Have Board, Will Travel: Surfing Bali

To get lost (then find themselves), some crew go surfing, some go travelling. In Hoyo’s case, he arrived in Bali, watched the sunset, drank some beers, then got lost in a rice field.

Triumphing over adversity, the next day Hoyo paddled out into 10 to 12 foot Uluwatu and got absolutely smashed.

Nice intro to Bali.

That was in 1990 and Hoyo has been coming back once or twice a year ever since.

If you’re Australian, you’ve probably done the same, but if you’re crossing time zones, there’s nothing like a few tips from an intrepid trouble-maker to get you started.

On a recent trip to Ulus, we sat down over Bintangs and asked Hoyo for his top 10 Indo travel tips.

1. Go straight to Ulus and watch the sunset (get it over with – ha! Nah, seriously, sunsets are the best)
2. Go and hang on the beach at Padma and have a beer – don’t go to a bar or stay in your hotel
3. Meet the local people
4. Drink Bintang
5. Don’t drink spirits (they’re not good for you over here – some can even be lethal)
6. Don’t do street drugs (a friend of a friend told me…)
7. Embrace the culture – the Balinese are amazing people
8. Don’t haggle too much – just pay the price because you’re going to pay next to nothing anyway
9. Eat off the street carts if you want to be experimental (with your guts)
10. Bring every board – from a fun little wave 5’10” board to an outside corner 7” and everything in-between. Boards break – the waves are a lot more powerful than you think.

‘If there’s no waves – drink, have a good time, hang out with the locals and watch the sunset.’

What happens after dark, that’s up to you.

As for surfing, hire a local boat charter to escape the crowded beach breaks and you’ll still be back in time for sunset beers at Kuta, Padma, Echo Beach, Canggu, wherever suits your vibe. Made Switra – local surfing legend and damn fine fisherman – knows exactly what wave you need. We asked Made the essentials.

When did you start your charter business?

Well, I’ve always been a fisherman and a surfer so starting my own boat charter business was the obvious thing to do. I wanted to share with everyone how much fun I was having with my friends on the boat. That was 18 years ago.

When’s the best time of year to go surfing?

Surfing is good all year, some waves will be smaller than others but there’s still waves. September to November is good for fishing. Before deciding where to go I’ll ask my fishermen friends and if there’s no fishing, I’ll go surfing.

What’s a day out on the boat with you involve?

We’ll start at 7am and surf twice for about six hours in total. We could head out to Kuta Reef or Airport Rights. Or we’ll go to Uluwatu and go down the whole west side to Yang Yang or 46, depending on the wind. People say that 46 is like Off the Wall in Hawaii when it’s four foot. It’s a fun wave and not too many people around.
If we go fishing and get a catch we can make a barbecue or have some sashimi on the beach.
The boat is pretty small so there’s room to bring drinks and boards for five people if we want to surf, or fishing for three.

How many day trips can someone hire you for?

I can take you on trips as many days as you like! I love taking people to less crowded spots and when the tide is changing I like to get them back on the boat and take off somewhere else.

If everyone is after the same kind of waves and they’re all travelling alone, I can take a bunch of people out that don’t know each other. Of course, it only works if everyone wants to surf the same size waves.

What’s your tip for someone who hasn’t been on a boat day trip before?

Bring some snacks to eat as you’ll be hungry during your six hour surf. You’ll need energy to get back in for your second surf. But if we surf Ulus and the waves aren’t too big, we'll go to Padang beach and you can swim in and grab something to eat or grab some beers.

So who chooses where we go surf?

I check Kuta beach every morning and I’ll know how big Ulus will be, how big Bingin will be and when the best time will be to go.
I know when it’s the best for every spot so I’ll let you know where I think we should go and then it’s up to you choose.

Hit up Made Switra here if you want to book a trip.

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