For no reason other than I was looking for something to do on my own in Bali two weeks ago, I spontaneously decided to sign up for surf lessons. I was just walking down the street, saw a surf school, went why not at myself and that was it. I ended up thinking it was one of the best things I’ve ever done!
Surfing is definitely as hard as it looks – especially if you’re looking to surf like those people you see on TV. However, as a beginner, you spend most of your time in only waist deep water, riding white foamy waves. Once you relax in the ocean, endure a few wipeouts, and stand up for the first time, the intimidation wears off and you start to enjoy the process!
Wipeouts are guaranteed. I fell flat on my face into the water. I fell on my ass in shallow water. I did a proper nosedive when the front of my board dug into the water and got rightly flipped over upside down. I crashed with other people. I had my board sent flying out under my feet. Wading into the ocean with your board the first time, the waves seemed scary. But after a couple of wipeouts, you realise nothing too terrible, beyond making a complete ass of yourself, is really going to happen. Then you start to think looking like a total fool is actually fun and then voila, you relax, laugh a lot, get very exhausted, and have a great time!
On my return to the office, I was asked if surfing hurt my nipples. I think I laughed so hard I snorted. Apparently, it’s a guy problem, esp. guys new to surfing who try it without a shirt on. Technically, you’re supposed to lie down and paddle with your chest held up off the board. But people get tired and their technique gets compromised and I guess their nipples get a good chafing courtesy of the board. So there you go guys. Forget about showing off your six-pack. Wear a shirt.
I wore a bikini under a rash guard and some running shorts. I could feel my bikini top being pushed completely out of place and in some of the bigger wipeouts, I could feel the waves pushing through my shorts, threatening to drag it down my ass. The area of my thighs just above my knees were slightly raw, but I was otherwise fairly intact.
However, one of the other girls went with just a bikini bottom and by the end of the 2.5 hour session, she had this bright red rash down the entire lengths of her thighs. We spent a lot of time sliding on and off the boards, lying down and paddling. I’ve learnt that unless you know what you’re doing (or even if you do) any part of your body that is not covered and comes into contact with the board is bound to get a good rubbing!
So there you go. In case anyone’s interested, Kuta Beach was a very good location to learn. It’s a beach break (i.e. the waves break on a sandy beach), and water stays about waist high even quite far out – so no cutting yourself on coral and no worries if you’re not a strong swimmer. Waves were a bit random though. First day was great but the other two days the sea was as flat as a swimming pool.
Lots of local surfer dudes line the beach offering boards for rent and surfing lessons. But because I was alone and needed a secure locker for my belongings, I went with two surf schools, whose lessons also came with free use of their board shorts, rash guards, towels, drinking water, and showers!
I’m sure there are better surf spots around the island, esp. if you’re capable of surfing more than noobie white waves. But Kuta was tourist central for accomodation, food, and shopping, so if surfing is just one of your many activities for the day, I’d say Kuta is a very convenient location to learn.
Now I just need to getting into some more surfing closer to home….