The next morning we awoke at Churches left named for the Christian churches located on the island the wave wraps around and on the opposing island just behind the wave. It’s a unique site to see an idyllic almost deserted looking palm filled island with a small Christian church complete with steeple and painted in pastel colors.
As for the wave it one of the longest of the trip wrapping a good 200 yards around a live reef. Paddling out the back you see wave are wave breaking further and further out breaking in a ruler edged line. Not quite as hollow as the sucking rights of Coronas but a welcome site to get some shreddable glassy long lefts and not worry about losing skin on the reef. The crew proceeded to do lap after lap catching long roping waves perfect for cut backs and slashes. After paddling till my arms could paddle no more it was time to head in for lunch. The chef had prepared a fresh shrimp pasta over a bed of green with all the right seasoning. One of my favorite feeds so far and hit the spot after such a long session of endless peeling left-handers. After lunch we moseyed down to the opposite side of the island to a picturesque white sand beach surrounded by deep transparent water. We tossed anchor just off the shore and headed for some cold ones in the soft white sand. We paddled over on all the paddle boards doing laps in the crystal clear water and sharing beers.
Dazzle the Locals
With the crew sharing Bintangs in the shallows along the beach, boat anchored just offshore and a few paddle boards cruising around we stirred up some of the local kids who had wandered in from town. None really seemed to speak any English and they wondered what I was doing with my big black box I carried over to the beach. With a small crowd gathering I thought it best to bust out the drone and have some fun much to the joy of the crowd. A quick minute to dial it in and I was buzzing the beach snapping shots of the sweet little cove. As the drone whizzed by the kids screamed and hooted for more. With the temp now reaching superhot it was time to put the drone back in the box and head over for a few cold ones with the crew.
As we filed back to the boat the local tribes began to gather on the stern displaying all kinds of cool unique shells for sale. I looked over their selection and found one of the biggest conch shells I have ever seen. After a bit of haggling I was able to score it along with two smaller baby shells for under fifteen bucks now I had to figure out how to get a conch the size of a basketball home to mom but maybe will leave that for another day. Happy to have it I placed it in the boats galley as a fixture to add a little flair to the chow table for the next meal.
Perfect Reeling chest high cylinder with the tide dropping a few of the crew headed back out to Churches left while we opted to have a look around the corner at Armpit rights just a 30 minute jaunt across the bay on another island. When we spotted the wave from a distance it looked like almost nothing but as we approached closed it turned out to be a perfect reeling ruler edged waist to head high roper. The wave slurped up on a slab of reef out the back and never held back for about 100 yards with a barrel section on the takeoff and another just down the line near the inside. As far as perfection goes it was the regular footers dream wave and being goofy and still tired from the left early I’m the morning I opted to take a paddle board out and have a look.
After watching the crew trade waves for half an hour I had a go and went screaming down the line from start to finish ending up on nearly dry coral and losing my paddle and hat on the end section. After a scramble across the reef I managed to recover both but being at the tip of the island a sucking current and shallow sharp coral made it quite difficult to recover anything and I figured it best to not fall anymore. We all traded waves till sunset and the crew of the ILIKE pulled up the tiny dingy in the channel with ice cold beers for the crew as the moon rose over us and nightfall. Another amazing day at the islands and the thoughts of heading home in the next few days started to finally sink in. We cruised to a safe anchorage for the evening on the backside of a nearby island hoping to get Churches Left again in the early am.
Churches Left & a Delicious Breakfast
With dropping swell we arose at first light to Churches left. The left looked super small as if the swell was no more until suddenly sets began to stack up on the horizon. Not quite as big but enough to give us plenty to work with. We swapped waves for a few ours and I took out the Phantom Diamond Tail 9’8 for a spin. I slid into wave after wave cutting back in the bowl only to have it wall up again and again. With legs and calves sore from so many waves and cutbacks I made the paddle back to the boat and was greeted by the delicious smell of breakfast omelets filled with peppers onions and cheese. The perfect end to the morning session.
Our captain mentioned a wave they call Thailand just an hour or so away. The name was due to the fact the right peeling around the top of the island had a giant rock pinnacle resembling those of the famous islands near Phuket that jut straight out of the water. Excited to check it out we finally reached the island after an hour or so and sure enough 2 giant rocks rose up from the ocean just off the peeling right around the tip of a tiny island. We jumped out on the Classic Phantom 10’6 and the Diamond Tail 9’8 sharing wave after wave next to these large protruding rocks. After a hand full of waves the captain asked if I could fly up the drone to take a snapshot of the entire island and I obliged. I launched the drone off the boat this time so I could get in close to the island as the range is only about 400 -500 ft. and flying off the anchored boat was too far. After a sketchy launch on the tinny I was up and started to do a few swoop across the palms and jungle interior before sending it up to the stratosphere for the full island shot.
I noticed a large hawk fly out of the palm line and headed straight toward the drone. I guess I must have startled it when I flew over the top of the canopy and it didn’t look too excited by the presence of the drone. It came closer and closer and looked as if it was going to swat it out of the sky. Not wanting to lose the drone I backed down and quickly sped away to land it safely back on the dingy. I was able to capture some incredible shots and was lucky to have avoided a tangle with the hawk. We made it back to the boat just in time for the lunch bell and to head to the next stop for the day the equator.
Swim the Equator Summer & Winter
The chef once again out did himself with a hamburger to die for along with a delicious cut up mango to wash it down. As we wrapped up lunch the Captain had pulled into a little bay right over the equator line, dictated by the heading 00 degrees 00 minutes and 000 seconds latitude on the boat navigation instrument, that’s Captains speak for you are now at the equator of the earth and spinning faster than anyone else on the planet. With the boat stopped right at this heading and slowly drifting southward, it was now summer at the boats stern and winter at her bow. After running back and forth on the boat a few times into summer and back to winter it was time for the mandatory equator jump with the crew. We assembled the troops and plunged off the top deck not knowing if it was summer or winter. After enjoying our time at the equator it was off to check another right-hander down the way. The wave looked a little lackluster for surfed out crew so the captain suggested we head off to another peak coined Trestles a 2 hours boat ride across the large bay.
Called Trestles for its resemblance to the famous southern California wave it was a spitting image. A river mouth reef sand bar with a perfect peeling peak in both directions set to a hardwood backdrop. The crew jumped in and was treated to an empty line up of glassy peaks just before sunset. The wave had a perfect long peeling ripple right that spun off into a shallow beach break and the left was shorter and filled with several steep hit sections for snaps, airs and even a little tubo. The shoreline in front of the wave had no palms and only tall skinny trees a very rare site since nearly every island is littered with palms along its shores. The palm is not native to the islands and are all planted by locals and is the number one cash crop and economic provider of the islands. Word is a kilo bag of coconuts yields around 30 cents.
The Cocos are not harvested for the coconut juice as you would think they are actually harvested for the mature coconuts as these older coconuts have little juice and are mostly a harder meat. The shell is pulled off and the interior is used for coconut oil or copra as it is called. It’s used in all kinds of products from household goods, to perfumes to food products. I guess the coco farmers decided not to plant on this island yet.
The Purple Sunset
As we wrapped up our session at trestles with just the crew we witnessed one of the best sunsets of the trip turning the entire sky an entire shade of purple and orange glowing as we all traded of perfect waves until dark. A great end to the day and the chef had a hot plate of lemon grass shrimp, potatoes and veggies and everyone bunked down again by 9pm ready to shred
Paddlers Delight – Day 2 at Trestles
After surfing my brains out the first day I opted to take out the Classic Phantom for day 2 of trestles. The boards is perfectly suited to the slow rolling waves and with near sheet oil glass conditions I had a field day riding wave after wave of both rights and left into the shoreline. A perfect little channel on each side it just didn’t get any better for paddle boarding and with no one around it but friends it just didn’t get much better. A huge squall had started to move in over the break and within moments the sky opened up and a torrential downpour ensued. With the weather so hot and humid in this part of the world it was a refreshing moment to see the rain fall all around and we proceeded to catch a bunch more waves in the pouring rain. After paddling till my arms went noodle I headed back to the boat and watch the storm pass over and the conditions went back to sunny glassy perfect peaks once again and the rest of the crew surfed till just before sunset.
The entire crew hit the top deck for beers and to shoot the shit and it finally dawned on me we only had one full day left before the journey was over. The bright side was that after returning to port we would head over to Jakarta to explore the city for a few days and the excitement was building as its always fun to check out a new city and we had heard nothing but good things In addition we had a good friend in the city who could show us around.
Lamb Chops & Bad Grandpa
The chef was spotted earlier sporting his white chef hat a rare sight and usually a signal something special was cooking for the evening’s meal. As the dinner bell chimed sure enough it was land chops, potatoes, gravy, and salad. Without a doubt one of the best meals so far and I went back for seconds and even thirds and he even topped it off with a neopolitan ice cream dessert with crushed up chocolate bang bang bar over the top.
The Captain pulled out Bad Grandpa from his movie collection and it was a crackup. With a full stomach I lasted about halfway and headed off to the bunk down for the eve
Skate Park & The Dropping Swell
With the swell fading we arose to a little right-hander peeling around a small point. A slow peeler, it offered up not much under rainy skies and with the dropping swell it was the best we could hope for. We had a look up the point at Burn, the wave we had surfed earlier in the trip and saw a few coming through as the wind switched to hard off shores. The rain continued to poor down and the crew traded off right after rippable off shore right for hours under the rainy skies.
The ILIKE had a small library of books and after thumbing over the shelves I stumbled across a book called Snowing in Bali. The book tells the story behind the darker side of Bali and the drug underworld that operates in the shadows. Anyone caught with or smuggling hard drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, heroin etc… faced a life or possible death sentence. Its risky business and with big risk comes big rewards. A must read especially for anyone who has traveled to the area.
Last Surf then Head Back to Padang
It was hard to believe we had finally reached the end of our trip. Nearly 12 days at sea on the ILIKE and the entire crew was getting into the groove of surf, paddle, eat, nap, surf, paddle, eat, drink repeat. Everyone was looking tan and fit and had gotten carried away and given each other mustaches for the trip to Jakarta. The rain would not let go and again we arose to stormy skies for our last day. We had to pull anchor around 4pm this afternoon and start the long journey back to make the crossing and god willing arrive back in Padang harbor early the following morning bright eyed and bushy tailed for the first flight out to Jakarta. With the ILIKE so large and such a small crew the crew was showing no signs of cabin fever, more a hint of rage fever and an eagerness to get back to the bright lights one of the world’s largest cities, Funky Jakarta Town. Surprisingly the boat still maintained a surplus of beer and the challenge would be to finish the last 3 cases before we landed in port.
Day #14 & 15
The Kapinsky & Funky J-Town
Once safely back in port we parted ways with new and old friends and loaded up the car Jakarta Bound to visit an ol’ friend who had been working for a multinational corporation. An expat businessman as they call them doing a 5 year stint in Jakarta. He has told us to visit for years but no one had ever taken the time to jump on the 40 hour flight over to say hello until now and on the back of a 2 week boat trip fit and tan and ready to see what J-town was all about. As we landed and shuttled across the airport with all the gear we rallied up a shiny new mini bus to take us to the heart of the city of 10 million strong and possibly more if you count the people who commute in and out each day. It’s a BIGGGG city and with BIG city comes BIG traffic and lots of it. Immediately we got stuck in a semi traffic jam and this lasted all the way to the city center. Small cars, big cars, motos, buses and buildings as far as the eye could see with a light hint of smog and tropical humidity in the air. As we reached our final destination of the 5 Star Kapinksi Hotel , one of the oldest and most famous luxury hotels of Jakarta center and our x-pat amigo was waiting for us in the lobby to see us to our rooms. After a few high fives and hugs we made our way to the 7th floor king suite to turn down and then headed up to his palatial establishment on the 58 floor of the opposing tower. The Kapinski Hotel houses a 17 story 5 start business hotel in one building, a 68 floor residential tower in another and a 10 story mall with all the shops a shopper could ask and a bonus pool, jacuzzi, spa and terrace overlooking the city on the 17 floor sandwiched in between. Very palatial… you can walk out your hotel or residence and take the elevator directly to the mall or wing over to the 17th floor pool spa for a dip or rubdown and a cold bingtang. X-pat living at its finest.
Eager to have a few blokes in town he opted to take us out and see the sights of a city. We checked out a couple really cool sky bars on top of huge 70 story high rise building fully equipped with bar, restaurant , pool and dj’s overlooking the whole of Jakarta. Crazy experience to be up so high and looking down over the city as the sun sets and the city comes alive.
As the night fell we opted to check out a few more swanky bars and they did not disappoint well dressed and good looking people out to boogie down to the booming sounds of electronic all mixed up by the local DJ’s. The nightlife of Jakarta is not for the faint of heart and weary warriors need to apply. Good times and Good music out on the town was time to hit the hay and ready for the looooong journey home.
ShangGri La and Avoir…
Just before we headed out on the red eye we made a stop at the old 5 Star Shang Gri La Hotel to check out the underground cover band bar. The place was poppin with a 6 person band playing all the American pop classics in a broken English accent. Wailing out “in the summer of 69” to the crowd of mostly expat business men and locals sippin tall brews and cocktails. A great place to unwind before the 35 hour journey home. As the clock struck midnight it was time to say goodbye to our good friend and thank him for showing us his amazing city. The trip had finally come to an end but it only fueled our wanderlust to see, surf and paddle more of this amazing thing they call earth we all live on. Until next time….
About the Author - Marc Miller is the founding partner of Isle Surf & SUP an online retailer of paddle boards & surfboards. He has been involved in board manufacturing, product development and website management for Isle since its inception in 2004. He also writes the Isle Surf & SUP Blog. An avid surfer and paddler for the past 2 decades when hes not in the office he can be found on foreign shores searching for waves and fun.