Not Just Another Surfcamp: Rapture Camps Bali

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The sweet scent of Gudang Garam cigarettes greeted us at the arrival section of the newly renovated Ngurah Rai airport. It smelled familiar but did little to calm my nerves. It was my 3rd trip to the beautiful island paradise of Bali but I felt a bit anxious. Partly because it was my first time to explore this side of Uluwatu and Padang Padang, I wasn't too familiar with the place and also because I was with Ben. It was his first time in Bali and I wanted him to have the best experience here.

I was able to breathe a sigh of relief when I saw a tall guy with a Rapture Surf Camp shirt at the entrance. He looked in control and I just had a feeling that our trip would be smooth sailing from hereon forward. 

He introduced himself as what I heard to be "G'day". It was going to be a good day indeed! Our ride was very comfortable in a huge van that could fit a few surf boards and several passengers. He weaved expertly through traffic and we arrived in less than hour.

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As soon as we got to camp, we were welcomed by what I heard to be "Mad Day" and he seemed particularly enthusiastic. He took our bags and showed us to our villa.

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To say that we were impressed would be an understatement. 

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I've been to a few surf camps in the last few years and this was by far, the most luxurious, roomy and tasteful accommodations I've ever set eyes on.

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We opened heavy wooden doors into a 2 floor loft with a huge bed, an outdoor shower and bathtub carved in stone, a private enclosure with space to meditate and do yoga, and a balcony overlooking the swimming pool. The villa was tastefully decorated with paintings,colorful pillows and bean bags, and wooden furniture and was equipped with flat panel TV, DVD player and a powerful air conditioning system. It was classy but still had a rustic touch. And we had this huge place to ourselves for a week!

Meeting Josh and Maggie: The Rapture Story

I simply had to meet the people behind this unique concept of a surf camp! Just before dinner, we came by the communal dining area to look for Josh. One of the surfer dudes behind the counter said he was out. We must have looked disappointed because he then smiled a boyish grin and offered his hand: "Hi, I'm Josh."

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And that's how we would soon identify the co-owner of Rapture: down to earth, friendly and always joking around. 

His wife, Maggie, creator of  Magini's Bikinis, was a constant presence at the surf camp as well. You could always find both of them busy, working at something in what we observed to be a very hands on approach at running this place. They probably didn't expect how their initial surf camp concept would expand to the structure and brand that it is today.

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True to it's tagline: "Not Just Another Surfcamp", there is a wonderful story behind the beginnings of Rapture.

During the northern hemisphere winter of 2003/2004, two very different people met each other while on holiday in Northern Africa. They had one thing in common- they both loved surfing. And not just the sport or act of surfing- but the lifestlye, the travel and adventure involved in the search for new places to surf in far off countries and diverse cultures.

The two co-founders, Josh and Simon were united in their love for surfing.

These two guys could not have been more different, Josh coming from one of the worlds birthplaces of modern surfing, Australia. He was born and bred with the ocean at his door step. He surfed at a very young age, competed in contests and went on to become one of Sydney´s top surf photographers, and later, one of Portugal's most respected big wave water photographers.

Simon on the other hand, hailed from Austria, land locked on all sides. Without the ocean nearby, at a young age his afternoons and weekends were spent snowboarding in the winter and wake boarding in the summer. It was not until later in life that he was blessed with the love for surfing. But this passion, while it arrived later in life, was a very strong love affair, one that was pursued at all opportunities.

Simon and Josh were both entrepreneurs in their own rights, and it was fate that they should put their heads together to find a way to do what they loved in life forever. To live and surf great waves for the rest of ones' life, is the dream of all surfers. Their vision to do this, and make enough money to live this wonderful lifestyle, gave birth to Rapture Camps.

Their plan was simple, to set up a surf camp that allowed all surfers to travel and surf safely in exotic countries. Ultimately, it had to be affordable for everyone. This would, in turn, allow them to surf more often and live in these beautiful countries around the world. 

What set these two individuals apart was their belief that monetary wealth was not the end goal- instead, they were propelled by their search for a happy lifestyle and their mutual love for surfing.

Josh now lives in Bali where he manages the very successful Camp at Padang Padang with his lovely wife, Maggie whom he met while running the camp in Morocco. Simon is always on the move between the camps in Bali and Portugal.

This camp serves as the homes of these two friends and the people they want to share their love for surfing with, and not just another surf camp.

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Inclusive Vibe from a Global Community

And that's not the end of the story. Nearly 10 years later, these co-founders are still living their dream. They also share this dream with everyone who comes to visit. We felt like a part an extended family with surfers from Germany, Australia, the United Kingdom, Portugal- and I even met a girl from the Philippines, a beach and lifestyle photographer, Tiara. What a small world this camp was turning out to be!

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No wonder people stayed here longer than planned. A few days turns into a week and the next thing you know, you've been here for over a month! What's great about the vibe here is that you not only meet people from different parts of the world- you meet people from all walks of life! The camp offers different kinds of accommodations and pricing to fit your lifestyle and budget.

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So what brings all these people together? Well, food to start with. Since breakfast and dinner are served at the camp every day except on Sundays, it's a great way to interact with people, chat with the staff and sample some fresh, healthy meal offerings. The chill out area, movie lounge and the pool are also great places to strike up a conversation. Having an inclusive vibe and welcoming culture was definitely on the agenda when Simon and Josh first thought of this place.

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Surf Expertise

But surfing still takes center stage, of course. The camp boasts of a staff that consists mostly of locals, so guests are sure to get the best surf instruction and local knowledge on the island. The camp is located close to the surf breaks of Padang Padang and Uluwatu which are not exactly beginner friendly. But they make it a point to choose the best conditions and even lesser known spots to make sure that everyone has a memorable experience, no matter what surf level they're in.

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They are also very well-organized when it comes to surf trips and instruction. They keep a low instructor-student ratio, give lectures and feedback and transport everyone safely in their cool, vintage VW wagons. My favorite instructor was Kadek who was always laughing, smiling and giving everyone good vibes. Every day I saw him, he was always polite with a cheery smile on his face.

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What I most admire is how they take the surfers' safety very seriously and make sure everyone is accounted for and out of harm's way. Plus, their dedicated surf photographer, Janine from Germany, is usually there to capture your day's best rides and you can purchase them after your session.

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Their local knowledge also doesn't just fall into the surfing category. Josh, Maggie and their entire staff give great recommendations from the best pizza in town to where you can get the most cash out of the ATM. And they're very generous in sharing what they know. 

Someone to Watch Over You

The place, the staff, the owners, the vibe- this place has all the right ingredients for a memorable stay in Bali! But another thing I observed was how our entire experience was designed and well thought of. It sure takes a visionary (or 2) to take care of the little details that made our trip not just something worth remembering, but worth going back to. 

How to Make This Trip Happen:

-Rapture Surfcamp stays open all year round. But May-Oct is the best time of year for waves. Offshore wind creates perfect surfing conditions for either the west coast or the east coast.

-The camp has a surf school for beginners. They also offer surf guiding for intermediate and advanced surfers. Rental boards in all shapes and sizes available for all to use and can be included in your trip package.

-Bali has warm water all year round so there's no need for you to bring a wet suit. Rash guards can be provided at the camp but just to be sure, bring one that fits snugly. You'll also need a bottle of sunscreen, some zinc for your face and reef booties to protect your feet from sharp rocks and coral at the line up.

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-Visitors from most countries can get a 30-day tourist visa on arrival for 25 USD. Other options are to apply to the Indonesian embassy in your country for a 60-day tourist visa if applicable.

-The local currency is the Rupiah. The exchange rate varies from day to day – 1 Euro is currently about 15.000 Rupiah. You should bring cash in USD, EUR or other major currencies and a Maestro (EC) or credit card. You can change cash at exchange offices at the airport, money changers and banks. Cash machines are widespread but most of them charge a hefty fee and only allow between 1M - 1.5 M IDR to be withdrawn. The cheapest way is still to change cash.

-Special thanks to Josh and Maggie of Rapture Surf Camp Bali for our wonderful stay there. As always, all opinion are the author's.

Main photo credit: Aerial shot by

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Stoked in Bali,
Sole Sister Lois

Lois is the Editor-in-Chief of the female travel blog When she's not having adventures around the globe, she can be found surfing, surfing someone's couch or giving motivational workshops and retreats.

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10 sole trails

  1. Beautifully written, Lois! It was such a pleasure meeting you and sharing this experience with you. I hope we will meet again sometime. Maybe in Bali, or maybe you want to come and visit us in Australia sometime? :)

  2. I'm glad you liked it Birte! So happy to have met you and Glenn and all those wonderful people at Rapture. And Ben and I are so lucky to have celebrated your post engagement drinks with you! We hope to see you and Glenn again soon!

  3. Interesting information. You enter a destination Bali surf spots in the world. certainly very interesting, because it is the location where I live. But I do not like other colleagues who are adept to surf, I was just an amateur surfer and it took a lot to learn. nice article. visit this for beginners surfers :

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