Lonely Planet Writer

Have you ever dreamed of surfing without having to paddle? Thrill-seekers build a floating dock in Bali

The Indonesian island of Bali has always been something of a mecca for surfers. Idyllic regions like Kuta are home to picture-perfect white sandy beaches, while the breakers there attract surf enthusiasts from all over the globe.

Kuta Beach, Kuta.
Kuta Beach, Kuta. Image by Jochen Schlenker / robertharding/Getty Images

It’s no surprise then that Bali was the setting for a recent stunt by the thrill-seeking team at Stab magazine. The motivation, they say, was simple: “can we have a good time entering waves without paddling?” Eager to see if this was possible, the guys built a 100-foot, half-tonne plastic raft, anchoring it in the middle of a surf break. “At 4am we were up, towing out what’s now known as ‘the Dock’ for this concept shoot. For three days, we floated it into the line-up on Bali’s eastside, shepherded by a Boston Whaler and 100m of Dyneema tow line.”

Floating in the water, the Dock allowed renowned surfers Noa Deane, Ozzie Wright, Imaikalani Devault, Yago Dora, Mitch Coleborn and Balaram Stack to mount incoming breakers without having to paddle. And it worked – kind of. “You could see which wave was going to be better” noted Noa Deane afterwards. “You’re standing up on the Dock, you can see three waves coming, and you instantly know which one’s best.”

“You get so much speed running on it”, said Imaikalani. “You’re going faster than you would have been paddling. When you’re jumping into some of those waves, you just glide right into them. You roll in so perfectly.”

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That said – don’t try this at home kids! Weighing in at half a tonne, the Dock was a dangerous beast when it got knocked off course. “When I was finished with a wave, I turned around and the dock snapped in half”, said Noa. Imaikalani also had a close shave; “I dove under it, but my board went the other side. I had to take my leash off underwater because it was stuck.” Still, as Stab note, “what’s fun without a little heightened heart rate?”