Resort Latitude Zero: From Dream to Reality
Way back in 1990 I met Matt Cruden at Lakeys. He was traveling with another surfer (John) from the central coast of NSW. Both were accomplished surfers, very much at ease in the powerful Indonesian surf.
I was way out of my depth at solid, mid-season Lakeys, especially considering the gnarly crew of Aussies who had it dialled and just growled at this inexperienced Englishman! Matt and John were the two friendly faces who gave me the time of day and showed me a couple of easier waves nearby.
After a month or so we all took the bus back to Bali and I ended up sharing a room with Matt, at the old Komala Indah 1. I remember how every night Matt would stay out on the balcony with a bottle of JD and his smokes, studying a seamanship manual until the early hours. He was quiet and focused, but one night he opened up and told me he was going to get his captains license, build a boat, and explore the islands off the coast of Sumatra looking for perfect surf. I remember asking John about Matt’s plan and his reply was simply “you watch, he will do it”.
After a week or two in Kuta I wished them well and got back on the bus, eventually getting to Nias. While I often thought about him, I lost contact with Matt.
In 2001, after a tumultuous decade, I was living in Yamba, Australia. One evening I was in the shower at my girlfriend’s house when she came in, somewhat flustered – her brother had just arrived as a surprise visit. I sheepishly walked out of the bathroom clad in a towel… her brother stood before me – it was John! He gave me a slightly awkward hug, his sister considerable stick for her choice in men, and then proceeded to fill me in on what he and Matt had been up to…
John was living and working in Bali, and surfing uncrowded east coast rights. Matt had built his boat – the Mangalui, and had started a highly regarded surf charter operation to the Mentawais. John was a regular on the boat and he said he was going on a trip with Matt in a month and that I had to come along. I’ll never forget that first trip – it was so new and exciting. On the two-week trip we surfed the Mentawais, Telos and Hinakos. I was in surf heaven. Over the next year or two I jumped on the Mango for a number of incredible trips, rarely seeing another surfer for the entire trip. Then one day up in the Telos, Matt showed me a beautiful island near an epic wave we had just surfed… he casually said “I’m thinking about starting a surf resort on this island”.
I’m writing this on the deck of my secluded, luxury bungalow at Resort Latitude Zero after a day of surfing a fun peak, and a hollow left, with my three friends. Yesterday we surfed a long rippable right, and the day before that a hollow barrel. Tomorrow we are planning on going to the fabled Telos beachie. There are just four of us in the speedboat with our guide, so deciding where to surf is easy. We surf, we eat, drink coffee and coconuts, and on the way home to the resort, a couple celebratory beers.
To see what Matt and his team have created out here feels really special. I can almost see him 20 years ago, sitting in his cabin on the Mango, notebook open, thinking of how to design and operate the perfect surf resort. In my opinion he’s nailed it.
We are now accepting 2024 reservations for Resort Latitude Zero (2023 has very limited availability but there are some openings) If you are interested in a trip and would like to chat, I am available to answer any questions. WhatsApp +960 9134945