Author Archives: Râu Cao

About Râu Cao

Traveling full-time since 2010. Hacking on the beach every January.

Hacker Beach #5: Mantas & Dragons

In case you missed it on Twitter, we recently announced the location for Hacker Beach #5 in January 2017, and you’re all invited to join:

Flores is one of the larger islands in South-East Indonesia. The official Hacker Beach central will be Labuan Bajo, a small town on the far Western end of the island, and a launchpad for hundreds of adventures around the neighboring Komodo archipegalo as well as the interior of Flores itself.

In regards to aquatic activities, contrary to last year’s 10-mile surf break, next Hacker Beach will be all about underwater exploration! The Komodo islands and national park feature some of the richest marine biodiversity on earth, and hence are the perfect playground for snorkeling and diving. How about a swim with 4-meter-wingspan manta rays before or after work?

Diving with a manta ray

Photo: Elias Levy

If you don’t have a diving license yet, you’ll be able to learn this beautiful activity together with other hackers in one of the most stunning underwater environments on the planet, instead of your hometown swimming pool.

Speaking of amazing nature, Komodo island is of course also home to the biggest lizard in the world: the Komodo dragon. Organize a trip to the island with some fellow hackers in order to see actual dragons in the wild!

So let’s get to the logistical part:

Getting there

In good old Hacker Beach tradition, there is no direct way to get to Labuan Bajo. It does have an airport with local flights however: LBJ. There’s also a variety of options for getting in via boat. Check out WikiTravel for details.


Citizens of almost all countries get a 30-day free entry stamp for Indonesia. It is possible to apply for extended visas at an Indonesian embassy. This should ideally be done before travelling to the country. Source

Accommodation & Cost

You should easily be able to survive on $30 a day (our unofficial price target for a comfortable extended stay).

As Hacker Beach is not an organized event and certainly no pre-packaged vacation, you’re on your own with finding a room or apartment. As always, it’s not a bad idea to find others you can share an apartment with, or to stay at the same hostel/guesthouse/bungalows as other hackers.


We’re hanging out in #hackerbeach on Freenode. You can usually catch a friendly person on the channel any time of the day. Here’s a Web chat, in case you don’t have an IRC client set up. We also log the channel publicly.

Wiki / Knowledge Base

We finally came around to setting up a wiki this year. Any help with adding and editing content is most appreciated!


In case you decide to join, we’d be happy to have your (nick)name on our list of participants. Head over to the wiki page for HB5.

Join us!

Nothing left to do but looking for a plane ticket and coming to Labuan Bajo in January. See you there!

Hacker Beach 2017 Update

People are getting excited about Hacker Beach 2017, so I thought we should give you an update. It’ll be short and sweet, as there’s really not much to say at this point:

Hacker Beach Episode 5 in January 2017 is happening and you’re invited!

We’re currently looking for a location, same as every year, and you’re invited to propose one! We finally set up a wiki this year, so you can check and add proposals there. (Also has a page for Hacker Beach 2017.)

Discussion is happening on IRC, in #hackerbeach on Freenode. You can find channel logs in this little app we hacked up last time. If you don’t have an IRC client, here’s a Web chat you can use.

If you can’t wait for January (I know I can’t), there’s also a little pre-hackout in Chiang Mai, Thailand with a few people hanging out there in November and December!

So, keep the locations coming, say hi on the IRC channel, and maybe even see you in Chiang Mai! The next post will be the official announcement for Episode 5.

Session schedule added as page and iCal

The session schedule now has its own dedicated page as well as a link to the whole schedule in iCal format. The easiest way to keep track of sessions is to add it to your calendar app(s).

In case you didn’t know so far, anyone can get a WordPress account and add sessions themselves. Please ask on IRC if you don’t have an account yet, or if your account is lacking permissions to do so.

Go check out the page, and be sure to subscribe to the iCal calendar so you don’t miss the sessions you might be interested in.

Hacker Beach #4 is a go!

If you’ve been following us on Twitter or on IRC, you will likely know about our next destination already. Heck, you might even read this with your plane ticket sitting in your email inbox right now. But if not, and for everybody else, here’s our official announcement of Hacker Beach, Episode 4.

After years of trying to find a location in South America, we finally succeeded: fellow hackers and like-minded individuals, we’d be delighted to have you join us in Canoa, Ecuador next January! We hope you like surfing and seafood, because there’s plenty of both in this laid-back little fishing village.

Canoa, Ecuador

In addition to 10 miles of deserted, quiet beach, there’s also a nearby jungle hosting a diverse array of plants and wildlife. In fact, Ecuador officially has the most biodiversity per square kilometer on planet Earth. So before, during and after Hacker Beach, you should really explore this beautiful gem of a country, located between Columbia and Peru in the North-West of South America.

Getting there

In good old Hacker Beach tradition, there is no direct and easy way to get to Canoa itself. You’ll have to fly to either Quito (the capital city, located 2850m above sea level) or Guayaquil (the unofficial capital of Ecuador). Both cities have buses going to Canoa. Alternatively you can try to make your way via neighboring countries and/or smaller cities. From Europe, there are good flight connections from MAD and AMS for example. You can ask on IRC for more tips, in case you can’t find a good option.


Citizens of most Western countries get a 90-day visa on arrival. In general, visa requirements seem to change frequently. If you come from outside the US or EU, please check with your embassy. Ecuador currently hosts Julian Assange in their London embassy, so I’d assume they won’t be total douchebags. 😉

Accommodation & Cost

Ecuador is rather cheap in international comparison. Prices look similar to SE Asia for accommodation and food. You can live on $30 a day. Probably less if you really want to. By the way, Ecuador uses USD as official currency. (And be careful with Bitcoin, because the government really doesn’t like it.)

As Hacker Beach is not an organized event and certainly no pre-packaged vacation, you’re on your own with finding a room or apartment. As always, it’s not a bad idea to find others you can share an apartment with, or to stay at the same hostel as other hackers.


We’re hanging out in #hackerbeach on Freenode. You can usually catch a friendly person on the channel any time of the day. Here’s a Web chat, in case you don’t have an IRC client set up.


In case you decide to join, we’d be happy to have your (nick)name on our list of participants. You can RSVP on the event page for HB4.

Join us!

Nothing left to do but looking for a plane ticket and coming to Canoa in January (or even for New Years). See you there!

Chaos Communication Camp 2015

This is just a quick PSA for anyone interested in Hacker Beach who’s also joining the incredible Chaos Communication Camp near Berlin this year:

We’ll be hanging out at the Oblivion Bar village, sharing a nice big tent with some friendly people and open-source projects.

Please drop by anytime you want and have a chat with us! We might even do a small self-organized session about Hacker Beach sometime…

See you at the camp.

Hacker Beach #3 is a go!

According to good old Hacker Beach tradition, the first person just booked a flight, making our next destination official. Having been to South-East Asia and East Africa so far, this year’s region of choice is the Carribbean. Pack both your swimming gear and hiking shoes, everybody, because we’re going to !

Not to be mixed up with the Dominican Republic, this little island nation in the middle of the has only 73000 people living in an area of 750km2, mostly taken up by phentermine rainforest-covered mountains of volcanic nature. Known as “The Nature Island of the Caribbean”, its spectacular flora and fauna is among the most well-preserved in the region.

In contrast to Hacker Beach #2, but in the spirit of the original Hacker Beach, everybody will be on their own again for all organization and bookings, including accommodation. Forming small groups for sharing rooms, apartments or houses is recommended, and of course we’ll coordinate enough to stay in the same area of the island.

We’ll be updating the blog with more infos soon. In any case, hang out in #hackerbeach on Freenode, if you’re interested in joining in the next episode of Hacker Beach in January 2015!

Hacker Beach is International

Welcome to the first blog entry published from Lamu island! It took a while, but we’ll post some more during the next days. Enjoy!

In order to understand Hacker Beach a little better, let me share some fun stats with you. Hacker Beach brings together people from different countries and continents on a tropical island every year in January.

This year we had people from 3 continents and 12 countries join the party:

Kenya 4
Zimbabwe 1
Israel 1
Canada 1
Netherlands 2
France 2
Germany 3
Austria 1
Romania 1
Greece 1
UK 2

(Hint: some people haven’t lived in their home countries for quite a while, so if we counted all countries involved we’d end up with a couple more.)

So this sets the bar for next Hacker Beach pretty high. Will we break the record next year?

Update: Turns out our visitors are as international as the participants. In the first 30 minutes since posting this, we’ve had

Hacker Beach #2 (Jan 2014): FAQ & Status Update

There was a lot of interest in joining us at the upcoming Hacker Beach lately. But, so far, we didn’t really publish a lot of information that would help newcomers know exactly what’s happening. Especially answers to vital questions like if it’s actually happening, if you can still attend, what it will cost, etc.

So here’s a last pre-beach blog post, hopefully containing everything you might want to know. And if something’s missing, just ask via comment, of course! Let’s dive right into it:

What is this all about?

Hacker Beach is a spontaneous gathering of hackers and like-minded people on a tropical island, taking place every year in January. The upcoming one is only the second episode of Hacker Beach ever, after we had an incredible time on Phu Quoc in Vietnam last winter.

There’s no central organization taking place, except for a special accommodation deal (first time this year, more on that later) and some people blogging and tweeting some updates here and there. Every participant is invited to help with anything. Hacker Beach is not a conference or a sponsored event. It’s merely a lot of nice people hanging out on the same island at roughly the same time in order to flee the Northern winter, work in an nice atmosphere, and enjoy the company of friends and acquaintances, both old and new.

During Hacker Beach, we’ll have spontaneous mini events like talks, community sessions, user groups, and so on, all contributed by the participants. Whoever wants to discuss, present, teach, or learn something is invited to contribute one, or ask for one.

Other than these (optional) mini events, you do whatever you want: work on your normal job, or on open source or side projects with others. Or don’t work on a computer at all, and build a float instead. Your choice.

Who will I meet?

Mostly Web and open source folks. For example Mozillians, W3C people, core people of projects like remoteStorage, Sockethub, and many others, as well as entrepreneurs and startup folks. And let me add: all disciplines are welcome, not only software developers or sysadmins!

I can’t/don’t want to attend during ALL of January. What’s up with that?

The official dates just indicate the general time frame, meaning you likely won’t be alone on the island during that time. You can come anytime and for however long (or short) you want. In fact, some Nairobians will drop by for only a weekend or a couple of days, while others arrive in Kenya in December and leave in February.


Last year, most of us just booked rooms at the same guest house ourselves, but this year we have a bit of a different arrangement, so if you plan to come please contact us on the mailing list or on IRC in #hackerbeach on Freenode.

You can also just book your own accommodation anywhere on Lamu, of course.

How do I get there?

It’s a bit tricky, yet not terribly complicated.

  • First, if you’re not living in Kenya, you book an international flight to Nairobi. Choose a date, time, and route that fits best for you. International flights from Europe usually arrive in the morning, so if you don’t want to check out Nairobi for a day or two, you can continue to Lamu on the same day:
  • Second, book a separate flight to Lamu with one of the local airlines or get a bus ticket there. You need to do that directly on the local airline’s website, and you won’t find these flights anywhere else. Here is our blog post about getting to Lamu!

Visa requirements

For most (if not all) countries you will be able to get a Visa on arrival. Be sure to take some cash with you! It will cost 30 GBP, 40 EUR, or 50 USD. Your choice.

Medical issues

  • A Yellow fever vaccination is recommended, but not required. It holds for life, so getting one is never a bad idea.
  • Malaria pills are not necessary. Obviously, don’t sue us on that one, just note that none of the people writing this text will take them for a month. That said, it’s never a bad idea to have some as standby, because in the unlikely case you’re infected, it’ll help with the treatment to take them as soon as possible.


On Lamu, like in most regions in Kenya, there’s only 3G available. But according to people who even spent their company retreats there, it’s good enough quality. You can buy Safaricom SIM cards at the airport in Nairobi, and they offer Internet packages from a few MB up to 100GB. We’ll also buy some backup SIMs for a central router, that we’re setting up in the fort.

So, you’ll need to live a while without streaming HD video all day. And we’ll also have some fun setting up local mirrors for things we need often, like NPM or Rubygems. But Internet access in general is there, and it shouldn’t be a deal breaker for people who need to get serious work done.

LGBT issues

Someone asked about how safe it is for LGBT people to come to Hacker Beach, due to Kenya being known for having conservative views and laws regarding sexuality and gender identity. Frankly, I haven’t researched it thoroughly yet, but in my experience people are just keeping it private there. When traveling the world, it’s always important to respect local laws and traditions, of course, no matter how foolish they are. Let me add that Lamu is a very small island with a lot of international visitors, and it is very secluded, which should make these issues basically disappear entirely. If you have serious concerns, though, please get in touch with us, so we can connect you with LGBT people in Kenya, who can tell you all about it.

Current status

Hacker Beach #2 is a go! We’re all set and everything is ready for action. If the idea appeals to you, and you have time and a budget for this in January, you should go ahead and book your flights to Nairobi now! Don’t worry about the details, as long as you get flights to Nairobi and back, we can sort out the rest with you, if you need any help. Don’t hesitate to ask us anytime, and we’ll help you with anything you’re not sure about!

On a related note: some hackers are staying in Nairobi over New Year’s. If you want to come early as well, you can join us at the Wildebeest Camp.