Waking up at 5.30 we were all packed and ready by 6. It was a good call starting early as we had quite a bit ahead of us.
We shot off South to Dana Point, where the Cali Camp crew was awaiting us. The surf guides seemed stoked to go surfing and drove us down to Oceanview Beach in the county of San Diego where the waves were bigger than they first had anticipated. It was rough and foggy (June gloom) and we had to make a good effort to cut through the waves on the way out, but we still kept going for two and a half hours and got a couple of good runs each.
The absolute beginners group was done much earlier and were already eating and drinking beers at a garden party that the boys had arranged at the surf camp.
The hours went by and the beers did as well, so in the evening we headed up to Palm Springs where we visited a Thai restaurant and checked into the Mariott hotel for the night. Having some last beers and a dip in the hotel pool I thought to myself that I was lucky having a job that lets me travel, and even some times pays for it as well. I just couldn’t imagine anyone having a better work day than the one I just had.
With six nights booked on a surf camp in Canggu and equally many days of renting a scooter I thought I would have enough time to explore all the places close by like Seminyak, Kuta, Legian etc. The truth is that I didnt get to do much while I was there as I got into this lifestyle of surfing during the days and hanging out in the beach club restaurants in the evenings.
Places like Finns, La Favela, the Lawn, Potato Head etc all had a super relaced athmosphere but I am almost a bit ashamed of having spent so much time there as meals and drinks cost several times more than at local places and they were all filled with Australian and European beach holiday tourists. After three weeks of backpacking, I had gotten too comfortable and was caught in a stereotypical Bali beach holiday.￼￼￼￼￼￼
I cannot complain, as life there was super good, but what I mean is that it did not give me much in terms of unique experiences, much like a package holiday to Spain would have done, with beach, yoga, surfing and party repeated every day.
What I did do though was to head over to Deus Ex, where they have an event called taco tattuesday on every Tuesday night. Then the 16 of the people who bought a taco costing about 6EUR would get a free tattoo which was an interesting concept.
Although surf was good and the place was super relaxing, Canggu was a place that I felt just gave me a break from the real backpacking. Now I just look forward to the adventures that await in Timor Leste and Australias Northern Territory.
Instead of going up to St.Louis where I had been just a few months earlier, I decided to spend five days in the Senegalese capital of Dakar. From what I had heard the city had good nightlife and great waves for surfing, but when you spend hours in the water surfing in the day you are usually to tired to go out at night. My days in Dakar were therefore mainly spent surfing at Secret surfspot, right next to Club Med. I had really hopes to surf the famous Ngor Right from the surfing movie “the endress summer”, but when I went out there I could see that waves were messy and decided to stick to the shallow, clean waves at Secret.
A map of Dakars many surfing spots
When the rest of the group arrived just a couple of days later it was time to check out the more cultural attractions of the city. The streets and markets were quiet as everyone were in Touba for the pilgrimage, but then it was even better relaxing in the parks and visiting Gorée Island without too many people around.
Gorée Island which was the last stop for African slaves beofore being shipped off to the Americas
I had heard mixed reviews about the slave island of Gorée. Some saying it was too busy, too touristy etc but I really enjoyed it! All the info in the museums was in French, but the old colonial streets and buildings were well kept and stolling around made me really think back at all the horrible things that had happened there in the past. Being the last stop on the trip, and the third last country remaining to be visited on the West African Coast made me a bit sad as West Africa has truly showed me some genuine places not spoilt by tourism. Although it will probably be long before Ibret return, my heart will never stop beating for West-Africa.
When our Stray bus rolled up at the Kariori Lodge we had a quick introduction about our accommodation for the night before it was time for us to get ready to do what we came there to do, which was surfing.
Board and surfboard hire was super reasonably priced at 20 bucks for an hour which then also included driving to whichever place had the best waves and rinsing of the wetsuits afterwards. I have always had to do that myself before, so that was nice for a change!
The beach we went to was right between town and the lodge. The sand was black and the waves were rough. I was there on quite a windy day, so it all was a bit messy with waves coming from all sides at the same time but I managed to have a couple of long rides all the way into the shallow waters. I still wish I would have come on a more calm and sunny day though to see what New Zealand’s most famous surf spot is like on its best.
A really cool thing about the Kariori Lodge was that lots of glowworms could be seen on its driveways at night. They also had a house calles “the barn” that was separated from the rest of the camp so that the ones who wanted could party all night and the rest could just have a quiet night around the bonfire or resting for morning surf sessions.
It was finally time to do what I had been looking forward to the most on my Australia trip which was surfing. I had picked the Spot X surfcamp by Mojosurf as my base as they are one of the biggest surf camps in Australia with a capacity of around 350 surfers. I had heard only good things about it and it absolutely lived up to my expectations.
The accommodation is basic where you either sleep in big Indian style tipis, classic Australian swags or some nicely done container apartments, all right on the beach. There are daily activities going on for the guests like kangaroo golf, kayaking and ocean rafting and it was always a good atmosphere with tanning on the camp grounds, volleyball on the beach and food and drinks in the common areas.
Arriving there on a late Saturday afternoon there were already lots of people playing games with their “goon” in the camp “sweat box”, the camps noise isolating party room. It was a great way of getting to know the people at the camp, who woke us up for surfing at seven am for surfing the next morning.
The waves around the camp were not very big, but really clean and predictable, which was great for the learners and good for me to play a bit around in. Tomorrow I will be heading up to Byron Bay to try the waves up there as well.
Our stay here in Sri Lanka has been all about one thing, namely surfing. The places we went to surf changed daily due to the conditions, but they have all been within just half an hour drive from our camp in Ahangama, All were between the cities of Unawatuna/Galle and Mirissa. We had tuk-tuks with surf board racks taking us everywhere we went, which was included in our surf course package at Lapoint. Sometime the winds, currents etc changed quite fast so that the we had to change spot mid day to stay where it was best, like moving in and out of the bay of Weligama.
We were up early every morning, sometimes to have a surfing session at 6am before breakfast. Then we had our surfing lessons in the late morning and into the afternoon, rested for a few hours and went back into the water to surf a couple of hours before sunset.
I had previously said that I did not like paddling and fighting my way out through waves and that I therefore was not too fond of surfing, but here it was different to all other surfing I have done before. Especially in the early mornings and late evenings the waves were big, predictable and green, and the current (especially at South beach) helped us to get effortless out to the waves. That made everything a lot more fun! Even in the daytime when the wind caught up and it got more choppy and rough it was all worth the effort when we at the end would catch a good wave back to the shore.