I met Tyler Farnham while I lived in Bali, his story is definitely one to be told. I found it very inspiring, as well it’s a great example of how unique people you can meet while traveling!
Really you never know who you going to meet at the surf camp, or who may give you your first surf lesson.
Tell me how it all started for you?
I come from Cocoa Beach Florida, the home of Ron Jons and of course Kelly Slater. My dad started pushing me into waves at the age of 3… and from there I became hooked. I progressed from getting pushed into waves on a small boogie board, to having my first Quiet Flight surfboard around 6 years old. Throughout my childhood and into my teens, it was surf, skate and eventually skydive. Mainly surfing and skateboarding is what made me who I am today.
You mentioned skydive, can you tell me about the accident that changed your life
April 11th of 2009 is when my life changed forever.I was living a radical yet comfortable life as an ocean rescue captain in Cocoa Beach Florida, lifelong surfer and avid skydiver…
On that summer day my mom was going to experience her first ever skydive, and what should have been my last. I made a mistake which ended in a result of a five day medical induced coma, two broken femurs with one leg close to amputation, broken arm, shattered jaw, nine broken teeth and a fractured skull. Waking up on my 26th birthday, April 16th, I did not know if I would ever surf or even walk again… I had a lot of uncertainty.
…my purpose being to never give up and to live life to the fullest.
With numerous surgeries, I came out with permanent metal rods in both of my legs intact at the hips and knees and a mouth that would have to remain wired shut for 60 days. What followed was months of painful rehabilitation of relearning how to walk and cope with a new life.
I wrote and self published a book about the accident titled Reaching cloud 9. This story is my personal journey through a near death accident with a second chance. I gave motivational speeches, with my purpose being to never give up and to live life to the fullest.
What happened next?
In 2012 I decided to live out my ‘bonus life’ and travel the world… it all started with an email giving me an opportunity… a goal.
I left my full time job as an Ocean Rescue Captain in Florida to pursue employment lifeguarding the beaches of Western Australia.
With a gruelling ‘mission’ that consisted of a 800m run, 400m swim, 800m run, 400m board paddle in under 25 mins I passed, gaining employment for the summer season.
What continued was 6 years (still going) of traveling and working as a lifeguard and surfing instructor, using my bonus life best to my ability.
6 years of an unorthodox life… surf coaching in China on the island of Hainan where I experienced the most extreme culture shock for 7 months. Surf guiding on the Island of the gods, Bali Indonesia.
… I cannot have made a better step outside of my comfort zone than the one I did leaving the US in 2012.
From Australia to New Zealand, England and Bali to now living in a treehouse on the island of Lombok Indonesia as an advanced surfing coach, it’s been one hell of a bonus life.
With an amazing dog in Bali and a beautiful daughter in Australia, each story that leads to the next always makes me feel I cannot have made a better step outside of my comfort zone than the one I did leaving the US in 2012.
Tell me more about Bali, what was your first impression?
My first impression of Indonesia, well a lot of tourists, mostly Australians. Although the more time I spent on the island the more I understood each area held different kinds of people, characters. Weather it be the surfers on the Bukit, the tourist in Kuta, hipsters in Canggu or yogis in Ubud.
I also have met some of the most inspirational, loving people on this island, some have become family. Locals, expats and tourists have all played a massive role in my time here, and continue to do so.
The more time I spent in Bali, the more I would have to adapt to the culture, good and bad. I found new spots to surf to avoid the crowd, learned the language, found local spots for food… and really grew to love the Island of Gods. I also have met some of the most inspirational, loving people on this island, some have become family. Locals, expats and tourists have all played a massive role in my time here, and continue to do so.
You’ve worked at surf camp in Bali and now in Lombok, can you tell us more about surf there?
Working in Bali as a surf guide was a dream come true. Driving on the wrong side of the rode with an Indonesian guide by my side, and a car packed full of student surfers. Finding short cuts, parties in Kuta… working for Kima surf I learned a lot about management and how to coach many different nationalities the skill of surfing.
The spots we would take guests would depend on their skill level. From Seminyak beach breaks to Uluwatu we had many different options on surf breaks.
There is something for everybody in Bali, from total beginners to seasoned pros, which is why it has become a long time mecca for surf travel.
What brought you to Lombok?
I was after the job at surf camp Lombok for a number of years. But the timing never seemed right on both sides. Then, after four years I was living and working as a surf instructor in China, when they reached out to me with a job offer. I liked what they had there, a very authentic, raw learn to surf camp, nothing like Kima surf in Bali. Driving boats instead of cars, living in a house at the camp. From a change in cultures, Hindu to Muslim. Ultimately I chose to go back to Indonesia for much better surf, and for me, a better culture compared to that of China.
Do you think Lombok will become second Bali?
Personally, I don’t think Lombok would ever replicate Bali, for a number of reasons, religion being one. Also the diversity and years of western culture influenced in the heart of Kuta Bali.
Also, with the earthquakes of 2018, active volcanoes and other potential natural disasters, Lombok has a long long way from establishing a tourist reputation similar to Bali.
It is also, mostly a learn to surf island, besides the infamous wave known as Bangko Bangko AKA Desert Point.
Favourite surf spots in Lombok?
My favourite wave in Lombok for sure would be Desert Point. Although, I don’t often surf there due to the crowds, along with distance from my home on the other side of the island.
Favourite places to hang out?
I am a bit of a home body while I work and reside in Lombok. I use the time to work on my own personal goals and refrain from the parties in Kuta Lombok. Although I do have a favourite restaurant, Nugget Corner.
Any tips for people that travel to Lombok for the first time?
First time in Lombok, I would recommend exploring the island, head West as there are some of the most beautiful beaches. With that said, depending on your skill level with surfing, know your limits.