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Grajagan


Panoramic left-breaking wave located on the jungle-lined southeast tip of Java, Indonesia; one of the world's longest and most challenging reefbreaks, and site of the original surfing camp.

Grajagan (or G-land) breaks best from May to October, as winter storms in the Indian Ocean regularly generate four- to eight-foot swells—with the occasional 10- to 12-footer—which are groomed as they reach shore by Java's reliable southeast offshore tradewinds. The waves along Grajagan's enormous coral-studded lava reef are more shifty and powerful than those found nearly anywhere else in Indonesia. The scope of the place is unlike anything in the surf world. "If you've never seen it before, it's actually really hard to imagine," 1970s pro surfer Jeff Hakman noted. "Describing it is almost impossible. It's just too vast, and too wild."

Grajagan has three main sections: 1) Kong's, uppermost on the point and most exposed to incoming swells, is sometimes erratic and hard to read, but can produce rides up to 300 yards. 2) Moneytrees, the most-surfed section, is a long, dependable, frequently tubing wave that breaks up to eight foot. 3) Speed Reef, Grajagan's funneling inside break, and by far the premier section—as well as the most fickle—is best at six to eight feet; waves here can break flawlessly for 200 yards, allowing surfers to ride inside the tube for as long as fifteen seconds. Other waves in the area include the soft-breaking lefts at Chicken's and 20-20's, just down from Speed Reef; and Tiger Trails, an agreeable right-hander located nearly two miles to the west. The area is tropical and humid, with water temperatures consistently in the upper 70s.

Despite Grajagan's enormous lineup and consistent surf, crowds are often a problem, with up to 200 surfers visiting at a time during peak season. Other hazards include the shallow reef and malaria. A hut-leveling tsunami roared through the Grajagan camps in 1994, resulting in a few minor injuries.

Grajagan was first surfed in 1972 by Americans Bob Laverty, who had spotted the break a few months earlier during a plane ride from Jakarta to Bali, and Bill Boyum. The two surfers motorcycled from Bali to the Javanese fishing village of Grajagan, their backpacks full of supplies, ferried across the bay, then followed the shorefront edge of the enormous Plengkung National Forest. For three days they surfed perfect six- to eight-foot waves at Grajagan, camping on the beach near the jungle. Laverty died in a surfing accident just a few days after returning to Bali. Mike Boyum (Bill's brother) opened the G-land Surf Camp two years later, housing fewer than a dozen guests at a time in three wooden huts; Pipeline ace Gerry Lopez was an early and frequent visitor. "It was our surfing monastery," Lopez later said, adding that preferred G-land to Pipeline.

Although the break appeared in magazines and films over the next few years, it wasn't named, and thus didn't become well known until 1980. In 1981 it was listed by Surfing magazine as one of the "Ten Best Breaks in the World," and by 1985 Mike Boyum was grossing $250,000 annually from his newly expanded surf camp.

Grajagan has been featured in more than three dozen surf movies and videos, including In Search of Tubular Swells (1977), Storm Riders (1982), Filthy Habits (1987), The Search (1992), Endless Summer II (1994), and Metaphysical (1997). Long Island surfer and former U.S. champion Rick Rasmussen was featured surfing Grajagan on an 1980 ABC American Sportsman special; the break was also featured in Great Waves, an Outdoor Life Network documentary series.

The inaugural Quiksilver Grajagan Pro in 1995 met with transcendental four- to eight-foot surf for the entire week of the event, and was won by world champion Kelly Slater. Quiksilver made two return visits, then the event was canceled due to Indonesia's growing social and political unrest. Australian Tom Carroll, throughout the late 1980s and 1990s, was generally thought of as G-land's master surfer.

As of 2012, there were four surf camps operating at Grajagan, with Wi-Fi, air-conditioned rooms, and full dinner menues, with week-long all-inclusive rates, excluding airfare, ranging from $500 to $1,000.