Make The Indo Trip Great Again, with Lee Wilson

How to find peace, soul time, and the best pits of your life

Photo: Childs

Lee Wilson, one of Indo’s most skilled aerialists, finds tranquility above a Balinese runway. Photo: Childs

The world’s premier surf frontier is quickly turning into one of its most aggressive. Patience snaps quickly here. Over 1,700 islands of highway-length tubes, and yet the room to find one — that one, perfect barrel you can hang your trunks on in stories to your friends back home — among hundreds in the lineup is shrinking. Leave it to Lee Wilson, Bali’s self-made star, to coach you through the true Indo experience, which begins when you leave your unchecked aggression at the door. “Aggression kills finesse,” Wilson says. “It kills the natural energy inside of you that wants to come out in Indo.” Tap into that natural energy by following Wilson’s tips below.

1. Be Patient And Observe Before You Go Out And Snake Everybody

Don't just paddle out and catch every wave you can. You don't go to Hawaii and do that. I would say 50% of the people who come here screw off and are unaware of what they’re doing. I've had times where I’ve called off a tourist from a wave and then I pull into the barrel, which then gets caved in by that tourist who can barely surf, who’ll say, ‘If you call me off next time, you better make it.' That’s when fights can break out. But a lot of the people who are getting angry are still drunk from the night before. Then they go surf and they bring that aggression into the water. You have to let stuff go here. If the ocean wants you to have a wave, you will get it. The ocean picks the surfer.

2. Look Out For Who The Locals Are

This is something I always do before I set foot in the water. If you see a local paddling around and catching everything, let it happen. If you don't get a wave that day, go in. The locals watch that shit. They respect that. I see so many guys who get hassled and don't catch anything. Two days later, they’re still mellow, and then I paddle up next to them and call them into a wave. If you are cool and chill, you’ll receive that good karma. At the end of the day, you’re not leaving Bali without getting one of the best pits of your life.

3. Responsibly Maintain Your Health

A lot of people come here and want to party so much, they’re absolutely cloudy the next day. You don't see as much because you are consumed by booze and the party vortex. Some people get stuck and don't stop. You aren't getting the Bali experience.

Plus, if you’re drinking hard every night, your immunity will go down, and a meal that’s prepared by unwashed hands — it’s commoner than you might think — will knock you out, and you’ll be down for God knows how long. Not the way you want to spend a surf trip.

4. Drop Quality For Some Peace And Soul Time

If you know somewhere is going to be pumping, don't think you’re obligated to go there. If I know Padang is firing, there are going to be 50 to 100 people in the lineup, so I will go somewhere else that’s good, and I’ll get pitted alone. There are so many waves here. Look on the map, ask around, and explore. Less quality, maybe, but more surfing.

Sometimes I go the opposite way of the crowds and I’ll get spat out of 8-foot barrels. If you love surfing, you will do it for yourself. Unfortunately, a lot of people surf for bravado and they need to be seen catching the biggest tubes. A lot of tourists here are like that. Come here and be a soul guy. There is a soul guy in everyone. If you bring that here, you will have the time of your life, and you’ll get empty waves all the time.

There are so many places that I won’t mention, not because I don't want you to go there, but because I want you to find them yourself. It is better for the adventure. Peaceful, empty breaks are everywhere in Indo. There won’t be babes on the beach watching, but you will catch waves after wave with your friends and talk about your rides for years afterward and have a good time. That's how I am going to do it for the next 10 years.