‘Blue Crush’—I’ve been in love with this movie for years. For those of you who don’t know it, think Kate Bosworth as Anne Marie, hot surfer babe living with her best friends in a beach shack on Oahu, surfing hardcore waves at pipeline, with no worries except how the surf is that day, no clothes or makeup needed.
Lucky for anyone who dreams of being a surfer babe or hunk, Southeast Asia has some of the best surf in the world. Unfortunately for me (and maybe you too), I didn’t grow up on the beach, and until very recently had no knowledge of how to actually surf (except of course that learned from Kate and her buddies).
So instead of paddling out on high tide and making an ass of myself by trying to do some self-teaching, in the name of City Nomads I took a trip to Bali and enrolled with Padang-Padang Surf Camp to make an ass out of myself with others! Having heard only good things about the camp – from the second I got there I wasn’t disappointed.
The camp staff literally do everything for you, from making you breakfast, to giving you a push when trying to catch a wave. I’m not sure that the surfer lifestyle is supposed to be quite so dependent (not to mention dorky—the matching ‘Padang-Padang Surf Camp’ rash guards and huge foam boards that scream ‘newbie’), but this way is definitely enjoyable and carefree.
The camp itself looks more like a spa rather than a surf camp. Beautiful Balinese style houses boarder the camp’s compound, all facing inward toward the pool and hammock lounge area. The rooms are simple, but elegant and airy. Some of the more expensive ‘deluxe’ rooms have openair lounges complete with a hammock and a television (sweet).
Each day lunch and dinner are served in the common dining room, scheduled around the surf times. You can have your pick of breakfasts (banana pancakes, omelets, scrambled eggs and toast, etc.), and they aren’t shy about the portions. Lunch is served buffet style usually, and is generally catered to western tastes (I especially liked the chicken wings).
Eating around a big table with other campers is quite the bonding experience, as it’s a perfect time to rehash the most embarrassing moments of the surfing sessions.
For the surfing itself, I’ll have to admit I was expecting something a bit more…structured. The first day you’re assigned a surf instructor, who I shared with two others. Koyok, our instructor, gave us a brief rundown of where to paddle out to the waves, made us jump up three times, told us if we’re about to get crushed by a big wave whilst paddling out to ‘lose the board’, and then we were off. I felt a bit lost at first, but the approach forces you to catch on quickly!
Paddling out is rough, probably the hardest thing about surfing all together. My arms ached, my back ached, and I was desperate to just get out past the breaking point and have a rest. But once I finally got out, I was instantly in love. Sitting on my board in the bright blue ocean waters of Indonesia, the sun glinting off my salt water washed eye lashes, enjoying a laugh with the other surfers and instructors, it was easy to see how this becomes a daily thing and lifestyle for some people.
Then came time to catch the first waves. After Koyok lined me up, gave me a push, and yelled ‘Up, up, up’ three separate times ending in a flop, the fourth time was finally the charm. The tiny crest of a wave wasn’t anything compared to the pipeline I had seen in the movies, but it was mine, and the feeling of achievement from jumping up to ride that wave was gold. After that, I was hooked, and the main goal was to get the approval to upgrade from the foam board, which eventually came on the third day.
During my three days of surfing we got to surf three different beaches—Padang- Pandang, Dreamland, and Canggu. They all had different vibes, waves, and stunning backdrops. Ina, the owner of the camp, said they like to mix up the venues for the surfers, and give them a taste of something different during their stays, although, it all ultimately depends on the waves of the days and what individual surfers need.
They know all about that—what surfers need—because I can honestly say there is no way I would have made it without them! Until I reach the infamous day of being able to pick and wave of my own and standing up without a push, you can bet I’ll be going back to get my fix of sunshine and surfer swag.
Hot tips: Invest in some serious sunblock and zinc, because the sun is insanely harsh out on the water! Check out the bar Single Fin on Sunday and Wednesday nights for live music and an authentic surfer gathering.
For a shared room at surf camp for four nights, the minimum stay, it’ll cost you around S$500. The price includes board rental, transfer to the beaches, lessons, breakfast, and lunch daily. For more information or to make a booking visit balisurfingcamp.com. For flights check out Air Asia and Tiger Airways, as they often have sales to Bali (airport code DPS).
Written by Wanderlush. Want to read more about living a life of bliss? have a wander through her blog here.