7 days on the Equator with Daniel Small
It’s that time of year again when the Indian Ocean begins stirring to life, sending groomed corduroy swell lines directly for the shores of Indonesia and its famed archipelago of surfing wonderland, giving every surfer on earth an overwhelming itch to get on a plane.
Surfers are no longer alone in this annual migration, with Bali fast on track to becoming Bondi Beach Version 2.0 – with new bars and clothing brands popping up faster than they can serve Sydney priced Cappuccinos in the trendy cafes of Seminyak and Cangu….most simply, her appeal is broader than ever.
Now, for some, Bali is paradise – offering the perfect mix of sunset selfies, wash off tans, holiday romance opportunities and a great variety of waves that are super accessible – however for myself, I need a little more solitude on my increasingly sacred windows of annual leave, and as such I have begun spending far less time in Bali and heading north to the Equator, spending more and more time in the Pulau Batu Batu region – affectionately known as the Telo Islands.
For me, the main draw card here is a resort by the name of Latitude Zero, a luxury surf camp operated by fellow Central Coastie Matt Cruden, who after two decades of sailing and surfing through the region, decided it was time to offer a whole new level of comfort for the travelling surfer. Now, 20+ years sailing around the region provided Matt not only the perfect opportunity to form a strong and genuine bond with the local communities and integrate them into his operation, but also to ensure the resort itself was situated smack bang in the middle of the most wave diverse area in the region.
Now it isn’t my first trip to the region, and it’s also not my first time to Latitude Zero – but this is the first time that I haven’t done it in conjunction with a charter boat trip – so I was a little curious only 7 days on the Equator would be enough to settle the itch.
The night before I flew out, I picked up three little beauties straight off the rack at Onboard in Byron – taking only a trio of sleds this time after years of slugging around overweight coffin bags and never riding the things!
I packed a ‘Sampler’ as my go to groveler for those days where it was on the smaller side, perfect board for getting through those flat spots.
I packed a ‘Black + White’ as my performance board – I didn’t know much about this board when I bought it, but for me it’s the best all round performance board I have ever had under my feet.
Checking the forecast it didn’t look solid, but I still needed something to ride on those days with a little more punch, and so I picked up a “Rook 15” in a round tail – it perfectly dealt with the down the line speed of the more critical waves.
I departed Brisbane at sunrise one Saturday morning, flying direct to Jakarta, then jumped a quick flight to Padang where I met up with the lads from Sydney and we waited for our charter flight out to the island. This charter flight is 100% part of the adventure, 60 minutes of low altitude flying over hundreds of small islands – the perfect way to ensure surf stoke was maxing out. No more than 90 minutes after touching down in the Telos, we were waxing our boards and it hadn’t yet hit lunch Sunday.
Day 1 we spent 5 hours surfing till sunset, consumed a significant amount of Bintang, and passed out still covered in Zinc ready to do it all over again the following day.
Each day we rose around 6am, stuffed ourselves full of berry smoothies, Bacon + Egg Wraps, Muesli and fruit and would depart either North or South for the day with a packed lunch, meaning we had no reason to return to the resort until sunset. The area boasts an incredible variety of waves, meaning almost each day those wanting to step outside their comfort zone could, getting stuck into something a little larger or shallower than they are used to, knowing full well after lunch we would be surfing somewhere different with the whole crew in the water. On average we were spending 8 hours a day in the water, and would return to camp just in time to enjoy a Bintang around the pool with the Staff and other Guests.
The trip went off without a hitch – and while the heart rate didn’t get as high as I would have liked, I didn’t snap a single board, I didn’t require anything more than a bandaid for my reef cuts, and I managed to avoid the catastrophic sunburn of prior years.
Although there are many a reason to get excited about Latitude Zero, let me highlight a few:
- We had a wide variety of surfing skills in our crew of 10, ranging from 18 years old to 65, so we needed a resort option that would keep everyone content with the waves they were surfing,
- With only a small window for everyone to get time off work (7 days) we needed a resort that would give us maximum time in water and also the best possible chance of scoring uncrowded waves,
- With worrying wives + partners, reliable internet connection was something that assisted in getting that final approval from home, other guests even brought their kids along with them!
- With shallow reef and coral comes risk, with the resort being fully equipped to deal with any and all possible surf injuries – and trust me when I say they have seen it all,
- While we aren’t the worlds fussiest eaters, the food is amazing – with every one of us eating better away than we do at home!!!!
- If the waves are flat, we wanted to be somewhere that we could all switch off and do absolutely nothing………I’m sure from the pics below you will agree down time spent on the island is a holiday in itself,
- The resorts speed boats are the largest and faster in the region, meaning if the wind shifts, or the swell isn’t behaving as they had forecast, its anchor up and unlimited kms to ensure the crew gets their fix of waves – there is nothing worse than hearing from another crew that they scored better waves than you,
- The resort itself is built to withstand anything nature can throw at it, and they have most recently added some 5 Star Bungalows to the island – these Bungalows have essentially reset the bar for luxury surf holidays with many of those showing interest being couples + families who want to perfect mixture of on demand surfing and relaxation.
If you’re feeling that itch – and want to do something a little more premier than a Bali trip, you should get in touch with Matt and the amazing crew at Latitude Zero for the trip of a lifetime – the resort truly is top notch – Check it out HERE
Check out some of my other adventures below.
5 Days at Bluesfest HERE
21 Days in the Mentawais HERE