Grajagan, East Java
The Drifter team pilgrimage to the famed Grajagan doesn't happen as often as one might think. In an archipelago with over 17,000 islands, there are so many empty waves open to self-discovery that we occasionally forget to check the ones that are just across the pond.
However, when a late season swell promised some significant size paired with just the right direction, all eyes were set on that very special stretch of reef on the shores of the tiger's lair.
For this trip, we were stoked to bring along a Drifter team member who's been off-island for quite a while,
The Desert Point local is never one to shy away from a heavy tube, and he was quick to show us all just how apt he is for sniffing out the hollowest of barrels.
Also a part of the trip was the Drifter team manager and our in-house style master, Kopral.
Get these two together and you're guaranteed to be belly-laughing in no time. Not to mention Kopral will be the first to call his friends into the gnarliest waves he knows full well are borderline unmakeable. It might lead to some new tattoos courtesy of the reef, but it always makes the session more exciting.
By the time we arrived, the swell had already made landfall and we were gifted with that classic Grajagan lineup that has enchanted surfers for decades. No one could contain their froth, the kind that only comes from that moment on a surf trip when you realize that everything lined up even better than you thought it would.
Peeling blue barrels reel down the famed stretch of reef and it quickly settled into everyone's mind: we are going to score.
There is a certain enchantment that G-Land gives surfers. Seeing the sheer length of the reef alone is mind-blowing. Then to watch perfect wave after perfect wave reel down the shelf is like nothing else.
Needless to say, it didn't take the boys long before they were in the water and packing tubes.
One Drifter family member who came on the trip was Shawn Dennis. Shawn is never afraid to send it, committed to getting the best wave he can or get pounded trying. And while he definitely got his fair share of poundings, Shawn found a way to lock into plenty of beauties like this one.
Usman leaning into a meaty one on his Drifter Bodhi.
The jungle is ever present when you are staying in G-Land. You're literally on the coast of the Alas Purwo National Park, what used to be home to the famed Javanese tiger.
Sadly, the tigers are gone but deer, wild boar, and of course, plenty of monkeys became common sights. Despite the recent additions of creature comforts that we're lucky enough to experience on a modern-day surf trip to G-Land, you still feel very much a part of the natural world around you.
Most of all, the rawness of the wave and surrounding ocean, especially on a big swell, are sure to keep you humble.
"That wave is like Padang Padang when it's on, only way longer. It felt like I was surfing Padang except the wave just kept going. This was the best barrel I've gotten in my life so far. Thank you Drifter for bringing me to this beautiful dream of a wave!"
Let's take another moment to admire Kopral in this beauty of a stand-up barrel.
One thing is for sure, the sunsets in Grajagan Bay are hard to beat.
With the waves as good as they were, it was hard to get the crew out of the water. Nick Nick in particular was the biggest frother of the group, regularly doing five-plus hour marathon sessions.
You can't put on enough sunscreen for that much time in the water, so the Drifter Jedi Surfshield Rashguard became a lifesaver. The hooded rashguard means your head and neck won't get cooked during your marathon session and the small visor is just enough to keep the sun off your face while staying out of the way while surfing.
Nick Nick cracking one off the ceiling during one of those marathon sessions.
Once Kopral and Usman locked in, they were trading off barrels left and right.
"This trip was my third time in G-Land and definitely the best. We had such a good crew and amazing waves. That wave was a challenge for me, using a bigger board is something I’m not used to but you need that for G-Land. It was so good to get a wave like that with such a great crew in the water."
When the swell properly arrived a couple of days into the trip, it came in even larger than expected. In fact, it had so much size that we almost couldn't surf because of the tides.
When Grajagan gets to that size, you need some serious high tides to make it surfable. If it's anywhere close to mid or low tide, the wave sucks so much water off the reef that you're asking for the pounding of a lifetime. Naturally, the boys gave it their best shot regardless.
Drifter spirit animal Curtis made the smart choice of bringing a bit of armor when the waves really turned on.
Like always on a surf trip or any sort of adventure, the experience is only substantiated by the people you're with. The feeling of scoring is only heightened when shared with your mates, and that is something we were fortunate to get in Grajagan.
On this trip, we were stoked to be traveling and surfing with such an amazing group of people, all of whom have been a part of Drifter in one way or another for many years now. A crew like this ensures constant good vibes all around, whether you are getting pounded on the reef, the waves of your life, or getting skunked with a lack of swell.
The people we surround ourselves with are what give life meaning, and after G-Land, we're feeling fortunate to have such a rad group of people a part of our ever-growing Drifter family.
If you're still hungry for more G-Land tube time, we put together an edit of the trip for your viewing pleasure.
Check it out below!
Until next time, terima kasih banyak Grajagan. See you next season.