Locally based surfer and environmental educator Tash Morton has carved her way into inspiring work in the Solomon Islands.
After organising a group of girlfriends on a 14-day surf trip to the Solomon Islands last November she was invited to join the team from Surf Solomons to guide groups to their isolated surfing locations in Malaita Province.
This coming summer she will return to guide and assist with implementing sustainable practices in waste and community development at the surf camps.
‘In the villages there are no roads, no electricity, no telephones, no shopping centres, very little use of fuel and little presence of any kind of government. Yet these communities are well organised, provide their own services, maintain beautiful villages and have a very rich and diverse culture,’ says Tash.
‘While this stunning environment and rich culture is fascinating for outsiders, local people face many challenges. The lack of services, such as very limited education and health, and the difficulty to get to urban markets, means that cash incomes are very low.
‘Solomon Islanders aspire to improve their lives. At present they have few options and often resort to selling their resources in unsustainable ways such as logging, or they migrate to urban shanty towns,’ describes Tash. ‘Surf Solomons is working to develop alternative models of tourism that provide real benefits to local people and strengthen their culture, environment and way of life.’
Tash’s diverse background in environmental and waste education and her love for surfing and culture placed her perfectly to take up the challenge.
Established in 2008 by former Byron resident Tony Jansen, Surf Solomons was inspired by Tony’s connection with the Solomons over the last 15 years where he has worked in sustainable agriculture.
Tony would surf the isolated breaks during his summer when he would return home to his wife’s village in Malaita.
‘All land and reefs are part of customary tribal land ownership systems,’ says Tony. ‘With Surf Solomons we visit their land and surf on their reefs as guests of tribes and families with complex social connections.
‘Our tours are done in a very sensitive way, respecting local beliefs, local people and the environment. We aim to pass on as much benefit as possible to locals to improve their lives in sustainable ways.’
Local people are employed by Surf Solomons to organise the logistics on the ground, transport, prepare food, building and guiding guests on local trips to the market, waterfalls or fishing.
‘On a Surf Solomons trip we go to places where very few tourists or any outsiders go. People on our trips have the unique opportunity of receiving a genuine welcome and making real friends with the people they meet in some of the most remote communities in the Pacific,’ says Tash.
Trips with Surf Solomons run from October to April with consistent swell between two to six foot and the occasional bigger swell up to 10 foot. The trips are land based, staying in a purpose-built surf camp and occasionally in a local village, with access to 15 breaks along the coast.
Tash says, ‘It’s a rare day that we cannot find a quality wave to surf and, best of all, there are no crowds. We take only six people per trip and it’s only us in the surf.’
To find out when the next trip runs, visit Surf Solomons at www.surfsolomons.com or find them on Facebook at Surf Solomons.