Our ever trekking surf travel consultant Justin has recently returned from East Java Wave Palace (aka Istanaombak). The blog he sent through is awesome and really encapsulates the whole experience, so we’ll leave it to him.
All pics Justin Scanlan.
Enjoy WS PS – Don’t forget the video at the end….
It’s late on a cool June Friday night and I am four flights, $141 in airline excess baggage charges & 24 hours away from my final destination of Yogyakarta in Java, Indonesia. It’s going to be a mission to get there (good old cheap flights J) but well worth it I’m sure. I meet my brother in ‘Jogya’ for the three hour drive to Istana Ombak or Wave Palace as it’s known in English. Karna our driver greets us in Jogya and the A/C van is well stocked with an esky full of the coldest Bintangs in Indo which makes the somewhat bumpy 3 hour drive very comfortable.
Rod Steeles is the man behind Wave Palace and even at night you can tell he runs a quality operation. We are shown to our spacious rooms before being offered an entrée of fresh Tuna Sashimi & sushi. We meet the other guests already staying at the resort which include Mikala Jones (Hawaiian Pro now living in Bali) & his family, Lennox Pro James Wood, his girlfriend Renae, friends Rhian, Simon, Robbie and his girlfriend Nat.
It’s not long before Miss Wynn and the other wave palace staff present the main course which is more like a feast. The table is decked with BBQ’d Tengirri (Indonesian Spanish Mackerel), Chicken Sates, Tempeh, KFC-style ‘popcorn-Tuna’, Javanese greens & vegie stir-fry. I thought it could be tough to beat the entrée & main from the first night but I soon learn this is a standard thing at Wave Palace. Over the course of the week we have a variety of Javanese & Indonesian dinner dishes with a Lobster night thrown in the mix. We are served entrees every night with Sashimi & sushi featuring predominantly on the menu.
Breakfast generally starts with a ‘Kopi Jawa’ (Javanese Coffee) while the girls in the kitchen whip up one or multiple Omelettes, Jaffles, Banana Pancakes (best in Indo in mine & many others’ opinion) and fruit plates, not to mention a banana smoothie or two. Lunch is similar with guests able to choose one or more items from the lunch menu including Mie Goreng, Nasi Goreng, Chicken & Rice, Noodle Soup, and or Jaffles. Whether you feel like Water, Pocari Sweat, Soft Drinks, Bintang, or Juice there is always plenty of it on hand and cold.
If you think the food is impressive then wait until you see the wave setup out the front. It’s the kind of place you would have drawn as a kid at school…a quality yet challenging barreling left on one side of the bay and a shorter hollow right on the opposite side. The best thing is with the resort’s proximity to the two waves it’s only a short paddle away so you can really time your sessions. If it’s too crowded (4 – 6 guys out) or if the tide is too low for your liking then you can just wait for the conditions to change or watch the action pool-side with a cold beer or freshly picked coconut.
Over the course of our stay the surf dished up everything from fun 2–3ft whackable walls on the left to 3-5ft flawless barrels and even a couple of days of 6ft slabs. On most days both the right & left break simultaneously which makes it like watching a tennis match for any spectators on the beach or in the pool. I generally don’t discriminate but it wasn’t until day 4 that I actually surfed the right. It’s a shorter wave than the left but still really hollow and really fun on the smaller days. It’s a challenging wave on the bigger days but rewards are there for those willing to commit. With epic waves out front most of the week we didn’t get much time to surf all the waves in the area but we did get to test the cruisey river mouth left about 45mins drive from the resort. There are other waves in the area including rights, lefts, and a few beachies that break on different tide, swell & wind combinations.
We scoped a couple of Rod’s secret spots (I dare not mention where) while trolling lures in his sturdy centre-console boat but the swell just wasn’t quite right and the tide a bit high. Rod’s boat is powered by a recently purchased 85hp outboard and it really handles well in the big swells that constantly batter the Javanese coastline. From the boat you get a really good perspective of the breathtaking coastline that surrounds Wave Palace. In my opinion, this coastline puts the twelve apostles in Victoria to shame.
Rod & the resort staff teed up a couple of cultural tours for us including the local Caves (some of the biggest in South-East Asia) and a scenic canoe trip down the local river. In amongst all the surfing, sightseeing, and kicking back in the resort pool with icy cold Bintangs and the odd cocktail, we also manage a couple of fierce Ping Pong matches. We might have beaten NSW in the state of origin but they got us back in the Ping Pong tournament.