Surfing in Bali wasn’t originally high up on our agenda, but the longer we stayed, the more it appealed. So while in Kuta, with not much other to do than stay on the beaches or swim in the sea, it was prime time to get our surf on.
We were picked up by Odyssey Surf School at around 8:50am and driven to the Mercure Hotel only 1km away. The Surf School is part of the Hotel, we didn’t realise was how close it was, which was why we didn’t walk – we’re not lazy! Promise!
First of all, we got kitted out in our gear, a full sleeve surf top and shorts over my bikini for me, Greg just wore his swim shorts with the top. We were then ushered to a board and asked to grab one, not realising how heavy they were, I picked it up trying to carry it under one arm like the pros and almost dropped it. Not only were they heavy but enormous! Luckily it was only a short walk across the road.
We were in a small group – just us and another couple, which was a perfect number. First we were asked to lay down our boards next to each other and sit on one of the boards facing our instructor, Gary, a local guy in his 20’s who was really understanding and had a lot of patience.
We started off with safety information, how to prepare our boards, harnessing the foot handle to the board and shown how to push the board up from the back as we swam through the waves, and to always keep the boards vertical to the shore otherwise the wave would knock the board back into our faces..not cool.
Then we were shown and taught how to do “the moves” in the sand;
1 – Flat toes at the end, head up, swim (pretend swim).
2 – Move hands to ribs, grip board, push up.
3 – Move right (or left if left footed) foot and place at a 90 degree angle where hands are.
4 – Move the left foot in front of right at the same angle twice hips width apart from other foot, bend knees and look forward, balancing arms.
It sounds complicated, but it really wasn’t as bad as it sounds, we did this a few times until we grasped it, and we were soon on our way into the sea to test them out.
We swam out with our boards, pushing them ahead of us as we tackled incoming waves. Wave after wave crashed down on us, it was quite traumatic and disheartening at first, but as we repeated the moves again and again we slowly got the hang of it.
Our instructor was on the beach sending us signals to straighten up the board, start swimming, get up, whatever was needed. It was really helpful and as we crashed back into the shore, spitting out copious amounts if salt water he corrected what we had been doing wrong.
After a first few failed attempts, I was suddenly up and riding the wave! A little strangely at first, as it just looked like I was standing on it, not surfing, Gary reminded me constantly to have a widen my legs and bend them to balance, but I pretty much forgot this every single time, there were so many things to worry about!
I kept practicing and began being able to stand up on most attempts. I had to stop at one point though as I got bad cramp in my bum! Of all the places, I sat out for a while lying/squirming on my board on the sand like a bit of a weirdo, which must have looked funny to passers by.
Greg didn’t find it so easy, as his legs kept getting mixed up, but eventually he managed to stand up for a few waves too.
After an hour or so, we were back onto the beach for a break and some much needed water, but after 10 minutes we were raring to go again. For round 2 it was much of the same, mastering the moves, until we could consistently catch the waves. When we were finally told us it was time up we were devastated as it was so much fun! Reluctantly we made our way out of the water.
When we walked back to the surf school, we showered, in the cubicles provided with free towels, changed back into our clothes and had a look at all the pictures and videos on the computer they had managed to take! It was fantastic, the quality was great and we got a disk of all the photos as a memento, as well as a free bag, plus a keyring and a pen in the free raffle.
In conclusion, we loved our time fooling around in the sea trying to stand and balance on a board and swallowing handfuls of salt water. We were both anxious about it in the few hours of the morning and night before, but we definitely had a great experience. One day was enough for us this time though, as it had destroyed our palms, knees and generally my whole body! (I don’t exercise ever so this really was like 2 full hours in a gym).
A big thank you to Odyssey Surf School for running some great surf lessons and instructors that respect however good (or bad!) you are! We enjoyed a complimentary lesson but all of our opinions are our own.