The dawn drive here is usually worth it.- Photo Baliwaves.com
I am currently enjoying a brilliant mid winter break on the magic isle, surfing in Bali, right in the thick of school holidays and loving it.
Back in my late teens or early 20’s, I wouldn’t dare to dream of coming to Bali in peak holiday season. But hey, family and kids bring a new reality, right? And let’s face it – after sampling many other destinations, Bali is still pretty hard to beat for an inexpensive, easy, family holiday with it all.
Anyways, rather than me sharing tales from my dozen or so trips over the decades, I thought it would be cool to chat to a well-known expat; Slim Jim that runs the ever popular Baliwaves website.
Jim is on top of conditions every day and was happy to share some of his local knowledge with The Perfect Wave.
- Jim at work. – Photo Baliwaves.com
Over to Jim from Baliwaves.com now to share some of his local knowledge:
Ben Horvath – how long you been based in Bali now, Jim?
Jim – I was lucky or I guess just made the call to move over to Bali in October 1995 with AU$3,000 in my pocket. From my point of view, I had everything to win and nothing to lose. I was also hell bent on keeping my surfing lifestyle happening.
BH – Where were you, what were you doing before you started Baliwaves.com?
Jim – I was here in Bali for almost 3 years before the internet was born. Firstly just fishing with my local mates here in Tuban, netting fishing and diving. (I did have one job working for Nyoman “Bobby” Radiasa for a year or so I used to get paid US$150.00 per month for a 6 day week, but could still surf before and after work.) I had no money left after buying a motor bike and an outboard motor. I was actually living the dream of just fishing and surfing with my Balinese friends. Just about all our food came from the ocean back then, plus we made our pocket money from selling fish. That money was then used on buying more petrol for our motors, fishing equipment, arak and extras…
BH – Biggest swell you have ever seen in Bali?
Jim – The biggest swells I have ever seen in Bali would have been a long time ago. I can remember seeing 1 wave close out from Airport Left to Kuta Reef. I’ve also surfed some pretty big waves at Uluwatu’s outside corner in my heyday.
- Slim and Wayan Ray. – Photo Baliwaves.com
BH – Best places to escape crowds in Bali without giving too much away?
Jim – This day and age, just about everywhere in the world the waves are crowded (except Kelly’s backyard..). There is no escape; surfing these days it’s just too damn popular, I guess. We just have to travel more and use those early morning tides when they are here and get up early.
BH – Best wave in Bali?
Jim – Padang Padang still blows my mind as the best wave in Bali for sure.
BH – Bali cops a fair bit of criticism nowadays from old gronks… you know the “I will never go again cause I used to surf Bingin and Temples with one or two guys in the 80’s” crew. What would you say to them?
Jim – Yeah, there’s always people bagging out Bali about being crowded or this and that with development. But that stuff is happening everywhere. When ever I get to go back to my home town of Newcastle, Australia, it continually blows me away how much my old town has changed for the worse in my opinion. They call it progress. But with Bali, especially if you knew it in the day and fell in love with the island and the people, that feeling is always inside us and can never change. Most of the “tire kickers” are just usually going through a mid life crisis or something. They need to chill out and just enjoy all the good things still here in Bali.
BH – The East Coast has opened up so many possibilities, yeah?
Jim – The East Coast still has a few sneaky waves available and a great change in scenery when the wind changes or we get light morning wind. Just such a pity to what has happened over at the Keramas area with all the “instant” development.
- You can still find empties in Bali. – Photo Baliwaves.com
BH – How has the first half of of 2016 been wave-wise?
Jim – 2016 has been great so far wave wise. I still remember surfing pumping left handers peeling off for 200yrds at Medewi on the 01/01/2016. The surf has been fairly consistent; nothing huge in the first few months, but now we are getting into mid season and the bigger waves are more common. This year, we have hardly had a wet season with light and variable winds since early March, but quite a bit of unseasonal rain recently.
BH – Best time of the year to hit Bali?
Jim – Anytime of the year is good to be in Bali. There are perfect waves over here non stop all year round!
BH – What about quiver? What boards are required for first-timers?
Jim – When people ask me “what boards should I bring” I always answer: Just bring your favourite boards that you always ride. There is no secret board to have and you always surf best on your favorite boards. I have nearly 30 boards in my lounge room but I usually only ride 3 or 4 of them the most. You can break it down into small days, medium days and dig days, with big days optional for your average surfer.
- Slim in Sumbawa. – Photo Baliwaves.com
BH – Flat day fun ideas in Bali?
Jim – There are not many flat days to be had in Bali, but for me it’s fishing or diving, or maybe lying on the lounge watching TV (in my dreams). But for the people who want to make the most of their time in Bali, there are so many things to do in regards to seeing and feeling the local Balinese culture, not to mention day trips to the smaller islands close by. There are litterally 1000s of options for the energetic.
BH – You seem to score waves every day – the photos tell the story on your site. I reckon you more than anyone could mount an argument that Bali is still the most consistent isle for waves globally?
Jim – I would have to say there is nowhere on this planet that can provide the same amount of perfect waves with the consistency that this little island does all year round.
BH – Tell us a bit about an average day for Jim?
Jim – An average day for me is going to the beach and either surfing, fishing or shooting photos for baliwaves.com. Either way, I’m at the beach and have been living the surfer lifestyle for the last 45 years or so. There is a few extra tasks in there these days now that I have my own family. My wife is a native of Bali and we are blessed with two fantastic children, a son and a daughter.
BH – How can travelers engage you for photos on their trip?
Jim – Feel free to drop me a line (firstname.lastname@example.org) and in the meantime, stay up to date with the Bali surfing scene through our website baliwaves.com.