Photographers' Tales

Bye Bali, Hi Sumbawa! Through the Lens of Austin Mullen

From Bali to Sumbawa. One year later, Austin Mullen is back with his camera gear, two mates and nine surfboards, ready for his second surf-trip throughout Indonesia.

On the menu: Sumbawa, Nias, Northern Sumatra, Banyak islands and finally the Mentawai islands with some surprises along the way. Here is the first episode of a 3-months Indo surf-trip just starting now.

Surfing Indonesia
Back on the road.

Bye Bali.

Although rightfully renowned as being the surf mecca of the world, Bali is a bit overwhelming for me. The hustle and bustle of the city have slowly made its way down the Bukit Peninsula, an area I once remembered as being an idyllic paradise when I first travelled there many years ago. Although it is still an area that should be on all surfers bucket lists, don’t expect to find empty lineups anymore. That era is long gone.

Surfing Bali
Hi Bali, bye Bali.
Being the surf junkie I am, I have known since I was a grom that there is more to Indonesia than just Bali. As the largest archipelago in the world with more than 17,000 islands, it doesn’t take an expert to realize the surf potential this country holds. Although it can seem like a huge hassle taking more planes and boats to stray from Bali when it already takes many people over a day or two of travel to get there, this is exactly why you should do it. Many people are content with staying in Bali to surf waves like Uluwatu and Padang Padang, but just a stone’s throw away lies surf that makes this area look like child’s play.
Surfing Indonesia
Greeted by empty lineups.

Hi Sumbawa. 

After receiving an invitation to stay at the most premier surf resort in West Sumbawa, I couldn’t resist. I did some research on the surrounding area and waves that I would be encountering and pulled the trigger. Travelling with two surf buddies, we left our accommodation in Bali and made our way to Whales and Waves.
Surfing Indonesia
The kind of scenery to expect at Whales and Waves
A short flight from the Denpasar airport brought us to Lombok, an island with heaps of good surf yet primarily only known for Desert Point, recognized by many as the best wave in the world. With not enough swell in the forecast for Deserts, we continued on our way to the east coast of the island where we hopped on a ferry taking us to Sumbawa.
Surfing Indonesia
Our boat captain.
Anybody familiar with taking ferries throughout Indo knows that it will very likely be the most miserable part of your adventure. Overcrowded cabins, no ventilation, and no air conditioning make it feel like you are stuck in a floating oven. Luckily for us, some local kids came up to us during the crossing and hung out with us, helping us brush up on our Bahasa while we kept each other distracted by the harsh conditions onboard.
Surfing Indonesia
We only surfed by ourselves.
Most of the tourists in West Sumbawa are wandering surfers, as this region is still fairly unknown by all but the most seasoned travellers. We had heard from many people that the surf around this zone is fickle, with most spots being extremely tide and wind dependent.
Surfing Indonesia
Hanging out at W&W.
In addition to this, we also soon discovered that this area was almost entirely devoid of any cell service, internet connection, and consistent sources of electricity, which truly left us to our own devices. We left these thoughts behind us as we trekked onwards in search of pumping surf, as we know all too well that this is part of the allure of travelling to such unfamiliar places. Due to these variables, many people decide to stay in the comforts of Bali, and because of this, It wasn’t uncommon for us to pull up to flawless waves day after day without another soul in sight. This is an experience that likely won’t be possible once the masses find out about this regions true potential. We stumbled upon waves that made us question why we hadn’t travelled here sooner, and we refuse to drop any names or specific locations in order to keep the spirit of adventure alive, if even just for one more day.
Surfing Indonesia
Surfing Indonesia
And barrels. Yeww

Next Stop: Lakey Peak. Stay tuned!

Words and Photographs by Austin Mullen

Travel with us, we’ll plan your trip.

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Indo Surf Crew

Indo Surf Crew was first born in the year 2018 as a surf photo & video content creative project while the first surf coaching trip organised by Uriel & Rodrigo happened in 2019 on an island off Sumatra. Since then, they have been running surf coaching retreats for all levels and mostly specialise in surf coaching for intermediate to advanced surfers. Surfing Consciously is our motto. To us it means, bringing awareness to our body, thoughts and interactions – in and out of the water. We take pride in working with eco surf resorts that are acting responsibly in preserving Indonesia’s nature, supporting and educating local communities. Indo Surf Crew was founded by Uriel Jean Armel, a French surfer and film-maker who has taken roots in Indonesia. You can read more about Uriel here, on an interview with Magicseaweed & here during an interview with the Surfing copywriter. As for Rodrigo, he was the first surf coach to join Uriel in his adventure and he’s the founder of the Power Surf techniques – a method that is now practiced internationally to train surf athletes from all over. Power Surf is a land based practice that combines ginastica natural, yoga, capoeira and martial arts, breaking town the fundamental surf techniques through a series of exercises. It also involves video analysis a skate practice for optimal result, which we do during our surf coaching trips.

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