Deciding to learn to surf in Indonesia is a fantastic idea and we believe that
South Lombok truly is one of the best places in the world to take that plunge. The ocean is warm and blue, the people are friendly, the surf is bountiful
and the beers are cold. So next up; choose a surf school. ‘Learn to surf in Kuta Lombok’ or ‘surf schools Lombok’….whatever you type into the google search engine, the resulting multitude
of surf schools can be a bit overwhelming. So here are a few things to consider to help you make the right choice for you to ensures you have nothing
but a wonderful experience and get to feel the bliss of getting up on your board and gliding across that wave.
Of course it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know I am clearly biased. Obviously I think What Sup? Lombok is the number 1 school in Kuta Lombok and clearly you need not look elsewhere,
but in the spirit of fairness to all, let’s put that aside for one minute and look at what you should be looking at. (Phew! Try saying that 5 times
Let’s start with the obvious:
South Lombok is synonymous with stunning beaches, and more importantly, some
great waves. The beauty of this place is that we are spoilt for choice with so many beaches quickly accessible from Kuta; Tanjung An, Gerupuk, Are Guling, Selong Belanak, insides, outsides, front and back...need I continue? Each beach of course
differs greatly in terms of levels, but most schools in Kuta have the ability to move between them based on the conditions and the customer. Be aware
of where each surf school is located, which beaches they tend to favour and if transport in a car is included to the surf spot or if it is self-drive
on a scooter.
For most people, this is the big one. In this digital age, reviews speak volumes. Tripadvisor, Google, Airbnb, Facebook...we all read them
avidly. The same applies for when you’re choosing a surf school. Are the majority of reviews positive? Now of course, both businesses and customers
are after the glowing reports, which mean all round warm fuzzies, ensure a continued standard of service and a form of self-regulation, and without
a doubt, generates more business. But the reality is sometimes everybody just has a bad day and that dreaded negative review comes in. I like to give
any business the benefit of the doubt when checking the reviews, and not write them off immediately upon reading negative feedback. Take it as a sign
of normality to see a business with a few bad reviews. This is part of the parcel when running a tourism business, and while any business owner genuinely
works hard to avoid them, sometimes even the best in the industry get things wrong and can’t keep everyone happy. Most of the surf schools are trying
their best; this is their livelihood and they are just as interested as you in maintaining as high a standard as possible.
If a few surf schools catch your attention, by all means, contact
them. Send an email, drop them a message on social media or make a phone call. First of all, do you get a response? For me personally, this is a big
one, and the fact you get a response, especially if it’s quickly, says a lot. If they do reply quickly, remember, this is Indonesia after all and English
is a secondary language. Speaking English on the phone or having to put information down in writing is no easy task for most Indonesians, so don’t
be harsh if it’s not perfect. Focus on getting your questions answered and let the big language hesitations slide.
This is the clinch dealer for a lot of travellers, which is totally realistic. But do bear in mind that choosing the cheapest option hardly ever turns
out to be the best option. The old adage “You get what you pay for” is true for many things in life and choosing a surf school in Indonesia is no different.
Running a business and providing a good quality service is costly, so you will find that the lessons here are priced as fairly as possible for each
school in relation to their service and what they offer.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Consider why school A might be more expensive than school B. Are the instructors less competent? Does it operate on group
lessons or one on one tuition? Are you getting information in your lessons or a mere push onto a wave? Are there extra costs involved such as boat
and board hire? What beach do you go to...is it a shore break or a reef break? These all make a difference in terms of what surf schools ask for, so
be sure to get some information from them about how they run their operation.
Finally, you are the best judge of yourself, and so the last thing to consider is what you want to achieve from surf lessons in Lombok.
What is your expectation? Are you keen to have a go just for fun and to meet people, or are you a bit more serious about your learning? Is this your
first lesson? Have you done a lesson before but a while ago? Where you once confident but had an injury or been tumbled one too many times? Are you
looking to improve your paddling skills, or understanding of how to duck dive, or carve off the top of a wave? Think about your level and voice what
your expectations of the lesson are, and what realistically your time frame for learning is. Are you going to receive the service you deserve?
Any school that is genuinely interested in ensuring you get the right option will happily ask or answer these questions when you book or enquire. After
all, a happy customer means a happy business. Oh, and if you are a bit further along in your surf learning process,
you may choose to have a surf guide over an instructor. Bear in mind that this is a different service altogether, but more on that in my next blog!
Happy choosing, and see you on the waves!