A Surf camp Lombok story

Jenny's picture
Surfcamp Lombok Photo by Surf camp Lombok


My friends and I decided to learn how to surf. After browsing on the internet we find a surf school in Indonesia where you for a pretty good price can stay, eat and even get to talk to Swedish speaking instructors, since I am Swedish that felt reassuring.

After some emailing with the surf camp we get the info that the cheapest flights always fly out on Sundays. Well, said and done; we book our tickets to arrive in paradise a Sunday in September. Now it´s just the matter of waiting until we can finally go…

Suddenly that day has arrived and as always, I start packing everything in the last minute, it doesn´t matter how much time I have, I always, always end up having to hurry to get everything sorted in time. Because of a sleep in I also manage to miss the bus to Stockholm. Thank you to Fat Per who woke me up and helped me to sort out a ticket to a later bus.

We travel with Malaysian Airways and everything works perfect. I can never sleep on airplanes but since we get the luxury of having individual TV-screens that´s not a problem. Lots of movies and TV-games keep me occupied.

The flight to Kuala Lumpur is 11 hours and then we have to wait another 3 hours before we continue to Denpasar on Bali. I have this clear memory of there being a taxi shack where you can buy taxi rides for a fixed price; I have no intention of being ripped off the first thing that happens.  It doesn´t take many minutes before my friends assign me the title of worst guide ever; the taxi shack is nowhere to be found. We´re just going to have to face the fact that we will get ripped off so we jump in a taxi and get taken to Kuta 20 minutes away. On Poppies Lane 1 we find New Arena Hotel and move in for the cost of 7€/night and person. Three beds, AC and a swimming pool with a bar. We all know that AC will not be a luxury to enjoy out on Lombok so we think we are worth this for the first nights in Kuta.

These two first days we can call the shopping days: we buy clothes to ourselves and to people back home and everything for the price of almost nothing. (But of course, we always try to bargain no matter how low the price) To prepare for the surfing we decide to rent bodyboards, and the waves on Kuta beach is crowded with likeminded people. There are aspiring surfers everywhere and we have to watch out not to get flying surfboards in our heads. After just an hour we all have rashes on our chests from the boards and we have to call it a day. We get really pissed off we didn’t bargain harder for the rental price of the boards, I mean, we did pay for a whole day. Next time we will make sure we have rash guards or at least t-shirts to wear.

Two days in Kuta is more than enough. It doesn´t take long before you get really annoyed with all the people trying to sell you the most useless stuff. Even worse are the taxi drivers that can´t seem to stop offering us ‘Transport’ at the same time as they do obscene gestures with their hands. After a while however, we understand what the hand gestures mean; they´re trying to illustrate how they hold their hands on the steering wheel while driving.

Finally it´s time to leave for Lombok and surfing. We fly from Denpasar for about 30€ to Lombok which is located just east of Bali. It doesn´t take more than 30 minutes to fly and after that 1½ hour taxi ride to the camp.


Day 1

Finally there after what seems to be a life threatening taxi ride. First of all, it is totally unsafe to ride on the wrong side of the road, the second threat is that none of the car drivers seem to give a rats ass about all the people on motorbikes. We experience drive bys to the left and right but it seems that as long as you honk the horn aggressively enough everything is aloud.

At the camp we end up in the common room or what you call it. Here there are nice couches, mattresses on the floor, a projector and a movie screen. There´s also TV-games and lots of other fun stuff to play with. We say hi to everyone, and as usual I forget all names instantly. We fill in the compulsory release form that we will surf on our own risk and that we promise to do what the coaches tell us to do. We then get an introduction with some info about the camp, background story etc and we get to meet the coaches Olle, Scott and Alex. We also get to hear the really good news that photos will be taken while we surf and there´s also going to be a movie that we get to take home. Perfect!

Day 2

Some guests who have already been on the camp for a couple of weeks go out surfing at 5 in the morning. The rest of us, sleepy beginners get up at 8 and are greeted by a strengthening porridge breakfast. After breakfast accompanied by a stunning ocean view we get our first theory lesson; Feels quite boring to start with theory when all I want to do is surf, but once it starts I realize it probably is a good idea after all. There are many things you have to consider out in the water.

We talk about the breaks in Gerupuk and there are four of them; Don Dons, Insides, Outsides and Kid’s Point. We also get to know where we should be placed in the lineup and where not to be placed, who has priority on a wave and how the “cue” system works. When you go out on the first wave you should know how to do a turtle roll or the duck dive that will help you to not get flushed all over the place. After a couple of hours it‘s time for paddle training. We go down to the beach and Scott and Olle show us the correct way to lie on the surfboard and how to do the pop up. (The “jump” from lying down to standing up) and some other techniques you should know about. After that it´s time to go out for a paddle. We paddle in the calm water of the bay for what seem like hours and get all worn out in our arms. We also practice on turning and pop ups. The conclusion of the morning is that I should probably had done some exercise before coming here, and when I ask around it seems like everyone else is thinking the same thing.

Back from the paddle session lunch awaits us, it´s rice with a lentil stew, tastes amazing for a worn out surfer, if I may call myself that. Drinking water is also included in the price and that feels really good. You need lots of water and it´s nice not having the hassle of running back and forth to the store all the time to buy this very important beverage. After lunch there´s even more paddling, yes, I really should have done some workouts before coming here.

In the afternoon we play a little bit of basketball and lots of Yatzy. After dinner the idea is to watch a tutorial surf movie but one of the kids in the village has been injured so the surf coaches have to help out. During the 2 weeks at the camp I realize that the surf camp almost serves as a hospital in the village. When the movie is finally on I almost immediately fall asleep. Despite that I have no trouble falling sleep again when it´s time to go to bed.

 Day 3

It´s up with the roosters, the alarm goes off at 5am and after we have eaten pancakes it´s time to hit the water. It can´t have been more than 26/27 C in the water so I am actually feeling cold sitting in the boat. You can see the waves from a distance and it actually looks ok, not too big not too small. It´s 5.30 in the morning and we have the waves to our selves. Alex and Olle tells us we´ll probably have one hour before other surfers arrive.

We´re at Insides and everyone is struggling to stay in the line up just as we have been taught to do. This proves to be harder than expected and we all drift around. I lie in the safe zone far away from the dangerous waves until one of the coaches call me in. Well there you don´t have to think at all; when a good wave approaches all you hear is “paddle, paddle!” I can feel the wave getting hold of my board, someone yells “Go!”, and that´s when you´re meant to stand up. There´s water everywhere and of course I fall off. I like that we´re surfing over a reef, because no waves are breaking outside the reef. That way we can paddle back without being flushed away as often happen if you surf a beach break.

It goes equally good/bad for most of us, I´m not sure what I expected but it´s definitely harder than I thought it would be. I can count the times I manage to stand up on one hand and that is just in the white water as well. But that doesn´t matter now, I´m having a great time! As soon as more people are joining us in the water it´s starting to get more scary; you don´t want to lie in the way of someone else and I am starting to get tired.

As an early lunch it´s pasta with vegetables and it´s so good after a long morning in the water. We´re told were going out again at 11:30am, so a couple of hours to rest. Time to take a nap, and to talk to the other guests and discuss the morning surf.

Time to surf Don Dons, the waves are a bit smaller but the wind is catching up so the water is a bit choppy and I get water all over my face while paddling. I am still tired since the morning and remind myself again that I should have done some workouts before coming here…Not many waves for me but it´s still lots of fun. When we come back to the camp everyone is knackered and also, I forgot to put sunscreen on my back so it´s totally burned, which seems to be very entertaining for some people.

After dinner we play Yatzy again and go to bed early. I am sleeping as a log before 10pm.


Day 4

Another 5am wake up, tired but I am trying to get in surf mood. We don´t leave until 6 am because we have to wait for the tide to be right. When the tide is to high the waves won´t break, when the tide is to low it becomes far too shallow for us as beginners, surfing over a reef doesn´t provide the same wipe out comfort as a sand bottom does. We don´t mind waiting though, we´re all pretty tired and our muscles are not used to surfing. We go to Don Dons which is a bit better than yesterday, the waves aren´t bigger but there´s less wind. Everyone seem to be doing better today and we all feel  the rush when we see each other manage to stand up in the white water.

After we go back to the camp to enjoy the porridge with cinnamon breakfast and it tastes great. I take a rest before it’s time to go out again around 12pm. We go back to Don Dons and just like in the morning it goes pretty well for all of us. Everyone is cheering as soon as someone takes a wave, pure happiness! When the coaches pushes us in we all shout; Paddle paddle! You always get an extra boost of energy when people are stoked and happy.

In the evening we have a yoga class; I am a bit skeptical, it´s my first time trying this, but since everyone else is in on it I feel the peer pressure and join in too. It was exactly what I needed. Warm up, stretching and relaxing. We all feel this is really good and we decide to do this every day for the rest of the camp.

After it´s movie time and I have a hard time staying awake, but this time I succeed. After that it´s time to go to bed.

Day 5

Today we split into two smaller groups. One group goes surfing in the morning between 7.30am and 10:00 am and the other group goes between 10.30 am and 2.00pm. Today is not my best day; I miss the pop ups and my timing is all off. Feels like I’ve lost the feeling in some way but part from that it´s great to see my friends make it. I go out with the first group and when we get back in I practice pop ups on land until I get it. This is also something I should have done before coming here, maybe then I wouldn´t have had this bad day.

After the surf we have the whole day to explore the island. We take a walk through the village to have a look around as well as support the local shops. I buy a whole box of the local very delicious and inexpensive chocolate Beng-beng. After that our friend Jenny teaches us the very important art form of counting lines in letters; Emil 10 lines, Martin 14 lines, if I am not mistaken. Imagine if I had that talent, I wouldn´t have to work anymore…or?

Day 6

Surf at 8am and today Man is back. Man is the local surf guru and is the one who brought surfing to the island many years ago. I just have to use a few lines to write up Man, Danker and Jonson our local surf guides; they are amazing when it comes to coaching us and Jonson has a skill to foresee a set of waves coming several minutes before it actually arrives. Every time he says: - “Big wave coming” you know it´s time to start to paddle hard to get out of the way. And just like that huge waves are rolling in washing the lazy people away. Man, he is a surf god who knows how to surf on his head, instead of on his feet and he does that quite often. Danker is always smiling and I don´t think I have ever seen him without that big smile. These three are an enormous help out in the water even though they can´t say much more in Swedish than:- Jävla Japaner and Stor våg (Damn Japanese and big wave)


Today everything feels much easier thanks to the pop up training I did yesterday and also this morning before we left. How little it takes to have so much fun. I manage to stand up a few times and I soon forget all the hours of paddling.

In the evening we have a plan to go to a luxury hotel nearby to eat a buffet dinner, but some trouble with getting us all there puts a stop to that idea. I don´t mind though, I can quite happily eat at the camp, healthy and good food.

After dinner we get to see all the surf photos Scott has shot during the day and we get some pointers on what we can do to get better. It´s really helpful and for some reason the reality of me surfing doesn´t look at all as it looks in my imagination.

Day 7

No surf until 11am. It has rained a lot during the night which is weird considering we´re in the middle of the dry season. Most of us aren´t that keen because of the rain, but hey, what could be better than surfing you´re going to get wet anyway. When we finally get out there are so many boats in the water which means lots of surfers. We stay anyway and surf until 3pm and we have a blast. I surf my first face today which means I am not just surfing straight ahead, but I manage to turn and follow the wave sideways. For the first time I can see that my experience on a snowboard is quite helpful. The feeling is similar to the one you get snowboarding in deep snow, at least that´s what I think.

Get back to the camp hungry as a wolf and I eat like a pig followed by Wii sports on Nintendo. I have never tried this before and I must say I enjoy it. I get my ass kicked in both bowling and golf before it´s time for the next theory lesson. This time we talk about what we need to know in order to keep surfing by ourselves. We learn where waves come from, what to look for when it comes to weather and wind conditions to choose the best surf spots.

Later it´s time for a poker tournament but I choose to pass. Everyone knows that I have a non existing poker face; my face is like an open book. The rest of us play ‘Hearts’ until the electricity goes out. This is something that happens a lot in Gerupuk but luckily we have flash lights and there are candles so we can finish the round. Up on the top floor some people are for the third time trying to watch the movie ‘Shooter’, but once again that mission is failed haha.

Day 8

Surfing at 8am, but the tide is not right so we take some time to practice pop ups and that’s always good. We get another good surf session with a lot of waves even though the water is crowded with surfers.

After the surf we go to Praya too see how the locals lives on the inland. It´s very hot and we ride in what could be the world’s most uncomfortable car. We walk around and feel like animals in a zoo, people are staring. I get the feeling not so many westerners come here. While eating lunch some guys on a motorbike stops, point at us, speak in Indonesian and starts to laugh. We stare back, say something in Swedish and laugh, I hope they didn´t understand what we said. In the evening it´s party time so we buy some beer and snacks to take back to the camp. Back on the camp we find Alex making burgers, the dinner turns out amazing and the party is on. Empa goes to bed at 10pm, I and Märta at 11pm. The party doesn´t go quite as wild as I had imagined, I am simply too tired. Some of the other guests though seem quite energetic and party on all the way to midnight.

Day 9

No surfing until 11am which most of seems to appreciate, we´re all pretty knackered, especially me even though I went to bed first last night. The waves are getting bigger now and we have heard rumors that a big swell is on its way in just a few days. It feels good to be out in the water and the hangover is almost not present, as long as I stay active and catch some waves. When you do that you forget everything else! The only thing that counts is that you get to surf and that hopefully that opportunity will come soon again. All the tiredness I´ve felt is gone and when I paddle back I feel like a newborn. I get better and better every day and it feels really good that I´m here for 2 weeks. Those surf classes you can sign up for in Kuta Bali doesn´t count for much compared to this. Here you get good waves every day, get help from the same coaches and get feedback and theory in the evenings.

The photo session we had the other night has really helped and I can feel both my stance and positioning on the board has improved.

This evening it´s time for the Novotel meat buffet dinner; But when we get there it´s not just meat; it´s an around the world theme so you can get pretty much anything. I eat so much I almost get sick and then it´s time for dessert.

I can tell you, falling asleep is not a problem after that.


Day 10

The waves are even bigger today so we skip Don Dons and go to Kid’s Point instead. The waves here are faster and there are quite many surfers in the water. I´m way into deep today cause I have chosen a smaller board…With a smaller board it´s much harder to catch the waves, but once up it´s easier to turn. I don´t get a single wave so the good things about this board, well, I can´t see them. For many of the others though who are still on the beginner long boards it goes really well. The session ends when I manage to crash my board into Alex’s board and breaks the nose on it. Today is not a good day in the water.

When the swell is this big we get some waves just in the bay really close to the camp. We name the place Freddie’s Point. Freddie decides not to go to Kid’s Point, he stays to surf there, the waves aren´t big but he gets quite long rides. He has company by a few local kids, naked on broken surfboards, some even bodysurfing on wooden planks. Awesome! This is surfing as it always should be; no stress and just for fun.

In the evening we try out the game selection; none of us have the energy to read the manual for Risk so we decide to play cards instead. We mix a few decks together and invent our own card game which we call Lombok. After a while we realize the game is over but we still can’t decide who won, so we get back to playing Yatzy instead. Soon we come to the conclusion that Yatzy isn´t exactly that entertaining and we decide to never play it again. After this we sleep.

Day 11

The tide has turned so now it´s time for early surfing again. The clock goes off at 5am, but I keep sleeping and wake up at 10am. My body was apparently far too tired to wake up that early. Later we go out to Kid’s Point again, with me, I have the old long board and I catch lots of waves. I don’t even need help from the coaches. It feels so god, I can sort out my own positioning in the lineup as well as decide which waves to paddle on. I catch quite many waves but I also get to experience what it’s like when people drop in on you. I don´t really mind though, I’m just happy I can catch waves on my own! It feels so good I finally got it just the day before it’s time to leave. When I later talk to my friends though, they tell me we´re not leaving the next day, my lovely friend Empa has tricked me. This means we have another day at the camp! The days go by really quickly here. It’s not the right place to go to if you want to party nonstop; you either surf or sleep.

Day 12

Today is the last full day on the camp so we struggle to get up early to go surf. You really do get tired in this place; the soul gets a rest but the body struggles hard and I can feel it in my muscles in the boat on our way to Don Dons. In the water it feels warmer and when the waves start to roll in I am back in surf mode. This early we always have the waves to our selves so it´s really just to enjoy it and use the time to its maximum. Surfing is just so much fun. Soon we are back shouting and cheering on one another; Paddle, paddle, paddle! When more people are starting to arrive we get pretty tired and the session today is quite short.

Back on the camp people are starting to pack their stuff together and some are catching up on sleep. When lunch is served and it´s that pasta with veggies again, I kind of feel it’s time to move on to eat different food. Even though it tastes great, I would really love to eat some meat and grease.

In the afternoon I go out surfing again. Not everyone is up for it but I feel I might as well go all in while I am here and it´s just as fun as ever. I still get frustrated when I miss waves but as soon as I do get one you soon forget the frustration. After a really nice wave I paddle back to the boat and feel totally happy with the day even though I might have had energy left for a few more.

In the evening it´s premiere time for the surf movie Scott has been shooting during the camp. He´s been working in the evenings with editing and adding the music that we´ve played most during this time. The movie turned out great! It manages to really capture the vibe of being here and everyone is in it. We get to see both really good waves and also some wipeouts. We all get a DVD to take home, perfect for watching once the cold weather is a reality back in Sweden.

Day 13

Last surf! Our taxi to the airport will leave at 10am so we have time for a morning surf. I do as I did yesterday; after a really good wave I paddle back to the boat and that’s enough. I don´t want to end this with a disastrous wipeout. When we get back to the camp we have time to eat and then it’s time to leave.

It has been 2 wonderful weeks at Surf camp Lombok. Even though it can get a bit boring waiting for surf sometimes it has been nearly perfect. I have really learned a lot, much faster than if I would have tried to learn on my own. It’s just ultimate to live with the surfing so to speak, always have the luxury of getting pointers and feedback both in and out of the water.

When we land on Bali I instantly find the taxi shack I was looking for when we first arrived. It´s in the domestic area! We go back to the fine hotel where we first stayed and we get a good taxi fare. We lie in the swimming pool, drink some beers and meet up with a whole gang from the same camp for a last party. I get back to the hotel 7am in the morning and feel pretty rubbish all the way back to Sweden.

Can´t wait to go back though, especially now that there is a climbing wall and a skate bowl on the camp grounds

Daniel Kalin








Surf camp Lombok's picture
Joined: 2009-12-30
Big up Kalin!

Big up Kalin!

Visited SCL 2009Visited SCL 2007
Joined: 2010-03-04


Big up to Jenny who translated all to english!!!

See you all soon