Keegan Gibbs – Blog

Desert Point

Posted in Indonesia, Photography, Surfing, Travel by Keegan on October 16, 2009


Desert Point has got to be one of, if not the, best wave in the world. A few days back, I finally fullfilled one of my biggest fantasys and got it good, albeit a lot of detour signs and missed opportunities.

click for the story and more photos

There are a couple of different ways to travel to Desert Point from Bali. The route we chose was the Car, Ferry, Car route. The plan is to drive an hour to the harbor in Bali where these large, old and decrepit ferries run from Bali to Lombok, every hour or so.  You pay the $550,000 Rupiahs, drive the car up onto the ramp and into the back of the boat. The whole lower lever of the ferry are all vehicles, some industrial work trucks, some cars and many scooters.

However, on Saturday night, our original departure night, we packed everything up, filled a cooler with food, beer and ice, and drove to the fairy. However, when we got there, there was police check point in the harbor where they check to make sure you have registration on the car, dont have drugs etc… on board. Since we knowingly didnt have the original registration in the car, we bypassed and tried to skip the check point. No go. We thought we had almost gotten away with it, but then right before we were to drive on aboard, an officer knocked on our window. Gigs up. We tried pleading with them and even tried paying them off, but with no avail. They even threatened to take the car at one point.

Let me back up for a second: For a long time, I have heard stories from friends like Ryan and seen footage and photos of this wave, Desert Point. It was labeled as the machine perfect 20+ second tube. It has always kind of been a mystical dream of mine, and after last year trying to go there and getting skunked, the wave had turned into a tall tale of sorts for me. I was almost convinced I would never see this perfection. However, our determination grew on.

We jumped back in the car and drove away from the harbor around midnight on a saturday night, trying to figure out a way to get a registration, or even better, another car with legit registration. Plan 1 was to go to a friends house in Sanur, who was out of town at the time, break into his garage and steal his car, which at least had proper registration. After getting to the house, we realized we would have no way to lock the place back up after breaking in, so we axed that idea after 30 minutes or so. Our next best bet would be to head into town (Kuta) and look for a rental car place that MIGHT be open around 1 or 2 am in the morning. Once there, we didnt find any rental car places, but rather completely stopped traffic on the one way streets, filled with drunk tourists partying on the saturday night in the stretch of clubs in Kuta. Around 2 or 3 in the morning, we decided to cut our losses and headed home, to deal with the situation in the morning and try to find another way to Lombok.

We woke up in the morning and the swell was pumping a lot bigger than we had originally thought it would be. We got a report early in the morning that Deserts was firing.  In a panic, we rushed to the airport to see if we could get the next flights out. Not only had we just missed the 7 and 8 am flights, the next flight, at 1, wouldnt let us on with boggage over 6 feet in length. So, again, we were barred. Finally, we decided it was probably best to salvage the day and try to get a surf in locally, and strategically attack later that night, with a car with registration and all.

Well, we made it back to the boat around 10pm sunday night, and this time, everything went off without a hitch, including the bribe to the cops to let us on, even though it wasnt our car.

Below, the first great sign of the trip, us about to drive into the fairy. The last car on.



After we got on, we scoured an area on the boat where we could spend the next 5 hours to rest our heads. It is 11pm at this time, so we wanted to get some sleep while we could before morning time. We paid a deckhand who in turn let us use the boats captain’s headquarters which had 2 small mattes to sleep on.

Below, my travel crew, Travis Potter and Luke Studer.


We finished the fairy ride around 4AM and then proceeded to do the drive from the Harbor on Lombok to Deserts. Mind you, about 30% of this drive (the tail end) is a very eroded dirt road, with this one hill climb section, which, once we got to, took several tries to make it up. However, suffice to say, we made it, and around 5:15 we pulled up to the sand at Desert Point. With a little bit of moon light glimmering, we were able to see some perfect 200+ yard left hand tubes grind away in the dark of night.

Below, the view an hour or two after the sun rose. The sail in the background is from one of the hundreds of local fishing boats that buzz almost through the line-up, coming in from a night of fishing.


Afternoon perfection. There is someone on the back wave somewhere in the middle of a 15 second tube.


Travis, before we got there, swore that there is a section of the wave, further down the reef that offers really heavy deep wide tubes, however with some risk of serious consequence as the reef is really shallow.

Below, Travis, tackling the “Grower” section at Deserts. Temporarily forgetting about the consequences along the way.



However after an hour or so in the afternoon session, Travis fell on a wave, and due to the speed and strength of the wave, slapped his face on the water so hard that the pressure of the water against his lip/chin literally blasted it apart/open, sending a hole completely through to his mouth, and splitting the inside of his upper lip as well.


Since it was the evening, Luke and I finished off our session at the main peak, which before dark, turned to double overhead, solid, long standup tubes. After we came in at dusk, we packed up the stuff and headed back to the Fairy to catch the next bimo ride to Bali.

Once in Bali (around 3am) we found a local emergency room and Travis got all put back together for a whopping $17 dollars! I think it was 14 stitches or so. These ER’s byt he way see head and face trauma all day and night long from the high amount of motor scooter accidents. Behind travis on the next common room operating table was a really drunk local guy that looked to have stacked on his bike and hit the curb. Potts, waiting his turn…


11 Responses

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  1. ghettoblackify said, on October 16, 2009 at 11:07 pm

    interesting post

  2. tozé said, on October 17, 2009 at 2:04 am

    that section is horrifying, it looks a toss between makeable and too fast as your setting up your turn and breaks over two or three feet of water. you wipe out, and if you survive, you get up and water’s barely over your knees.

  3. big p said, on October 17, 2009 at 10:27 am

    still no kickfips? that quarterpipe looked like it was really steep and scary – I wouldn’t fuck with that….I’ll stick to the dume where I get shit poppin’ off on the daily.

  4. Nuno said, on October 18, 2009 at 3:30 pm

    good post…

  5. katelin said, on October 20, 2009 at 8:22 am

    i love reading your stories
    and of course love your photos

  6. PAUL BAKKEN said, on October 29, 2009 at 9:26 pm



  7. PAUL BAKKEN said, on October 29, 2009 at 9:27 pm



  8. olivia said, on November 1, 2009 at 4:10 pm

    this was so fun to read, youre a great writer and obviously a great photographer

  9. Ecalderon said, on December 2, 2009 at 8:51 am


    You have some of the best shots i have seen.You capture some great moments of life.Props to you and your style you rock with .


  10. baynes said, on January 11, 2010 at 4:39 pm

    That ferry looked SKETCH

  11. Eduardo Perez said, on September 23, 2010 at 7:10 pm

    great story, man. I really appreciate the long written form. keep it up. and good photos too. sick barrels. i’ve yet to score desert point. peeps keep sending me photos. you guys got some nice stuff.

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