Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Surfing Kuta Beach


In Chiang Mai, our primary intentions were to learn Thai massage and to find hidden gem yoga studios (and boy, were they hidden) to maintain our practices. In Bali, surfing has joined yoga at the top of our priority list. Yes, these are REALLY our lives now, and YES you have permission to be jealous about it!

We chose Kuta Beach as the location to lose our surfing virginity. We expected the beach to feel stuffy and overused based on the amount of tourism the southern part of the island attracts, but it proved to be pristine and ideal for new surfers. We were very motivated to learn, and found many surfing schools that advertised, 'stand up on your first lesson or the second is on us!'. We quickly realized that $45 USD for this option is a tourist trap...even for a semi-private lesson.

We were fortunate enough to meet a fun and interesting group of travelers from Australia at Potato Head Beach Club, a vast and gorgeous lounge, bistro, and infinity pool-bar overlooking Seminyak Beach. Potato Head was more posh than we anticipated, especially following several unexpected experiences at 'resorts' in Thailand that turned out to be more like jungle huts with fancy websites. The guys we met at Potato Head are avid surfers who were more than happy to take us out for a lesson. We cannot thank them enough for their patience AND skill. We were both successfully surfing after a few tries and actually found getting out to catch the wave against the current to be the most difficult aspect of it all. We may be naturals, but we couldn't have done it without them.

Things we learned:

1. You can easily rent a board for a couple of hours, or an entire day (if you have the stamina, from the merchants located conveniently on the beach. For a few hours it shouldn't cost more than 50,000 rupiah. We paid 40,000 rupiah ($3.50) for 'one hour', but we stayed out for closer to two and they didn't seem to mind.

2. Be mindful of the flags along the beach that designate appropriate swimming and surfing areas. We posted up next to an area where surf schools were hosting group lessons and plenty of people were around (including a lifeguard) in case we needed anything. If nothing else, it was interesting to see how other new surfers were doing.

3. Wear board shorts and a shirt because you will have some serious board rash if you and your bikini try to catch a wave without them. We even used a long sleeve shirt that offered up some sun protection.

4. There will be an eight year-old surfing circles around you. He could probably board before he could walk. His tan is sicker than yours. Get used to it. Think Johnny Tsunami.

5. Do Less.

6. Be Warned: It's Addictive. Merely two days after our introduction, we have already been back to surf Kuta. For our second day out on the water we had some help from Sun, a teacher at the Odyssey Surf School who also offers some private assistance. He rented us our surf boards the first time around and today he was a fun companion and mentor. When you come to Bali and are looking to surf, you can find him by the entrance to Kuta Beach across from the McDonald's. He's worth seeking out. Also, you should eat an m&m McFlurry while you're there.

It goes without saying that Bali is an epic place to learn. We are beyond spoiled. We've since been to Keramas, a beach north of sleepy Sanur that is known for its shimmering black sand, world class waves, and laid back atmosphere. The rocky, reef-laden terrain draws a crowd of more advanced surfers. We would love to return to Keramas, and to visit other parts of the island that have been recommended to us by surfers we have met in our travels.

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