We recently caught up with Andrew from Padang Padang Surf Camp in Bali to find more about one of the coolest surf camps in Bali.
Where do you hail from and what brought you to Padang Padang?
I’m originally from a town in South Wales but have called Bali home for the past 15 years. The original attraction to Padang Padang was the surf, culture, people, climate, food and lifestyle which all remain just as great today as they were when I arrived.
How long have you been surfing for?
I started back in the late ’70s when you had to make your own wetsuits but wasted my best years trying to learn how to surf a desk.
What makes surfing in Padang Padang so special?
Padang Padang’s unique location on the Bukit Peninsula allows easy access to the widest variety of coastline in Bali and ensures that it’s always offshore somewhere in our local area 365 days of the year.
Regardless of the season, there is always somewhere local to surf that’s perfect for every ability level so great conditions are pretty much guaranteed.
Out of the water, the local Balinese people, culture and traditions are things that no other location in the world can compete with.
How have things been in Padang Padang since the pandemic hit?
We remained open throughout the pandemic and are not a chain operator or part of a big corporation. Unlike some other operators, who closed in March 2020, and left Bali with the money, we remained open and kept the money in Bali to invest in the staff and property.
Fresh chicken and fish every day for the unsung heroes who are still digging hard, making new facilities and improving the property. Many of our local Balinese employees had a wider range of skills than we realised, and have continued to work productively throughout the pandemic.
It was very hard on the surf instructors who we provided financial support for four months into the pandemic. The longest-serving surf instructors are the best in Bali and managed to set up their own successful surf school businesses, serving the small number of tourists who remained throughout the pandemic.
The less experienced guys moved into other areas of employment such as carpentry or surf photography. In the water, the waves are as perfect and consistent as ever and the crowds are lower than they have been for decades.
Where are most of your guests from?
Europe, North America, Australia, New Zealand and throughout South East Asia — all over the world.
What services does your surf camp offer?
We try to offer everything you might want on a surfing vacation to Bali. From our facilities such as our pool, skateboard ramps, open-air gym to our photo review sessions, massage and spa facilities and services. We have surf lessons and guiding for everybody from beginners to advanced surfers with some of Bali’s most experienced instructors.
What’s the best wave you’ve ever surfed?
It would have to be Uluwatu, which is located just 10 minutes down the road from the surf camp. It’s not the most perfect wave but it has an unmatched balance of quality and consistency to keep you happy for a lifetime.
Longboard or shortboard?
The shortest board you can ride for the size of the wave is the board that gives you the most feeling. A 5’8” on small days, or a 5’11” on medium days. Riding a log is just that. It is not the same feeling.
What are your thoughts on surfing as an Olympic sport?
Good and it’s about time! All surfers are athletes (even weekend warriors). It may only be 250 years ago that the first Europeans saw surfers in Hawaii, but the heritage of surfing goes back thousands of years.
I can only presume that the reason surfing was not included in the Olympics a long time ago, is that the surfing opportunity was not available at some of the locations where the games were held. With artificial waves, it is now possible to hold surfing competitions in landlocked locations so there’s no excuse.