SurfING Bali Off-Season: The Search for the PERFECT Surf Break
Bali is famous for its dry season- hollow tubes, light offshore winds, and line-ups drawn in from far stretches of the globe. The wet season however, it can all turn into a mess. I arrived right in the middle of it, which presented challenges I learned to overcome.
The rain didn’t let up, the wind howled, creating less than ideal conditions. At the time I was worried this would ruin my time in Bali as I had came looking to improve my surf photography, but the wet season did just that.
I explored, I surfed, and I shot.
So I took to the bad weather and rolled with it. I looked for every opportunity to shoot a photo differently. The only wave on the east coast I knew about was Keramas. I had spent some time there last year and witnessed how hectic and crowded the line-up could get, but I also knew the wave could produce. I wanted something more so I explored, I surfed, and I shot.
Each day I told myself I would look for something new to create an image with no matter the weather.
So you wait, and check a new spot where the storm might not have hit yet, hoping that the waves are picking up.
During the wet season, you can have a good sized swell come in matching with what could be amazing light, and out of nowhere a storm could come in and ruin that slight period of time you have to shoot. It can destroy waves and create an absolute mess. So you wait, and check a new spot where the storm might not have hit yet, hoping that the waves are picking up.
More challenges can unfold, like certain waves don’t work at low or high tides ,then the tide will be right but the swell has diminished, or everything lines up and it’s begun to rain forcing you to stop shooting and look for shelter.
As a photographer, I am always seeking out beautiful light. If there was a chance for a clear weather, I’d take advantage of that opportunity and seek out a wave that is working the best. Even during the rainiest weather, a moment of fleeting light can be revealed, I’d be out looking for those times nearly every day.
Before the sun rose, myself and two friends made our way to a spot I had yet to see, Serangan. The light was panning out for an incredible clear morning. We arrived, and immediately I pulled out my camera utilizing the light that was beginning to peak. A perfect a-frame formed, while calm offshore winds began to blow a spray that was lit up from the rising sun. Blue and green tones shown through the backlit wave. A handful of surfers were in the water while I framed up shots and clicked away.
I realized how those few hours were a perfect example that you can enjoy an amazing wet season wave as a surfer or a photographer.
Within 20 minutes, dark clouds appeared and as if a switch was clicked the rain came. It had passed quickly, the sun came back out as the swell built. The tide had began to rise, creating many peaks to take off left or right. I felt my excitement grow as I filled up a memory card of images. After a few hours of shooting, the crowds started to arrive as they usually do mid morning. I packed up my gear and realized how those few hours were a perfect example that you can enjoy an amazing wet season wave as a surfer or a photographer. It takes patience and mindset for exploration.
The wet season can come through and produce waves you wouldn’t think to try. If there is a crowd go somewhere new, keep an open mind. The wave of your life is waiting, hidden from the average eye.
Surf Story written by Austin Mullen – Find out more about his work through his below IG account.