Only three weeks after my jalan from Bali, I embarked on part dua of my adventures at the Bukit. I had the single best surf session of my life, hence the title to this entry: "Nusa Dua is the best surf ever," in Bahasa Indonesia (the language of Indonesia).
Three weeks ago, I went to Bali with only one other person; it was a trip in which we got to call all of the shots and we got to decide what we wanted to do, when we wanted to do it. For this most recent trip, however, I had booked the travel details at the bequest of one of coworkers... through a travel agent. At the time when my coworker invited me and several other of the IFs on the trip, I had jumped at the opportunity to plan a 3 day weekend in the surf capital of the world; during the days leading up to the completely pre-arranged, travel agent-sponsored, every detail already paid for luxury-fest, however, I was not so excited. Part of the excitement for me being in Asia has been and is the opportunity to explore new adventures every day, and I bring this attitude to each of my travels around this part of the globe. Therefore, boarding the plane for Bali, I decided to completely ditch all of the travel agent's pre-arranged plans for us and do my own thing the whole weekend: surf and explore.
On day 1, after landing, the rest of the group embarked for their full day tour led by a tour guide with 15 other tourists while they toured a volcano as part of their tour package (notice how many times I used the word tour. I really do not like guided tours). I, on the other hand, decided to skip out on the pre-arranged bs which would have driven me into psychosis, and decided to return to Uluwatu to surf for the first day. This time around, I knew the lay of the land, and was able to bargain for a surf board for much cheaper (10 USD for the day). Uluwatu turned out to be smaller and a little mushy on Friday, but it was still a fun surf session nonetheless. Afterwards, I sat at a bar overlooking the cliffs and temples of Uluwatu and watched a beautiful sunset over the coral reefs with a Bintang bisar (large Bintang) in hand, while listening to the sounds of Bob Marley and Bahasa chatter in the background... it was really one of the most relaxing, satisfying, and completely rewarding moments of my life.
On day 2, I decided to check out a new surf spot that I had talked about with some surf travelers in passing. I had heard about this break called Nusa Dua (which literally means Island 2, on the East Coast of Bali), which was about a 40 minute drive from where I was staying in Kuta. It was supposed to be an epic right-hander reef break about 1.5 km from shore, and you needed to hire a fisherman to get you out to the break. I left my hotel at 6 in the morning for a ride over to the beach, after securing a new board for the next 2 days (15 USD for a 6'2" squash tail in pristine condition). Arriving at the beach in Nusa Dua, which was a very touristy, built-up resort town, the first thing I noticed was the waves. At 1.5 km in the distance. Even at that distance, I could tell it was big. You could barely make out the specs weaving up and down the faces of the waves, but you could feel and hear the power of the waves. I excitedly prepared my board and self for the sure-to-be scary session, and headed over to the group of fishing boats moored just off the beach, waiting to take surfers out to the break.
I forked over the 30,000 rupiah (~3 USD) for the passage out to the break, and then sat down to wait for the journey to begin. The boat took us out a deep channel that skirted the reef and allowed us safe passage to the back side of the break, where we would not be hit by incoming sets. When the boat stopped about 100 meters beyond the break, I jumped into the crystal clear water with my 3 boat companions, and we all paddled over the line-up, where about 40 other surfers were floating. As I paddled nearer to the lineup, I could feel the size and energy of the swell - even though no set was currently coming through, I could tell that it was big. And powerful.
I asked the first guy I paddled over to in the lineup to tell me some advice about the break. He told me, "It's fast. And powerful. And the tide's starting to go out, so that means it's about to get shallow on the inside. Don't take your waves too too long, or you'll get caught on dry reef." Man I wish I had listened to that last part a little more carefully.
When the first set rolled through, I finally saw how powerful these waves were. Eight to ten foot sets were rolling through, with the occasional twelve foot bomb. They were lining up for perfect rights that extended for almost 200 meters down the line, and it was a beautifully smooth drop-in. For 2 hours, I tore apart right after luxuriously long right, and had some of the most amazingly fast rides of my life. Then I started paddling into one wave that looked like it was lining up forever. As I dropped in to the face, I heard some locals hooting and cheering for me; it was a sick wave. I lost all inhibition and charged down the face for a good 300 meters, almost 30 seconds of wave riding. Suddenly, though, I looked down, and all I saw was reef. The water was not more than one foot deep, and the wave had started to close out on me. I was forced to push out in front of the white water, and was unable to safely pop off the back of the wave. I was now riding the wave directly towards shore with a 10 foot wall of white water rapidly catching up to me. My only option was to jump backwards off the board and lay as flat in the tumbling madness as I could, hoping to not get caught in the reef.
For two to three seconds, I safely washed around in the whitewater; then, I felt rock bottom. I bounced off of the reef a good 3 or 4 times before the wave finally finished having its way with me. I luckily only suffered a couple minor scratches on my foot and leg, as the section of reef I had hit was fairly smooth. Still, I was worried about reef rash, as coral is filled with S. aureus, the bacteria responsible for staph infections. (I later found some antibiotic lotion for the cuts - don't worry). But I wasn't out of the woods yet. I was now caught way inside, trying to float over 1 foot of water and reef, with 8-10 foot walls of whitewater still charging down at me. I basically had to lie as flat as possible next to my board as each successive wave hit me, hoping to not get thrown vertically into the reef. Luckily, I escaped three waves before I was able to get back on my board and scramble for deeper water.
Once out in the line-up, I took a couple minutes to catch my breath and let my adrenaline subside. Then, I proceeded to charge down some brilliant righthanders for another hour before my fishing boat pickup. All in all, Nusa Dua ialah tompat surf yang paling bagus.
On day 3, I headed over to Kuta Reef for my final surf session. Like Nusa Dua, I needed to hire a fishing boat (for 50,000 rupiah round trip) to take me out to the break. Unlike Nusa Dua, Kuta Reef was much mellower, but still barreling. Kuta Reef was about 3-4 foot, with the occasional 5 foot on-set wave, breaking in beautifully fun little barrels. I spent a solid 4 hours just playing and enjoying life on those fun little lefts and rights, and especially compared to the adrenaline-filled thrills of Nusa Dua, I definitely enjoyed the more relaxing but still absolutely amazing surf of Kuta Reef.
For lunch later that day I had Indonesian roast pork, which is an amazing meal: deliciously tender strips of pork, soaked in a light chili sauce with a side of white rice and crispy pig skin. Washed down with a Bintang, it was one of the better meals of the weekend.
I was so glad at the end of the trip that I ditched all of the pre-arranged travel agent crap. Even though I probably lost about 100 sing dollars worth of services I skipped out on, being able to do my own thing and explore the island as I wanted was so much more valuable to me. Bali is known as one of the best surf locations in the world; so far, it has lived up to its reputation.