And why we are going back this October
Words: Rachel Lingham
I have the enviable position of working on some of Soul & Surf’s Pop-Ups. These mini versions of our main hotels in Portugal, India and Sri Lanka can be, within reason, anywhere in the world. There have been pop-ups in Banda Aceh, The Andaman Islands, Sri Lanka, Portugal, and now Lombok and Peru. In short: when we see somewhere we fancy exploring…that’s what pop-ups are for!
Back in 2017, we set off for an adventure to Lombok, Indonesia, to a wave I had wanted to surf since I first heard about it back in India. The retreat was held in a resort called ‘Heaven on the Planet’, which is a fairly bold claim.
This particular Heaven, however, looked like this:
So I feel the name is justified.
I often get asked what made this trip so special. Which is actually quite hard to answer, as there is just such an incredible energy and magic about Lombok that is difficult to put into words. But, I’ll try…
It is much, much quieter than Bali. The wave we surfed much of the time had at most 15 people on it. Take it from someone who surfs in North Cornwall most of the time: 15 people is practically the same as zero people.
And the water is beautiful. Clear, warm and blue. We had a snorkel mask on the boat, so we could have little breaks to look at the fish and the reef. I’ve always been a bit timid about snorkelling (I’m really good on the surface of the water, not so brave underneath) but this was incredible.
There are different spots for any level or conditions. Beginner? There’s a section for you. Intermediate? Easy, peeling green waves, and even a mellow A-frame at the right tide and size. Shredder? The boat takes you to the outer reefs for a heavier, barrelling wave.
And a boat drives you to the wave. Paddling through beachbreak mush is a distant memory as you jump off a boat straight over the reef.
The hotel staff were unreal. Smiley, happy, singing, hugging, laughing. I fell in love with all of them. Raoul in particular stole a place in my heart. Such a patient, calm human, he took so much time to tell me about his country’s history, politics and traditions, showed us around the local village, and told us all about farming the land in that part of Lombok.
My offering to him was telling him about how tasty Cornish Pasties are. I think he may have been underwhelmed by my description, but he was far too polite to show it.
The resort was all-inclusive. Now, anyone who has been on a surf trip, or had a decent run of swell at home knows how hungry you get when surfing a lot. Imagine surfing two, sometimes three times a day, plus yoga…we all got very hungry.
Now imagine being able to order whatever you like from the menu, in whatever quantity you like. I started off polite; three days in I was ordering two dinners plus side dishes at a time. They also had an extensive and varied vegan menu…and summer rolls! My favourite.
They also made me a birthday cake. I nearly cried.
There is a large and healthy Macaq monkey population here, and I loved and was in awe of them in equal measure. A very large monkey kept sitting on my yoga mat as I was about to teach, so Raoul advised me to run at them screaming and waving my arms and pretending to throw rocks at them. Apparently they had to see me as an alpha.
It kind of worked, but they kept coming back to watch the classes, so maybe not.
The yoga shala
The shala overlooks the bay, so we could check the surf while we practised yoga. Bliss. Either we started the day with an energising vinyasa, or after a day in the water the chilled yin sessions were the best.
If we were lucky, the monkeys would spectate, and sometimes give us a little show of their own.
The hotel grounds are gorgeous, and sit on top of a cliff overlooking the ocean surrounded by forest and jungle. The pool was particularly fun to dive into after a sunset surf. And then have a beer or a cocktail in before dinner.
The owners are actively engaged in conservation projects, in Lombok and around the world, and have spent time rejuvenating the area. (Read more about it here)
We had the best guests ever. So many waves, laughs, boat trips, downward dogs, yin sessions, sunset swims and gins in the pool.
I loved Lombok, and cannot wait to go back.
Check out the Lombok section of our website to find out about the upcoming trip.
October 21-31st 2019
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