Sleeping on the beach will save you money but you might get bummed/sand in your ear. Hossegor Photo: Timo

Words by Nathan Myers

ROADTRIP SOLOIST

You wake up with an ear full of sand and don’t even care. Swell fixes everything. You’re all alone here. Good timing is the cheapest travel companion. If you’re surfing, you’re saving. Too tired to party. Staring down sets all afternoon. Sunburned. Spaced out. Content. A few hours down the road and a million miles away. Someone cue up that Into the Wild soundtrack again, who cares that you just listened to it.

You packed the truck the moment you saw the swell. A tent and a sleeping bag. Bag of rice and a box of fruit. Book and a camera. Fishing pole and hot sauce. Fishquit and an alaia. No one will see you surfing them. Your photos will be of empty roads, starfish and blurry waves. Every fish you catch will be THIS BIG!

The worries stay at home, right next to your expectations and to-do lists. You must stay light and agile. You must change your mind often. You must be limber, yet lazy. Camp near the waves, just beside the “no camping" signs. Keep off the roads. Keep out of sight. Keep your fire small. A fool gets warm gathering wood. A traveler stays warm all night.

Dawn is coming. Glassy and empty. Dolphins hog the sets. Sea gulls compliment your style. No airs today. You’ve even stopped trying to turn. Just cruising down the line. What more could you ask for?

Sunset starts at 2 pm. It spans 100 pages of a novel and smells like melting wax. Hot dogs never tasted so good. You lie down in the sand and count every star to the rhythm of incoming sets. Don’t cost a thing.

Canvas, still the wandering shredder's cheapest digs. Photo: Burkard

2012, CHRIS BURKARD PHOTOGRAPHY, SURFING, RUSSIA, KAMCHATKA

Canvas, still the wandering shredder's cheapest digs. Photo: Burkard

CARRY ON CAMPING

Roll outa bed and there’s the wave. Buzzing like a screaming alarm clock. The sun’s barely up as a local boy shuttles you to the reef on busted tin boat. There’s already a little blood on the floorboards, sifting around with the sea water. The reef is shallow here, but the tide is rising. Who wants to die without any scars, right? Okay, it’s just a line from Fight Club, but you recite it to yourself before you jump over the bow and paddle into the lineup.

The buffet’s waiting when you come back. Rice and fish. Same as yesterday. What were you expecting? Two beers are included in the price, the rest are cheap enough. Just click here to confirm your order. The name says it all: Surf Camp. One price fits all.

It’s cheap because you’re done spending. It’s on the credit card and the credit card is back home. The wave is out front and everything else is not. This makes decision making simple. Surf. And surf. And surf again. There’s surf videos and surf mags for in between. And surfers to chat with. And the tide is always turning. What more could you ask for?

The girlfriend stays at home. She’d only try to convince you that you don’t love this one-track-mind of over-indulgence. She want to take walks on the beach and check out the local culture. She’d start to whine. You’d never come back. This way you can focus on dialing in your cutback rebound. Make friends with the barrel section. Stay out all day. Each session you surf a shallower tide. A smaller crowd. A longer session. By the end they’ve given you a nickname. You’ll leave a board behind. Carve your name in the bar with a fin key.

Sunset starts when you order your first beer. Or someone orders it for you. It’s bedtime when the drinking game starts pouring local firewater or someone snorts wasabi off the bar. But don’t tell anyone you plan on getting up early. They won’t tell you the same thing. Maybe you’ll see each other out there.

As you stumble off to bed, Parko is surfing the DVD player in Stranger Than Fiction, which has been looping all afternoon above the bar. Archy’s ripping a big old hack in a yellowing surf poster, half peeling from the wall. Three local groms are passed out in their boardbags as security guards. Stars streak naked across the sky. You rub your eyes and dream of surf.

Bali offers price points from cheapist to mega pricey. Mustafa Jekson, Padang Padang. Photo: Childs

Childs-1110-15066 copy

Bali offers price points from cheapist to mega pricey. Mustafa Jekson Padang Padang. Photo: Jason Childs ©Jason Childs childs@indosat.net.id

LUXURY SURF LAWYER

Getting out of the water a local boy jogs down to fetch your board. He takes the leash from your ankle and hands you cold water and a fluffy towel. There’s a bar in the sand. Bamboo lounge chairs and cold beer on tap. Just charge it to the room. The bartender serves fruit skewers. Someone brings out sashimi from the morning’s fishing trip. It’s good to be the king. And nice to know no frothing grommets or hardcore construction worker dudes will ever afford this place. Just you and your fellow lawyers trading empty waves and quoting lines from Point Break until you can’t feel your arms.

You glance back and now the lineup is empty. Your new billionaire banker-buddy is just getting his board caddied up the beach. He’s pouring a five-dollar bottle of Evian on his head while six-foot lefts reeling across the reef for 200 yards behind him. Just charge ‘em to the room. Old habits recommend you get back out there, but your credit card knows it’ll be just as empty tomorrow. And the next day. The resort owns this break. Limits the number of in-house surfers. An outside boat pulls up, a dozen local tribesmen will canoe out with spears and swords and politely ask them to leave. What were they thinking, anyway?

The laptop stays at home. You worked hard enough for this trip. You’re better off paddling a SUP then checking emails. Trust your broker. That’s why he’s wearing the tie. You just grab the rope and trust the on-staff “waterman" to whip you into a few waves with the Jet Ski even if it’s only high-high. You’re not paying this price to exercise the whole time. Hmmm, what else should you ask for?

The next big decision is between a hot yoga class or a cold piña colada. Oh, wait, it says here they offer piña colada yoga. That sounds nice. And maybe a nap, too. With a massage. Extra oil. And an avocado facial to detox the sunscreen. You’d meant to read a book, but maybe someone can just read it to you.

Sunset starts at 5:30 sharp. Crab cake appetizers and lychee martinis in the beachfront jacuzzi. Candlelight filet mignon to fuel for tomorrow’s dawn patrol. The outdoor firepit is the perfect way to relive the day’s finer moment. Then let them float away into the pinhole sky. Tomorrow you’ll buy more. For now, the stars — all 13 billion of them — are on the house.

- Nathan Myers