Balinese Surfing Culture 1930-2019
Most Indonesians believe that the ocean is a dangerous place to be in or around and if you are Balinese it goes even further by believing Varuna, ” God of the oceans” will take you away unless the bad spirits and demons living in the water don’t reach you first. So who was brave enough to ignore these beliefs and test the waters out first? An American Bule from Hollywood, California named Bob Koke.He arrived during the mid 1930’s with his hand carved Hawaiian surfboard in one arm and his wife in the other. They had built a hotel on the once secluded beach of Kuta but when WWII broke out, the Japanese started to invade Bali and Bob Koke bailed. He returned with his wife after the war but the hotel they had built was gone and they eventually sold the property in the 1950’s. Fast forward thirty years until the next pod of nomadic surfers started to resurface in Bali like Bob did in the 1930’s and even more breached after the 1971 surf film ” Morning Of The Earth ” debuted.
In this epic surf film Albert Falzon never really gave up any of the locations he shot at in Bali but were still somehow discovered soon after. Today these beaches are flooded with surfers from all over the world as well as a new breed of local Indonesian Surfers. At least four of the largest brands in surfing have their headquarters here like Oakley, Billabong, Hurley, and Quicksilver who also host some of the biggest surfing events her too. Today Local Balinese are competing all over the world, pushing the envelope and have dominated most Asian competitions including their own right here in Uluwatu and other beaches.
Local Surfer making the best out of Life in Bali
Marlon Gerber fosters his protégé nephew Varun Tanjung in the ways of Indonesian surfing. Varun has a choice, just as Marlon did.
Surfing has helped Indonesia in many ways
The government of Indonesia has not yet acknowledged surfing as a major sport or supported it in any way but they’re fully aware of the impact it has for it’s communities, travel industry, and local economy. Today families from all over Indonesia know that surfing can pay the bills whether it’s their boat that takes you to a secret or not so secret surfing spot, coconut water they sell to you on the beach, a handmade wooden sea turtle they carved and sell to your kid, a parking attendant next to the beach watching your motorbike, or drinking a ice cold Bintangs at Old Mans during happy hour. Surfing definitely puts food on the table for many Indonesians no matter which way you look at it.