As preannounced a couple of weeks ago, we have decided on a location for the next Hacker Beach this coming January. After episode 2 in Kenya and episode 7 in Sénégal, we’re finally going back to Africa, and you’re cordially invited to join us there!
Welcome to the second-largest island country in the world! Home of the iconic lemurs (who come in many shapes and sizes), as well as chameleons, baobab trees, and my personal favorite: bourbon vanilla. Its landscapes include rainforests, deserts, highlands, and beautiful coastal areas with relaxed beaches.
The beach we chose is located just outside of the town of Mahajanga, in the Northwest of the island. It is the perfect quiet getaway for a few weeks of relaxed hacking under palm trees, while enjoying the company of like-minded people whenever you feel like it.
Considering the current level of inflation and rising prices, we’re glad to inform you that at least one thing you don’t have to worry about this time is the price of rooms for rent. Some of us have already reserved a 5-bedroom house on the beach for around 50 EUR/night total. Availability also seems to be good in January, so if you book a flight, you can be certain that you can find a decent place to stay at.
In fact, it looks like we will probably end up with a few larger houses very close to each other, so we will have a few location options for sessions (demos, talks, discussions, hacking, making, etc.) and socializing.
In order to get to Madagascar, unless you travel-hack yourself an unusual route via the Comoros islands, you will want to book a flight to TNR airport.
There are 3 flights per week with a tiny local airline from TNR to MJN, which is just about 3.5 kilometers from our beach. But you can also take a bus there, of course. According to sources on the Web, the road between the capital city and Mahajanga is actually in very good shape.
We’re currently in the process of documenting more information on the wiki page for Episode 12. It’s still a work in progress, but you can already find some things on there, like e.g. about the visa situation.
Great! Ask us on the Fediverse, on Nostr, on X/Twitter, or in #hackerbeach on libera.chat. And if you’re planning to actually come to Madagascar (or you’re already there), please request an invite to our private XMPP channel.
It all started in late 2012, when a few open-source software hackers from Europe decided to spend the next January together on the same beach in Vietnam. Since we had been nomading around for a while already at the time, and we were collaborating on some FOSS projects anyway, it seemed like a good idea not just to hang out on the same island after New Year’s, but to also invite other like-minded people to enjoy each others’ company and exchange knowledge and ideas.
Thus, Hacker Beach was born.
The initial website was not much more than a beautiful aerial photograph of an island, the date of January 2013, and a logo created by the soon-to-be founder of the Open Source Design project Jan C. Borchardt. The same logo that we still use today. On January 3, we then published the first blog post to properly announce the gathering. You can still read it today, because cool URIs don’t change.
The first location was chosen and recommended by Michiel B. de Jong, who was working on re-decentralizing the Web through the Unhosted movement at the time.
We had no idea if anyone outside the initial group of conspirators would really show up on Phú Quốc, and if so, who or how many. But we did invite some friends, FOSS collaborators, and acquaintances directly, which certainly contributed to what happened next.
The first week of January was rather calm, with only two of us having had arrived so far, enjoying the beautiful surroundings from a nicely run bungalow guest house, situated on the quiet end of the longest beach on the island. But soon enough new hackers would arrive almost every day. By the middle of the month we ran out of available bungalows and beds at the first place, so people branched out to other places.
In the end, more than 20 people showed up at Hacker Beach #1, and spent their time working on their projects, exchanging ideas and experiences, socializing, and exploring the island. Which kicked off a tradition that we still cultivate today.
How it continued
Since the first gathering in Vietnam, we went around the globe to many places that are not widely known, yet each of them interesting and inspiring in their own ways. We even added an unwritten rule about subsequent episodes having to take place in a different part of the world, so it would neither get boring nor too easy for people from just one part of the world to participate.
Every episode was a unique experience, owing to the differences between landscapes, cultures, languages, local communities, and people showing up. Even if you never end up joining Hacker Beach, we can highly recommend our past destinations for your own travels:
No official destination
🇸🇻 El Salvador
The C-word episode
In 2021, the unthinkable finally happened. We we unable to announce an official location for Hacker Beach #10, as our crowd usually gathers from countries around the globe, and there was simply no way to overcome travel restrictions that January in a way that everyone could participate. However, since Hacker Beach is just people gathering somewhere, and some of us still met up at a couple of beaches, we refused to stop counting episodes. So here we are now, announcing destination #10 for episode #11.
Episode #11: Langkawi, Malaysia
As announced already, from next week on we’re gathering on the island(s) of Langkawi in Malaysia, and we’re inviting you to join us there!
For your convenience, here’s some basic info in case you’re interested in coming over. (There might be another post with some more info next week.)
Similar to the rest of the ASEAN countries, the Malaysian government has dropped all health-related entry requirements, with very few exceptions. Most travelers also do not need to apply for a visa beforehand, and most visitors are allowed to stay in the country for up to 90 consecutive days. Please check the government’s website for visa requirements by country.
Most budget accommodation is located on the Pantai Cenang beach. You should be able to find rooms for less than $30/night there (and dorm rooms for much cheaper, of course). As always, booking online is more expensive and won’t get you the best deals. If you want to splurge, you can find nice boutique hotels and resorts all around the island.
Hint: If you want to stay close to other Hacker Beach people, be sure to drop by one of our chat rooms in January.
Beware of jellyfish and mosquitos. Wear a rash guard to protect from the former, and get some DEET spray for the latter. Also, a yellow-fever vaccination (once in a lifetime) is never a bad idea when traveling to tropical countries with mosquitos.
“ATMs are available at the Langkawi Airport, at Langkawi Parade Shopping Complex, next to Underwater World at Pantai Cenang and at Cenang Mall.”
Tip: There are enough ATMs that do not charge you an extra fee for withdrawals, so find a different one if it does. Also, in case it asks you to convert the currency for you, always decline! Your bank’s bad exchange rate will still be better than whatever the ATM will apply.
The electricity outlets in Malaysia are Type G (UK/British). You can buy cheap plastic adapters for most other plugs locally, or bring your own.
Tip: You can also use Type C plugs without an adapter if you press down the safety pin in the top hole of the socket. (A 3.5mm headphone jack is an excellent tool for doing that for example.)
A longer-form announcement is following soon, but here’s the gist:
As usual, Hacker Beach is happening next January. All of January, for however long you want to join. For the 10th-Anniversary edition, we’ll gather on the island(s) of Langkawi, Malaysia, also called the Jewel of Kedah.
The first hackers have booked their flights, and we’re inviting you to do the same! The recommended routes are mid- or long haul to Singapore or Kuala Lumpur, and then a local carrier like e.g. AirAsia to the main island. And there are ferries as well, of course.
Subscribe to this blog for the upcoming posts. You can also follow us on the Fediverse (recommended) or on Twitter. Ask questions in #hackerbeach on Libera.chat IRC, or to the aforementioned social media accounts.
Good news, everyone! After hell had frozen over last winter, and we did not have an official Hacker Beach location for the first time since the beginnings in 2013, we’re officially back on track with Episode 10!
This coming January, we invite you to join us in the beautiful country of El Salvador, in a region called La Libertad!
Located on the Pacific coast, and nestled in between Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua, El Salvador is not just diverse in its nature and people itself, but also makes a perfect launch pad for exploring more of Central America before and/or after Hacker Beach.
Let’s leave the marketing spiel to the tourism office of El Salvador. But from volcanos, crater lakes and waterfalls in the hills, to relaxed beaches and amazing surf breaks on the coast, there’s something to find for everyone.
Let’s get some logistics and FAQ out of the way, before announcing a few more details about particular places and events during this Hacker Beach in future posts…
As always, the entire month of January is officially Hacker Beach month. This means, if you hang out in the area anytime within the month of January, there should be other hackers and associated lifeforms around. Naturally, there will be more people in the middle of the month than at the very beginning or end.
Most passports get a 90-day visa on arrival at no cost. U.S. citizens will have to pay a small “tourist fee” at the airport (cash, credit/debit card, or bitcoin). There are no special COVID-19 requirements for entry anymore. Yes, you read that right! No PCR tests, no vaccination cards or QR codes, not even speaking of quarantine for arriving travelers… nada.
The dreaded topic
There is no public health emergency currently going on in El Salvador, or expected to happen in January. It is one of few developing countries that was able to provide enough vaccines to its people when the novel ones first became available. Anyone, including foreign visitors, can get vaccinated or even boostered at the public vaccination centers, if they wish to do so. On the other hand, nobody is required to be vaccinated for participating in social life and going about their business.
If you start your journey in a neighboring country, there are also buses or even boats you can take. No need to tell you more in this case, because you’re obviously an explorer and you will find your way.
Caveat: If you are not vaccinated (there’s that dreaded topic again), and you are not a U.S. citizen, please be aware that you cannot connect via the U.S. by plane, because that would require you to have an ESTA registration and clear immigration at your connecting airport. Which, unfortunately, requires proof of vaccination for almost all foreigners at the moment (with a few exceptions). A good alternative route for most points of departure is MEX, with Mexico also being open to all travelers, and no special entry requirements in place.
In good old Hacker Beach tradition, there is nothing organized or packaged for you to click and consume. You will have to find your own accommodations, but sharing with others makes things cheaper and is encouraged, of course. There are large houses with many bedrooms available for rent along the coast, and there are also many hotels and guest houses with rooms available in the villages along the coast.
If you want the best bang for your buck, don’t book single rooms online! The best deals are not available on a website. And if you want to share a larger place with some people, join one of our chatrooms and talk to your fellow hackers.
You may have heard of this, of course: El Salvador currently uses the U.S. Dollar as their national currency. However, they also recently introduced BTC as legal tender. This means you can either stay entirely on USD for your trip, or you can use bitcoin and the Lightning Network to pay for goods and services here and there, but not everywhere.
You can also withdraw USD cash from Chivo ATMs by providing a phone number and sending BTC to it. However, that only works with on-chain transactions at the moment, and you will have to wait for 1 network confirmation until you can redeem the cash. (But who knows, maybe also instant Lightning withdrawals in January?)
Is Hacker Beach now Bitcoin Beach?
Instead, the actual Bitcoin Beach that started the whole thing in El Salvador is located in El Zonte in La Libertad, which is actually also a perfect place for beginner surfers to learn catching some waves. We could plan a few meetups in El Zonte, simply because it’s a nice place, and our events may have the positive side effect of introducing some locals to more hacker culture and computer/Internet topics than just bitcoin.
El Salvador is not the most secure country in the world, but it’s also a far cry from the headlines you may have read online somewhere. Common sense will keep you safe. If you can avoid it, don’t walk around alone at night in badly lit, non-touristy areas you don’t know. Have a backup strategy for your devices and data (they could also just break). When in doubt, ask someone first.
As always, we’re hanging out in the #hackerbeach IRC channel on Libera.Chat (moved there from Freenode a while ago). But we also have an invite-only XMPP room that you may join. Please DM someone you know or one of our social media accounts for access.
The new Freenode operators have decided to, suddenly and without warning, start an entirely new network without migrating any of the channel and user data to it. Thus, we are joining the ever-growing numbers of projects and channels, which have been forced to consider more reasonable alternatives.
As our regulars already know, and everyone else has likely guessed at this point, there will not be an official Hacker Beach location this coming January.
After 8 consecutive years of gathering random hackers in amazing, overlooked tropical locations, hell has finally frozen over. We spare you yet another Internet comment on the whys, hows, shouldas, and wouldas. All things considered, there is simply no way to invite people from around the globe to the same location at the same time this coming month.
Some of us are still escaping their colder winters for a bit, and some will also meet each other. However, if you don’t want to stay at home yourself, you will obviously have to plan according to your individual geographic and health situations.
As always, we’re still hanging out in #hackerbeach on Freenode. And people who have physically joined a gathering before also still have access to our invite-only XMPP room, email@example.com. (If you think you should have access to the latter, but don’t, please ask about it on IRC.)
There will also be at least a couple of remote beer conferencing sessions on some video chat tool in January. Stay tuned in the chatrooms for that.
With that, until the next try, we wish you a good winter, good health, good company, and lots of fun and success with your computers and other interests! Let’s hope we can officially go back to traditional hackerbeaching in January 2022.
This may just be the latest announcement post we have ever done, but you know the spiel: Hacker Beach #8 is happening as always, this coming January, for however long you want to join! Same procedure as every year, James.
After not having returned to the Americas on our normal next-continent-over schedule, we’re finally back in the EST timezone and on a coast of the Caribbean Sea.
Everyone, please feel cordially invited to meet your fellow hackers (and associated life-forms) in Palomino, Colombia, this coming month!
Colombia is an amazing country, and so incredibly diverse that attempting to summarize it in one sentence is almost impossible. Hence, we’ll just use the Colombian tourism office’s official explanation: “Colombia, the only risk is wanting to stay”. How inviting is that?
The closest airport (and city) is Santa Marta (SMR). Only a few local airlines go there, so you may be better off booking a connection to SMR separately from your ticket to a major city in Colombia (e.g. Bogotá, Cali, or Medellín).
It’ll be easily possible to enjoy your time on less than 30 USD/day (one of our unwritten rules). In fact, you could even get a hammock for like 3 USD/night.
After a bunch of scuba diving in recent years, this time we can surf again.
There’s not just a beach, but a massive natural reserve with tall mountains directly next to where we are: the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta.
As you probably know, our informal process for deciding on our next destination is “whoever books the first flight, after finding rough consensus on IRC”. And so, someone just booked a flight!
Without further ado: next January, we’ll be hanging out in the North-East of the Philippine Palawan province. We haven’t decided on the exact island yet, but most likely it will be Coron or El Nido. For now, the most important thing is that you can book a flight to Manila for whatever period of time you want to join us during the month of January. From there, you can take a local flight, ferry or even fisherman’s boat to our little hacker paradise on Earth.
El Nido, photo by gameoflight on Flickr (licensed CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
A detailed announcement will follow at some point in the not-too-distant future. Until then, follow us on the fediverse (or Twitter if you absolutely have to), and/or join our IRC channel #hackerbeach on Freenode.
As usual, you can count on Hacker Beach returning to some fantastic island or coast in 2019. If you weren’t sure if you should add it to your calendar, here’s your official confirmation.
As usual, it will happen during the month of January, all of January, for however long you want to join.
As usual, the location search is ongoing throughout the year. And the location will most likely be decided upon sometime between September and November. If you have one to propose, tell others on IRC and/or add it to the wiki.
After this year’s road trip from Sénégal to the Gambia (which was fantastic by the way), we’re planning to go back to gathering at one location for the entire month. Also, we’ll try to announce that location earlier this time, in the hopes of making it just a little bit easier for you to join us again.
If you want to stay tuned, subscribe to this blog and ideally join us in #hackerbeach on Freenode IRC.
A longer-form announcement is following soon-ish, but here are the most important facts for now:
As usual, Hacker Beach is happening next January. All of January, for however long you want to join. The general area will be along the coast of Sénégal, south of Dakar (Petite Côte). The first hackers have booked their flights, arriving in Dakar from January 3rd onward.
The idea is to find our nice paradise location on the way South, and maybe also visit Banjul in the Gambia towards the end of January. Please join us in #hackerbeach on Freenode if you’re interested, and add your name to the wiki page when you’ve booked a flight.