Back in March, Indonesia closed its borders to international travel due to COVID-19, and they’ve remained closed since. For the last 6 months, lineups have been eerily vacant. Devoid of an influx of thousands of daily visitors, the world’s best waves have been rolling though (mostly) empty during one of the most consistent swell seasons in years. Torture for those of us on this side. Heaven for the locals (and for the visitors that have been “stuck” on a tourist visa since March). Even more torturous for hopeful surfers, word is Indo will stay locked down through at least the end of 2020 — well, unless you’re Kelly Slater, apparently.
Clips of the 11-time champ mixing it up with the Bali locals at Padang Padang and Uluwatu (as in the edit above) started surfacing this past week via social media. Word has it Slater paid $1,700 for a business visa of some kind in order to get into the country (pretty convenient time to have business dealings to attend to in Indo, no?), and he wasn’t the only pro surfer to find a loophole in the border closures. In fact, a few crew have taken advantage of the same loophole recently, boarding boats in the Mentawais and hunting barrels in Bali (we see you Strider), causing a bit of a shit storm on social media — and understandably so, considering the ethics of paying your way around a travel ban to score waves amid a global pandemic are certainly questionable. Press play above to see what a spare $1,700 can get you in the COVID economy, and feel free to chime in with your own thoughts on travel-ban workarounds in the comments below.