those changes there’s always going to be new places appearing and old places disappearing and this might be just mid-way through.” – Dillon Perillo