Mick McComas - Red Island Travel Owner

With a lifetimes worth of travel under his belt, from the famed waves of Hawaii to culture rich Morocco, it was the diverse islands of Indonesia that finally reeled Mick in. Living between home in Lennox Head, Australia, and island hopping in Indo, Mick took the plunge with his local business partner and slowly built up his surf camp at the beautiful, untouched and secluded Red Island in East Java. Patient, industrious and with a good measure of experience in the Surf Industry, Mick continues to grow his business Red Island Travel, all while completing a business degree and enjoying the new adventure of fatherhood.

Where are you from?

I grew up in the Blue Mountains in Sydney.

Where is home now? How did you end up there and why?

I live in Burleigh Heads, I moved there to be with my partner after 10 years in my happy place, Lennox Head. I live in Burleigh but Lennox is my home if that makes sense.

Tell us about Red Island, how you discovered it and what inspired you to build a surf camp there?

Red Island is a super fun beach-break at a quiet little unspoilt village in East Java. We found it on a surf trip to G-land and my local friend/business partner hit me up to start taking people there, so we did!

How has the Surf Camp changed since its inception and how did the business then develop into Red Island Travel as it is today?

Slow and steady wins the race! We started by literally sleeping on the floor of our local friends family home, then the next year leased a room in a local homestay, then the next year leased the whole house, then the year after bought land, then the year after that built our 1st room. We progressed like that for about 6 years and in the last 3 years have got the camp to a place where we have WiFi, Air-con rooms, swimming pool, all the mod-cons but we started off super basic and learnt every little part of the business as we went.

What is it about Red Island that makes it so special?

It is what your surfing day dream are filled with, good waves, warm water, no crowds and cold beers……...and now fast WIFI haha.

What did you do before you started your business Red Island Travel?

I worked in the Surf Industry for about 6 years managing distribution centres in Sydney for retailer Sandy Bay and then Haviana footwear. I then went travelling and stumbled across Red Island.

What’s the best thing about what you do, and what is the most challenging?

It sounds so cliché but the best thing is when people come in from a surf and are stoked and just raving about the place. For me it was a big gamble to invest the money and time into a place that had no infrastructure or reputation, so it gives me a feeling of ‘I was right, this place really is what I thought it could be’. The most challenging was the self-doubt and pushing through the unknown at the start. Investing in Indo was seen as pretty crazy when we started, I think most people thought it was a good way to lose my time and money!

What’s up for you next?

I’m in my last year of my business degree so once that is done I will look for my next challenge most likely in Oz or Indo again, either way something ocean related.

What advice would you give to anyone looking to start their own surf-travel business, particularly those looking to create something abroad?

  • Do a business feasibility study and research your market
  • Do your time…. if investing in a foreign country, hang out for a while, things can often look amazing at face value although not always the case
  • Go slow, try to avoid over capitalising
  • Never rely on trust, dot your i’s and cross your t’s so you don’t lose your dough
  • Trust your gut
  • Look for partners, share the load and increase the brain power

When did your passion for surfing start?

For as long as I can remember I was obsessed with surfing. Even though I lived in the Blue Mountains, all our family were on the coast, so every weekend I was at the beach or on my grandparents boat on Pittwater on Sydney’s Northern beaches.

What does surfing mean to you, and how has it changed your life?

It is my life passion, It hasn’t changed my life because it has always been my life

Favourite wave/surf spot? 

NW West Oz

Most memorable session? 

Best barrel I ever got was at Culburra on NSW South Coast when I was about 16, it was sooo long and I got it in front of these older guys who would take me surfing, I idolised them and got soo barrelled in front of them, it was the coolest thing!!

Favourite surfer?

Occy & Nathan Hedge

Biggest surf mission or most hardcore surf spot you've visited?

Biggest surf mission was driving from to London to Morocco and most hardcore spot would be 10-12 ft Pipeline, scariest wave I’ve ever seen, crazy!!!

Magic board? 

They are hard to find. I used to love riding Chilli boards, I’ve been riding Flanagan surfboards for around 10 years now, they go sick and I’ve just started riding JS, they feel amazing too.

What are you known for?

Red Island (i think)

What are you most proud of?

Starting a family and not failing in business (so far)

Who or what is your greatest inspiration?

My daughter, she fuels my drive to keep pushing to become a better me.

If you could spend a day with someone who inspires you, who would it be and what would you do?

For fun, I think it would be a day surfing with Occy and Parko with a few beers and story time at the end.

For life inspiration it would have to be Nelson Mandela.

If you could be someone else for a day, who would it be?

I’d be the PM of Australia so I could shut down the Adani mine

Defining moment?

Don’t think i’ve had it yet

Guilty pleasure?


What is the greatest thing you have learned in your life?

Perseverance, nothing good comes easy

Of all the places you have travelled to, what place in particular stands out? And why?

North-Western Australia, the remoteness, the red dust meeting the turquoise blue clean water of the Indian Ocean and some of the best left hand waves in the world.

What brings you the most happiness in the world?

My family and good uncrowded waves

What are you most grateful for?

The Ocean

I love... 

... My daughters cuddles

I miss…

... barrels

I wish…

... I could surf amazing waves everyday

I want...

... more money/freedom so I can (do the above)

Where can we find you online?

Website: www.redislandtravel.com
Instagram: @redislandtravel
Facebook: Red Island Travel






Posted by: Emma Gibbons, on April 29, 2018
Categories: Interviews