Paradise Paradox

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The pristine beauty of Indonesia is fundamental to its appeal. The promise of perfect waves, thriving rainforests and simple living constitute an irresistible image for surfers the world over. But life on the archipelago is not static, and the impact of mass tourism is now tangible even in the remote villages of Java.

"Coming from Australia, I arrived in this small village in Indonesia and instantly became attracted to beauty of the island," director, Robert Sherwood told us. "It was everything I hoped for, amazing waves, picturesque settings and the friendliest people I have met."

"There was, however, a downside," continued Sherwood. "While documenting the local happenings every morning I got a chance to see the village differently and became aware of the burning, pollution and scattered rubbish along the beach every morning. We spoke with Papa, a guru of the village, who told us of the local support for growth in buildings & tourists. I left knowing this small village could be just another ruined tourist haven within a few years time."

"A slice of Paradise. Perfect waves, tribal living and some space for the mind. I basically surfed myself silly and filled my spare time drawing and mingling with the locals. I was a strange man in a strange land loving almost everything."

Kuta and the Bukit Peninsula are swimming in plastic, a much lamented fact, but to witness environmental destruction in such an immaculate setting is yet more perturbing.

"After a couple weeks chasing waves and vibes through Bali I thought it would be a good idea to venture a little deeper in pursuit of proper waves and proper culture," says Joshua Garner, the featured rider. "I found that in Java. A slice of Paradise. Perfect waves, tribal living and some space for the mind. I basically surfed myself silly and filled my spare time drawing and mingling with the locals. I was a strange man in a strange land loving almost everything.

"There were however a handful of lessons to be learnt. The most significant lesson was the paradoxical way in which we continue to live and expand through. When you're in paradise these contradictions illuminate themselves. And as I suck back another dart I witness the contradictions first hand. But the most upsetting part was the rubbish that filled the beaches and the smoke that filled the sky."

As travelling surfers, we of course are part of the problem. Certainly it seems hypocritical to criticise tourism growth when we flock en masse to whatever spot is in vogue. Development is inevitable and inexorable, the key is recognising your role in the issue, and striving to improve the situation as opposed to exacerbating it.

See more of Robert Sherwood's work HERE.
Instagram: @sherwoodstudio


Struan Gray

Writer and Content Manager