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Loving the Sights, Sounds, and People at Ida Boys Surfers Warung at the Renowned Surf Break in Keramas Beach, Bali



Originally it was the look of the place that attracted me —the thatched roof, the rustic wooden counter facing the ocean with surfers and spectators having an early morning coffee, the decorative signage on the walls, and the friendly people and dogs on the beach.  However, it was Ida himself, “The Captain,” who drew me to come back again the next day. 


We had headed to Keramas Beach because of its black sand and because it’s less crowded and more laid back than other Bali beaches.  We knew it was popular for surfing, so we had expected to see some surfers. However, we hadn’t realized, because we are not surfers, the distinguished surfing history of Keramas. It has hosted many events on the World Surf League Championship Tour. There’s an amazing video on the internet of American professional surfer, Kelly Slater, considered the GOAT, surfing at Keramas as recently as summer 2023.  The beach is considered a nearly perfect spot for intermediate to advanced surfers with its well-known “high quality” exposed reef break and its “welcoming local vibe” (as described by Surfline.com).  


Walking along the black sand beach one morning, we were happily mesmerized by the group of about 20 surfers in the water and, almost directly opposite on the beach, the Warung bearing the name Hotel Komune Beach Club in retro-feeling letters.


A wooden sign just beyond the order/cashier window inside the Warung says it all: “I Love Ida Boys.” The “boys” in Ida Boys are Ida and his younger brother Guste. 


Family is clearly at the heart of the Warung and the Hotel Komune. 


Ida grew up at the beach. His parents moved to Sanur in the late 1970s when he was four. They opened Ida Art Shop selling small wood carvings and drinks. In the early 2000s, the family moved to the Village of Keramas Beach and opened Ida Warung selling traditional food and drinks. His parents died in the mid-2000s.  Then in 2011, Tony Cannon, co-owner of Komune resorts, himself a surfer and an engineer by training, approached Ida about joining with his project the Hotel Komune. 


“He [Tony Cannon] helped make [the Warung] bigger,” Ida says appreciatively. 


In fact, Komune’s website notes that the hotel “likes to stay true to [its] roots and that means preserving the local Bali surfing culture. …Our Surfers Warung is the original Warung that was at Keramas before our resort. And it’s still staffed by the original Warung owners …the famous Ida Boys.” 


Cannon said in an interview, that in developing the resort, “[w]e wanted to ensure we had respect for the wave and for the local people. As surfers, we wanted to protect it and make it more beautiful than it was, not less.” (Creating Komune, Oceanroadmagazine.com.au 27 March 2018)


Ida proudly and gratefully sees it all as a family slowly moving up and expanding. He speaks about the generations. He says his parents made him strong and were always very encouraging. They helped him develop good instincts.  Sharing one of the many family photos he has on his phone he jokes, “[m]y dad was very lucky to get my mom [because] she was so beautiful.”  


He shares pictures of him and his brother with their parents in front of the shop in Sanur and of his parents laughing and dancing with tourists. Ida speaks lovingly of his own wife and their relationship. They have three children; the eldest recently married, He looks forward to becoming a grandfather.


Ida learned to surf when he was growing up in Sanur and still surfs for fun. Periodically he competes in Masters surfing contests (for men over 35).  That’s Ida with the white striped board in the photo above.


“My life has always been close to the beach,” Ida observes. “The ocean is beautiful. If you are stressed, go to the beach and [the stress is] gone,” he says gesturing, as if making something disappear. 


Ida has seen changes. Back 15 to 20 years ago, there might be five to ten people in the water. Sometimes now there are 40 to 50, he says. 


His moniker, “The Captain,” derives in part from that change. He came up with surfing etiquette to ensure everyone gets to surf the waves, so there is no conflict between guests and locals. In fact, you can see surfers line up in the water and take turns. 


In line with Cannon’s goal to create a place “where you can surf but your family’s really well looked after” (ORM.com.au 27 March 2018), Hotel Komune has anything a visitor could want.  “Health Hub” offerings include a training pool, bootcamp exercises, yoga, and farm to plate menu options grown in the onsite organic gardens. There’s a “Kids Club” with an extensive list of activities, including a mini farm and a children’s outdoor cinema.  There’s a spa. 


The hotel offers night surfing (with restricted spaces). Ida says the Warung will host some competitions probably again next year. The Warung rents boards and also repairs them. (Ida and his brother learned to repair boards from a good surfer friend in Jimbaran Bay.)  


Even with all this activity, a feeling of serenity prevails. If you are nearby in Bali, regardless of whether you are a surfer, make the trip to visit the Surfers Warung, especially in the early morning. Enjoy the beauty and power of the ocean and sky, as well as the sheer athleticism of the surfers. Have a Bali coffee and talk with other guests. Be sure to look behind the counter at all the photos. If Ida is there, he will share some of his stories and photos with you, because it’s all about family. 


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'Let me live, love, and say it well in good sentences.' – Sylvia Plath

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