Six waves that will keep you enamored until the end of your days

| posted on October 15, 2012

Photo: Childs

When Jim Banks set sail from Bali in the mid-’80s, he didn’t know he was charting the course for the rest of his life. “One of the guys on the boat had heard there were supposed to be waves on the tip of Lombok, but we basically rocked up with no idea…and no company. There was no one there, although we discovered later that there were three guys from Northern California who’d bought a turtle boat in Bali and converted it, and they’d already been surfing it for seven years. It was a dream come true. My whole concept of riding the barrel changed. I went back to Uluwatu to surf parts of the reef I’d formerly thought were unmakeable. Deserts changed my whole concept of what was possible inside a barrel, how deep I could be and still make it.”

Indeed, kneeboarder Peter Crawford, an old surfing buddy of Jim’s, once claimed to have been barreled at Deserts for over a minute, traveling through space and time in the process.

Deserts became hard to sail away from. “On my second trip back there, I went on another friend’s boat. We were just going for a couple of days and this was before the Internet so we had no idea if there was swell coming or not. There were just waves for days. We were sleeping in the boat, which we’d anchored in a small cove to the north, catching fish and buying veggies from the locals. We’d already stayed five days and we were thinking, well, we can’t leave now. We hit Day 10 and I was starting to think, well, I told my wife we were going for two days. There were no telephones or radio, so she was surely thinking I’d gone down in the Strait and I was thinking maybe I should go home. So on Day 10 we decided to bite the bullet and up anchor and sail back to Bali, but not before I had one last quick surf. The waves were tiny but fun, then all of a sudden I looked up the point and there was a shoulder-high set. Then within an hour it was head-high to double-overhead and every single wave was absolutely perfect. Just me and my two mates, and eventually they got surfed out and I was left out there on my own with 10 waves in every set.”

In the years and decades since, Jim has continued sailing east, island hopping through the archipelago from Sumbawa to Sumba to Timor. He’s camped on the beach at Nihiwatu. He’s found waves he’ll take to the grave. “They were magical times,” he reminisces. Jim lives in Bali these days, and is preparing to once again set sail. “There are still waves out there, there are waves everywhere…but I don’t think you’ll find another Desert Point.” —Sean Doherty

  • Mange mongland

    I live in Hossegor and you really can’t compare it to desert point or cloudbreak! Seriously! It looks like the picture once every other year. It’s crap more often than not

  • Whamo

    “Freedom has a 1,000 charms to show, that slaves, however contented, never know.” — Mickey Dora —

    I have a lot of respect for Jim Banks and the hotel night manager at Mundaca. Not many people pursue their dreams like these two did.

  • gannysesh

    Does Banks have some family cash keeping him going? Or does he take jobs that give him just enough to get by? or what?

  • Meatball

    Hello to all,,,some of us from S.Fla. in 1978 flew into Acapoco,,then took 14hr. bus ride south to get to Puerto,,,the lack of people,the offshore winds in the mornings,the sound of the police band music in the line up & those XLg. Barrels rides !!!! Just spectacular views,times & memories for all of us !!!!!

  • Eric

    Putting ‘Rifles’ on that list is asinine….Great wave, but hundreds of better waves that people try and score, and return to year after year. There are 50 waves in Indo alone to hit before that one.

  • http://any mark connolly


  • Freddy

    @Eric if you scored this wave you would know why its on the list. One 12 day boat trip to the ments ain’t going to do it. I have been to the playground area of the ments 10 times for months at a time and have scored riffles one time. It went off for 10 straight days best waves I have ever seen and surfed. Its 600+yard backdoor barrel every wave. Surfed it other trips but not proper. If you go to this area thinking your going to score riffles think again. It is a VERY fickle wave and any signs of it being good you can assure the resorts are on it dumping on average 20-40 guys in the line-up. But dont worry there are several other world class waves very close by.