Selasa, 05 Agustus 2008


In the days when asphalt roads was as rare as Range Rovers in the beachside resort of Kuta, the road to Canggu was…well…sand. In other words, you just pointed your trusty old motorbike towards the beach and when you hit the sand you turned right, then drove along for 15 or 20 minutes, crossing a few small rivers on the way, until you came to a small hill with a temple on it. Walking up this hill and then looking out at the bright blue water, you’d wait for a few seconds before spotting what you were looking for; a spiralling lefthander winding its way onto the beach. And yes, I did say lefthander.

When someone today mentions Canggu as a surf destination, it’s because it’s one of the few righthand waves on the west coast of Bali, which gives the natural footers a chance to surf on their frontside as a change from the plethora of lefts that start from Uluwatu in the south and continue up to Medewi in the north. But according to one of Bali’s legend surfers, Bali Barrel owner Ketut Menda, the left in front of the temple was the original “Canggu”. It was only after it began to become popular that the right started to get some attention, and now most just say Canggu to mean the destination, not the wave itself.

Menda credits Australian ex-pat David Wyllie as being the first to surf Canggu. It was in 1979 that the fourteen-year-old Menda hopped on the back of Wyllie’s motorbike with a surfboard tucked under each arm and together they headed up the beach from Wyllie’s place in what’s now Seminyak to the black lava breaks of Canggu. None of the Balinese had ever surfed there before, and Menda recalls, “when we got there the surf was pretty big, and I was just used to surfing the beach in Kuta, but here was a real reef break so I was a bit scared to go out. But I paddled out on my single fin and got a couple of waves before coming in.” After that initial surf, he would take every chance he got to go there again, sometimes staying at Wyllie’s house at night to get an early start in the morning, much preferring the more powerful reef waves to the sandy bottom beachbeaks of Kuta. Soon Menda was guiding others up to enjoy this newfound wave, and in 1981 a local by the name of Ketut Sudarma built a small warung, seeing the opportunity to give the boys somewhere to get a drink and some food so they wouldn’t have to pack it in each time by themselves.

Over the next few years the likes of Tom Carroll, Mark Richards, Shane Horan, and Brad Gerlach all surfed at Canggu, likening it to Velzlyland on the North Shore of Hawaii. Then in 1985 Canggu played host to its first surf contest, Rivoli was the name, sponsored by Pak Kadek and some Japanese friends. And who do you suppose was the winner? Ketut Menda of course. Local knowledge, you understand.

And that was the beginning that led to the now. First a couple of warungs, then road access, a homestay or two pops up, then ex-pat villas being built, more surf contests, and before you know it Canggu has been well and truly exposed to the worldwide surfing audience. Photos and videos of Andy Irons and his brother Bruce, Kelly Slater, Mick Fanning, Bobby Martinez and really most of the top professional surfers in the world sampling Canggu’s tasty treats can be found at will.

But it’s not just for the pros now is it? Of course not. Depending upon the season, swell direction and tide, you may have the choice of four waves; the original left in front of the temple, the sand bar just to the north which gives up rights and lefts, the righthander in front of the rivermouth, and then the peaky wave in front of the Pererenan road that can go right and left. Unlike the reefs at the Bukit like Uluwatu and Bingin for example, Canggu is quite user friendly for the average surfer, who would have a hard time getting him or herself raked across razor sharp coral and coming back to the beach with a cheese grated back.

Canggu does hold waves for most of the year, but is best in the morning hours and in all but the dead of rainy season, when at times the wind howls down from the north and blows it into a frothy cauldron a la “victory at sea”. But there is nothing like rocking up to Canggu in the morning as the sun is just peeking up over the rice fields to the east and lighting up the lip of a nice barrel or the long steep wall of a perfectly peeling wave to get you frothing, and keep you making the now (much easier) trek up from Kuta by road…even though you gotta wish it was like when Menda and Wyllie cruised up the beach on their motorbike back in those days when surfing in Bali was still young.



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