Learning to Surf in Batu Karas

Learning to surf has been long on my list of things I wanted to do. Or at least try. So when I read about Batu Karas, a small fishing village and surfing hot spot on the south coast of Java, it was about time I gave it a shot. Specially since Batu Karas is apparently a good place to learn the basics.

On the beach it's easy

Easy on the beach

Still it lasted a couple of days before I could get my surfing career started. First I was sick for two days, then there was no swell. Finally the circumstances were right according to Hen-Hen, my local surf guru, and it was time for my first surf lesson. First some exercises on the beach: where to lie on the board, how to get up and where to put my feet. Pretty easy.

A bit more difficult on the water

A bit more difficult on the water

Well, on the beach, at least. After we got into the water things changed significantly. Simply standing on the board already seemed impossible. Even with Hen-Hen holding it. Maybe it’s easier when there’s a bit more action. So next Hen-Hen launched me into a wave. I tried to bring all basics just learned on the beach into practice but didn’t manage to get up any further than on my right knee. This was going to be tough.

But then again, so was snowboarding in the beginning. I never expected it to come easy. It’s all a matter of keep on trying. After a few more times I managed to get up at my feet. Just for a second or two but it was a start. Half an hour later I started to understand why all these surf dudes have such well-trained bodies. It’s damn hard work! I was exhausted and my muscles in my arms and chest already started to ache. And I didn’t even paddle yet!

It's hard work

It’s hard work

After some rest on the beach I gave it another shot in the afternoon. Now my surf guru was no longer around which meant I had to learn a couple of extra surfing skills.  Like choosing the right spot, picking the right wave and, above all, paddling. It did actually work out pretty well and after a couple of times I was standing up! All by myself and all the way till the end! Ok, I wasn’t really going fast and it probably didn’t look very cool either but who cares. It felt great! I was surfing! Unfortunately no pictures of this event. Carina had probably already fallen asleep by then.

Almost standing up

Almost standing up

The next day I gave it another try but somehow I had managed to bruise one of my ribs on the first day which made it a less successful exercise now. Never mind, there will be more possibilities coming up. Maybe in one of the Kuta’s on Bali or Lombok.

If you also want to learn to surf on Java I can recommend Batu Karas. It’s a small, charming fishing village with a relaxed vibe. On one end there’s a nice sandy bay where the waves are gently rolling in. In this bay there’s the point break that’s perfect for beginners. More experienced surfers can also go to the reef a little further out-of-town. It has both good quality accommodation and cheaper options. It’s not as overcrowded as Bali’s Kuta although it can be busy on weekends when local tourists from Bandung and Yogyakarta come by on a day trip to jump around in the same waves.

Batu Karas has a relaxed vibe

Batu Karas: friendly locals and a relaxed vibe

To get to Batu Karas you will probably have to go to Pandangaran first. We took the bus from Bandung (about 6 hours) and then hired a private car the next day to take us to Batu Karas (1 hour). From Yogyakarta you better take a train to Sidareja or Banjar and then continue by bus or private car. But maybe the most comfortable way to get there is by plane. Apparently Susi Air flies daily from Bandung and Jakarta to the Pandangaran airstrip which is actually closer to Batu Karas than to Pandangaran. Taking the condition of the roads into account, flying is probably the smartest option 🙂

This entry was posted in Indonesia.


  1. Theo May 21, 2014 at 1:25 pm #

    Hi D.

    Een tweede variatie in zijdelings voortbewegen… Ik ben jaloers!! Nu alleen nog skateboarden 😉


    • Domingo May 21, 2014 at 3:43 pm #

      Nou, jaloers… zo soepel ziet het ook weer niet uit. Skateboarden is misschien wel iets dat ik straks in Californie kan oppakken 🙂

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