Jeff Divine: Wave Runner

The Legendary Photographer Reveals His Top Surf Spots Across the Globe

Jeff Divine’s Surfing Photographs from the Eighties chronicles the sport’s neon-emblazoned coming-of-age on the shores of Southern California through stars including Christian Fletcher, Jim Hogan and Tom Curren, captured in Kodachrome 64. When the renowned photographer relocated to Orange Country after a decade on Hawaii’s North Shore, he found the free-form individualism of 70s surfing had given way to sponsor-heavy competition that defined the sport in the 80s. “If you hooked into one of the companies or magazines you could live the Jeff Spicoli dream––gnarly babes, tubes and awesome barrels,” Divine recalls. Despite the sport's commercialization, attended by a flurry of Ray Bans and Body Glove, the former photo editor of Surfer Magazine insists that the essence of the athlete has remained consistent throughout the decades. “Deep down, a surfer is like a mountain man: he doesn’t care what anyone thinks or what he looks like when he’s on the mountain,” Divine says. “The bottom line is that it’s a man on a wave, and everything else is bullshit.” To mark the launch of his new book, a follow-up to Surfing Photographs from the Seventies, Divine talked us through his fantasy round-the-world tour of the best waves.

The Hole, Mentawai Islands, Indonesia
Called The Hole for its round, doughnut-shaped perfect waves, it’s so remote that there are usually no other surfers. At high tide on a big swell, broken surfboards have been known to be tossed up into the shoreline bushes. It is a beautiful perfect wave that peels down a long reef with a deserted island background.

Lance’s Right, Mentawai Islands, Indonesia
About 12 hours away from The Hole by boat, this wave has the same perfect qualities: tropical lighting and palm-lined sandy beach. The only glitch can be if you happen upon the inside reef there called the "surgeon’s table." It’s named after Australian Lance Knight, who walked out of his jungle encampment as one of the first surf explorations arrived by boat.

Nine Palms, Baja California, Mexico
A warm water, long-right point on the East Cape of Baja California. Bring your ice chest, umbrella, beach chairs, beers and friends, and you have paradise.  

Radar Towers, Iceland
There is a spot near the Blue Lagoon spa called Radar Towers and another point about an hour drive away that is a perfect set-up off a gigantic commercial fishing harbor. The environment is so opposite of everything you have ever experienced in surfing––bizarre, but first world. Locals can't believe that you go out into the ocean to play.

Teahupo’o, Tahiti, French Polynesia
One of the wonders of the surfing world is a wave outside Papeete at the end of the road called Teahupo’o. The big waves throw out onto a shallow long reef that bends around onto itself. The deep channel is just adjacent to these large gaping waves. You can't believe how close you are to a natural phenomenon.


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