Bali has vied for our attention for so many years and for a myriad of reasons. There was always ever-popular Uluwatu, that people flocked to for years, and then there was G-Land across the blue expanse and waiting for us. All the other waves had value – but back then people didn't travel hard to surf a wave like Green Balls, Balangan or Dream Land. You came to charge big walls at Ulus, and if you were lucky, you got to get barrelled at G-Land.
When the onshore winds arrived, and the rain came, everyone simply left Bali, and there were subsequently way fewer surfers around. Bali never used to deal with heavy rain well, with filthy water just washing down streets, picking up dirt, and pouring into the ocean. Yet no one considered that there might be waves on the other side. No one believed that the rainy season might actually have somewhere that embraces those winds and turns them into crisp offshore barrels.
There was a wave, a world-class wave, that broke for literally decades while surfers just sat on the Bukit and wrung their hands at the onshore winds and went hard on the arak. Eventually, after much soul-searching and equal amounts of searching from the air, a few photos started showing up that revealed this sick right-hand barrel, but no directions.
Then an Australian magazine broke with a story on a perfect right that was perfect offshore in the offseason, and some surfers went looking for it. It wasn't an easy find. Most places out of the way in Indonesia take either a plane ride or a boat to find. The google earth options are not good enough because of the outer reefs. You need to look further.
When it was eventually discovered, it still was a nightmare to get to. If you ever tried to get there when it was early days of the discovery, you would have found that it was really challenging to locate. There was a busy run of Bali traffic to negotiate along the way.
Then the surfers started arriving. Starved of right-handers, natural-footers from around the world headed over to the other side of the island to sample these perfect waves, and it was soon crowded with Indonesians and travellers. It also attracted the Japanese, and it was soon as busy as everywhere else.
Before long, the resorts started popping up, and comfortable options for travellers were in construction all over the place. A World Junior event, soon followed by a Championship Tour event sponsored by Oakley, continued to make the area more and more popular. It was worthy though, the wave is a perfect right-hand barrel.
Highly dependent on the tide, Keramas can be totally flat on the low tide and look like an impossible wave to surf, with small close-outs breaking onto the near-dry reef. These are the times that so many people use to drive away, thinking that they had been skunked.
It soon became apparent, however, that the spot was so dependent on the tide that as soon as the water got to a certain height above the outer reef, the swell would come surging in. A flat morning on low tide would result in booming six-foot barrels by early afternoon. On top of this, there were a few more waves in the vicinity. KFC's up the drag is so named because the run up the beach on the hot sand used to burn surfer's feet so severely that they looked like trussed up chicken feet, heading for the KFC kitchens.
Nowadays there is a resort with 180 staff members, techno music, night surfing, cold beers, and a swimming pool. There is a yoga studio, and there are personal trainers for you throughout the year. It's a brave new rainy-season world, and there are always girls in bikinis hanging by the pool, right in front of the gulley.
Resort rooms from $117, suites from $260, room only. (+62) 361 3018888