Wanderlust takes Carissa Moore off the beaten path

The three-time world champion has visited Morocco and Israel in search of rarer surf scenes.
By Theo Lewitt

“Every year I try to do one trip that’s very different from my standard surf trips,” says Hawaiian surfer Carissa Moore of her latest adventure. “Last year I went to Haiti, which was super eye-opening, but otherwise we go to the same nine or ten events and locations a year, so the opportunity to learn and grow and challenge myself motivates me – travelling like this teaches me so much.”

This year, between her final heat in Hawaii and her first heat in Australia, Moore rallied a crew and jetted off for an unorthodox surf excursion to Israel and Morocco. Check out the stunning results in the video above.

“Ever since I watched that Dane Reynolds segment from Morocco, I knew I needed to go there,” she says. “I’d been dreaming about it for years, but we knew that it was a bit unsafe, so it never happened. Then, finally, our local connection hit us up and gave us the green light.” 

Moore’s motivation, however, extended beyond chasing swells or seeing souks, and she wanted to combine her journey to Africa with a visit to the Middle East. “Me and my dad went to the Hawaii International Film Festival, saw the film Gaza Surf Club and were inspired by it to go to Gaza as well,” she says. “A lot of women don’t surf there, especially past a certain age, so we thought it’d be a cool opportunity.

“But then we learned just how unsafe Gaza was at the time, and Israel was our next option. We lined up with an organisation called Surfing For Peace and went primarily to participate in one of their events. It was really emotional, powerful and everyone there was so happy that we were able to be a part of it. It’s one of the rare occasions, especially in that part of the world, where Muslim kids, Jewish kids and Christians all come together in peace around the common love of surfing. It was incredible.”

“This trip really had no connection to tour or training. My whole objective was to share an experience with my family and to learn from it, so I brought my dad, my sister, my fiancé, Luke, and my filmer Layne Stratton.”

From Israel it was a flight across the top of Africa to get to Morocco. And while the Atlantic Ocean was fairly quiet during her stay, there was still enough swell on offer for Moore to indulge. “I don’t get the chance to film and watch myself freesurf too often, so this trip offered that opportunity,” she says. “I’ve been wanting to put together a video piece with real innovation and progressive surfing, but I also want to motivate people to step outside their comfort zones and do stuff they might not otherwise do, while hopefully inspiring people to give back a little along the way.”

Taking some time out has given Moore a chance to reflect her form and the female surf scene. “Ultimately, I’d love to win another world title and then maybe take a year off to travel and film,” she says. “With the huge influx of young girls ripping in the new generation, I think we’ll see a lot more high-action female edits, which is awesome. Last year I was stoked with a lot of my performances. I had some strong heats and did some of my best surfing, but I felt like there were little things to smooth out still.”

Moore is currently in sixth place on the rankings after three events, which is a slow start by her standards. But her competitive drive to dominate is anything but lost, so look out for her to bounce back in her usual commanding form as the tour hits Brazil later this month.

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