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For decades surfing has been increasing in popularity thanks to old school legends such as Duke Kahanamoku, superstars that cease to fade like Kelly Slater, and the rise of social media platforms.

However, when it comes to who’s introducing a countless number of surfers to the sport, people are pointing fingers to none other than who? It cant ACTUALLY be, wait…. Costco?!

Yep. The same place you go to get laundry detergent and the famously affordable $1 hotdog is also responsible for putting thousands of surfers in the water.

Thanks to Kirkland Signature and Team Wavestorm you’re likely to see a bunch of people lugging around the awkwardly large and difficult to carry foam soft top surfboard next time you visit your favorite beachbreak.

Getting new surfers in the water is great for the sport but because there’s more beginner surfers now than ever before, having a discussion around Surf Etiquette is vital.

Surfing is far from a buttoned-up gentlemen’s game like golf; your skill is subjective and an old cliche states “the best surfer is the one having the most fun“. However, that doesn’t mean you should just grab your board and paddle out willie nillie.

For non-surfers it’s understandable to assume heavy waves, strong currents, and hungry sea monsters make surfing dangerous. Although these concerns have their merits to a degree, the biggest threat comes from surfers themselves.

Location, Location, Location

Before we even paddle out, let’s first make sure we’re at the right place.

Where you surf is the most important decision you can make outside of the water. For a learning surfer, choosing a spot thats above your skill level is a good way to give yourself a difficult time.

Surfing a spot where the crowd matches your skill level will take a lot of the pressure off your shoulders and help you avoid the uncomfortable learning curves of getting in people’s way who have more experience than you.

It will also help you catch more waves since you don’t want to be competing with experienced surfers as someone who’s learning. This is the easiest step to follow and will set you up for success right out of the gate.

Next time you get to a spot, take a few minutes to watch the surfers already out and look for patterns of where people are catching waves, channels or rip currents people are using to paddle out, and see how the waves are shared among everyone.

Checking Surfline will give you a good scope of the surf spots around your area; check the cameras before leaving your house so you know exactly where to go.

Apart from location you need to take into consideration the condition of the waves you plan on surfing.

Push the limits, but don’t be that guy who has no business being out when it’s double overhead. Paddling out on a massive day when you aren’t ready only increases the odds of you getting yourself and others hurt.

Mental Note: If you’re checking a spot that no one is at, understand that without people in the water it becomes difficult to judge the size of the waves you’re looking at. You’ll sometimes find once you’ve began paddling out that the waves were actually twice the size that you thought they were. When in doubt, don’t paddle out.

Paddle Smart, Not Hard…. Well Actually, Do Both

When an unstoppable force meets an immovable object, chaos ensues… The last thing you want on your Saturday morning trip to the beach is to get ran over by a surfer.

Taking a fin to the back is never fun; I’ve personally seen a fin cut through a boogie-boarder’s wetsuit, leaving him with a gnarly gash.

This is why it is incredibly important to spend some time on the sand analyzing the surfing lanes before paddling out.

A surfing lane is the field of travel a surfer passes through from the beginning of the peak to the very end of the wave. There can be multiple surfing lanes at a given break but they usually follow a similar path. Spend a couple sets watching people catch waves and you should sense a pattern.

When paddling out at most spots, you’ll more than likely need to paddle through these surfing lanes. When you do you’ll want to keep a “head in the game” mentality so you can navigate your way to the lineup without causing any roadblocks for people surfing by you. Having self awareness in the water is very important.

You DON’T want to paddle straight to the peak or straight to the center of the lineup. Instead paddle out through a channel where the waves aren’t being ridden and then over to the lineup like the diagram below. You want to stay as far on the shoulder as you can, that way you aren’t impeding on the section of the wave people are trying to ride.

A common saying among race car drivers is “never look in a direction you don’t want to go”; the same principle applies to surfing.

When paddling through surfing lanes you might find yourself staring at the people riding waves so you know where they’re at during all times.

When I was learning making this mistake got me into trouble because I would unconsciously lead myself directly into their field of travel. I found myself paddling in people’s direction rather than in the direction I should have been going.

What you want to do is see where the surfers are at but more importantly understand where they are going so you can decide if you need to paddle harder or slower to avoid a collision.

It’s also important to note that it’s always better to take a beating in the white wash than it is to try and make it past an oncoming surfer at the risk of ruining their ride or causing a collision.

Don’t Bail Your Board

Bailing your board means letting go of it, generally during heavy surf or when caught in the white wash.

There’s two scenarios where you especially want to avoid doing this: when its super crowded, and when there’s people paddling behind you.

When there’s people around or behind you during crowded conditions bailing your surfboard can be a huge risk. Surfboard leashes range from 6-9 feet and when you let go of your board, anyone within that circumference from you could easily eat your board like it’s a fiberglass sandwich.

They certainly wont be happy with a broken nose and you wont be happy taking your board to the ding repair shop to replace the face plant made on your deck. It’s best practice to hold on tight, if you can help it.

Pro Tip: If you’re worried about holding onto your board when paddling out on bigger days, understand that letting go of your board actually works AGAINST you. Without the floatation from the surfboard you’ll be held down longer and receive a harder beating compared to if you didn’t ditch it. It will also mean you have less time to get yourself together before the next wave comes. Watch the video below for proper duck dive form. Learn this technique and you shouldn’t have to ditch your board under 12ft waves again πŸ‘πŸΌ

If you’re riding a larger board with much more volume you’ll have a hard time duck diving. Here’s a video you can watch showing you how to get past the breakers on a longboard using three techniques.

Exceptions To The Rule:

  • I can’t picture a scenario where you’d want to ditch your board unless you’re surfing by yourself with no one else out or you’re surfing waves 20+ ft high… Best practice is to hold on tight.

Get Your Priorities Straight

Not all spots are the same but generally speaking, there’s a method to the madness when you’re watching a group of ten or more strangers share waves.

The peak is the wave’s highest point and usually the section that breaks into whitewater first. The quicker you’re able to identify the peak as waves roll toward the lineup the more time you’ll have to get in position.

Developing a good eye for finding the wave’s peak will help you catch a lot more rides and progress much faster as a beginner/intermediate surfer.

When a surfer has priority it means they’re either the closest surfer to the peak and/or it’s their turn in the lineup to catch the next available wave.

Sharing priority is important because without it you would have multiple people going for the same wave which causes confusion and disorder in the lineup.

Exceptions To The Rule:

  • If the person with priority makes no attempt to catch an incoming wave, feel free to claim it as yours.
  • If the person with priority falls on the takeoff, take the rest of the wave.
  • If the person with priority happens to be a close friend who won’t hold a grudge………… BURN ‘EM! But you didn’t hear it from me, okay πŸ˜‰

Mental Note: When at a busy spot with other surfers, if you fall on the takeoff your priority goes to the back of the line. Sorry, no re-dos allowed… usually.

Don’t Be Greedy

Once you’re navigating the lineup with ease and positioning yourself right you’ll be catching waves way ahead of other surfers in the water.

This is especially true if you’re riding a longboard or soft top surfboard with more volume where you’ll be able to paddle faster and catch waves much sooner than surfers riding shortboards.

But just because you’re the best surfer out there and/or can catch any wave you want does not mean you should.

If your goal is to make as few friends as possible, hogging all the waves to yourself is a route worth recommending.

However, a better approach would be to let some waves go by to be ridden by the other surfers in the lineup. If you’re not sharing waves with the other surfers in the water don’t be surprised when someone tells you to; which brings us to our next point.

Be Vocal

This is where so many people fall short. When it comes to surfing in crowded lineups communication is super important!

When paddling into a wave, giving the quick shout “GOING LEFT!” will accomplish the following:

  • Fewer waves will go unridden – now that you’ve announced “going left” the right side of the wave is up for the taking.
  • Reduces the likelihood of any collisions or uninvited drop-ins.
  • Being vocal instills a bit of order in the lineup and keeps things running smoothly.

All in all, being vocal in the water is a good habit to develop. Giving a “yeewww” when someone catches a wave keeps the vibes high and will help you make friends out in the water and if you’re a traveler visiting a new spot, it should help keep the locals off your back as well.

Pro Tip: Even an introvert like me sees the benefits of talking with people out in the water. If you have trouble getting out of your comfort zone I recommend surfing with friends until you gain the skills and confidence to go out there alone.

Don’t Cut People Off

Cutting someone off means you’ve dropped in on a wave that someone else is already riding. This is one of the most common yet biggest no-no’s a surfer can make.

Any experienced surfer has had this happen to them more times than they could count and let me tell you, it’s very frustrating. This is yet another reason why communication is such a big deal.

Accidents happen.

If you don’t notice the other surfer until it’s too late, make sure you kick out of the wave ASAP so the person with priority can finish their ride. A simple “my bad” goes a long way… if you screw up, say sorry.

Depending on the spot you surf, some “superlocals” will take any wave they want. But for the most part, surfers aren’t intentionally stealing waves. If someone’s cutting you off and it becomes an issue, don’t be afraid to let them know. Like I said, most of the time it’s because they didn’t see you.

Not feeling ready to compete with experienced surfers at the peak of the wave? Try sitting on the inside shoulder and picking up the leftovers! Sitting on the outside/inside shoulder will keep you out of everyone’s way and when someone falls you should be in a perfect position to catch the remaining section of the wave.

Sitting “on the inside” is a strategy I recommend to any surfer who isn’t quite ready to be catching waves in the middle of a packed lineup.

Exceptions To The Rule:

  • If you asked 1,000 surfers, many will say if someone snakes your wave, you have a free ticket to drop in on them however, I wouldn’t always recommend this practice. Depending on where you surf, some surfers wear the “entitled local” badge with honor, and dropping in on them can potentially escalate a negative situation.

Not sure what snaking a wave is? Let’s get into it in the next section.

“Thy Shall Not Snake” – Psalm 17:68

Snaking a wave means there’s an incoming wave and before it breaks you paddle around, in front, or behind the person who has priority, putting yourself in position for the wave ahead of them.

Snaking is different than cutting someone off because it is usually done deliberately and seen by others as an intentional act.

Without further explanation, it is pretty clear to see why snaking waves is not something you want to be doing. It’s a blatant sign of disrespect and sends a bad message to everyone else in the water.

But what if someone snakes me?!

As we mentioned earlier, dropping in on the person who snaked your wave is generally considered fair game. And even though I’ve dropped in on people who have snaked me before, what I prefer to do instead is get vocal as we talked about earlier. When paddling into a wave someone is attempting to snake from me I’ll say “mine, mine!” or “going!” . 90% of the time the other person will back out and everything is cool.

What about the other 10%? Well if it’s a good wave, prepare to get dropped in on my “friend”.

If it’s subpar surf conditions I’ll just let it go and accept that some people can be kooks, rude, and sometimes both.

Exceptions To The Rule:

  • If you’re at a beach break that doesn’t have a defined peak (meaning waves are breaking in many different spots and/or breaking inconsistently) paddling around people in hopes of hunting down a lucky shoulder is a safe practice. Just make sure you aren’t doing it to specifically catch the very next wave coming for your guys’ direction!
  • If there’s a wave about to break and the person with priority makes it clear they aren’t going to make an effort to catch it, by all means, go take it.

Other than that, take turns!

Leave No Evidence

Surfline made an instagram post recently with a video captured off one of their cameras showing a surfer picking up trash after his session. As acknowledgment for the good deed, they gave him a premium subscription free of charge.

Picking up some garbage on the walk back to your house or car is your way of showing appreciation to nature and will work as an offering to the surf gods who’ll bless you with good waves.

But surf gods and free stuff aside, leaving the beach in good condition is simply the right thing to do. Having the surfing community on board goes a long way towards preserving our coastline.

The only exception to this rule is being a Jabroni… Which isn’t an exception. So pack it up pack it in, now let us begin… our final two sections!


Some surf spots get so crowded on the weekend that these rules fly right out the window. When busy, some places adopt a free-for-all policy and when it applies, the only rules that prevail are the Don’t Drop In and Don’t Snake rules.

What Do Surfers Value Most? RESPECT

Many surfers preach “give respect to gain respect”, if you understand this and follow the rules in this article you’ve set yourself up for success the next time you hit the water. But before we send you on your way there’s one last thing I should warn you about…

A local is someone who has a long history of surfing a particular break or area. And just like the card you needed in order to walk out of Costco with a new surfboard, some spots operate on a β€œmembers only” approach as well.

If you’ve never heard of “localism” before, you’ll likely be a little thrown off experiencing it yourself. But don’t worry, we wrote this article on how to navigate the crowd at these places too.

But besides all that just have fun, keep an eye out for the surfers around you, follow these rules the best you can, and keep the stoke alive.

Until next time…

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How It All Began…

As the origins of surfing are still considered a mystery, many tall tales of the first ridden wave circulate to this day. Historians voice opinions on the matter but many suggest we turn the calendar back to the beginning of time, aka 1768.

During this historic year it was Captain James Cook, the British explorer who witnessed the first waves ever ridden by the Tahitians in cutout canoes.

So the story goes, approximately 254 years ago a mad man saw a set of waves headed it for him and his canoe. After a brief moment of contemplation he muttered the words “F**K it, I’m going”

Just like that, surfing was born.

In awe of what they just witnessed, the villagers were admiring the courage of our surfing grandfather and it’s during this precise moment that I assume another historic event took place…

After watching Canoe (Kah-no-eh) Slater ride one all the way in, another individual who we’ll call Tahitian number two, came onto the scene. “Next wave is mine” he stated

Just like that, localism was born.

Put rather simply, localism is as old as surfing itself. At least surfing in the form that we’ve grown to understand today.

What Is Localism?

It’s an ambiguous term however, localism can be used to describe the negative tone, set of rules, or attitude expressed by “locals” towards newcomers of a particular surf break.

Some spots have very little to no localism, such as Malibu in Los Angeles where within reason, visiting and catching waves is more of a free for all.

At non-localized spots it doesn’t matter who you are or where you’re from. As long as you have consideration for the other surfers out in the water you should have no problems catching waves without any flak.

On the other hand, when going to a spot known for heavy localism you’ll need to be on your P’s and Q’s.

Localism isn’t black and white, it has it’s levels kind of like hot-sauce. Some spots are pretty mild / no bad vibes and other spots you can feel the heat before you even paddle out, in which case you should duck tape your lease agreement to your surfboard before paddling out.

Speaking from personal experience, you often don’t find out how “localized” a spot really is until it’s too late so keep your head on a swivel and don’t get lost in the sauce. The video below is the best resource for determining the degree of localism at the next spot you surf.

Use the F-A-F-O method the next time you surf unfamiliar waters. You might find yourself in a bit of trouble, or you very well might just find out πŸ‘πŸΌ

Surfing at a heavily localized spot, if you don’t have a recognizable face and your skill level isn’t impressive the treatment one can expect to receive is as if you don’t exist at all. I have a trick for combating this issue but we’ll get into it later…

if you’re a newcomer and/or inexperienced surfer and find yourself intruding on the natural flow of order in the lineup you may find yourself catching some hostility from other surfers. In such situations, as the suspect tried and convicted of kookish behavior you open yourself up to being called names, mildly harrased, or even told to get out of the water.

Catching waves at this point may seem impossible and certainly not fun. Some people make the grave mistake of responding defensively which can quickly escalate these situations.

Make no mistake, the water isn’t your high school playground. When local enforcers threaten to knock your block off, they’re often AREN’T bluffing. Pushing back against people like this has certainly lead to a fair amount of fist fights, both in the water and out.

Let’s Look At It From The Locals’ Perspective

Just because a surf spot has a localized reputation that doesn’t mean you should be prepared for some type of prison yard recess activity; often times quite the opposite.

Just because a surf spot is localized doesn’t mean everyone there is preparing for their audition of Bully Beatdown. The term Localism often has a dual meaning with the word Regulated.

Many surfers when at a localized spot surf with consideration for the people around them. However, these same surfers take a much looser approach when at less localized places. Just because it’s a “one-man sport” doesn’t mean the other surfers are your competitors.

It happens to the best of us, at one point or another every surfer has made a miscalculation and ended up dropping in on someone, preventing someone from taking off, or created an unsafe situation out in the water. You hate to see it but these things happen.

At the end of the day we all just want to catch our wave(s) and stay safe out there. The responsibility of ensuring you’re in the right position, not cutting anyone off, and maintaining proper etiquette ultimately falls on ourselves.

However, the consequences of our miscalculations ultimately impact the surfers we share waves with.

Lifeguard saves unresponsive surfer in hawaii
Lifeguards save unresponsive surfer from the water at Pipeline.

When it comes to hardcore spots like infamous Pipeline on the North Shore of Hawaii for example, having inexperienced surfers out in the water causes a legitimate safety risk to other surfers.

When someone corrects you on something it’s best to keep in mind that for the majority of situations they are just trying to keep things running smoothly so no one gets ran over and no one is accidentally pulling off heists on peoples waves.

Concluding Thoughts

Because of contests, social media apps like Surfline and Instagram, and the rapid growth of surfing’s economy, the days of being able to keep waves a secret have sailed off into the Tahitian sunset.

Nowadays if you haven’t heard of a spot, its either because you haven’t looked hard enough, talked with the right people, or the waves just aren’t worth mentioning.

Screenshot of surfline
Surfline even has a rating system on their app to score the degree of localism at surf spots.

With that said, heres some things I like to keep in mind as a newcomer surfing spots I haven’t been to before and the mentality I have surfing back home at my everyday break.

Tips for Surfing a New Spot

  • Watch before paddling out. Before I hit the water I like to spend at least a couple sets (usually no less than 10 minutes) stretching and watching surfers. Things I look for: where the peak is breaking, where people start to paddle back out once they catch a wave, identifying any sense of order among everyone out and average skill level of surfers. The reason I do this is so once I am in the water I’m not playing a guessing game. I’ll have a rough idea how things are moving and I can quickly begin catching waves knowing where I’ll need to sit in order to be in position.
  • TALK. Surfing is a vocal sport, it’s more fun that way. Especially if it’s super crowded I’ll announce “going left” when paddling into a wave. I’ll throw out a “yeewww!” to someone dropping in. This sends the message that I want to see everyone catch fun rides and when it’s my turn, I’m going to let it be know so no one “accidentally” cuts me off. Being vocal keeps my head in the game, helps me make friends, and as strange as it sounds, actually gives me a little extra confidence to paddle harder on waves I’m going for.
  • Don’t be Naive. This goes hand in hand with point number one. I never just rock up to a spot unknowingly and paddle out without a basic understanding of how things operate. If you’re a beginner surfer it’s best to assume that the more difficult the wave, the more regulated the crowd is likely going to be. Know what you’re getting yourself into. If every surfer I see is throwing airs with stickers on their boards and I’m still trying to learn the basics on a foam board with a receipt that reads “Kirkland Signature” in my back pocket, I know I’m probably at the wrong beach.

Also, not always necessary but worth noting; if I see someone who’s clearly a local, instead of getting into a paddle battle, I just let them have priority on waves that aren’t obviously mine. The idea here is that I’ll show some respect, get the next wave by default, and if good karma exists, when I’m back at my home break hopefully people will do the same for me.

Guide for surf etiquette

As A Local

I live on a public beach, it’s not up to par for the WSL but nonetheless has a reputation for having a tough crowd from time to time. It can be a super fun wave and is fairly consistent but because it isn’t spitting tubes on a daily basis like the infamous Pipeline, it doesn’t normally attract large crowds and I don’t feel entitled to surf with an aggressive, free-for-all style since it’s just not necessary.

However, I keep the following points in mind when I paddle out.

  • Rather than using my “local” reputation as an excuse to flaunt a get out of jail free card redeemable for any wave I want, I approach my morning surf as if I was at any other spot. It goes like this… Rule number one: the person closest to the peak gets the wave. Rule number two: we’re all out to have a good time and be safe. Rule number three: anyone interfering with rules number one and two will be categorized as a kook.
  • If someone cuts me off, bails their board right in front of me on a paddle out, or shows any other lack of etiquette, instead of telling them to head for the sand like the old guys once told me, I’ll usually accept that mistakes happen. If it proves to be an issue I’ll correct the mistake and it may sound something like “hey bro make sure you look next time, I was right behind you and almost ran you over”, or “Don’t let go of your board when someone’s behind you, you almost took my head off”.
  • As a bonus Rule number four to my first point; it’s not my responsibility to correct everyone out in the water. It’s not my job nor do I want to play that role. Some people get off on showing their dominance in the water but I personally like to let the surfing speak for itself. Unless someone is posing a blatant risk, the best practice is keeping some space and letting them go through the learning process just like everyone else.
Surfers split a wave in san diego
Two surfers split a wave without fighting over who gets what.

Unfortunately you’ll find dickheads no matter where you are or what you’re doing. That’s just a part of life. But as a surfer, a few negative experiences might make you ready to put down the surf wax and pickup some brass knuckles. Before you do, I challenge you to throw on some reggae and take a breather…

If you’re a newcomer, a good attitude and some smiles will go along way. If you’re a third generation local, pulling the fratboy “You don’t belong here. Do you know who my dad is?” card only makes you look like a doucher.

You don’t have to think the way I think or surf the way I surf but keeping some of these things in mind will ensure your sessions remain fun whether you’re at your home break or deep in some far away land where the locals still ride cutout canoes.

This topic can be a can of worms but if you have conflicting opinions or additional points I’d be curious to hear. Until then, I’ll see you in the water. But hopefully not πŸ˜‰

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Bali Surf Trip

Ahh, magical Bali. The Land of Lefts.

I never thought I would actually go, but there I was on a surf trip with my boys in Uluwatu.

We battled the Bali belly ?, monkeys ?, scorching heat β˜€οΈ, and the Uluwatu cave current… and we came out alive.

I’m writing this a few months after the Bali trip, so I don’t remember all the details perfectly (like how much everything cost), but better late than never, yeah?

When my buddy JacuzziSurfer moved to Bali and invited me to visit, I couldn’t say no.

Turns out a handful of my friends wanted to go too, so we made a group trip out of it.

Traveling to Bali

Pre-flight stretch
Get some movement before the long flight

Our flights to and from Bali were definitely the worst part of our surf trip.

20 hours of flight time each way!

We are from San Diego, but we saved a good amount of money (I think around $500) by flying out of LA.

15 hours from LA to Hong Kong, where we arrived at 6pm, and our flight to Bali didn’t depart until noon the next day…

So we had to stay up all night and party in Hong Kong.

We showed up very un-sober ? for our 5hr flight to Bali the next day.

(For our flights returning to San Diego, it was a similar situation with the layover, but I felt like I was dying so I just slept on the airport floor. It was rough)

Our Uluwatu Villa

Uluwatu Surf Ranch

There were 6 of us total, so we were able to rent this villa on Airbnb for only about $50/night per person. It was called the “Uluwatu Surf Ranch”.

We each had our own bedroom with air conditioning, and the yard featured a super nice pool setup.

The villa even had a laundry room (though I don’t think I washed any of my clothes).

The hosts helped us get anything we wanted (scooters, surfboards, meals, etc) and the property manager Komang checked in with us every day.

Oh, and it even came with a dog ? (they asked if we would be ok with him at the villa).

Bali Villa - living room
Bali Villa - kitchen
Bali bathroom

My only complaint about the villa, was that we ran out of gas for a couple days, and couldn’t use the stove to cook our own food.

There was an under-the-sink water filter (so it was supposed to be good), because you don’t want to drink tap water there… somehow 5 out of 6 of us got “Bali belly” though, so we aren’t sure if it had to do with that water filtration system.

I had a really intense fever and chills, and the other guys had tummy problems. Some people recommend only eating cooked foods (no raw smoothies or veggies), but we really couldn’t pinpoint the cause of our Bali belly.

Scooter Rentals

Bali scooter rentals

When you think of Bali, you think of scooters ?.

Almost everyone drives mopeds in Bali.

Luckily we were staying in the more remote area of Uluwatu, but the traffic gets crazy in the busy areas like Canguu.

They drive on the left hand side of the road there too, which makes it even more confusing!

If you want to be legal, I think you’re supposed to get your international license or something, but we didn’t. Be careful.

But scooters are essential to get to the surf spots. Make sure to get a surfboard rack on your scooter.

Our property manager had someone drop off the scooters for us, and it only cost about 10 bucks a day.

Bali moped rental

Surfboard Rentals in Bali

Bali surfboard rental

There are so many places to rent surfboards in Bali, it can be overwhelming!

And it’s so cheap to rent boards out there, it’s really not even worth bringing your own, unless you’re really that good.

I just brought my own fins and leash, and rented my surfboard from (The rentals come with fins and leashes usually, but I wanted to bring my own just in case).

Yes this website seemed kinda sketch (my buddy just randomly found it) but it turned out to be legit!

We rented Hypto Kryptos (which are super fun), and I paid $69 for the week.

They delivered to our villa, and picked the boards up before we departed at the end of our trip.

Snapped Hypto Krypto rental surfboard

I actually snapped my board in half, but they were super cool and replaced it for free, since it had been repaired there previously.

Bali Surf Spots

Bali surf spots

There are so many amazing surf spots in Bali, with Uluwatu being one of the most famous.

It was also my favorite.

We surfed a few other spots… Canggu, Padang, Impossibles, but Ulu was the best.

Uluwatu surf spot
Surfing Uluwatu, Bali

It’s a bit of a hike to get to the bottom of the cave where you paddle out. The entry to the lineup is simple, just paddle out from the cave, you don’t have to worry about the reef unless it’s super low tide.

Waves were about 4-6 feet while we were there, which was perfect for us. Not to big, not too small. Ulu could get crowded, but I always managed to find my own little opening.

Something special about Uluwatu is the photographers in the cliffs. They will take pictures of everyone surfing, and then when you walk back up the cliff they pull you into their “offices” and scroll through the pictures on their computer to find the ones of you.

Then you can decide if you want to buy them (I didn’t buy any, but I think it was maybe $10 for a few pics).

Bali Nightlife

There’s plenty of nightlife in Bali! Lots of people there don’t even surf, they just go for the nightlife.

Even in Uluwatu, where it’s much more quiet, there’s still a “the spot” almost every night of the week it seems. (Sundays are for Single Fin)

Kam and I went to Canggu for one night, and it’s wild there. So much going on. Just walk around and find what looks good.

Drugs are very illegal in Bali. Like death sentence illegal. ?

Apparently you can still get ahold of them, but I didn’t want to find out… though there may have been someone selling shrooms ? outside of Single Fin.

Don’t risk it for the biscuit.

Food in Bali ?

I was sick for most of the trip, so I didn’t get to enjoy the food as much as most people do.

My favorite was probably the breakfast at one of the spots below Single Fin on the cliffs of Uluwatu.

French toast (with honey ? instead of syrup), eggs, sausage, and coffee.

Also good was the unlimited breakfast at Single Fin, great for refilling your body after a grueling morning surf at Uluwatu. (credit cards accepted)

There’s so many food options to choose from. Warungs (small restaurant or cafe) along the roadside everywhere.

Rice is a staple, and peanut butter sauce seems to be popular too.

Whether you’re into rice and meat, or fruit smoothies and acai bowls, there’s something for everyone.

The tourist-y spots are usually nicer and accept credit cards, while the local warungs are usually cash only, but considerably cheaper.

It’s nice to get some variety and eat at both.

Bali Surf Trip Costs

Bali surf trip expenses

Flights – $800
Villa – $350 ($50/night per person)
Scooter rental – $70
Surfboard rental – $69
Meals – $200

Total – $1,489

I wish I didn’t feel like death for most of the trip, but it was still such a fun experience.

It takes a lot of time and money to get to Bali, but once you’re there, everything is cheap and the living’s good.

We also went in April, which is right at the beginning of busy season. The waves start to get good, but the crowd doesn’t show up for another few weeks.

My recommendation is to get a group of friends, and go in on a villa.

Now that the weather is cooling down here in San Diego, I’m starting to crave Bali again…

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Casa Mirador review

A lot of pro surfers have been dropping edits from Salina Cruz in 2019, and I think most of them stayed with Cesar at Casa Mirador surf camp.

Stab even tackled The Dock 2.0 there (check the credits at the end for the Casa Mirador shoutout)

It’s really no surprise everyone chooses to stay with Cesar… he kinda seems like the mayor of the town.

Casa Mirador is perched atop the highest hill, overlooking all of Salina Cruz.
Beachbreaks to the left, pointbreak (can’t remember which one) to the right

Casa Mirador rooftop view

He has the nicest trucks for the surf guides, and you truly feel like a VIP when staying there.

Now, I haven’t stayed at any of the other surf camps, so I guess I’m kind of biased, but I think I’m being fair ?‍♂️

Here’s the video version of my Casa Mirador review, check it out and then I’ll get into more details below.

Why Casa Mirador?

The beauty of staying at Casa Mirador is that everything is taken care of for you.

Airport transfer, meals, transportation to the surf spots, anything you need.

So all you have to think about is surfing.

Casa Mirador surf guide

Getting to Casa Mirador

We live in San Diego, so we flew out of Tijuana to save money on flights. Our flights were $330 round trip with Interjet.

There is something called CBX (Cross Border Xpress), where you get dropped off just outside the border, and walk across to the airport. It costs $30 round trip.

And the thing every surfer fears… surfboard baggage fees…

We didn’t pay a penny to bring our surfboards with Interjet! Thought it was going to be $30 each way, but it was completely free.

After landing in Huatulco, we had a van taxi waiting to take us 2.5 hours to Casa Mirador. This cost $160, so $32 per person (5 of us). We also paid this when we left the camp, for our departure back to San Diego.

The Casa

Casa Mirador surf camp
Casa Mirador entryway

The five of us shared one room. I think there are 4 or 5 total rooms. There were one or two other surf groups there at the same time as us.

We didn’t use the TV at all, but the air conditioner was nice at night (the rest of the casa is not air conditioned).

Casa Mirador bedroom
Casa Mirador bedroom

Bathroom was basic: sink, shower, and toilet.

In Mexico and other central American countries, the trend is to *not* flush your toilet paper, and it can clog the septic system.

You need to put toilet paper in the wastebasket next to the toilet… this was super weird to me at first ?

Casa Mirador bathroom
Casa Mirador bathroom

The downtsairs living room area is where you can store your boards and hang out.

We found a guitar and Josh serenaded us while sitting in the window ?

The window has the same view as upstairs, beachbreaks to the left and pointbreak to the right.

Casa Mirador living room
Casa Mirador living room
Casa Mirador views

Upstairs has ping pong and pool tables, and is where we ate our dinners.

The fridge has beers, drinks, and snacks. Just take what you want, and write it in the log, and you pay for it at the end of your trip.

Pool and ping-pong tables
Casa Mirador rooftop

There is WiFi at the Casa, but it was pretty spotty during our stay. The modem broke at one point, and they were working on getting it fixed… not a huge deal for most people, but when I’m trying to run my business remotely, it’s a big thing for me.


3 meals a day are included with your Casa Mirador package.

The breakfast is pretty weak (cereal and fruit), and usually lunch is just PB&J sandwhiches and/or tuna sandwhiches

Breakfast at Casa Mirador

We could choose to come back to the casa for lunch, but since the spots are an hour drive away, usually we just stay and surf all day.

A couple times we actually bought some fresh fish from the locals and made ceviche for lunch at the beach.

Dinner is where it’s at

I’m a plain eater, so basically all I want is meat and rice haha, but the kitchen staff always whips up some bomb dinners.

Tacos, fish, mole, rice, fresh squeezed/blended fruit juice, etc.

Salina Cruz Surf Spots

Casa Mirador is different from other surf camps you might visit, because no surf spots are walkable here.

The beachbreaks are about a 30 minute drive, and the pointbreaks are about an hour away.

Each evening, you coordinate with your surf guide what time you want to leave in the morning. You meet in the morning and he tells you which spot(s) should be working, and you go from there.

Load up the truck with boards, canopy for shade, chairs, and food (usually just PB & J, bread, and tuna).

Usually we leave around sunrise, and stay out until 3-5pm.

There are palapas at certain surf spots, otherwise the surf guide will set up a canopy for sun protection. It gets HOT here folks.

Palapa at the beach in Salina Cruz

What I Packed for Salina Cruz

  • Surfboard (Firewire Moonbeam, but I ended up not surfing it because the waves were too small), fins, extra leash in case one broke, towel
  • Laptop
  • Clothes – boardshorts, couple tank tops, couple shirts, one pair of shorts, shoes (I forgot my sandals ?), hat
  • Lumix G7 camera, bendy tripod, batteries, GoPro, Mavic Pro drone
  • Toiletries – toothpaste, floss, contacts, glasses
  • Metal water bottle (filtered water provided at Casa Mirador)
  • Sunscreen
  • Passport, wallet, US cash and some pesos

Total Costs

  • Flight: $330
  • Airport transfers: $64
  • Casa Mirador: $900 ($150/night)
  • Tip: $50. Tipped our guide Juan, and the kitchen staff
  • Misc spending on snacks: ~$25. Usually on our way to the surf spots in the morning, we would stop at a market or gas station to get some junk food snacks and drinks.

Total Cost: $1,319 for 6 nights.

Worth It?

So was it worth spending $1,319 for this Salina Cruz surf trip?

Well, we surfed uncrowded loooong pointbreaks with 85 degree water temps. β˜€οΈ?

Unfortunately the waves weren’t as big as we had hoped… we wanted some head high barrels, but we mostly got 3 foot mushy slow waves.

It was still super fun with the boys, but I think we’ll wait and check the 2-week forecast before booking our next trip, if possible.

If you decide to go with Casa Mirador, tell Cesar Ho Stevie! sent you ?

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Gabriel Medina avoids boat

This quick clip features some heavy wipeouts from the Rip Curl team.

Medina dodges a boat in the wave, and keeps on surfing! The guy in the boat got the shot too πŸ™‚

Medina dodges boat

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Bodysurfing frontflip

I knew it was possible to do rolls while bodysurfing, but I’ve never seen a somersault before!

Kaneali’i Wilcox pulled off this front flip in the Point Panic Bodysurfing Championship, and was crowned champion.

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Tia Blanco

August wasn’t as eventful as July, but here are some of the happenings that stood out most to me.

Robbie Madison Dirtbiked Teahupoo

This still blows my mind. Motorcycle + ocean should not work.
But it does:

Tia Blanco does Playboy (kind of)

You might not have heard of Tia Blanco before, but she’s actually a pretty good surfer.

She did a gig with Playboy this month, but didn’t get naked. I thought nudity was required for Playboy, but apparently not.

Anyways, here’s the video:

Jordy Smith – Barrel to Massive Air Combo

This is probably the biggest air I’ve ever seen in surfing. Looks like he’s snowboarding or something.

A video posted by Jordy Smith (@jordysmith88) on

Surf Snowdonia Opens and Closes

The world’s first publicly available artificial wave opened on August 1st, in the United Kingdom.

But then on August 19th it had to shut down for maintenance. The lagoon has to be drained, and it is still closed as of the time of writing.

Surf Snowdonia, in the UK
Surf Snowdonia, in the UK


Jeremy Flores took the big win at Teahupoo, despite wearing a helmet from a recent injury in Indo.

A photo posted by Jeremy Flores (@floresjeremy) on

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Laird Hamilton, Gabrielle Reece naked for ESPN

July was a big month for the world of surfing.

In case you were busy, here’s a quick rundown of what happened.

Laird Hamilton Gets Naked for ESPN

ESPN knows that sex sells, and that’s why they started their annual Body Issue.

This year you can find the godfather of SUP himself, Laird Hamilton, along with his volleyball wife Gabby Reece, SUPing without any clothes.

I wonder how many times they SUP’d naked before ESPN ever approached them about it?

Outerknown Officially Launches

Kelly Slater’s new brand Outerknown was finally officially launched, after much anticipation from the surf community.

But I don’t think many surfers will be wearing any Outerknown pieces… a flannel will cost you $165 or more!

Hey, at least it’s eco-friendly!

Kelly Slater Outerknown

Outerknown officially launches

Kelly Slater wearing Outerknown

Mick Fanning’s Shark Attack

Mick Fanning shark attack J-Bay Open

During the final heat of the J-Bay Open, a shark got a little frisky with Mick Fanning.

And Mick got a little frisky with the shark, as you can see from these memes.

Another Shark Attack at Renunion Island

Just days after Mick’s attack, there was yet another shark attack at Reunion Island.

Thankfully it wasn’t fatal this time, but it is the 18th shark attack since 2011 at Reunion.

A man named Rudolph was attacked while paddling through the channel. He suffered deep wounds to his arm, but all body parts are still intact and attached.

Can we please find a shark deterrent that works?

Rips Curl’s Quest 1 Charter Boat Sinks

Rip Curl Quest 1 sinks

The Quest 1 mysteriously sunk in the Mentawais.

Luckily everyone onboard was ok, but some say the boat was valued at over $1 million. Not a good month for Rip Curl!

JOB Set Himself On Fire

JOB on fire at Teahupoo
Redbull and Jamie O Brien keep pushing the limit with their Youtube series Who Is JOB?

Their latest stunt involves JOB, a wetsuit soaked with lighter fluid, and double overhead Teahupoo bommies.

Code Orange Teahupoo

The same XXL swell that JOB surfed on fire at Teahupoo, but here’s the edit with more surfing, less Jackass:

Vans US Open in Huntington Beach

2015 Vans US Open of Surfing

As far as spectators, the US Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach is the biggest contest every year.

The contest wraps up on Sunday, so you still have time to check it out if you’re in the area!

Men's Surfing Wetsuit