There is a reason why surfers flock to Bali in the winter. “The swells are really clean most of the time because they travel so far from South Africa to get there,” Navarro says. “The waves just break perfect.” And there are plenty of them. Bali has dozens of surf breaks, varying from mellow waves to big barrels.
Padang Padang and Uluwatu are some of the better known hot spots, but the southern coasts of the island are littered with great finds. The best advice? Just go looking. That’s good advice for the rest of the island, too, which is far more than a beach destination. Post-surf, visitors find an abundance of beauty in the colorfully dressed Balinese, the mellow pace of life, and the touching offerings of flower petals that brighten houses and temples everywhere.
There are many guides and surf camps in Bali, including Padang Padang Surf Camp.
Chilean Ramon Navarro has surfed big waves all over the world, from Todos Santos, Mexico, to Indonesia. But he is perhaps best known for catching one of the world’s most perfect barrel waves—a 15-footer—in June 2012 at Fiji’s Cloudbreak. His other laudable claim to fame: a commitment to conservation. He helped stop a sewage pipe from destroying the water quality of the bay of his birthplace, Punta de Lobos. Now, he’s working to turn a stretch of Chilean coastline into a national park to protect it from development.
Ramon Navarro's Gear Pick: Guayki Mate
“I bring maté everywhere,” Navarro says. “It’s kind of like coffee but for me, it tastes better and feels way better because it’s not as strong. You wake up really solid. In Chile, it’s cold water most of the time, so you can drink maté all day and have energy and get warm at the same time.”