- Sports and Recreation
Adventures Of A World Traveling Surfer
Who Is Surfer Larry?
Larry Bonner was born in Santa Barbara, California and grew up in various coastal areas. Larry's grandfather also lived in Santa Barbara and the the whole family loved spending time at the beaches in and around Santa Barbara.The love of the ocean was ingrained in him from a young age.
When Larry was in the 6th grade, his mother and father unfortunately divorced. This, of course, was traumatic event for young Larry. But, then Larry's dad moved to Avila Beach, California, which was a wonderful experience for Larry when he spent time visiting there. During the school year he was in Avila Beach every other weekend. But he was lucky enough to spend the whole summer there! He remembers hanging out at the beach with his friend, Jesse and body surfing. When he was 13 years old his father bought him his first surf board and he began learning how to surf with his dad. Avila Beach did not have very good waves, but it was a good starting and training ground for him.
Larry Surfing In Santa Barbara
Larry Returned Back To Surfing At Eighteen
Initially, Larry had given up and went back to boogie boarding and body surfing. But, on his 18th birthday he decided to give it more of a chance and he went back to surfing. He jokingly said it was "because my friends did not want to be around a boogie boarder" Fortunately, he was able to buy a new surf board for $40.00. His friends were all advanced surfers and went to intense spots to surf. They surfed on shallow rock reefs with great waves. He would surf reefs and gnarly waves and get all thrashed around. His more experienced friends would yell "Paddle harder!" Larry's friend, Bryan, would be concerned about him hitting his head and getting knocked around by the waves. Larry surfed so much between the ages of 18-20 that his feet got sores on them. He surfed 5 days or more per week and was having the time of his life. Larry said "Time and dedication is the primary recipe for being a great surfer" He also attributes learning how to be a great surfer by having good mentors. Chris was Larry's first surfing guru/mentor and Larry traveled with him a lot. He took Larry to great surf spots with challenging waves.Larry says that the power and energy of the ocean is the most magical part of riding waves.
Shell Beach California Surf-Waves
Taking On The Challenge Man vs Wave
Some Surfing Hot Spots
So far, Larry's best place to surf is a secret spot here in California that he isn't willing to divulge. He did slip and mention that Big Sur has a beautiful ocean and magical waves. Larry says it's a place to really feel the surf energy, see great views and ride challenging waves. He likes to ride all different types of waves and even likes San Onofre (near San Diego) as another hot spot.
As an international surfer, Larry first surfed abroad in Costa Rica. When he was just out of college he spent three months two different times enjoying Costa Rica. He traveled with his friends to Pavones, Costa Rica. This part of Costa Rica has waves to ride that last one and a half to two minutes long. They would hang out on the beach and then surf again and again, wave after wave, just having a blast. The beaches were never crowded and very relaxing. His friends would tell him to search out a spot so he could get the best possible rides. Larry would concentrate and watch swell after swell. This insured he would get the best possible wave.
Traveling taught him about culture, challenged his ideas, and changed his entire life. Larry's first trip to Costa Rica was really monumental. Then he returned shortly thereafter and surfed other parts of that region that he had missed before.
Big Sur Waves-Secret Spots
Friend Mitch Dallas
Surfing With A Great Friend In Different Regions
Larry and his good friend, Mitch Dallas, also went to Baja, California for two weeks after graduating from college. He and Mitch rode fun waves and had an excellent surf vacation. Baja also had good fish tacos, which were great to eat after surfing. Larry said "We both liked Baja for its surfing, food, and entertainment" After studying for so long and hard prior to graduation, this Baja trip was just the right cure!
Larry also wanted to go to Western Australia and Indonesia to surf. To achieve this goal he went to work on a ranch in Santa Cruz to save money for his vacation dreams. He worked on the ranch spending time in the forest and the creeks. He eventually saved up the $13,500.00 he needed and fulfilled his dream to travel around the world. His plane ticket cost about $3500 and he then took off for 11 months of straight traveling. He was able to see Maui, and Western Australia, including Margaret River and Gnaraloo, up in the desert northwest of Perth. The waves were so good in Australia he surfed there for five whole months. These waves were also dangerous because of coral reefs and sharp sea urchins. After his stay in Australia, Larry went on to Indonesia and stayed there for a few more months. Larry stated, "The waves in Indonesia were fast, powerful, hollow reef breaks, and challenging.But, were definitely not as challenging as Gnaraloo in Australia." Larry reflects that Gnaraloo did prepare him for Indonesia's challenging waves.While in Indonesia, Larry almost died from an infection. He apparently had a cut on his back from some coral reef. The cut healed and then became infected spiking a fever of 105 degrees, which caused him to come down with meningitis. He was so ill that he was hallucinating for almost three days. His friends actually cut the little piece of coral out of his back and in doing so saved Larry's life.
Darkfin Webbed Power Gloves (M)
These Three Countries Have Challenging Waves
After Indonesia, it was off to New Zealand where he met up with his dad. The North Island was amazing and it was fun surfing and spending time with his father. Two highlights on this leg of his journey was surfing perfect Raglan with his dad and seeing Orca's near Ahipara, in the north tip of the north island.
He also went back to Baja Mexico eight additional times on different surfing trips. He liked to surf Baja Sur, six hundred miles from the border. The area he visited was known for its dangerous shallow reef breaks and was off shore all day long. This made it really an amazing place.
Waiting For The Right Tide In Chile
Surfing In Chile
Larry went to Chile on another surf trip with his dad and surfed perfect waves for several weeks.Chile was great because they met some local surfer kids and his new friends took him and his dad to some areas with world class waves with great beaches. These kids really knew all the great spots and they surfed with them for the entire three weeks they were in Chile. One year later Larry went back to Chile, this time with his friend, Mitch Dallas, and he reunited with his Chilean friends once again. They all had a great and memorable time together on this vacation. Larry also invited his Chilean friends to come out to California at a later time. They visited him and his family and, of course, surfed California. Today he is still friends with all of them and they are almost like family to each other. He even has a Chilean Godson named Leon. Larry says they are real special people, and surfers!
In 2004 Larry bought 14 undeveloped acres in Chile. He built a road, dug a well, and built a shed for his surf boards. In 2005 Larry's first son, Forest, was born and he considers himself very lucky that Forest loves to surf. In 2007 Larry met his wife, Jennifer, also a surfer. With Jennifer, Larry has traveled to several places around the world on surf trips including Nicaragua, Guam, and Chile. Larry jokingly said, " After we met I took her to Baja, camping and surfing, to make sure we got along". They did, were married in 2009, and continue to enjoy surfing together with Forest and their many wonderful friends.
Chile Secret Spot
Surfing In Buchu Chile
Surfing And Connecting To Nature
Larry states the most exciting part about being a surfer is connecting with nature, and that each and every wave is different. He states, "You are mesmerized by each wave, which only exists for that short amount of time. Surfing is definitely living in the present moment. Harnessing the power of nature and engaging in two geometric planes at the same time. Nothing is ever the same to a surfer because waves move and change all the time and are remarkable."
Larry says: "Being a Surfer is a lifestyle, and be prepared that surfing will take you in directions that you ever thought you would be willing to go. The positives will outweigh the negatives. It is a healthy life style with great friends and comradery and that is fantastic. I would not change my surfing experiences for anything. The best thing in the world is watching my dad and son surf together."
Three Generations Of Family Surfers
Larry Surfing With His Son Forest
Additional Surfing Photos (Hard Moves on the Surf Board)Click thumbnail to view full-size
Larry gives true meaning to the phrase "A family that surfs together, stays together." Today Larry Bonner is still an avid surfer, works as a supervisor for the State of California DOT-Caltrans Environmental Department, and enjoys surfing with his entire family. He makes a point to travel back to Chile fairly regularly to surf and spend time on his ranch.