2/10/10: Byron Bay, Australia
When deciding what surf school we should sign up for, we used Google’s latest and greatest invention: Google blogsearch. (Who knows if it’s actually latest – Google puts out so much new crap that I can’t wait to start working for them when we return to the States in the fall. Did you hear that Google? Leave a spot open for me!) Through blogsearch we were able to find detailed reviews of many different surf schools that we weren’t able to find out through our usual favorite website, tripadvisor.com. So in yet another attempt to be like Kevin Spacey, we’ve decided to Pay It Forward today and offer our two cents on the Kool Katz Learn to Surf School.
(Today’s “It’s a Small World After All” note: one blog we found linked us to another person’s reviews of surfing in Hawaii. The other person turned out to be my cousin, Brenda!)
The Good: If you’re looking to have a good time and those graffiti phone numbers in sketchy bathroom stalls just aren’t cutting it for you, go surfing. Surfing to me is like golf. Besides the fact that you spend most of your time in the sand and in the water, the reason you keep coming back is to catch that one big wave. You spend all day waiting around taking mulligans and getting hit into by the obnoxious foursome behind you, but when you hit that fantastic shot it’s the best feeling in the world. Surfing and golf are both “nicotine sports” – once you start, it’s really hard to stop.
The Bad: What does anything I just said have to do with Kool Katz? Nothing. This surf school was more of a do-it-yourself course, as there was very minimal teaching. Our best teacher over the three days was a man who looked old enough to have invented surfing. He knew his stuff, but unfortunately he now he smokes five packs of waves per day, so rather than teach he preferred to catch the waves himself. He was constantly washed up ashore (perhaps playing Bingo?) while the rest of us were left to fend for ourselves.
The Good: The other two teachers were cool guys. It was fun hanging out with a couple young surfer bums; in fact it’s kind of contagious. There were brief moments where I wanted to quit everything, live on someone’s couch for the rest of my life and ride the waves every day. When there’s nothing more to life than spending as much time as possible on the ocean, there’s really never anything to worry about.
The Bad: The head of the school, the “Steve Irwin of Learn to Surf,” was as close to a robot as any person I’ve ever met. He clearly drinks too much salt water, as there seems to be nothing more to him than his impressive repertoire of one-liners. Some examples:
“For those of you who want rashies, go ahead, and for those who wants wet suits we have those too, because that’s the kind of dudes we are.”
“The best day of your life may be behind you, but at least you’ll always have the memories.”
“As we say every day, thanks for coming, we hoped in some small way we touched your heart.”
The Conclusion: This is the cheapest surf school in New South Wales for a reason. If you’re intent on spending more than just a couple days surfing, spend the extra money and go get some real lessons. However, if you just want to have some fun in the water with a bunch of other beginners, this might actually be the surf school for you. Zhou and I had a ton of fun, but in no way shape or form did we really learn how to surf. Rating: B-.
When we returned to Cape Byron Lodge to make lunch, we were greeted by perhaps the most disheartening sight of this trip to date: someone had stolen two of our last four pieces of bread. I know this doesn’t seem like a lot, but seriously, who does that? It made me angrier than the time someone stole $100 from my backpack, because in that case I should’ve been keeping a closer watch on the money. Here, I never would have thought I needed to lock up our cheap white bread. (It was tucked away in a bag containing all our other food as well, and the bag was clearly labeled “Kevin Curry.”) I guess it’s the small things that really bug me…
Pictures of the Day: I am a huge sucker for sunsets, and Byron Bay delivered.