The Week at Peak

When I arrived at Kurnia guest house, I was ambushed.

Well, maybe that word’s a little strong, but as I removed my bags from the car, two guys were already trying to offer me a scooter to rent for the week. How the heck were they there so quickly?

It clicked a little later: on the way to the guest house, I was messaging a local surf guide and was planning to meet up with them that night to talk about getting some intel on the breaks. The scooter guys must have been friends and the word relayed. I parried away their offers and told them to follow up in the morning. I didn’t need a scooter right now. However, one of them gave me a lift to ‘Wreck’, which is a restaurant that is a combination of a treehouse and the bow of a ship. I ate at this place multiple times throughout the week as its portion sizes were generous.

At Wreck, I met surf guide, Firman. He couldn’t take me on in the morning but recommended a friend of his, Idris, with whom I would eventually paddle out the following morning. I made a deal with myself before I came to Indonesia that I would pay for a guide the first time I surf a new break as I’m surfing solo. It’s a good investment as I get to ask many questions that help orient me to the spot. But ‘guiding’ is more akin to having a surf lesson, which I don’t want to have. So the sessions can be a little clumsy at times.

Paddling out at Lakey Peak on Sunday was a little intimidating. It’s a long paddle. You can also pay to get a lift on one of the many boats. I chose to paddle to get used to it. Once we arrived in the lineup, I was a touch overwhelmed. It was crowded. Remember, this was the first time back in the water following the stitches surf in Pererenan so a big crowd flustered me. For the first hour, I just watched others surf while Idris and Firman (he was also out with a client), kept telling me to catch a wave. This didn’t help the nerves and the pressure started to build. I didn’t think it was going to happen. But then the crowd started to dissipate and more space was available. I saw a wave and I had the space. I was up. I paddled, got to my feet and surfed it to the close-out section. No turns. Nothing special. Just feet in wax getting used to the wave. I caught another three waves in that session and each wave was better than the last. By the fourth, I was putting some turns together and all the nerves and overwhelm completely dissolved and replaced with a wide stoked smile. What a wave!

The following morning, I paddled back out at Peak and it would turn out to be the last time I surfed it. I built on the day’s previous session but unfortunately, this was a work day and I couldn’t maximise the wave count. This wave was easily the best I’d surfed on this trip. I wanted more. However, the swell was forecast to increase to an XXL size on Tuesday and Wednesday. That would make Peak unrideable for me as the experts chased barreling bombs with waves 2-3x overhead (12-15ft wave faces). 

On Tuesday morning, I went to Periscope with Eli. He was a neighbour at my accommodation and my surf window overlapped when he planned to head to Periscope. The swell hadn’t hit yet. We navigated the 15-minute shake fest that is the road in to Periscope and without hesitation, we jumped in the water. The current in the channel was strong and tried to sweep us down the beach away from the break. The wave breaks to the right and has a quick section but then goes a little fat. On big days, that quick section is a meaty barrel. When we paddled out, only 6 others were there. It was manageable. However, like Peak, I needed some time to acclimate to the lineup. I paddled out the back and some huge lines started to roll through. It became a game of cat and mouse. Paddling out deep to avoid the bomb sets while paddling back in to catch something more user-friendly. I would get to my feet a couple of times at Periscope but the pace of the wave was too much for me. Before I knew it, I needed to head back to my room to start work again.

As I was preparing to head to Periscope, I encountered an equipment fail. Back in Australia, I bought a surfboard for these bigger conditions. I didn’t get a chance to surf it before I left. However, I did purchase fins and leashes so it was ready. As I went to insert the purchased fins into the fin box, they would clip in. This was new to me. Oh, they just needed fin screws. I asked Eli if he had any but he didn’t. He then came over and told me that I had the wrong fin brand for the type of fin box the board had. Hilarious! All the other boards I’ve ever surfed used an FCS fin box. This board was my first Futures board. After all that preparation in Australia, the board was no more ready than when I first left and I couldn’t ride it. No screws or fins so I had to surf Periscopes on the smaller board. I wonder if I had the board that morning whether or not I’d have made those quick sections.

The rest of the surfing week was a mix of wonder and frustration. The swell eventually came. More and more boards at the guest house were coming back in two halves. They were getting snapped by the waves people were trying to surf. I accepted this surf was beyond my ability. I reckon I have surfed a similar size at Surfies Pt. and even Flynns Reef on Phillip Island, but those waves are friendlier and less consequential if you wipe out. If I get it wrong at Lakey Peak, I’d be in trouble.

Eli and I would make numerous trips out to Periscope. I’d wistfully watch Peak each morning hoping it would drop in size a little, but the surf window with work never worked. Eli and I trekked out to a spot called ‘Coconuts’ which is somewhere that works when the swell is huge. The wave there is pretty soft without much push, but nice to get in the water. I went out there on Thursday and had it to myself to work on my backhand. And that was the last surf I had at Lakey Peak. Such an expensive journey there and back that the week I had probably didn’t match its price. Though, I surfed some of the most fun waves I’ve ever surfed. I will definitely go back and I will base myself there for a month. That way, I can build some familiarity and confidence on the breaks before the huge swells come. Then I might be able to tackle those.

This post is very surf heavy and with good reason: it was the premier week to surf. But here are some other tidbits that don’t fit into that narrative.

The accommodation, Kurnia Guest House, was endearing. For remote working, it barely gets a pass mark. It’s a spot for those on a budget who are just chasing waves. In the second room that was assigned to me, I learnt that I needed to periodically empty the air conditioner’s wastewater from a bucket. How do you think I learnt about that? Yep, a sodden bathroom floor and assuring myself I wasn’t that messy when I had a shower. With that said, the family there is just so nice. Always smiling. Helping. Making you breakfast and any other type of meal. Organising your transport out. Doing your washing. I had to insist that I pay for them to do my washing. It felt so welcoming and friendly there. That friendliness extends to the rest of the village. It’s a surfer’s town and the vibe reflects that. 

Each morning, I would walk the morning path from Kurnia Guest House, through the gates of other properties to the rocks of the breakwater wall to scan the swell. I loved this routine and early in the week, I met Marc there. He travelled to Lakey on a scooter from Lombok. A journey that includes a Ferry trip and about 10 hours of riding with a surfboard. We didn’t quite make it out for a surf but it was great speaking with him early. He made it safely to Desert Point on Lombok when he left on Tuesday. Equally awesome was Eli’s willingness to share his experience of Lombok. I’ve taken down those notes and will try to hit up some of those spots this week.

The week at Peak was short and memorable. I got to hang out with some lovely people, surf some epic waves and all the while getting stuff done with work. Now I’m in Lombok. I have annual leave and I can release some of the pressure this trip has been building up and have a bit of a holiday.

Share via
Copy link