The first surfer in Bali

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The first surfer in Bali

Not everyone knows that surfing in Bali was discovered by Americans nearly 80 years ago. And Kuta earlier was called Koeta. To this facts Bali is obliged to only one man, Robert Koke.

In the early twentieth century, many traveling were on the board of giant ocean liners. People stayed the whole journey on the board. Since it was, firstly, the cheapest option; secondly, the board of the ship had everything they needed; third, at that time Bali had not been developed for a large number of tourists and the places offered as housing, frightened tourists; and fourthly, to spend a vacation in an exotic country was not safe, with a lot of danger of the diseases and the animal world.

We have to admit that the island was attractive with its exotic much brighter than it is now. There were amazing people with their traditions, their language; this was nature with jungles and strange flowers with a pleasant aroma; these were sweet fruit, different animals, which many had not seen even in the books; with sounds that people had not heard before. This created the image of a paradise island. And many could afford to see Bali from the side.liner

The tourists who traveled to Bali, stayed in areas of Denpasar, Sanur and Ubud , at that time the hotels were only there. Traveling around the island was limited due to the roads, which could be driven by a car or motorbike (bicycle).

Therefore, looking at the eternal water surface of the ocean from the liner passengers didn’t not thought that they could spend a vacation on the beach.


Until the 1936 when Robert Koke with his future wife Louise Garrett arrived to Bali. bob-koke

Born American, Bob worked as a photographer in Hollywood. In addition, Bob had a tremendous passion for travel. Once, he spent time in Hawaii, and then he fell in love with surfing.

Traveling to Japan and China in 1936, with Bob and Louise decided to visit Bali on the way back. It is hard to picture what Bob saw then on Kuta Beach, in any case, it hooked them so that Bob and Louise stayed on the island.

Bob decided to build a hotel right on the beach of Kuta for the same like-minded surfers like him. In Kuta then you could rent a local fishing hut made of palm trees and bamboo.

While the hotel was under the construction, Robert Koke brought to Bali Hawaiian surf board made of mahogany and started riding. Soon, Louise followed and the staff of the future hotel followed his enthusiasm.

Bali at that time was a Dutch colony, and Kuta was called “Koeta”. Western tourists pronounced this word as “Ko-ee-ta”, meaning “pig screaming.” When the construction of the hotel was finished, it was called “Kuta Beach Hotel”, so that there was no misunderstanding. After a while it became a tourist attraction place.



In addition to the first hotel built on the shores of Kuta, and changing the name from Koeta to Kuta, Bob ranked the title of first surfer in Bali. Surfing was a difficult task, surfboards were made of teak wood, making them heavy in weight and unwieldy on the wave. However, Bob continued to ride the surf what amused the local fishermen. This activity eventually attracted the attention of local children and several guests, who later took part in the filming of the surf movie Endless Summer.

Kuta Beach Hotel existed for five years. During the Second World War with the Japanese invasion to the island in 1942, Bob and his wife had to leave everything and go to America. When they returned after the war, the hotel was completely destroyed. (Hotel was at the place of the Hard Rock Hotel.) Bob decided not to rebuild it. The development of surfing in Bali at that time stopped for the next 25 years, expecting the arrival of Australian surfers …