Well 2019 is coming to and end and what a year it has been!
From 3 months surfing and exploring the coastline of South Africa and kicking back on the island paradise that is Bali to celebrating 10 years (yes a whole freaking decade) on the road and getting off the beaten track in the Solomon Islands.
Incase you’ve missed part of the journey here’s a roundup of how my 2019 looked, some of the stats and fact (because I know you guys love that stuff!) and also a sneaky peak at what 2020 has in store.
Also if you don’t want to read about it just scroll to the end for my full video roundup – which I’m super stoked on!
My 2019 Travel Roundup – 8 Countries & Heaps Of Epic Adventures!
January – UK & South Africa
After a chilly xmas in the UK with my family – the first complete family xmas we’ve had together in 8 years!) I found myself back in South Africa, where me and Charlie joined the crew of Ticket To Ride for their epic South African Surf Adventure.
We kicked the 10 week trip off in Cape Town with waves, wine, community projects and whole heaps of fun – it really set the tone for the next few months of adventures!
Main Stops = Devon and Cape Town
Highlight = Cape Town in general really, it’s an incredible place to explore!
February – South Africa
Continuing the South African surf trip I headed along the coast – which included a 2 week stop at the famous surf town of Jeffreys Bay, aka J’Bay.
You might have heard of it from when Mick Fanning punched a shark during the world tour a few years back!
Luckily I didn’t see any sharks, but there were plenty of dolphins in the lineup when I finally surfed Supertubes, a waves I’ve wanted to paddle out at for years.
I also fought my fear of heights to tackle the highest bridge bungy in the world (my second attempt at it!) which stands at 216m high…it’s safe to say I won’t be doing that again though!
Main Stops = Plettenberg Bay, Jeffreys Bay & Cinsta
Highlight = Finally surfing Supertubes & tackling the worlds highest bridge bungy!
March – South Africa & Mozambique
I wrapped up an epic 10 weeks on the road with Ticket To Ride, finishing off our trip in Coffee Bay and Durban. Honestly Coffee Bay is one fo my new favourite places on the planet. Lush waves, beautiful coastline and just all round good vibes.
I ended up scuba diving with oceanic black tip sharks on the famous Aliwal Shoal and finished off the month with a last minute change of plans – heading up to Mozambique for some off the beaten track surf adventures!
Main Stops = Coffee Bay, Durban & Tofo
Highlight = Coffee Bay in general, it was beautiful. Also diving with sharks in Durban was epic!
April – Mozambique & Australia
A couple weeks in Mozambique ended up being some of the best and most uncrowded surf I’ve found to date – crystal clear warm waters and hardly another surfer in sight, perfect!
Not only that but we managed to snorkel alongside a whale shark too, which is something you’ll never forget.
After a loooooong 4×4 trek back to Durban I then bounced back to Australia to catch up with my brother. After a few weeks of van life I unfortunately had to part ways with my beloved van, but it was a great adventure whilst it lasted!
Main Stops = Tofo, Pomene & Byron Bay
Highlight = Surfing perfection in Pomona and swimming with whale sharks in Tofo
May – Australia & Indonesia
After catching up with my buddies and bro in Byron Bay and an awesome birthday surf trip for him with everyone down to Yamba (where we scored super fun waves at Angourie) there was a last minute change of plans and I found myself back in Canggu, Bali.
Little did I know at the time but I’d end up spending the next five and a half months kicking back on the island of the Gods on the hunt for waves and enjoying everything Bali has to offer!
Main Stops = Byron Bay & Canggu
Highlight = An epic group surf trip to Yamba for my brothers birthday
June – Indonesia
June was a pretty uneventful month and after half a year of bouncing around I took some much needed downtime.
I smashed a personal goal to do 6 months sober this month too – which is you know how much I like to party was nothing short of miraculous.
…but I did end up a few cocktails deep on my birthday when I celebrated it with an epic BBQ put on by my awesome buddies Rich and Jayme at their villa!
Main Stops = Canggu & Kuta
Highlight = Making it 6 months without a drop of alcohol!
July – Indonesia & Malaysia
July was a pretty hectic month in Indo – with my buddy Matt and his fiancee (and also a good friend of mine) Cat heading out to Bali for their wedding.
As best man it fell to me to arrange the transport and accommodation for 20 guests, which was…ummm…testing at times!haha!
It was an epic few weeks across Canggu and Ubud (where they got married) and a Bintang fuelled stag do at Waterbomb Waterpark (soooooo much fun) and it was also epic to have my parents out for it too.
Watching my parents explore Asia for the first time was also hilarious and I was super stoked they loved it. To be honest I think the main reason my Dad enjoyed it was the price tag!
Still it was great to bounce across to one of my favourite islands – Nusa Lembongan – for a few days as a family post wedding before a quick visa run to Kuala Lumpur and back to Bali…
Main Stops = Canggu, Ubud, Nusa Lembongan, Uluwatu, Kuala Lumpur
Highlight = My best friends wedding in Ubud and introducing my parents to Bali
August – Indonesia
After a month of wedding chaos August was supposed to be a more chilled affair, but as always that didn’t happen!
I ended up chasing the swell up to Medewi, one of my favourite left hand surf breaks on the planet and teamed up with the crew of Bombora Medewi for a week stay in their truly epic Residence Villa, with its own private pool and overlooking the waves!
Then in a last minute set of plans I headed across to the famous Gili T for a week to cover the launch of Mad Monkeys first Indonesia hostel and to put together a promo video for them, which was heaps of fun!
Main Stops = Canggu, Gili T & Medewi
Highlight = Staying at Bombora Medewi, one of my favourite luxury surf hotels
September – Indonesia & Thailand
Well if you thought the rets of my year was packed full of surf trips then September took it to a new level!
I then also packed in some insanely fun surf adventures with my buddy Matt (yeah the one who got married in Bali in June, he headed back out to see me again!) and we scored pumping swell at Medewi followed by some empty lineups at Red Island in Java.
Main Stops = Mentawai Islands, Canggu, Uluwatu, Nusa Lembongan, Medewi, Red Island
Highlight = Scoring heaps of epic waves in the Ments and travelling with my buddy Weatherly
October – Indonesia & Australia
I wrapped up my long term stint in Indonesia in October with a trip across to Gili T for Charlies birthday which was filled with diving with the crew of Blue Marlin Gili T.
Then it was back to Australia to chill out with my Byron buddies and catch up with my bro who had just moved down to Lennox.
And within all that I celebrated 10 years of travel! In a weird turn of events I actually found myself flying into Australia exactly a decade since I first touched down and began this whole adventure! Needless to say lots of beers were had to celebrate!
Main Stops = Gili T, Canggu, Byron Bay, Lennox
Highlight = Celebrating 10 years on the road!
November – Australia & Solomon Islands
The start of November was super chilled out and some much needed downtime in Lennox with my bro. I basically spent the first 2 weeks relaxing – with some blog work and heaps of emails thrown in for good measure!
I ticked off a new country at the end of the month as I joined Tourism Solomon Islands for a week to explore the empty surf lineups of the country, which ended up being one of the best trips I’ve done to date!
Not only was the surf pumping, but the country as a whole was one of the most stunning I’ve ever visited. Think The Philippines but without the crowds.
Plus the fact we stayed don an island with no phone signal or wifi was a great forced digital detox, which I really enjoyed.
Main Stops = Byron Bay, Lennox, Yamba
Highlight = Empty lineups in the Solomons
December – Australia & UK
After a week with my bro and buddies in Byron Bay after the Solomons it was time for my final few flights on the year – a mammoth 36 hour trip from Australia back to the cold of the UK to spend xmas with my family.
I shook off the jet lag pretty quickly (6am wake ups make me pretty productive apparently!) and not one to stay away from the surf for long I headed up to Bristol to test out the new wave pool at The Wave.
It was a far cry from the warm, tropical vibes I’m used to but was still heaps of fun – and a great way to wrap up 2019.
Main Stops = Lennox & Devon
Highlight = Seeing my family for xmas and surfing The Wave
My 2019 Stats
Countries Covered = 8
Continents Visited = 4 (Europe, Africa, Asia and Oceania)
Flight Sectors Taken = 24
Longest Flight = Melbourne > Doha (14.5 hours)
Airlines Flown With = 7 (Thomas Cook, Emirates, Solomon Airlines, Air Asia, Jetstar, Lion Air, Citi Link, Virgin Australia and Qatar)
Worst Airline = Citi Link, their website surfboard policy is super misleading and cost me a heap in board fees!
Best Airline = Emirates, still my favourite airline to fly with, although Qatar are now a close second
Highlight = Geez this is a tough one, so many awesome adventures this year! I think surfing in the Solomon Islands takes the win though, one of the most picturesque places I’ve ever been
Lowlight = Breaking my nose (again) in the Mentawais!
What Does 2020 Have In Store?
So what are my travel plans for 2020?
Well at the time of writing (it’s already mid December!) I actually don’t have any firm flights bought!
…which is pretty unusual for me as I’ve usually locked in some stuff and I’m already busy packing my bags, dreaming of some sunshine.
However, at the moment the rough plan is that I’ll be heading back to one of my favourite destinations in early January – Montanita in Ecuador!
Yup I think it’s time to head back to the salsa filled chaos of South America again, catch up with some of my Ecuadorian buddies (from waaaaay back when I was surf coaching over there) and have a fresh look at an old favourite.
I’ve also got a few rough business ideas in the pipeline too, and Ecuador is one of the options on the table, so watch this space for some potential interesting developments on that front!
I’m really keen to head up into Central America too as its been on my bucket list for far too long – so some time surfing and exploring in Costa Rica and Nicaragua may well be on the cards as well.
…the bottom line is 2020 is going to be another one of those years where my travel plans are pretty spontaneous and will organically evolve. Slightly stressful for me but I’m sure it’ll be pretty entertaining for you guys to follow!