Riding the waves of Bali with a Rip Curl legend and master surfer

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Indonesia is one of the best places on the planet to learn to surf; that’s why Flash Pack visits our Rip Curl school of its Bali adventure. But I’m not just saying that because I grew up on the island. There are literally hundreds of surf spots, including three or four beaches that are particularly good for beginners because of their break waves. 

This means you don’t have to paddle too far out to catch the surf. And the waves break on the sandy seabed, which creates a softer landing should you fall off, compared to point breaks or reef breaks. 

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Rip Curl instructors are finely attuned to the currents

I’m lucky enough to live right by a beach. I used to play a lot of badminton and football, and practise yoga for flexibility, which explains my name, Made Yoga. But perhaps it should be Made Surf now, because I spend so much time in the ocean catching the waves.

As a master surfer, I’m one of the most experienced instructors at the iconic Rip Curl School of Surf, which has been teaching surfers from all over the world since it began in the Balinese beach town of Seminyak in 1998. I trained as an assistant instructor for more than seven years before working my way up via a series of certificates in resuscitation, rescue, lifeguarding and more.

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The Rip Curl School of Surf is the best in Bali

The Rip Curl School of Surf has developed a reputation as the best surf academy in Bali, so it’s important that our entire team is trained to the highest standards. Typically with beginners, we’ll have a ratio of three or four students to one instructor, depending on wind and wave conditions. 

Surfing is joyful and fun, but you do need to have a clear understanding of the climate and seasonal nuances, especially as a beginner. Rip Curl instructors are finely attuned to how strong the currents are at different times of day in specific areas.

The weather can change quickly, so we need to anticipate when a big wave or a gust of wind might surface and respond accordingly. 

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Confidence and patience are the skills you need

Legian, on Bali’s south coast, is where Flash Pack’s private Rip Curl surfing session takes place. With a sandy bed and small, continuously formed waves, it’s known a surfing hotspot, with perfect conditions for new learners. 

Confidence and patience are the two main skills you need when surfing for the first time. So many people expect to be balancing on their boards or zooming across the waves in no time. It’s actually far better to take it slow and practise certain techniques, like rowing, standing or handling the board as you enter the water, over and over again.

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You’re guaranteed sun and warm-water conditions

The size of your board and water conditions are fundamental to learning to surf – we’ll spend time discussing both. The weather is also a key reason it’s important to learn with an experienced local instructor as we know the tide conditions and forecasts inside out. 

The other nice thing about surfing in Bali is that you’re guaranteed to have lovely, warm-water conditions. At its coolest, the sea will be around 20°C, but it’s more likely you’ll be surfing in balmy temperatures of around 27°C-30°C or higher. This means you can generally surf for longer, enjoying being on the board for up to three or four hours.

Sometimes, early morning surf sessions are better as it can get really hot later in the day. You might get some really well formed waves at sunset, too (along with spectacular Balinese views), but it all depends on the season and that day’s surfing forecast.

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If you time it right, surfing can feel like flying

We have a really strong surf community in Bali. It’s friendly and tight-knit with a wide range of locations to choose from, especially if you’re more experienced. For example, I like riding the big waves at Canggu, further west along the southern coast of the island. I also enjoy Keramas in the southeast, backed by black sand and rice fields. Hyatt Reef and Sindhu Reef in Sanur in the south can also be a lot of fun and tend to be less crowded.

There’s something heartening about the ability to surf. If you time it right, it can feel like flying. At a time when we’re always on our phones or a computer, it’s a great way to be present and connect with nature.

Made Yoga is a master surf instructor at the legendary Rip Curl School of Surf, which appears on Flash Pack’s Spiritual Bali adventure. 

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Images: courtesy of Rip Curl School of Surf x Made Yoga

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