This is where I spent one of the best chapters of my life. Pantai Bingin, Indonesia. I used to sleep on that massage table. Then moved into the kampung (village). Engaging in day to day life there was transformative. The warm, caring, present way of being in all social interactions forms a strong connection between everyone that is deep, yet fun and intriguing. Everyone is always so stoked to see you and each other. The constant ceremonies and overtone of the religion, a unique Balinese form of Hinduism, was ever present.
I would surf the most machine like, perfect left barrel every morning by myself, and a few groms would join me as the morning went on. In the early 80’s no one surfed Bingin in the AM. Got the backside and switch tube game on point. That reef. I learned every rock and patch of razor sharp coral out there. We would walk the trail along the top of the cliff up and surf Padang and Ulus. It was pure jungle back then. Getting back to the kampung was always the most welcoming feeling. Then the days were spent teaching English and learning Bahasa, and just constantly engaging with my friends, my family, my village. My transparent nature, confidence and lack of shyness, which often seemed to draw criticism back in California was embraced here, and mirrored the personalities of most everyone in the village. I taught half of the village their first English.
Every day I would marvel at how happy everyone was with so little, and what they valued and how they express gratitude. It kinda wiped clean my previous way of thinking and acting in a lot of ways. My Western ways I suppose. I would go for the season every year. The change of the village, and the entire Bukit was fast and devastating. Everyone started changing their names from the four traditional Balinese names to western names. The traditions and customs started waning and warungs (ranchos) started popping up everywhere. Kuta was getting crazy and it was spreading out to the Bukit. After learning so much about my new self, through this place and her people and culture, it was heartbreaking to see the same culture I was raised in come in and change somewhere like that. The irony was maddening. I left and didn’t return to Indonesia for several years. When I did I reconnected with this magical place despite the fact that it had changed forever.
I started exploring new tropical lands and discovering incredible new breaks. Going through the same comforting sets of emotions I had experienced in Indonesia made me realize something profound. It wasn’t Indonesia, or these other places that provided these revelations. It was the realization of being, and the magical people and places that enabled me to find myself.
When I started Real Surf Trips, I envisioned creating a shift in surf tourism. One where surfers coming to an area would have a positive overall impact on the community, which in my experience would be a first. Our first location was Playa Negra, Costa Rica where I had lived already full time for decades.
Within a few years we created fund raisers to bring running water to the town, offered free dental clinics to the community, holding world class coaching clinics and including local scholorships, and putting the majority of our profits back into the community. We raised the bar and the local people love visiting surfers.
This philosophy grew as I started going to all of my favorite countries I have been surfing and shooting in, and started collaborating with the most connected locals and personal dear friends and families at each spot to open new Real Surf Trips locations there, with them as hosts and guides. This helps business go to the communities themselves.
It has been a humbling and enlightening ride. I am proud to share these places and all I have learned with those who wish to experience these amazing waves and countries in a way unlike any other.
Owner/Founder, Real Surf Trips