“We’re always looking for the dream wave,” says French photographer Pierre Bouras. And no better place to go searching for a gorgeous, unknown surf spot than the most remote island in the world.
Easter Island, also known as Rapa Nui, is a dot in the vast Pacific Ocean. It’s just 101 square miles and home to 5,700 year-round residents.The nearest landmass is more than 2,000 miles away. Bouras explored the small, remote island with his friend, Manu Bouvet, on a quest to discover untouched shores and new waves.
The island’s paddleboarding potential is untapped. “We saw just one other paddleboarder while we were there,” says Bouras.
Bouras’ trip was timed to coincide with the arrival of Race for Water, a sailboat on a round-the-world research expedition, for which Bouvet is an ambassador. The group is racing to raise awareness for the 25 million tons of plastic ending up in the ocean every year. No beach is safe from plastics pollution—even the remote beaches of Rapa Nui, as Bouras soon found out.
The scientists onboard take water and soil samples everywhere they go, estimating the concentration and the source of plastic debris. The most common culprits are fishing and tourism industries, as well as domestic wastes. The scientists take their findings to government, as well as classrooms around the world, hoping to inspire the next generation to protect our oceans.
Bouras and Bouvet like to balance work with play. After meeting with the crew and assisting in taking micro-plastic-filled soil samples from the beach, it was time to go paddling.
“At Tonga Riki we saw beautiful waves behind 10 to 12 moais,” says Bouras, referring to the iconic monoliths carved by the Rapa Nui people hundreds of years ago. “I wanted to give perspective—to show this little person surfing between the big moais. To me, that’s the vibe of the island right there.”
To get this photo, Bouras used a 400mm 2.8f lens and Canon 1D camera. The maoi are between 45 to 75 feet tall, so Bouras had to stand almost a half mile back to be able to fit these two in frame.
The waters around Rapa Nui are challenging and not for beginner paddlers. However, the difficulty of the waves and getting to the island comes with great reward. Bouvet, pictured surfing here, said he never felt such mana—a term for spirit—anywhere he’d surfed before.