All Photos: Nelly / SPLwaterhousing
Dave “Nelly” Nelson is arguably the most hard-working and driven photographer to come out of Santa Cruz. His success has allowed him to travel all over the world photographing the world’s best surfers in some of the most picturesque locales. We picked his brain and asked him to narrow his favorite destinations down to five and share why they are so special to him.
I’m proud to call Santa Cruz my home. It’s a unique area with a wide variety of breaks, from rifling reefs to big beachbreak barrels. This area is a melting pot of colorful characters with their own style and flare. I’m amazed at the surfing talent that we have here and it’s a blast getting up early and going for an adventure to shoot photos of my friends.
Photo: Josh Mulcoy sinks his teeth into a Steamer Lane gem.
Tahiti is a magical place. As soon as you step off the plane you smell the fragrance of fresh flowers and are greeted by some of the friendliest people imaginable. The color and clarity of the water is stunning and the power rivals anything in the world.
Photo: Pete Mel wrangles a Tahitian beast.
Mexico is my home away from home. I started traveling to Mexico as a young surfer and explored the long wave-rich coastline, which has an abundance of world-class waves. I love the simple lifestyle that revolves around family, friends, tubes and tacos.
Photo: Barrels for breakfast with Kyle Buthman.
The North Shore of Oahu is where the world’s best surfers congregate. The talent pool at every surf spot is beyond belief. From new school to old school to legendary surfers, they are all there. It’s easy to motivate with the warm, tropical air and pumping surf steps from your house.
Photo: Kalani Chapman rides a legendary board at the infamous Pipeline.
Traveling to Indonesia is like going back in time. The culture is rich with history and the people are honest and friendly. The plethora of islands offer an endless variety of waves and it was one of Andy Irons’ favorite tropical getaways.