East of Bali - photos
Photos courtesy of Pegasus Lodges / Andrew Shield
The surf travel game is one of the few (relatively) thriving aspects of the surf industry these days, and will most likely remain so until the utopian/dystopian future of a KS wave pool on every block comes to pass.
As opposed to the weird promise of cool-by-association a pair of hundred dollar boardies provides, you’ll generally get decent bang for your buck if you sling your hard-earned at a surf travel agent or operator.
Lay off the takeaway coffees and smashed avo for a year, and you’ve squirrelled enough away to jump on a few successively smaller planes until it’s just you and a half dozen mates lugging your board bags up the stairs to the guest house, or jockeying for the best bunk as the boat chugs out of Padang harbour and the first Binnie is cracked.
Ten days later you retrace your steps until you’re back at your local beachie being reintroduced to the concept of the closeout, but with the memory vault stocked with speed runs on oily dusks, that session everything clicked and you surfed how you always thought you might be able to, and assorted hits of fear, fun and feeling really fricken alive.
All of which is a roundabout way of demonstrating that the surf travel industry is healthy because the basic equation of supply and demand is in balance.
But with more players in the game, and a finite number of known spots on the board, operators are becoming increasingly savvy in the quest to fill their bookings schedule. Coaching clinics, celebrity (only-slightly-washed-up-pro) guest-hosting, photo/video packages. All that gear. And it’s good, because we the punters benefit.
Occasionally though, as Ned Flanders would say, a real dilly of a pickle presents itself to a Surf Travel Operator. What if you found a good surf zone that – for reasons such as no anchorage, tricky access, infrastructure etc – was essentially unpopulated? It’s what all operators dream of, right?
So you spend a few years getting tuned in to the area, build a small, low key lodge, and though it’s not a secret spot, still you can count on one hand the largest crowd you’ve seen in the line-up, and that was crew you brought in yourself.
Here’s where the conundrum comes in: what’s the best way forward with this delicately balanced situation? Commercial success (and let’s face it, this is a business) will be defined by the presence of people whose current absence give the place its value.
“Yeah, it’s weird. What we’re doing with Tenggara is trying to keep the location on the lowdown for as long as we can” says Murdoch, “but history’s shown us word will get out. It’s actually not a ‘secret spot’, it’s just quiet and tucked away and tricky if you’re not set up.
“We know we’re opening another place up to Western influx, and as much as we’re trying to do things in keeping with the region, from the architecture to the staff and community support, no matter what you do or how good your intentions it’ll change the nature of the area for better and for worse. It’s happened with every surf camp, and to a lesser extent with every charter boat, that’s ever operated. It’s folly to pretend otherwise, and better to go into these things with your eyes open.
“There’s other, probably better, surf zones in the region. We’re doing small groups, and not telling our guests even the general location until they’re signed up and on the trip.
“It’ll be interesting to see how it all works out: we’re confident of delivering a really special surf experience when the Lodge opens in April. Shieldsy went on a recce trip late last year. The photos are pretty telling.”
This wave isn’t a secret, but it’s empty a lot of the time.
Nice mix of power and shape: no place does wave quality better than Indo.
Overview of Tenggara Point Lodge. Looking like a tropical reverse version of Red Bluff or something.
Dylan “Dingo” Russell – a Surf Guide at Telo Island Lodge – was recruited to test pilot the lineup. Tough gig.
Dingo into it fairly late.
It helps if the joint harmonises with the local style of architecture. The nearly finished bungalows.
Highline racetrack. From this angle and with the cunjii covered reef it’s got a Winkipop feel to it, hey?
Go on then, head up the reef and see if you can make it.
Slow as a wet week on the end bit, but by then you’re tuckered out.
Steve - a lucky mate of management, happy he tagged along for the trip.
Any self-respecting surf zone’s got to have a Peak as well as a Point.
The smaller day section: another angle that gives us the Winki vibe.
OK, we get it, good surf spot!