Bali: terminal surf stroke

By Caroline Pemberton 11 February 2015
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Luxury travel and adventure sports tend to be mutually exclusive, even polar opposites, but they don’t have to be

ADVENTURE SPORTS often take place in testing environments and are physically demanding, rough and tumble type activities. They are hugely rewarding, addictive and there’s nothing better than that rush of adrenaline Mother Nature dollops out. Cocktails by the pool they are not… or could they be?

One woman shaking up the paradox and marrying the best of both worlds is Suzanne Hart, founder of SheTravels, who with her extensive background in event management has seamlessly put together fully female (sorry boys) surf trips to Bali, which mix all the benefits of surfing in paradise with relaxing in luxury.

I appreciate that many of you might not be surfers, yet you’ve probably all heard that turn of phrase ‘only a surfer knows the feeling’. And you’ve no doubt wondered why surfers excitedly pelt to the water, boards under their arms, running through the sand as if their lives depend on it. Why does this sport have such a powerful influence across culture, gender and background?

As a beginner – I am about a year into my surf journey – I can attest to an essence underlying the obsession that is real. Surfing is something that soaks into your soul along with saltwater and it infects you. It brings both a relaxation and simultaneously an all-encompassing joy. It’s the thrill of being in the right place at the right moment, with no room for thought and taking a ride on the energy of the ocean. It’s a disease, labelled ‘surf stoke’ and once you catch it, it’s terminal.

When you’re just starting out, if you can persist beyond the first days flopping off your board, and relax in the washing machine as the waves tumble you, you will be sweetly rewarded. The first time the momentum of a wave picks up your board and you stand atop its surge, you will understand what all the hullabaloo is about.

Surfing for all ages

Suzanne’s SHESurfs trips cater to every type of woman; she regularly has 60-plus young at hearts learning to surf with her and she guarantees that each of them will stand up by the time she’s done with them. On our recent trip, complete beginner Kelly was standing up on day one and surfing the reef break by day three!

Suzanne’s weeklong trips are all about the waves, and what better place to find them than Australia’s favourite overseas surfing destination, Bali. This island paradise is idyllic for a surf adventure, with consistent waves and a variety of breaks suited from beginner to advanced, warm water, sunshine, affordability and $6 massages.

SHESurfs is a wonderfully supportive trip to find your feet on a board and, the best part, at the end of a great session in the water you retire to a gorgeous private villa with day spas, cocktails and scrumptious food.

Suzanne knows how to pamper her guests with nice touches like a little welcome pack on arrival, which includes some travel goodies, a sarong and a rash vest. And with plenty of local knowledge – she’s been travelling here since she was 16 – she knows all the best restaurants.

Suzanne also has the best surfing spots sussed, and works closely with friendly local surf guides who have an incredibly intuitive way of teaching. Frengkie, our head guide, told me if I just relaxed and felt the wave beneath me, then I’d know how and when to paddle. His advice couldn’t have been more on the money. In true kook-style, my enthusiasm meant I tended to paddle at anything and exhaust myself before I’d even caught a wave. Not to worry; if you needed a little bit of an extra shunt the boys seemed to appear out of nowhere, just in time to push you into the wave so you could focus on the long rides.

Each day the waves, wind and tide were checked for us to ensure we found the best conditions to suit our experience. Most often we’d find ourselves on Kuta reef at sunset. We’d hop off the outrigger, paddle out and watch the gun surfers shredding along, and inspiring us all. We’d sit on the shoulder and just as they’d drop off, we’d hop on, giving us an uncrowded break.

Support crew 

Surfing with the girls, we’d laugh and cheer for one another. It wasn’t competitive or territorial; we were just a bunch of friends catching waves for the pure joy of it.
Between surfs, there was plenty of time to shop and explore Seminyak, or relax at the villa.

The trip includes some wonderful non-surf related activities to give you a taste of Balinese culture. At one stage we found ourselves amongst the rice paddies of Ubud, where we joined chef Ketut and his team who taught us how to cook a traditional Balinese meal.

With fresh local ingredients we learnt what goes into preparing the fabulous food we had been enjoying. When you’re surfing so much, you have a bottomless stomach and every reason to indulge. The best bit, of course, is enjoying the fruits of your labour, overlooking the rainforest with a Bintang and a six-course feast.

Bali has long been a favourite destination for Australians, but this trip is sure to open your mind to another dimension of what is on offer. Being in the ocean everyday, the sun on your face and the salt on your skin, somehow helps integrate you into the destination even further. It’s the little things from the supportive guides who share your successes as if they were their own, to immersing in the rich culture, to resting your weary body in the lap of luxury. Indeed, there’s not much missing from this marriage of adventure and indulgence, and rarely has it been done so well.

The essentials

The Adventure: SheTravels offers 7 day, 6 night female surf trips in Bali, staying in a luxury villa in Seminyak, including breakfast each day, a day trip and cooking class in Ubud, 2 hours of luxury spa treatments and airport transfers.Trips are AU$3,180 (including goods & services tax – GST)

Getting there: You can chose to fly either Jetstar, Virgin or Garuda to Denpasar, Indonesia

More info: