A while ago SHE decided to learn to surf. It’s been a long time coming. Growing up in Western Australia, spending most summers on stunning white beaches, in and out of the water, SHE still regrets not having learnt sooner. Back in those days it was different…SHE was a teenager in the ‘Puberty Blues’ era, when girls didn’t surf, we sat on the beach and watched the boys, and waited, often for hours, and we got serious suntans. Seemed like a good idea at the time. The boys wouldn’t let us touch their boards anyway – they were more precious than their bronzed surfer chicks. By a long way. And we didn’t quite get it. The fascination with chasing the waves, how the hours could run by and still they would sit out there, on their boards, waiting, waiting… So SHE decided, with a new year’s resolution, it was about time to get on to this surfing thing, before it’s too late, before SHE has dodgy knees, and the body just won’t comply. So SHE heads to Hawaii, birthplace of surfing. Good place to start SHE thinks. Ideal in fact. SHE arrives in Waikiki, plenty of surf schools, not sure how to choose one, but Trip Advisor is usually a pretty good place to start! A stroll up the beach revealed lots of options, and loads of people with the same idea. It was all too intimidating, there were too many people trying to catch the same wave. How on earth was SHE going to find any space amongst all that? (this West Australian beach girl gets a bit precious about sharing the beach and the waves! Reality check…welcome to Waikiki!)
So SHE passed. Admittedly, with a small sigh of relief. Relief? What was that about? Some interesting internal conversation took place; it turns out the reality of actually learning to surf was in fact terrifying. What if SHE couldn't do it? What if SHE looked like an idiot, if SHE wasn't any good at it, or made a fool of herself and people laughed? Good god. Best walk away from that silly idea.
Thankfully, some pretty ordinary weather saw a change in travel plans – SHE decided to head to Maui. And to learn to surf. For real. More research, a long phone conversation, and SHE booked 3 days of 2 hour sessions. As it turned out, they were private lessons. A little more expensive but SHE needed to commit – no turning back now.
SHE arrived on the first day, woke up with knots in the stomach, and almost didn’t show. Introduced to the shy, laid back Billy – and his dog Irene. We head to the beach, he says ‘nervous?’. Oh yeah. Terrified. Not sure why really. We go through the basics, and then we paddle out – just 200m from the shore. Conditions were perfect for a beginner. That day SHE stood up on the first wave, a lovely small wave on a reef break, on a great big long board called a Malibu, all 12 foot of it. And SHE cheered and whooped the whole way.
Day two was more of the same. Billy lamented the small waves, SHE secretly thanked the Hawaiian gods! Irene came along for the ride for a couple of waves (if a dog can surf so can you!). And SHE started to get it: bobbing out there in the ocean, waiting for the ‘right’ wave, practicing patience, passing the time sharing stories, nothing else to do, nowhere else to be. When that wave does come along it’s so worth the wait. There’s nothing like feeling the power of the ocean beneath you. The sheer thrill of actually standing up on a board is better than any man made adrenalin rush SHE’s ever had. Does it get better than that? Ah well…yep…SHE has to say the eye candy’s pretty good out there too!
Months pass by and no surfing action. SHE was worried SHE’d forget how to stand up. All that wasted time and effort in Hawaii – SHE couldn’t let that happen. Apparently, surfing is like riding a bike…clearly that theory needed testing. Time to give it a crack a little closer to home.
Bali. To Australians, it’s our playground, our winter escape and summer getaway. It’s the great divider when it comes to holiday destinations. You love it or you hate it – apparently. SHE’s been coming to Bali for 20 plus years, first from Perth (a 3 hour flight, why not?), more recently from Melbourne (5 - 6 hrs, a bit longer but still relatively close). So SHE decides to spend a week where the primary activity is surfing. Excellent idea, book it quickly, don’t think about it for too long or the fear will set it. Voice in head says: ‘have you seen the waves crashing on Seminyak Beach from the safety of La Lucciola? Are you mad?’. Quite possibly.
The week was amazing. SHE spent it with a group of fabulous girls from all parts of the world. We laughed (a lot), we cheered each other on, we stood up on a board, and we actually surfed. Our instructors took us to the best waves to suit our abilities. They encouraged us to do better, were infinitely patient, incredibly good tempered, and the best fun. SHE had some pretty scary moments out there in the real ocean. But the lessons we learnt on the sand, about the tides, the waves, how to duck dive, the ‘eskimo roll’; if we listened we were always safe. And with one instructor to two lucky girls, we were surfing.
SHE’s hooked. SHE doesn’t care to chase the big waves – not yet, maybe not ever. SHE just loves the whole process: getting the cozzie on, grabbing the sarong, the hat and sunscreen and jumping in the car with the boards on the roof. Finding ourselves at an amazing location, standing and watching the waves roll in. The fear still kicks in, the heart beats faster, the doubting voice says ‘ you can’t do that’ and then you do. The thrill of paddling out over the breaking waves, waiting, waiting, and then paddling, paddling to feel the wave kick behind you, the momentum, and before you know it, standing up! SHE doesn’t think that’s ever going to get old. SHE can’t wait to get out there again.
SHE knows now that surfing is about a whole lot more than paddling, standing up and knowing how to ‘go left’ or ‘go right’. It’s about facing fears every single time you go out there. You can’t control the ocean. SHE’s learning how to make friends with it. With some new skills and a whole new appreciation for the power of nature, the confidence increases every time SHE paddles out. Like anything new, it’s about practice. SHE nearly gave up after a pretty ordinary day amongst some pretty big waves. And if it wasn’t for the fabulous women that week, and the incredible instructors, SHE would have walked away, ‘oh that was fun, don’t need to do that again’. And then, a few days later, SHE found herself surfing at sunset, with the girls, with our fabulous surf guides, watching the sun sink in the Indian Ocean while we bobbed around on a board. Bucket list – check. Again? Oh yes please.
Want to join us in Bali - sun, surf and big fun? Have a look here for all the details.