Wow life these days is pushing along just about as fast as it can go, and everyone always says you can’t stop progress. Well I guess you can’t, especially when progress wears tailored suits and has unlimited funds to help fashion progress to their way of liking, usually with big profits in mind and not much consideration to anyone else.
As most of know by now one of my favorite surfing locations is now off limits, not just for me but to the entire public. There is no road entry points available into Serangan beach for visiting surfers, fishermen or the general local public that also loved and appreciated a day on the beautiful white sand beaches, shady tree’s and local warungs providing snacks and cold drinks.
The road access was blocked off to surfers in May 2018, no one really knows if or when it will re open and what will lie within the island of Serangan when and if it does re open. From all reports I’m told a Singaporean corporation is developing it with grand idea’s to attract Asian tourists to the area. Surfers can still access the waves but at a cost via the local boat owners at Serangan village.
I had some good local Balinese friends that owned and worked in some of the local warungs and it’s very sad (of course after 20yrs+ tears were shed) to see them displaced without a form of income anymore. Another era of Bali’s local surf related local warungs have come to an end, where is it going to stop ? First Dreamland was cleared of local “surfer warungs” and a massive monstrosity constructed mainly catering to visiting Asians, then the locally owned warungs of Keramas beach were torn down by developers. Serangan is also lost and will never be the same again. Even our local “fishermen / surfer” warungs on the beach here in Tuban (Pantai Jerman) have newly been torn down in the last month, and of all things to make way for a carpark. My local fishermen friends now have absolutely no room on the beach for boat repair, net cleaning etc etc let along a shady tree to sit under.
People loved the feel of Pantai Jerman with it’s local traditional feel, and that’s the only comment I get from everyone I talk to, locals included. Please leave some of Bali’s traditional and unique beach side warungs to help preserve the culture and for the surfers that put the island on the map. Lets face it real surfers don’t come to Bali to drink espresso coffee and seek out vegan food, Villa’s with pools. But now with a lot of surfers bringing their families and girl friends and only staying for 1-2 weeks that’s what’s happening. They want a nice villa with a pool and ocean view and a cappuccino in the morning. Maybe the modern day surfer himself is to blame for what’s happening ?
But anyway Serangan wasn’t really a scenically beautiful place to look at, not back in the days of it’s first development anyway. I stumbled across this place one “wet season” looking for a new place to fish. Seeing as though the strong westerly winds that blow at that time of the year stop us from putting our boats in the water on our West Coast. Serangan Beach is on Bali’s East Coast and those horrible Westerly winds on our West Coast blow the ocean smooth on the East side.
At the time (mid to late 90’s) I was working for Nyoman Radiasa as “production manager” of his MCD surf label. One of my co workers who was a fishermen told me of the new project at Serangan. So I rode my at the time new motor bike over there and eventually found the place. Still in the land reclaiming process. It was a barren landscape of piles of Lime stone everywhere, that’s what they used to reclaim the land. We didn’t have digital camera’s back then or I’d have photos. I just kept heading in an Eastern direction and I knew I’d hit the ocean sooner or later.
When I did finally make to the ocean the first thing I saw was a 300mtr long barge that had run aground just off center of the main beach with waves peeling perfectly off the Northern side down the length of the barge. Later there was also a Tug boat reefed trying to pull the barge out. They did eventually get the Tug and the barge off the reef on the next moon phase when the tide was at it’s peak. But I did get to surf “the barge” by myself a couple of times before other locals found it. I’d ride my motor bike from Tuban carrying my board under my arm all the way. It was a month or two later that the late and great photographer Peter Crawford (RIP) was shown the wave and soon the front page of Aussie TRACKS magazine had “the barge” featured on the cover of the magazine with photo credit to PC.
This opened up full awareness of Serangan as an ever popular surfing location that could produce perfect waves from 2-8ft almost all year round. I’m sure there were surfers there before me, but when I stumbled across it there were none in sight for weeks. Back then pre internet Bali through the wet season was pretty well empty of surfers.
Fingers crossed we’ll be back in there surfing Serangan again when the dust from the developers settles. The surfer warungs are gone but they and the people who manned them will never be forgotten by me and many others.