Video: The Beauty And Science Of Bioluminescent Waves

There’s nothing as bewitching as seeing bioluminescent waves crashing onto a night shore. I first saw these as a kid and the memory has always stuck with me. The stars above, the glimmering lights of distant freighters far out to sea and the weird blue surf rushing at me. It’s one of the most vivid memories of my childhood.

How couldn’t it be? This glowing surf is beautiful and mysterious. Well, it’s mysterious if you aren’t a marine biologist. Check out this video to learn just how waves can glow in the dark. It will take some of the mystery out of it, but none of the beauty. Also check out this amazing photo of bioluminescent waves in the Maldives that glowed brighter than the Milky Way.

If you want to learn more, the American Museum of Natural History is having an exhibition titled “Creatures of Light: Nature’s Bioluminescence,” running until January 6, 2013.

Teahupo’o: the world’s ‘heaviest’ surfing wave

, site of a legendary surfer break on the French Polynesian island of Tahiti, has developed quite the reputation among big-wave surfers. Due to a shallow coral reef just off shore, waves here tend break as massive, chunky walls of water, a phenomenon that has earned Teahupo’o the distinction as the “heaviest” wave in the world.

The video above, filmed at Teahupo’o, offers a first-hand view from the ocean of what it’s like to ride the massive swells of this epic surf spot. Set to an ethereal soundtrack, the video follows surfers as they brave one of the biggest surfing days at Teahupo’o in recent memory, riding crushing “fists” of ocean that grow and collapse, threatening to swallow them whole at any minute. Sit back, click the play button, and let yourself be mesmerized by these awesome feats of athleticism.

Dreaming of Bali – Learning to surf

There was only one wetsuit top remaining for my first surfing lesson, and it was pink. Not to mention I spent most of my first day on a surfboard coughing up murky brown saltwater from my lungs. Kelly Slater I was not. But despite the humiliations involved in learning to surf for the first time, there are rewards for the patient. For instance the moment you catch your first wave, you will be struck by a feeling of indescribable euphoria and bliss – particularly if you’re catching that wave in Bali, one of the world’s great surfing hotspots.

Hawaii and California might be more famous with American surfers, but mention the word Bali to anyone with a board and a suntan, and their eyes will widen like saucers, a smile spreading across their face. Bali, it seems, is one of the world’s greatest places to surf: a paradise of consistent waves, warm water and some of the world’s most legendary surf spots.

But trying to get the hang of surfing, particularly during a short visit to this intriguing island, can be difficult. Which surfing school should you choose? Where are the best places to surf? Will you be able to get up after just a single lesson? The process can feel downright intimidating.

Thankfully, we’re here to help. Keep reading below to find out how you can learn to ride the waves in Bali.Picking an Instructor
The most difficult task when you’re interested in learning to surf is finding the right person to learn from. A tremendous array of surfing schools, profiteering guesthouses and private instructors compete for your hard earned tourist dollar. Frankly, it can get confusing. But there a few key ways to ensure you get the best possible result.

No matter which company you end up choosing, ask the right surfing questions before you start. Will you have your own personal instructor or is it with a group? Do they get in the water with you to help you learn? These issues may seem trivial now, but with a sport like surfing that takes awhile to learn, it’s crucial you get lots of help when you start.

Brand-name surfing schools like Rip Curl and ProSurf may be the best-known names in Bali, but they’re not always the best option. As it turns out, the surfing classes are often more expensive, conducted in large groups and the teachers don’t always get in the water with you. Eventually, based on recommendations I found on Southeast Asian backpacker site Travelfish, I ended up going with OBB Surf Adventures, a smaller surf company that prides itself on offering one-on-one in-water instruction for all students.

Where to Go
If you’re taking a lesson, the school/instructor will likely pick the location with the most beginner friendly waves that day. Often this will mean the beaches near Kuta. On the day I went surfing, the waves were rather strong at Kuta, so we moved to the practically smooth bay at Jimbaran Beach. As it turned out, Jimbaran was a good place to learn – the small waves are forgiving to beginners and there’s less people (this also means fewer onlookers will have a chance to laugh at you).

As you begin to get the hang of it and try out more surf spots, many of Bali’s best breaks are found around the island’s South. Ulu Watu, the most famous surf spot in Bali, is a popular choice, though probably too advanced for beginners. For more info on current water conditions and tips, check out the waverider resources at Wanna Surf, and of course, ask around when you arrive.

What It’s Like
Minor humiliations aside, my very first surfing lesson was a resounding success. My choice of OBB Surf Adventures proved a good one – their in-water instruction method ensured I was standing up (and riding on) waves after only a single lesson. Whichever company you choose, I can’t recommend this method enough. After helping position me properly, board facing toward the beach, to catch a wave the instructor helped me get the timing right for when to stand and how to stay up.

After a few wave misfires, I rode my first mini swell all the way to the beach. It’s hard to describe the feeling of confidence, excitement and joy that this moment will bring. That said, learning to surf requires a lot patience and swallowing of pride. You will fall down a lot. Little Balinese children will giggle at your awkwardness. And at the end of the day, you will be incredibly sore, bruised and sunburned. But you will also have gained something else – a chance to learn and explore the fun of surfing in the laid-back paradise of Bali.

Dreaming of your own visit to Bali? Read more about Gadling’s “visit to paradise” HERE.

[Flickr photos courtesy Jeda Villa Bali, Bruno [BRA]]

[Special thanks to Gadling writer Mike Barish for use of the above video]

Photo of the Day – Surfing in Barbados

The movements and rhythm of surfing have their own unique poetry. The energetic ebb and flow of the waves merges with the acrobatic twists and cuts of the rider as he makes his way across the water’s surface. Today’s photo, by Flickr user Enjoy Patrick Responsibly on the Caribbean island of Barbados, is full of that energy. I love how the photo catches the surfer frozen at the crest of the wave, a spray of foam erupting in his wake.

Taken any great photos during your travels? Why not share them with us by adding them to the Gadling group on Flickr? We might just pick one of yours as our Photo of the Day.

Dreaming of Bali – The sounds of Indonesia

Welcome back to Gadling’s newest series, Dreaming of Bali. Visiting the exotic Indonesian island of Bali is truly a feast for the senses. First time visitors and expats alike frequently remark on this island’s rich tapestry of exotic stimuli: the brilliant orange glow of a sunset as it slides gently into the sea; the wafting scent of kerosene and crushed chilis at a roadside food stall; the soft vibration of a gong as it’s struck in a temple. These are sensory experiences that bury themselves in your subconscious, sticking in your mind long after your return from a journey – they are ultimately the impressions that help to crystallize our understanding of our travels.

Words are only one way to tell a story. Borrowing an idea from Gadling blogger Stephen Greenwood, I’ve tried to capture my impressions of Indonesia through the medium of sound. Embedded below are four “soundscapes” from my recent visit to Bali and the nearby island of Java. Click on play, close your eyes, and prepare to be transported far away to the islands of Indonesia:

Sitting on the beach at dusk, listening to waves crash on the beach – a symphony of frogs croak at the onset of dark:

A group of musicians practices their Gamelan performance at a temple in Ubud:

Walking inside Ubud’s morning produce market:

Most of Indonesia, with the exception of Bali, is muslim. Here’s the afternoon call to prayer in Yogyakarta, Indonesia:

Dreaming of your own visit to Bali? Read more about Gadling’s “visit to paradise” HERE.

[Flickr photos courtesy of ^riza^, didiz | rushdi and norhendraruslan]