Big wave surfing in Bali - Mega Semadhi

Bali’s Most Dangerous Wave?



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Just like most mountains have a double black diamond ski slope, Bali is home to some waves that are too dangerous for most surfers to even paddle out. This gallery includes some highlights shooting at Bali’s infamous ‘Pipeline’ with the Bingin Crew.

  • Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?

    Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?
    Swimming out with blue skies and Bali blue waves, had to notice just how shallow the water was. This photo was taken on a small set of waves in about two feet of water.

  • Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?

    Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?
    Didn't take long for things to get interesting. When the sets started coming through, heavy and hollow barrels started slamming into the shallow water which was barely covering the reef. In this photo, Mega Semadhi tries for the exit on a particularly nasty one.

  • Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?

    Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?
    Don't try this at home. I wouldn't even think about surfing this wave myself. In this photo Mega shows how it's done.

  • Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?

    Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?
    The shallow reef pitches the peak of the wave into a towering wall immediately after the takeoff. In this photo, Mega is already starting to pull into the barrel while keeping an eye on the rapidly dwindling supply of water covering the jagged reef to his right.

  • Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?

    Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?
    The point of no return. With a heavy slab of Indian Ocean cascading over his head and no safety net of deep water to his right, Mega stays in the only safe place he can - the middle of the wave.

  • Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?

    Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?
    I could see the avalanche of water coming directly at my head as Mega was picking up speed in the most technical section of the barrel. I picked up a little scar on my knee when this wave slammed on me, but it was worth it to capture this wave and one of Bali's best surfers going for it.

  • Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?

    Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?
    Here's another angle on the beautiful heaviness of Bali's waves.

  • Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?

    Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?
    If you're a great surfer, getting a shot at waves like this is a lot of fun. In the photo Agus 'Fletch' shows why he loves to spend so much time in the ocean.

  • Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?

    Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?
    Agus 'Dag' can be pretty tough to catch on frame when he's moving this fast. I think that's what happens when you grow up surfing waves as perfect as the ones in Bali.

  • Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?

    Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?
    Agus 'Kipli' enjoys some time in one of Bali's legendary 'Blue Rooms'.

  • Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?

    Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?
    I think he's trying to say 'cheese'?

  • Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?

    Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?
    After about 30 minutes of relatively uneventful shooting, I saw Agus going for this crusher.

  • Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?

    Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?
    Unfortunately, I didn't see what the Indian Ocean had in store for us after the first wave. This photo was taken from the beach by my friends at Ego Surf Photograhy in Bingin (you can see me swimming at the right edge of the frame while I was getting the sequence of Agus 'Dag' dropping in to the first wave of this very heavy set.

  • Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?

    Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?
    I'm not sure how Agus escaped from this unscathed. Luckily, he didn't try to go for the barrel in this photo, and managed to get just ahead of the thunderous impact of this wave as it slammed into less than three feet of water. Pretty easy to see why this wave has the nickname 'Pipeline'.

  • Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?

    Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?
    At this point, I became less concerned about getting the photo and more concerned about getting out in one piece. This photo was also taken by Ego's photo shop on the beach. You can see me in the right side of the frame. I think it was at this moment that I realized I was in a pretty dicey position.

  • Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?

    Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?
    As this first (and relatively smallest) wave of the set exploded behind Agus, I started to literally swim for my life out to sea. I think I realized how dangerous this set was going to be when I saw Mega swimming full speed for the Indian Ocean horizon. After all, he's very comfortable in huge surf, so when a wave gets his attention, it's godd to take notice. This photo was also taken by Ego Photography at Bingin Beach.

  • Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?

    Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?
    I remember swimming under this first wave and then being even more terrified to see the wall of blue of the second wave rapidly bearing down on me. I put as much force to my fins as I could and strained for the deep water. The suction of the second (bigger) wave pulled me up and back as I swam under it. When I came up I could see an even bigger behemoth bringing up the rear. I was in waist deep water with the biggest wave of a massive set closing down on me. I guess the adrenaline kicked in and somehow I managed to get under it. I still have nightmares thinking of what might have happened if there were two more behind this one.

  • Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?

    Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?
    Everybody was pretty happy to have survived Pipeline Armageddon. From left: Wayan 'Sallam', Agus 'Fletch', Agus 'Dag', Ketut 'Mega', Agus 'Kipli'.

  • Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?

    Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?
    It doesn't get much better than this.

  • Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?

    Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?
    Agus 'Fletch' catching a glassy one.

  • Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?

    Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?
    Agus chooses his line on a nice one.

  • Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?

    Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?
    Mega taking off on a tough one. You can see the wave is already pitching over to form a heavy barrel, leaving him basically no room for error.

  • Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?

    Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?
    Agus catching a glassy one on the inside.

  • Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?

    Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?
    Mega makes this look really easy, but most surfers would never be able to surf a wave like this.

  • Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?

    Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?
    Here's another angle on one of the mid-sized waves coming through Bali's 'Pipeline'.

  • Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?

    Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?
    You can see Agus 'Kipli' picked a nice line on this wave.

  • Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?

    Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?
    Even surfers can do the 'rabbit ears' for the camera.

  • Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?

    Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?
    Agus trying to gain altitude on a dwindling piece of Indian Ocean real estate.

  • Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?

    Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?
    These guys took some pretty epic beatings while they were trying for these waves. Amazingly, not one of us got hurt.

  • Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?

    Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?
    Yeah, surfing Bali is pretty fun.

  • Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?

    Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?
    Sallam taking a break from running his 'Ombak Bingin' cafe. Guess it pays to be the boss!

  • Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?

    Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?
    Agus ducking a heavy wall of Bali blue.

  • Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?

    Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?
    Some of the waves were pretty much unrideable (even for those guys), but they still made for good photos on a sunny day in Bali.

  • Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?

    Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?
    Agus tries out his luck as an underwater model.

  • Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?

    Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?
    Mega sees his opening on a Pipeline grinder.

  • Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?

    Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?
    I think probably half the waves these guys went for slammed shut before they had a chance to make it out the other end. Didn't stop them from going for it anyway.

  • Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?

    Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?
    Agus digs in to a closeout. It's always safer to lean into a wave where the water is deeper instead of taking the full impact of the barrel into the dangerous shallows.

  • Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?

    Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?
    Agus 'Fletch' catching a nice one with the sun shining and the water as blue as it could be.

  • Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?

    Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?
    Not sure who this was, but things didn't quite work out for the finish.

  • Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?

    Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?
    With so many waves coming through we had lots of chances for duck dive shots.

  • Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?

    Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?
    Watching waves underwater is one of my favorite things to do while shooting the surf and on this day the visibility was great.

  • Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?

    Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?
    Here's an underwater photo of Mega navigating another Bali barrel. Sometime I really want to shoot underwater in the Mentawai's--the visibility there is usually amazing.

  • Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?

    Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?
    I'm not sure why somebody didn't ride this beaut.

  • Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?

    Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?
    Mega clears the exit on another sketchy one. I decided to hang back for a few frames to get the full panorama of these beautiful waves.

  • Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?

    Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?
    Mega once again making things look easy.

  • Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?

    Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?
    This is a guy who's had a lot of practice with a surf board.

  • Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?

    Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?
    That 'objects in mirror are closer than they appear' must have some sort of corallary with over / under shots. Especially weird to see Kipli's head so far away from his feet.

  • Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?

    Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?
    Sound travels much more efficiently underwater than in air.

  • Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?

    Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?
    The end of the duck dive.

  • Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?

    Most Dangerous Wave in Bali?
    After a couple hours of craziness in the surf, I think everybody was pretty happy to be back to the beach on such a beautiful day in Bali.