So this summer I finally did something that’s been top of my to-do list for the past couple of years.. I spent some time travelling Indonesia, soaking up Balinese life and immersing myself in the culture of surf and well-being that has become symbiotic of the laid back lifestyle out there.
This trip has so many highlights for me - swimming with mantas, meeting a bunch of radical chicks, surfing the best waves of my life, eating the most amazing food, connecting my soul through meditation - but topping the lot was the way I was able to free myself of negativity and learn to embrace the good life. These beautiful tropical islands are so much more than a stretch of beach to ironically drink coconuts on (which by the way are delicious); they have a real spirit and friendliness to them, making their lifestyle so appealing that you could easily stop for months at a time and never grow tired of the sunsets.
My first stop was Lombok. Hopping over to the Gili Islands, I had my first taste of Indonesian street food, my first snorkel sighting of a turtle and my first encounter of the local boats (i.e. how many people can you cram onto one small wooden boat without it sinking?!). After relaxing on the pristine white sands and being humbled by the friendly staff at La Boheme hostel, we made a short journey across to Bali, our home for the next month.
Bali is unlike anywhere i’ve ever been. It’s acts as a complete mash up of the traditional Balinese life and values, the vibrancy of the undeniably epic surf scene, and the sleek stylised nature of westernised culture. For a large majority of our time on Bali we stayed around the Canggu area as the waves were a bit smaller than the famous Uluwatu breaks but still offered us a great base for trips around the rest of the island. One such trip took myself and Franzi up to famed hippy central Ubud; whilst Ubud is a crazy thriving Indonesian city full of traffic and markets, it has pockets of serenity and we soon found ourselves on a self-titled “healing journey”. We ate amazing vegan food at The Fussy Bird, scrummy accia bowls at Alchemy and incredible coconut iced lattes at The Coconut Shop. As well as eating nourishing food, we nourished our souls at Yoga Barn, a beautiful treetop space for vinyasa and hatha classes. I also took part in my first ever guided meditation session which completely blew my mind. It really opened me up to connecting with my soul and releasing negativity.
Surfing took up a lot of the trip, and was the main reason for the adventure. The lure of those perfect sets and warm green waters is enough to make anyone get in the line up! That said, Indonesia was my first time getting back in the water since a traumatic experience when I was fourteen, and the first few sessions were really difficult for me. Our amazing guide Chok at balilovesurfing made a huge difference and I finally feel more comfortable in the water again. Of all the breaks we surfed, my favourite was a reef break by the airport landing strip. Getting a boat out to the spot and just sitting in the ocean whilst planes landed and took off right by us was completely surreal!! Being surrounded by the chilled surf vibes of Bali has only made my love of the boardsports industry even stronger, and definitely enthused me to embrace surf and wellbeing culture even more.
Our travels were rounded up by a few days on the stunning Nusa Lembongan, where we wandered around the back tracks of traditional villages and enjoyed some quiet down time. Not only did we love the landscape and sunset views, but our underwater views whilst snorkelling were unbelievable. I’ve never seen reef so vibrant and fish so colourful; and swimming with not one but two manta rays was an awe-inspiring end to a soul enriching trip!
My only regret is time. I just wanted more! So it’s safe to say i’ll be heading back to Indonesia to see more off the beaten track sights and swells in the future.