"Really experiencing a place and doing different things there that you've never done is just as good as getting good waves in my opinion. That's the stuff you truly remember..." Indeed. Certainly, those words resonate with us over here at Thermal, where we view the very beautiful, very fun act of surfing as the vehicle to experiencing the world more deeply. Former WSL World Tour pro surfer, mother, and entrepreneur Alana Blanchard said that, by the way, and we were lucky enough to get some great input from her over a recent conversation about surf travel. We've also teamed up with Alana's Pursuit Beauty to give away the surf trip of your life! Score $3,000 in Thermal travel credit — to spend on your choice of any Thermal surf trip! Plus, win a 6-month supply of Pursuit skincare products to ensure your skin is protected every time you paddle out. Enter to win, right here!
While you wait for results, get some solid tips about travelling to remote Indonesia with a toddler and infant below. *Hint (Bring a friend who might double as a nanny).
Where have been a few of your favourite destinations on past surf trips?
I love going to Mexico. Especially Salina Cruz. Something about that place feels so fun and you're in the middle of nowhere and there are fun point breaks everywhere. I mean, it's SO hard to pick, honestly. Fiji is at the top of my list too, but, it'd probably be Indonesia at the top. It's got to be the most unique and beautiful place in the world and it has a crazy amount of good surf. It can also be pretty hard to get to from some places (like Kauai), so when you get there you just settle in and appreciate how far away you are. It kind of makes the trip feel that much more special. But for a quick trip, I'd say Mexico, and for somewhere truly unforgettable, I'd say Indonesia because it's just amazing.
Indonesia is hard to beat, yeah?
I think what makes it "unforgettable" is that the people there are so nice and the culture is so beautiful. The nature... it feels like when you go to places like that and stay around the villages, you see a lot of people who might not have much – but they are truly happy. It's a simpler life and you want it. They seem way happier than a lot of people I know in the US that have so much more. I think because the people there, they appreciate their family and life more. The family vibe is valued.
Is there a "dream trip" you've been meaning to go on, or a place you've never been to?
Off the top of my head, I've been wanting to go to Italy really bad, but surfing wise... I've always wanted to go to P-Pass (Micronesia). That seems really, really cool. Really, most places I've wanted to go to, I've been, but... I'd love to go to Tahiti again and explore outer islands, not just go to Teahupo'o like I have in the past. Visit other waves and experience the place more deeply than I have on photo shoots, you know? I'd really love to go to Morocco, too.
I just love places that feel super unique and different than Western ones. Even if the surf isn't that good, it's such a great experience. Like, Sri Lanka, for instance. When I went, I didn't get the very best surf but the place was SO interesting and fascinating to travel through. Riding the tuk tuks, wandering through the towns, eating the local food, eating on the side of the road and it ends up being the best food you've ever tasted... stuff like that. Really, experiencing a place and doing different things there that you've never experienced is just as good as getting good waves in my opinion. That's the stuff you truly remember. All the culture is happening outside of the water, you know?
Absolutely. And you did some travelling with your young family this year, right?
Yeah, we just travelled through Bali, Indonesia, and Australia with our one-year-old and four-year-old. It was pretty crazy but we did have a filmer and our friend who helped us out a lot. Bali is great, but it is pretty crowded and almost seems more suited for single people or travelling couples. I dunno, I felt like we wanted to go a bit further and get a little more rugged in Indonesia, which we did going to the Mentawais. Like, I never actually thought I'd ever take my kids to Indonesia because it's soooo far from Kauai, with so many planes and you have to take some boats, too, with night layovers. But with you people being able to help us like we did, it was the time.
Any tips for travelling with young kids that you gleaned from this trip?
I think some parents might have a lot of fear travelling with babies, but I think anywhere you are, there are risks and rewards. But, I think if you follow your intuition and stick with what you feel is right, it'll work out. I think kids are way more resilient than we give them credit for. They can handle a lot more than what you think and both of our kids handled the boat rides, for example, across island straits in the Mentawais so well. As far as the more practical tips though, I'd say bring some of your safety stuff like antibiotics just in case something was to happen. But also, I'd say, let your kids explore and let them grow in those situations you find yourself in while travelling.
Great advice. Any place you've been where you think you really connected to the place and the culture?
Australia is kind of like our second home because my fiancé is from there, but regardless, I really feel like I connect with that place. We also get super good waves there, even at Snapper, and yeah, Australia's a place I could see us moving to. It's amazing there. It's such a clean place, the water is crystal clear, it's beautiful and I feel like the people there are just so nice and open, really friendly. They're really stylish people and open to people that are kind of outside the box, super accepting.
What made you start a skincare brand like Pursuit, or rather, how'd you arrive there?
As far as starting Pursuit it was like: We're surfers, we're in the sun so much, we're in all the elements, so we're both looking out for our skin and also seeing the effects of all that exposure (which as surfers is pretty high). We also wanted to make a brand that was super user friendly and easy to get price-wise. Which, I feel it is and the product is also really easy to travel with. Especially when you know you might be camped out under the sun all day somewhere.