Catch a wave: Bali

Catch a wave: Bali

14 June, 2012
Ikoa Surf Camp & School
Discover hidden beaches, serene accommodation and the joy of surf

On the western part of the Bukit Peninsula, slightly north of Dreamlands, is Balangan Beach, the perfect location for recently opened Ikoa Surf Camp. Nestled between towering cliffs and deep golden sand, we were delighted to discover this relaxing and peaceful place to stay and surf in Bali. Ex-pro surfer Luis Rojas and architect Nathalie Duspasquier were looking for a home together when they stumbled upon something that inspired them to build more than just that. With a passion for surfing and a dream to have his own surf school, Luis knew this was the perfect opportunity to get started on making his dream a reality. The camp’s website sums up their philosophy: “Ikoa, meaning "Sons of the Water", reminds us of our connection with the ocean. Our philosophy is to respect and enjoy, while learning about new cultures and having a great time.”
Luis is the primary surf instructor at Ikoa Surf Camp, and has been surfing this beach for 15 years. “You use to have to paddle in around the cliff to reach this secret spot,” he shared, before starting my surf lesson. I was pretty sure he had his work cut out for him – I am not the most graceful and I had never before attempted surfing. But, after getting some theory down, and some practise on a pretend board drawn in the sand, and it was time to hang ten. Luis helped me paddle through some white water, and then up on a wave. His calm demeanour and expertise gave me the confidence I needed to tackle the waves, and soon I was standing on the board, experiencing the indescribable feeling of riding a wave. For a moment I thought, “I’m a natural!” which in itself is testament to Luis’s low-key and effective training.
Courses are available for all skill levels, and it is recommended that beginners stay for five days to fully take on the principles of surfing. Upon completion, you will not only understand how to control your board but how to read the waves, detect rip currents and monitor the weather. To ensure safety and to maximize one’s surfing potential, the camp has a ‘maximum three students per instructor’ policy. All instructors are personally trained by Luis, so Ikoa students are in excellent hands. For those with stronger surfing skills and more experience, Luis is more than happy to take guests out to the best ‘secret’ spots of Bali. Expect big sets, lots of paddling and a lesson on big wave safety.
As for the accommodation, two buildings make up five rooms: two with two single beds, and three with double beds. There is a kitchen, a swimming pool, hot water and large mango trees to feast on when in season. The roofs are all bamboo and the doors are made from coconut wood, giving the property a warm and organic feel, which is carried through by the local décor and simple design. I particularly liked the soft white mosquito nets draped over the incredibly comfortable beds, which were very welcome after an exhilarating day in the water. Nathalie has been the visionary for future developments at Ikoa. As an architect with sustainability as a priority, she has been researching sustainable local materials and plans to build two traditional-style Javanese Joglos on the property. She also envisions a vegetable garden to help feed guests, and a recycling area to lessen their impact and serve as an example in the community.
At the end of our stay I was sad to leave this tranquil spot and the lovely people who hosted us and made us feel like family. It was not only the beauty of the area but the passion and respect that Luis and Nathalie have for their surroundings that made the stay feel special. I asked Luis what he truly wants his guests to take from their experience at Ikoa: “I want people to come here and learn, not only the philosophy but the feeling I have when I surf. When I get in the water I feel part of nature, alive, and happy. That’s the real meaning of surfing.”

By: Ecozine Staff


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