Indo (by Land)
The time-honoured terrestrial safari in the world's surfiest archipelago
Occy’s Left is geographically better known as Nihiwatu, or also tellingly “God’s Left".
The wave is still considered a relatively secret spot, partly due to the isolation, poor transport and poverty of its location on the island of Sumba, but more due to the efforts of the wave’s discoverer Claude Graves.
Over 20 years he has built up a luxury resort at the wave, and has exercised exclusive rights to the break since 1997. Inevitably there have been differing views on this approach. Some say no one can own a wave, on the other hand Graves points to the environmental protection and huge aid he has brought to this, one of the poorest islands in Indonesia.
Either way the current situation sees Graves running probably the most top-end surf resort in Indonesia, if not the world. There are private chefs available, immaculate grounds, white unspoilt beaches, nutritionists, world class deep sea fishing, personal surf photographers and coaches, pure bred horses, all in a self sufficient resort that produces much of its own food, electricity and diesel fuel. It is off the snizzle.
Graves has two rules. “There will never be more than 30 outsiders on the property at any one time, and never more than 10 in the water. ‘‘It’s going to stay wild,’’ Graves told Surf Europe. ‘‘I guarantee you that.’’
Surf consistency: 10 Wave Variety: 9
Climate: 9 Radness: 6 Budget: 5
And when those ten guys are likely to be bankers, Silicon Valley millionaires or wealthy Euros (and therefore draining dry martinis as soon as it hits 6 foot), and when the wave is this good, you can see why paying a premium starts to have an appeal.
The wave itself sits directly in front of the resort. Indonesian winter swells wrap into a wide bay out of deep water, hit a sculptured coral reef and wind down for 300 yards into a deep channel. It has the odd barrel section, but is more known for its wide, steep and ultra whackable walls. It breaks at three feet, is fun and forgiving up to eight, then holds it own in hyper drive at ten feet and over. Indo explorer and legendary gooyfooter Jim Banks, a regular visitor in the ‘80s, told me that, “When it breaks on the outside ledge at 10 feet, Nihawatu is as powerful as any wave in Indo."
The wave was made famous when it featured in a bonus section of the 1992’s Billabong Classic “The Green Iguana" with Occy and Sunny Garcia going ballistic in fun four foot surf. The thing is, the surf wasn’t even very good that day. “It was fun and Occy especially was ripping," said Jack McCoy, the famous surf director who made the film. “But I’d been there a few years previously with Jim Banks and we’d surfed it a 12-15 feet, just absolutely amazing. I also heard from Claude that a week after we left, it was eight foot and perfect, but I suppose Occy’s surfing was enough in the end."
Be it three foot, or 10 foot this is one of the quality waves in the world, set in some of the most pristine, untouched environments. Sure, the entry fee is steep, but as in life, you get what you pay for.