Rediscovering Bali

Thinking outside the square in crowded paradise

Published Saturday May 31, 2014

Over a number of trips to Bali in the nineties, I was very much doing the same thing - surfing waves I was comfortable with, following the same roads, watching for the same conditions, and tolerating the growing crowds. Uluwatu, the Airport Reefs, Canggu, Nusa Dua, maybe the odd drive north of Sanur. A creature of habit, expecting the same results from the same trip every time. My perspective was narrow, and eventually I thought it was time to move on. It took 15 years to realise how wrong I was.

Surfing somewhere on the Bukit Peninsula, Bali.

You can still find a quiet moment on the Bukit Peninsula. Photo: RS

In April this year I found myself on my way back to Bali. This trip was a little different from the beginning. We planned to stay at a little surf camp my friend knew of. They had local guides, and largely made the decisions about where to surf. I wasn't entirely sold on the arrangement -"why do we need surf guides? I know Bali", I thought to myself.

Surfing empty tubes, Bali.

Empty tubes. Photo: RS

Turns out I didn't really know Bali. Over the next two weeks we surfed more waves on the island than I had in about 10 trips. Good waves. Waves I'd overlooked. Waves apparently everyone had overlooked. We surfed good hollow beach breaks with nobody else in the water. Found empty tubes just a short walk from crowded 'name' waves. Drove way up the east coast and scored. The surf guides were sharing real local knowledge. Intimate knowledge of the tides and currents at each break. We'd leave at 6:30am. Surf in the morning glass, and be home for brunch and a lazy nap. Wake up at 2pm and repeat. It was one of the most wave-rich surf trips I'd ever had.

Surfing in Bali.

More beach break fun/in between sets. Photos: RS/Luffy Ryan

Surfing has exploded in popularity over the last few years. No where is this more evident than the island if Bali. If you can still find magic away from the crowds here, you can find it anywhere.