Janine Hall knows what it’s like to hit point break in a demanding executive role. “My fashion executive role took me around the world but eventually I burned out. All I wanted was to get away from it all and concentrate on getting healthy again by doing the things I loved – surfing, yoga and eating good nutritional food.”
Janine’s quest to find the perfect personal retreat began her new journey setting up Surf Haven Bali. “The time was right to move onto the next chapter and combine my career skills with my other life passions – coaching, surfing, yoga and well-being.” That instigated the birth of Surf Haven Bali, a boutique surf retreat that combines luxury living with a whole lot of soul; we had a chat with Janine to gain some insight into how she is following her passions and living her dream.
I was reading that you grew up in New Zealand what region are you from?
I am originally from Auckland however spent most holidays and weekends at the family bach (kiwi word for humble beach abode), which is on a remote beautiful surf beach in the Coromandel called Whangapoua. It’s my heaven on earth.
Do you still visit NZ and how do you rate the waves over there?
Yes, I try to get back a few times a year to see family and dear friends. The waves in NZ are awesome and many breaks have achieved legendary status for good reason. The east and west coast are so different and each has its challenges :-)however if ones not working, you can bet the other is and both are so accessible, especially in
How are the waves in NZ comparable to Bali, as I know there are some iconic left points in both locations?
Well NZ is a bit colder, there is something to be said for wearing a bikini surfing and not needing a wetsuit! NZ has some amazing left point breaks in the far north. Up there the east and west coasts are only 15 minutes drive apart so you double your chances. If the Pacific has onshore winds and isn’t very good then it's a safe bet that the Tasman coast will have some good offshore waves. One of my favorite breaks is called Shipwrecks Bay, which is accessible, by 4wd. It offers 8kms of point break action –lots of long rides up to 1 km long! Raglan is another favorite and is known for its epic left-hand break
– Said to be one of the longest in the world. I love surfing its un-crowded waves enjoying the raw beautiful scenery of the west coast.
Spending so much time in the beautiful coromandel growing up, its another of my favorites. Fun beach breaks on golden sand beaches make summer here. It’s where I learnt to surf after years of watching my brother and father go out and then one day thinking bugger it, I’m going to give it a go!
In Bali, with an average water temperature of 28 degrees surfing is a daily event! There are so many good breaks and its easy to access and to drive to most of them or to get a local boat out to others. Long boarders and short boarders alike are well catered for. My personal favorites are Canngu, which is my local spot; a deep reef break with super long, mellow rides. The other, Balian, is further north and is world renowned for its long lefts. I also love a reef break called Playgrounds on nearby island Nusa Lembongan a bit of a paddle to get to but the natural beauty is almost surreal - super translucent bright blue ocean with loads of tropical bright fish swimming below your board bordered by white sandy beaches, or for a lot of fun is the Legian or Seminyak beach breaks where we take our beginner surfers. Sandy bottom floor and gentle waves, it's the ideal place to learn to surf.
What changes have you seen take place in Bali over the years?
It’s become a lot more popular as a destination particularly in the surf, luxury and well-being sectors. The well-being industry in Bali has become very popular attracting some amazing yoga, healing, general well-being practitioners to its shores. Its also developed quite a reputation as a water-sports playground – surfing, kite surfing, diving, wake boarding, you name it, you can do it in Bali and its all so accessible and affordable. Its also become known as such a female friendly destination. We’ve also seen the rise of a lot of luxe offers – now visitors can experience world class dining, spa, and accommodation options all for a fraction of the price of other destinations.
It appears that Bali is thriving after all the adversity that has taken place there during recent years; do you think that the ability to move forward in the face of such circumstances rises out of the spirituality of the Balinese culture?
Yes one of the things that Balinese are is very resilient, happy people. They don’t mull on the past but pick up sticks and get on with things with a positive happy frame of mind. They believe is that life is a celebration to be lived to the fullest. This strong sense of community and spirituality gives them faith and support in trying times. This pulling together has helped them create the wonderful, magical Bali that is evident today.
Do you incorporate the Balinese culture into your retreats?
Absolutely, from our welcoming ceremony where we do yoga and set our intentions with beautiful Balinese offerings through to Balinese healers visits that we facilitate for some of our guests to getting right behind the curtain and going to the heart of rural bali where we see how the Balinese live in their compounds where generations of family all live happily together. We tempt our guest’s taste buds with some of their amazing, flavourful cuisine and also partake in some of their royal spa treatments like the mandi lular where you have your body scrubbed with turmeric and coconut scrub, have honey and yoghurt blend massaged into your skin and then luxuriate in a flower filled bath of aromatic frangipanis’!
Prior to Surf Haven it sounds like your career was amazing, what prompted such a dramatic life change and what sort of adversities have you faced starting Surf Haven from the ground up?
When you work out what you love, you get to a point where you can't hide from it any longer. That was how it was for me. Surfing, yoga, the sun and that magical island lifestyle was a lot more appealing than my city based 9-5 life. I was tired of spreading myself thin and wanted to offer a space where like-minded women from around the world could come together through surfing and I could share island living with them. I never expected I’d be living in Bali running surf and yoga retreats for women. The shift surprised me more than most I think. Whilst I loved my career it didn’t fit with where I wanted my life to head. I had this strong vision of living this barefoot, bikini-clad lifestyle indulging in water sports, healthy living and yoga and sharing this with like-minded women from around the world. Relegating this to my few weeks holiday a year no longer felt right and I had an ‘aha’ moment where I realized I could live my dreams.
There have definitely been some challenges along the way. I am of the belief that nothing really worth having comes easy peasy though so I knew it was not all going to be smooth sailing. Setting up business in a 3rd world country has been a colourful experience as well as learning the way to connect with such a different culture. Missing friends and family back home too was an adjustment. I didn't know a soul when I moved here a few years ago so in some of those trying moments, you can feel pretty isolated. As with every challenge, they pass and you are all the wiser and enriched from the experience. I saw each 'challenge' as being part of the Surf Haven story and just remembered the bigger picture and the passion that drove me to create Surf Haven!
Surf Haven offers an intimate experience with a staff to guest ratio of 1:1, It must be amazing to see guests arrive weighed down by the pressures on modern day life and facilitate a reviving experience for them?
It is one of the most rewarding parts of our job, for sure. As women we tend to take on so much and play so many roles, girlfriend, wife, mother, friend, manager, sister, caretaker etc. Its easy for us to leave our needs and wants to the bottom of the list. This is the case with a lot of our guests so seeing that transformation after 7 days with us is remarkable as its such a physical one and makes us feel very rewarded to be able to facilitate that.
Surf Haven is located in Seminyak, how's the shopping in that area?
World class! A lot of international designers get their clothes produced in Bali to export. They open a shop and set it at Bali prices so you can get amazing fashion that is only a fraction of the price you find it overseas.
What advice would you offer to passionate surfer girls embarking on their life journey or ladies looking for a career change?
Trust yourself and follow you heart. Don’t let fear stand in your way, which is one of the toughest parts to achieving your dreams; once you have overcome this, the rest is easy! We all have purposes to live in this life, a unique set of gifts and skills to offer this world. You probably already know what yours are so the next stage is having the courage to use and share these with others.
What are your thoughts on women's surfing?
I believe that when women surf together something powerful happens – they awaken to their true self, develop inner confidence, strength and friendship. Surfing is a great way to help us let go of our worries and concerns, giving us a better perspective and bringing inner peace and harmony.
For more information and to contact Janine visit www.surfhavenbali.com