The marketing of surfing as a pursuit best enjoyed on tropical isles has been going since the Endless Summer, longer even. But that was over half a century ago, and since then the world’s changed beyond recognition. The population’s more than doubled, and the percentage of that who surf has inflated more than Bruce Brown would’ve dared dream. There’s not much that remains the same as it was 50 years ago, especially culturally. Global fashion and financial capitals have shifted, several times, hip hop’s revolutionised popular music, shit’s different now. So why are we still going to Bali?
Indonesia’s one of the greatest modern day examples of capitalism gone wild. There’s not much that you can’t do in the third world if your pockets are bulging, and as a result the archipelago’s been ravished by unchecked, irresponsible development. Spending your vacations lining the pockets of foreigners who’ve cooked up some under the table deal with the local authorities, whilst giving nothing back to the local community is no way to vacay. Furthermore, unless you’re Martin Daly and you’ve got a host of secret spots up your jacket (and like spending your time off from work in remote, stinking hot villages with absolutely zero to do) then surfing-wise “Indo” is done. Every quality wave’s a zoo year-round, with line-ups reeking of the aggro desperation that exudes from those who’ve dropped thousands of their hard earned dollars for the wave that they’re willing to go to blows over. Surfing ruined the jewel in its crown. It’s ok though, there’s still the Philippines, the Pacific, no? Exclusive resorts, crowds, zero après surf activity. Finis.
Thankfully, the single biggest technological advancement in the surf world since Bruce and the boys froze their tits off at Raglan in trunks, has opened up literally half the world as thermally tolerable, culturally enriching surf travel destinations. The modern wetsuit. The difference in quality, comfort and warmth of the things since I started surfing 15 years ago is nothing short of remarkable. And it’s changed, everything. Now I’m not talking about booking a flight to Reykjavik—but if you’re game then kudos to you on what’ll be the trip of a lifetime—I’m talking the South Island of New Zealand in the transitional seasons, Europe when the Atlantic wakes up and the school kids are back at the desk, maybe even the South Western coastlines of South America if you’ve been saving some. You know three things all of these locales have in common? Quality waves, thin crowds, and culture. I’ll take a roaring fire and a pint of something dark over a Bintang with a side of Jason Mraz any day.
Oh, did you need a fresh 4/3?