Bali… beach, barrels and Bintang!

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Bali… beach, barrels and Bintang!

Bali is one of the truly great surf destinations on the planet. There was a time when there were no surfers in Bali. The beaches were littered with huts while fisherman and their nets trawled the reefs and waters surrounding the island in their bright coloured boats.
The first surfers discovered Bali in the early 1930’s but stayed close to Kuta with its friendly waves and tropical ambience. It was during the seventies when surfers discovered the now famous ‘Uluwatu that things began to rapidly change and this little island… known for its beaches and volcanoes was quickly transformed into a mega holiday destination with high-rise hotels and Bintang bogans.
I’ll be in Bali soon and in many ways can’t wait to enjoy the waves, weather and hospitality of this little island of Gods. We usually stay well away from the madness of Kuta and only have to deal with crazy Russians and loud Americans looking for waves along the quiet parts of the island. The surf is incredible and surf culture in Bali strong as more and more locals take to the waves and give us tourists a good run for our money on most days.
When surfers first came to Bali they came for the waves and the remoteness that this island, so close to Australia offered. Alby Falzon in his ground breaking surf film Morning Of The Earth was the first to showcase Bali and in particular Uluwatu. Surfers could not believe how perfect the wave was as it barreled down reef after reef beneath the cliffs of the Bukit Peninsula.
Falzon’s film opened the eyes to many about the potential of Bali and surfers have been filling the planes to Bali ever since. More surfers meant more infrastructure; also meaning high-end tourism has replaced a surf experience based on ‘roughing it’ and hanging out with the locals.
It will be interesting to see how much of Bali has changed since my last visit. We Westerners have a habit of taking somewhere special and overdeveloping it until it is unrecognisable from the place we visited in the past.
Still the beer will be cold and the water warm. I’m just not looking forward to wading through any plastic on the way out to the waves.
Written by John Foss