Eat, Sleep, Surf at Stormrider Surfcamp, Bali

Stormrider Surfcamp Bali-2-6Prior to my arrival on Bali, the so called island of gods, I had arranged a one week stay at Stormrider Surfcamp. My goal was to completely focus on surfing and hopefully take it to the next level. The professional setup of the camp, its nice facilities as well as its prime location in the heart of tranquil Canggu made the decision an easy one. I arrived at Denpasar Airport around midday and went outside the airport to get a taxi. It is usually way cheaper outside than within the airport premises. After a bit of haggling I got a good price and off I was for a week of surfing, eating, sleeping and several repetitions of that routine. I was excited.

Stormrider Surcamp – My Home away from Home
After an hour in the mad Balinese traffic, I finally arrived at the camp. The staff, three friendly ladies, gave me a warm welcome and showed me around. The camp featured a beautiful setup. A lot of wood, traditional Balinese elements everywhere, a tranquil water wall, a well kept lush garden and a good sized pool to top things off. Especially the many wood carvings, photographs display surfboards and other decorative elements showed that someone put a lot of attention to the details. The premises looked already nice from the outside but once I entered through the wooden entrance door, it was like stepping into a tropical oasis. Tranquility and serenity and I instantly felt at home. The dorm I had booked was upstairs, overlooking the garden and the bright green rice fields surrounding the camp. With an inviting loungy couch in front, a TV with DVD player inside and the most spacious and airy setup for a dorm I have ever seen, I was sure to have found the perfect place to unwind and focus on my surfing.

The courtyard at the camp.

The courtyard at the camp.

Surf’s up in Canggu
The next day I met two of the camp’s surf guides, Herry and Ranu. Both of them locals from Bali and very friendly and energetic guys. We were all eager to go surfing and our first session was supposed to be a little north of Canggu, close to the famous temple of Tanah Lot. Before each surfing day, the guides at Stormrider check the conditions and tide for the upcoming day and then determine where it’ll be best to go. That way you can always be sure to be at the right spot at the right time – so convenient. The surf that morning hence was great with a lot of good waves and a lot of good advice from Herry and Ranu. I came out of the water with a bright smile on my face and was looking forward to more of that.

Meet Herry and Ranu, the  Surfguides.

Meet Herry and Ranu, the surfguides.

After a successful surf session.

After a successful surf session.

Watching the Pros at the Oakley Pro Bali
During that same week, the Oakley Pro Bali, one of the competitions of the ASP Tour (Association of Professional Surfers) was on. I have never been to one of those competitions and this was finally the chance. It was the first day of almost two competition weeks and we drove down to where it all happened – Keramas Beach on the East Coast of Bali. Taken that it was the first day of the competition, there were already quiet a lot of people there – all anxious to see the pros show their skills. Before the official heats started, the surfers had a free surf or warm up session and during that I was able to watch 11 times World Champion Kelly Slater surf. That was like a dream coming true. Seeing him live in action was amazing and inspiring at the same time. In the end he is 41 years old and still up there with the best of the best. So motivating.

Kelly Slter doing a big floater at Keramas.

Kelly Slater doing a big floater at Keramas.

Kelly coming out of the barrel.

Kelly coming out of the barrel.

The two official heats we watched were exhilarating. We saw the pros doing massive maneuvers and taking big waves. It was great to see the guys up close getting in or coming out of the water. Just really normal and approachable. Not so far away and shielded off like it usually is in other sports. Before we left, we got lucky and watched the current World Champion Joel Parkinson from Australia compete and winning his heat. He actually continued dominating the contest and eventually ended up winning it. Seeing the pros surf and observe their great skills and technique was amazing. What I can’t really appreciate though is the scene all around an event like that. For a lot of people there, surfing seems just to be a platform to pose and show off their hipness. It’s not really my type of crowd but that’s just my very personal opinion.

Dawn Patrol Surfing at the East Coast
Motivated by the pros, we were eager to get back into the water ourselves. The following morning we got up at 5:30 for an early drive to Bali’s East Coast. We were headed for Lembeng, a break which usually works better during wet season. The forecast looked promising though and we wanted to give it a try. Apart from Herry and Ranu, Ben, the German surf instructor working at the camp, joined as well. We managed to dodge the crazy Balinese traffic and arrived at around 6 o’ clock. The morning was gloomy, grey and cloudy. Not what you expect coming to Bali but the waves seemed to be good and that was what we came for. We all suited up and paddled out. I had a few good waves that day although the current made it tough to stay in position. In the end, a mediocre day in Balinese waters is still most of the times better than a good day on the European Coast. So I was happy and after a well deserved roadside lunch we returned to the camp.

Trying to make the section.

Trying to make the section.

Looking for the curl.

Looking for the curl.

Ranu and Ben coming out of the water after the session.

Ranu and Ben coming out of the water after the session.

Life in Canggu
The rest of the week I spent surfing with the guys or by myself and exploring the surrounding area. I had rented a scooter with a surfboard rack so getting to all the good spots around the Surfcamp was easy. It also made getting around an easy and worthwhile affair. As you might know, I really love driving around and exploring new areas with a motorbike. And the area around Stormrider Surfcamp has so much to offer. Endless rice terraces, small streets leading to picturesque villages, nice beaches, cheap warungs with tasty local food and temples are very close. So much to see and do that even if you don’t surf or happen to take a break from it, there is still enough to keep yourself busy. The area is also not too busy and touristy as Kuta and Seminyak are. Canggu still managed to keep its traditional low key and relaxed charm while still offering enough distraction besides the surfing. A perfect mix and I hope it can manage to keep that charm for a little longer.

Canggu at twilight. So nice.

Canggu at twilight. So nice.

Sunset at Batu Bolong, only 5 minutes from the camp.

Sunset at Batu Bolong, only 5 minutes from the camp.

Last Thoughts…
Staying at Stormrider Surfcamp in Canggu was a great experience and I wish I could have stayed longer. It really was my home away from home for the time being. The facilities, the staff and of course the surfing with the guides was perfect. It was a great place to unwind, relax and focus on surfing. Canggu with its tranquil and laid back atmosphere made the stay even more worthwhile. If you are looking for a good surf camp in Bali, Stormrider would definitely be my recommendation. The whole package was just right. It was a great start of my stay on Bali and in Indonesia. If the upcoming weeks will be the same, I will be very happy.

Writing the post at the camp. I have worked in worse places than that.

Writing the post at the camp. I have worked in worse places than that.

Categories: Destinations, Surfing, The Philippines | Tags: , , , , , , | 22 Comments

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22 thoughts on “Eat, Sleep, Surf at Stormrider Surfcamp, Bali

  1. Pawesome adventures!

    • Thanks Bailey…I got lucky on some of those. I personally like the one with the rice field a lot. I was just driving along the road to the surfspot when I realized that the light was nice. I just tried and the outcome was cool. I should carry ma camera around more often … Thanks again for stopping by. Really appreciate it. Greetings from Bali, Philipp

  2. Thank you for taking us with you living a dream 😀

    • Philipp Dukatz

      Today doesn’t seem like a dream since i stepped in a sea urchin yesterday. Cant walk at all today ….

  3. This looks like a beautiful place to just surf and explore for a week or so. Great photos!

    • Philipp Dukatz

      Thanks Tali, it was indeed. Thanks for your feedback. Glad you liked the pics …

  4. Philipp

    Surf-Sleep-Eat it’s so simple but true

  5. You’re pretty buff – how do you keep your physique while travelling so extensively?

    • Hey there, thanks for stopping by. I don’t do too much. Just trying to eat healthy and I try to hit a gym in the bigger cities I hit. But sometimes this only happens once a month or less. So I’m not doin all that much. I work out way more when I am at home …

      • den.

        Yeah, I guess being fit before traveling for such long periods makes maintaining so much easier!

        After having more time to read more of your posts (sorry to hear about the lost camera – you can never be too safe!), I want to say you’re really an inspiration. Even living in South East Asia myself (Singapore), I have not had the chance to see most of the places you have been to. I love how you are so optimistic and positive despite some setbacks, and ever friendly to anyone that crosses your path. I hope you hit the roads again one day – and maybe next time you can also write a post on how you feel about Singapore? 🙂

      • Philipp Dukatz

        Thanks man, I really appreciate your positive feedback. I guess setbacks and down times belong to traveling as do the good times. In the end it is not so different from the regular life. I always try to shake things off quickly but sometimes it is quiet hard I have to admit. Singapore is great, I liked it much better than for example Kuala Lumpur. I only stayed 2,5 days there and I visited two friends of mine who live there now. They showed me around a little bit and I took the chance to unwind a little bit. It’s nice there but also comparably expensive. You gotta earn well to live a descent in SGP. What do you do in Singapore? Cheers, Phil

  6. den.

    Hey man apologies for the tardy reply. If you do come to Singapore, hit me up, I’ll take you to places that usually fall off the radar of the typical tourist. And if you want feel free to stay at my place too, I have a spare room. Used to host some backpackers in the past, but work kind of caught up (I’m a senior high school teacher)… Sure helps to save some $ from the exorbitant hotels here!

    Another question if you don’t mind – where did you start picking up surfing? I’m thinking of a trip to stormrider as you recommend to pick up some basics – got to do it while young you know. But like you said, Germany isn’t a place really for surfing so wondering where you picked it up?

    Still enjoying your pictures and posts! Keep em up! And have you got yourself new camera gear yet?

    • Hi Den, thanks for your offer man. I really appreciate it. If I come back to SGP one day I will sure hit you up. You are right, prices for accommodation are just exorbitant. Were you actually born in SGP or where are you originally from?

      On the surfing… coming from Germany, we always have to travel to pick it up. I had my first lesson in Northern Spain and then tried to practice during other vacations. But it is very hard to become half way descent like that. Hence my surfing isn’t the best. But I enjoyed the regular practice in Bali. It’s a great place to learn and improve. So if you have the time and money and wanna try it, it’s the best place. Especially coming from Singapore with cheap flights offered by Air Asia or Tiger. Let me know if you decide on going. And yeah, if you need further advice or tips, don’t hesitate to get back in touch. Always glad to help. Cheers, Phil

  7. Reading your travel blog on both Sulawesi and the Philippines planning my summer trip with my brother , great to have first hand information as especially Sulawesi information from guide books is vague and limited.

    However my main question if you don’t mind me asking is what camera do you use as some of your pictures are amazing. Thanks Greg

    • Hi Greg, thanks for stopping by my blog. When will you guys go and for how long? I take it you will visit Sulawesi and the Philippines? So concerning your question: I used a Canon Eos 600D which is an entry level DSLR. I was quiet happy with it but since it got stolen in Saigon, I am saving up for a used Full Frame camera. The lenses I used were an 18-135mm zoom lens, basically my go to lens. And a 50mm 1.8. The latter one I mostly used for portraits and people photography. Are yo thinking about buying a new cam before going? Cheers my friend, Philipp

      • Well we only have 3 weeks so our options are either surf a week in bali then 2 weeks in Sulawesi or 3 weeks in total in the Philippines , I spent 5 months in S.E Asia last year but have started university now so have limited time to travel ! Yes I was thinking of upgrading my camera and considering a compact system for a balance between size and performance, however looking at the price of the 600D I was really impressed by the depth of color in the photos , do you use HDR at all or just editing ?

  8. Hi Greg,sounds like a tough choice. But if you like surfing, the Bali / Sulawesi Combo is pretty good. You would still have to decide what you would want to see and do in Sulawesi. Distances are great and transportation slow – two weeks is not enough to see the whole island in my opinion. I love the Philippines, it’s great there but same thing. The country is huge and if you have three weeks, you really need to have an itinerary. But I know people who have done it in three weeks, the highlights, and they had a great time. Definately let me know what you end up doing.

    If you wanna go for a compact system, check out the newer Sony cameras. They are supposed to be really good, small in size and great in performance. But yeah, also quiet expensive. I personally don’t do HDR but I post process / edit my images since I shoot in RAW format.


  9. Alright thanks , yeah I have looked at that series and they look like great cameras however the lenses are quite expensive for if I wanted to buy more than the kit lens such as a 50mm.
    If you don’t mind me asking do you have any favored pre settings for the 600D or do you just use manual and custom settings , apologise for all the questions but it is a lot better getting information first hand than reading sales reviews on the internet !
    thanks Greg

  10. Yeah, I am mostly using manual and custom settings. So either full manual mode, aperture or shutter priority (mostly aperture priority). Manual selection of the ISO as well. I tend to adjust the White Balance but sometimes also use Auto since I can adjust in during processing. I select my focus points manually and I switch between different focusing methods. Lot’s of things to mention here but the main factor I think is to start manually taking care of your exposure. That alone will massively improve your pics. Of course it takes some practicing but it is worth it. Then I also recommend you to shoot in RAW and start editing your pictures in LIghtroom, Photoshop or another program. Those would be my basic tips. And yeah, if you can get your hands on a cheap 50mm lens then do it. It will boost your photography instantly ….

  11. Okay thank you for your replies it’s been helpful ! Missed the last part on your camera being stolen in Saigon that sucks. So all the photos from the countries you visited after Vietnam were shot on a full frame as a pose to the 600D ?

  12. Hi Greg, unfortunately not. After my camera got stolen, I didn’t have a camera at all. For the few blog posts after that incident, I used either pictures of Flickr or I some shot I got to take with a travel mates point and shoot and smartphone. Really not the way I like to document my travels but it was the only way at this point. I am saving up for a full frame DSLR right now. Probably going to buy a used one to keep costs down …. It’ll still be expensive enough 😉

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