Prior to my arrival on Bali, the so called island of gods, I had arranged a one week stay at Stormrider Surfcamp. My goal was to completely focus on surfing and hopefully take it to the next level. The professional setup of the camp, its nice facilities as well as its prime location in the heart of tranquil Canggu made the decision an easy one. I arrived at Denpasar Airport around midday and went outside the airport to get a taxi. It is usually way cheaper outside than within the airport premises. After a bit of haggling I got a good price and off I was for a week of surfing, eating, sleeping and several repetitions of that routine. I was excited.
Stormrider Surcamp – My Home away from Home
After an hour in the mad Balinese traffic, I finally arrived at the camp. The staff, three friendly ladies, gave me a warm welcome and showed me around. The camp featured a beautiful setup. A lot of wood, traditional Balinese elements everywhere, a tranquil water wall, a well kept lush garden and a good sized pool to top things off. Especially the many wood carvings, photographs display surfboards and other decorative elements showed that someone put a lot of attention to the details. The premises looked already nice from the outside but once I entered through the wooden entrance door, it was like stepping into a tropical oasis. Tranquility and serenity and I instantly felt at home. The dorm I had booked was upstairs, overlooking the garden and the bright green rice fields surrounding the camp. With an inviting loungy couch in front, a TV with DVD player inside and the most spacious and airy setup for a dorm I have ever seen, I was sure to have found the perfect place to unwind and focus on my surfing.
Surf’s up in Canggu
The next day I met two of the camp’s surf guides, Herry and Ranu. Both of them locals from Bali and very friendly and energetic guys. We were all eager to go surfing and our first session was supposed to be a little north of Canggu, close to the famous temple of Tanah Lot. Before each surfing day, the guides at Stormrider check the conditions and tide for the upcoming day and then determine where it’ll be best to go. That way you can always be sure to be at the right spot at the right time – so convenient. The surf that morning hence was great with a lot of good waves and a lot of good advice from Herry and Ranu. I came out of the water with a bright smile on my face and was looking forward to more of that.
Watching the Pros at the Oakley Pro Bali
During that same week, the Oakley Pro Bali, one of the competitions of the ASP Tour (Association of Professional Surfers) was on. I have never been to one of those competitions and this was finally the chance. It was the first day of almost two competition weeks and we drove down to where it all happened – Keramas Beach on the East Coast of Bali. Taken that it was the first day of the competition, there were already quiet a lot of people there – all anxious to see the pros show their skills. Before the official heats started, the surfers had a free surf or warm up session and during that I was able to watch 11 times World Champion Kelly Slater surf. That was like a dream coming true. Seeing him live in action was amazing and inspiring at the same time. In the end he is 41 years old and still up there with the best of the best. So motivating.
The two official heats we watched were exhilarating. We saw the pros doing massive maneuvers and taking big waves. It was great to see the guys up close getting in or coming out of the water. Just really normal and approachable. Not so far away and shielded off like it usually is in other sports. Before we left, we got lucky and watched the current World Champion Joel Parkinson from Australia compete and winning his heat. He actually continued dominating the contest and eventually ended up winning it. Seeing the pros surf and observe their great skills and technique was amazing. What I can’t really appreciate though is the scene all around an event like that. For a lot of people there, surfing seems just to be a platform to pose and show off their hipness. It’s not really my type of crowd but that’s just my very personal opinion.
Dawn Patrol Surfing at the East Coast
Motivated by the pros, we were eager to get back into the water ourselves. The following morning we got up at 5:30 for an early drive to Bali’s East Coast. We were headed for Lembeng, a break which usually works better during wet season. The forecast looked promising though and we wanted to give it a try. Apart from Herry and Ranu, Ben, the German surf instructor working at the camp, joined as well. We managed to dodge the crazy Balinese traffic and arrived at around 6 o’ clock. The morning was gloomy, grey and cloudy. Not what you expect coming to Bali but the waves seemed to be good and that was what we came for. We all suited up and paddled out. I had a few good waves that day although the current made it tough to stay in position. In the end, a mediocre day in Balinese waters is still most of the times better than a good day on the European Coast. So I was happy and after a well deserved roadside lunch we returned to the camp.
Life in Canggu
The rest of the week I spent surfing with the guys or by myself and exploring the surrounding area. I had rented a scooter with a surfboard rack so getting to all the good spots around the Surfcamp was easy. It also made getting around an easy and worthwhile affair. As you might know, I really love driving around and exploring new areas with a motorbike. And the area around Stormrider Surfcamp has so much to offer. Endless rice terraces, small streets leading to picturesque villages, nice beaches, cheap warungs with tasty local food and temples are very close. So much to see and do that even if you don’t surf or happen to take a break from it, there is still enough to keep yourself busy. The area is also not too busy and touristy as Kuta and Seminyak are. Canggu still managed to keep its traditional low key and relaxed charm while still offering enough distraction besides the surfing. A perfect mix and I hope it can manage to keep that charm for a little longer.
Staying at Stormrider Surfcamp in Canggu was a great experience and I wish I could have stayed longer. It really was my home away from home for the time being. The facilities, the staff and of course the surfing with the guides was perfect. It was a great place to unwind, relax and focus on surfing. Canggu with its tranquil and laid back atmosphere made the stay even more worthwhile. If you are looking for a good surf camp in Bali, Stormrider would definitely be my recommendation. The whole package was just right. It was a great start of my stay on Bali and in Indonesia. If the upcoming weeks will be the same, I will be very happy.