As we steamed out of the Dampier Habour anticipation was high for the adventure that lay ahead of us. It was a pipeline dream to bring passionate surfers and SUPers together from around Australia to experience what the Montebello Islands has on offer. And here we were, on the beautiful Sans Souci and ready for adventure! As we approached the outskirts of the archipelago on dusk you could just make out the islands under the red glow of the Pilbara sky. Humpback whales were breaching everywhere and by the time we reached our anchorage in Chartreuse Bay sky was a brilliant blanket of stars.
As the sun rose on the first day the anticipation increased as we waited for the tides and wind to align and the surf to begin working. Fortunately there is no shortage of islands to explore and our paddlers kept themselves busy touring in the sheltered turquoise bays of the Montebello Islands and fishing off the beaches for squid. After lunch on the boat it was time to rig up and hit the waves. Leaving the protection of the islands we had for the first glimpse of the outer reefs. We could see the reefs foaming and frothing and at this point we knew that we were in for some epic waves.
Surfing the Montebello Islands
This was it! The holy grail of surfing. Nothing really compares to surfing somewhere remote, with empty line ups and pulsing swell lines. The water was so clean and clear and as you barrelled down the face of the wave you could see the coral and fish life teaming under your feet. In the afternoon of the first day the conditions glassed off provided a classic left handed reef break running down the line and out to a deeper channel as it wrapped around the reef.
Awesome Monties Take Off Spots
Our second session (day 2) brought more of the crew out to a wedgey right hand wave. The beauty of this wave was the swell was hitting it at a different angles providing a couple of take-off spots spreading the crew out and providing plenty of waves for everyone. The bigger waves were tending to miss the outside peak and hit the shoulder running into the channel. While the mid-size waves tended to hug the reef and run down the line. With a few speed pumps there were plenty of sections to hit.
The third break (day 4) that we surfed raised the bar a little higher and was more consequential than any of the others we had surfed. Some of the bigger sets were over head high and you needed to be in the right position to be able to get into them. Once in, the wave actually grew as it went down the line and as long as you dodged the boils on the inside you were in for some fun.
When the waves had died and the line up had gone quiet our paddlers rigged up the cruise SUPs and headed into the maze of limestone islands to explore and relax. The Montebello Islands is a SUP paradise! We did a number of tour paddles throughout the trip. Our first was a great little paddle through ……. lagoon. Our drop off point was a large sand bar at the top off the lagoon. The water was only a few feet deep as we navigated through the sandbars and down the channel where it opened up to have a beautiful little bay, with limestone shelves lining the shoreline. The wildlife was abundant and as we paddled along we had stingrays, eagle rays and reef sharks dart in front of our boards. We anchored the Huntress in the lagoon and our paddlers took turns in SUPing and diving in the clear sheltered waters.
Paddle Boarding Fun
When we weren’t out touring the main anchorage offered some great locations to paddle to. You could just grab your board, paddle across the bay to one of the many sandy beaches and hike up the hill to take in the breathtaking views of the islands. The remains from the nuclear testing in the 1950s are scattered throughout the area and Leah (blue lightning) toured us around the area sharing her valuable knowledge.
It’s not the Montebello Islands without some fishing!
On the 3rd day of our adventure the wind glassed off but so did the waves. The prefect time to experience what the Monties is renowned for… fishing. What better way to spend an afternoon than trolling the shallows, teeming with fish. With Captain Bill at the helm and Bondi (Jake) doing all the hard work of rigging up the rods and providing constant coaching we were certain to hook up. After a little while trolling in the shallows we headed out to the back of the reef and it was on. Over the next 45 minutes we hit a little patch that provided the goods. 5 of us took turns in pulling in Coral Trout, Trevally with everyone got a hook up and landed a fish. Dinner was sorted!
When the sun set on the last night in the Monties and we settled into the fate of heading back to mainland, we knew that we had experienced a truly incredible charter. The crew from Blue Lightning worked tirelessly to ensure we were experiencing the best the Montebello Island had to offer. It was a once in a lifetime adventure that not many people will ever get to experience.
Thanks to Jaclyn from Cracker Jack Paddle Sports for the blog