Learning to surf in Indonesia

A Journey of learning to surf in Indonesia, first part of many


Learning anything new can be daunting, exciting, fun, frustrating and sometimes painful, all rolled into one. Learning to surf is rewarding, but easily one of the hardest water sports to master on the planet

Learning to surf is rewarding, but easily one of the hardest water sports to master on the planet. This does not stop thousands of people from around the world being drawn to the lifestyle, to the sexy factor, and, when you take your first lesson, to the reality of learning to surf. I’ve been spinning a few yarns about when I first set out to learn to kitesurf. So thought, why not my journey of learning to surf


I’ve always loved the look of surfing. Graceful, effortless gliding. Now I’ll be honest, I actually had given surfing a go many years previous but had given it up in Australia, thanks to overcrowded waves and wave rage. Then Balangan, Bali became home for a few years. Working away, I was home for extended periods with lots of free time, so I thought to myself, what better time to learn to surf in Indonesia.Learning anything new can be daunting, exciting, fun, frustrating and sometimes painful, all rolled into one.<e

“Oh yes, I learnt to surf in Indonesia”. It certainly conjures up images. But it’s not all Bintangs and tanned butt cheeks, I can assure you. As always there are moments of exhilaration and equally, moments of pain.


Learning to surf is 80% paddling, 15% waiting, 4% drowning and 1% standing up. Throw in some genuine moments of fear and some cuts and grazes (hello reef/fin) then you’re starting to get to the reality. I quickly learnt that learning was less about the graceful gliding, and more about exhausted shoulders from endless paddling, being a sea lion flapping its arms for 2 seconds before being swallowed by the whitewater, and being tumbled unceremoniously time and time again.

The first piece of advice if you’re reading these blogs and you’re thinking of learning to surf is to start big and stay big, not waves of course, the board. “The bigger the board, the bigger the reward.” True, true, true and true. If you have a big, wide soft top (somewhat resembling a door), you can catch the wave faster, catch smaller waves easier and find it easier to find your balance so you actually can stand up. So most normal people will start at a beach break, on a big soft board, emphasis on big. Okay, I know it downs the cool factor a bit, but leave your ego at the door because the ocean has a magical way of smashing it out of you. And here is where I made my first mistake. Cocky me reasoned that me and the ocean are so tight I’ll bypass this and in my eagerness go straight to get a hard board shaped to suit an experienced surfer; 6.4ft long, easy to duck dive, fun to surf with. So I did, but surprise surprise, it was way beyond my skill level, couldn’t even get up on the thing. But all of my friends who use it say it’s a great board; I wouldn’t know. I catch sight of it sometimes, out at Gerupuk Outsides or Are Guling and sigh. She’s a beauty of a green gem. One day.

Secondly, give yourself time. Surfing takes years to learn. Enjoy the journey, don’t rush it, you will get there. You may be up, catching those waves, ‘dominating’. But then a set will come along and remind you, well and truly, that you got a lot more learning to do. Smile, turn around and paddle back out there again. Enjoy. The best things take time.

Oh and without a doubt take lessons. A lot of it is practice, but having those tips to really understand the logic behind it all sure does help. We might be striding for effortless gliding, but surfing is the sum of parts; reading the ocean, understanding currents, wave behaviour, tides, ocean bottom interaction with swell, wind direction, and all importantly, the rules of the surfing. See the blog about the rules; read ‘em, learn ‘em, follow ‘em. Independent, and knowledgeable surfers….now we’re talking!


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