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The Inertia

A long, long time ago, way back in 2004, I spent a few good weeks staring at Shipwrecks off Nusa Lembongan. The island is anywhere from a half hour to an hour and a half from Sanur on Bali, depending on the boat you get on.

Back then, Lembongan was pretty empty. If I remember correctly, the lights were basically out at nine p.m. Liquor was exceedingly hard to find, but we made do with some homemade arak that came in a relatively clean two-liter bottle and a bag full of limes. There wasn’t much to do there aside from surf and explore and drink arak in the sand, but all those things are very pleasant ways to pass the time. We stayed in a two-story house on the sand for some ridiculously low price and watched out the window for Shipwrecks to come to life.

It’s a wild wave. In those days — and this might still be the case — the bay in front of it was full of punji sticks. Seaweed farms, or something, I think. But outside the bay, Shipwrecks gurgled away. While it never got huge when we were there, it did pack enough punch to instill a healthy dose of fear into my belly.


I think, in fact, that I endured my worst hold down to date there, and I’ve had a lot of hold downs because I’m an average surfer who routinely ends up under water. It wasn’t so bad because I was held down for a particularly long time. It was bad because I felt like the disc in a game of Plinko, bouncing between rocks helplessly, feeling my skin come off in thin little slices like a carrot that’s been julienned.

Right about now is when it starts to turn on for the season. May through October is a good bet, with July being pretty optimal. And surfers on Nusa Lembongan were greeted with a very good run of swell on May 15. If the video above doesn’t give you the travel itch, nothing will.

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