Exploring Indonesia – Below the surface and above – Komodo National Park

You wonder where they came up with nemo!

I really looked forward to this leg of our journey as it would be on a live aboard boat for three days. Being on a boat going from one adventure to the next can’t be beat. After a long 2 day journey from Raja Ampat we finally arrived in Komodo. We boarded Vita with iDive Komodo. The other half of the group boarded Lalunia. Together we would journey throughout the Komodo National Park Islands for the next few days! We started the journey being assigned our little cabins below deck. My roommate Mike and I would take over a tiny cabin (with one bed) with tons of cables, chargers, batteries, hard drives. You name it. I still had a sinus issue so I could not dive. Our first spot was my favorite. As the rest of the crew jumped in I explored and magical shallow water spot with the most diverse collection of reef I have yet to see. With all the places I have been around the globe, it is the best I have seen. Sunset would cut my dive/snorkel to about 1.5hrs. That evening we would eat our first meal on the boat and motor to our next location to sleep. The next morning we woke to Crystal rock dive. I once again explored the bay reef area and was not disappointed. Amazing untouched reef!

We then headed to Manta point! Manta! Yes, we jumped in what seemed to be the middle of the ocean and drifted along the currents until we saw them, just flying along! They were pretty deep. This is one of the dives I was bummed to not be able to use scuba as I couldn’t go down past about 8ft from my sinus. Still though it was amazing to see them! Saw about 5 mantas! Everyone was stoked!

From there we would continue to Komodo Island, the largest island of Komodo National Park. Time to see the largest and one of the most deadly lizards in the world! Our group would be led by 4 rangers who carried large sticks in case of a komodo getting too close. I kinda laughed at the stick… I mean… these lizards get up to 9ft long and will kill you if they bite. They kill their prey by biting them while the saliva is the true killer. Their saliva has so much bacteria that it kills everything! The guide took us on a small trek up into the island. We saw about 4 dragons. Definitely a little scary looking! After our hike we headed back to the boats and headed to a place call pink beach. The sand it supposedly pink but it really wasn’t. None the less it was beautiful. Almost all locations like this I fly my drone up to explore! After we all took in the sunset at pink beach we headed back to the boat in the tender boats where we would have a briefing. Some of the group would do a night dive. I decided to get permission to go along and shoot some long exposures from the shoreline. I brought Alfie with me. Conditions were great except there was a full moon! Not the best for shooting stars. Being on the beach in the dark was a little intimidating, knowing that Komodo dragons live there. Luckily the locals claimed they were asleep. lol

That evening we would cross the channel and head to Padar Island. During the crossing we went through large swells. First part of the trip to hit any waves as all the islands we have visited the last few weeks were sheltered from the open ocean. Our call time the next day was 4am! We would all get in the tender boats in the dark and hike up to the top of Padar island to watch the sunrise. Vistas all around the islands for miles! We all explored the area for a couple hrs! The drone images and video were awesome! Back down the mountain and while we motored to the next dive site, we all had an amazing breakfast! Definitely best one of the trip! The last dive of Komodo was Batu Balung. It is a rock in the middle of the huge channel between islands. The current moving around the rock was massive. We were all instructed to stay on the leeward side, sheltered by the small rock island. Below was an aquarium of fish, so many! I found that while free diving my sinus was still not healed enough to dive :(. Getting back on the main boat was a mission for most as the currents were so strong that the tender would constantly swing back and forth. Once we finally were all loaded back on the boats safely we would head back to harbor. About a 2.5 hr journey and we were taken straight to an ocean front hotel to stay for the night. No one wanted to get off those boats. I wish we could of done the live aboard then entire 2 weeks! So nice! We would have about 1 hr break before we headed to a beach club location were we would see a traditional dance. Part of it was a fierce fighting dance where the males would jump up and whip the other. The dancers had scars on their back and arms from performing. They would present us with a terrible tasting concoction traditionally given. You had to chew it until your mouth turned red and then spit it out. You were warned not to swallow it! It made my gums numb! The taste lasted a while before eventually fading away. The dance was followed by dinner at the beach club. After we would head to the hotel and then finally some sleep! The next day we would rise early for our flight to Bali were our final leg of the journey would begin.

 

For more on where I went and how you can go visit: indonesia.travel

Exploring Indonesia – Below the surface – Borneo – Derawan

A B/W from above the deep.

Indonesia – Trip of Wonders

Part 1 – Derawan

As we arrive after a solid 12 hrs of traveling on the boat, a welcoming site is Maratua Island. A local community inhabiting a small ringlike shaped island lined with amazing dive spots along its shores.
My headache was still in full force. Very hard to think straight forward and concentrate. We would hang out, eat dinner and sleep in our bungalows. My roommate was Mike, an avid adventurer exploring the worlds untapped places (fearless and far on social media). The next day we would all get on a boat and head to Kakaban Lake where it is filled with 3 types of stingless jellyfish. An amazing twist in natures evolution. I would leave halfway to continue my scuba instruction with another attendee and dive instructor Azalia. I started my training in the states but wasn’t able to continue from an ear infection about 2 weeks ago. I will never forget the moment when I was breathing under water looking at hundreds of fish watching me. We finished up as the group was returning. We all headed back to our island and got ready for the next dive Turtle traffic. Seems pretty fitting for my first real dive! For my first open water dive I would obviously not bring a camera, since I was still training. We dove to about 8 meters (25ft) and drifted along the reef seeing lots of green and hawksbill sea turtles. I was a little hard to focus on much more than my training but a great place to learn to scuba. Of course I am very comfortable in the water so it wasn’t hard for me to learn. What I was focused on was my ears. The reason I have never scuba dove is the fact that I can’t equalize very well in one ear. With years of free diving in less than 20ft of water I have learned how to adapt and get my ear to equalize. When I grew up I had more ear surgeries than you can count on two hands, so my ears had scarring inside. Now it just takes me a little longer than others to equalize.

I came up after the 30 min dive achieving something that I had hoped to do when I was young but doctors recommend I not do it. We all headed back to the resort for lunch and then the next dive. I would skip the channel dive as I wasn’t ready to go deep and have a ton of current to deal with. Instead myself and some others took a boat to another reef where I would free dive with tons of fish turtles and a teeming reef. Return back to the dock, fly my drone and I discover a mecca of juvenile green sea turtles feeding on grass in very shallow clear water. Check out the video in my gallery.

Day 4…. Whale sharks.
I am so grateful that my headache left before all these amazing experiences! This morning we did something I have always wanted to, in fact who wouldn’t want to!? We took a 2hr boat ride out to off shore fishing areas where the whale sharks hang out nearby. Swimming alongside and 20ft graceful harmless shark was such an amazing experience. I spent almost 2hrs swimming around. I felt a little guilty as this is something my wife has also always wanted to do. I hope I can take her with me again!
We then traveled to a small island called Manta point. Here is a breeding ground for green and hawksbill sea turtles. We explored and learned about the conservation program they have to protect the turtles. Always great to see conservation efforts around the world.
We then dove to see the Manta Rays. It would be my second dive, this time bringing my camera down with my for the first time on scuba. After a strong current would take us along the point we didn’t see one manta! Thats ok, the whale shark was amazing, hopefully I will get to see a manta in some of our other destinations. We stopped at an island to have lunch on the end of a dock. Entertainment from this crew is always happening. Chris would get a crew together for a dance party on the dock while he flew his drone up. Mike would gather the dare devils to do flips off the dock (12ft) for his channel. I usually sat back and enjoyed the show. I would take my drone up as soon as we spotted a pod of dolphins offshore. They slowly swam along the deep water channel gracefully coming to the surface to breathe.

Day 5 – Departure day.

Today we pack up and start the 24hr journey to Raja Ampat, one of the worlds top underwater natural wonders.

For more on where I went and how you can go visit: indonesia.travel

 

 

Hurricane Irma Saturday

Kinda fun Hurricane Irma session this morning . Pretty much just a washing machine out there but good enough for a drop and a pop.

Cops are running everyone off the beaches now in Broward so if you didn’t already get a session in looks like you’ll have to sneak in. Really not worth the hassle …too much ocean moving anyway.

Better off saving it for next week. Between the leftover Irma and the potential Jose swell, next week could be real good!!!

BC Surf & Sport Board Swap May 13th

BC Surf & Sport’s Board Swap is back!  Turn your unwanted surfboards, skateboards, paddle boards, and wakeboards into cash.  Please call us with any questions at 954-564-0202.

BC Surf & Sport’s Board Swap is back!  Turn your unwanted surfboards, skateboards, paddle boards, and wakeboards into cash.  Please call us with any questions at 954-564-0202.

Day 5 – solo sessions

Another one goes unridden

The clock ticked to 515 and my brain was awake!  I am an early riser, great being a photographer and even better for my wife now that we have another early riser, Carson our son.  One last chance effort to try and figure out the flash before I break it down and just shoot without.  No avail.  :(.  You win some and you lose, this trip the flash won.  It wasn’t the first and won’t be the last the equipment failure haunts me.  Just have to roll with the punches.  I decided to shoot with a 50mm 1.2 prime lens, which can produce some amazing results.  My dad and I headed down to South Jetties in Venice Florida about 615.  Not a soul in sight, my favorite time of the day!  Still clean long lines coming in and was about waist high.  Looked super fun to surf.  Such a great moment to get out there with my dad.  Having my best friend as my dad is something I hope that can happen one day with my son.  I swam out while he surfed.  We had it to ourselves for over and hour long after sunrise.  It amazes me there were not more people out.  On the east coast it would have been packed and we get way more wave oppourtunites than they do.  I shot for almost 1.5hrs.  By the time everyone showed up the tide was too high and was really only longboardable.  Since longboarding is way too boring for me (although I have a couple longboards) we got our shortboard SUP’s and headed back out for another 1.5hrs.  It was tough for me with my back issues but always have a blast getting out in the water with my dad.  After the morning session it was time for me to head back to the east coast as I had a ton of work piling up.  Thanks for following along!

Thanks to my awesome supporters!

www.RVCA.com – Providing the best boardshorts, clothing and wetsuits, supporting artists from around the world.

www.PacSafe.com  – Providing me with the best travel bags and gear
www.TrustTheBum.com – Sun Bum – Protecting my skin in the sun!

www.Gitzo.us  – Gitzo Tripods – Supporting all my dry cameras!
www.SolveSunglasses.com –  Buy one pair of Solve’s and give one person clean water for life!

www.Manfrotto.us – Professional camera support gear

www.CompoundBoardshop.com – The boardshop for all your advendtures!
www.SeafarerSurfboards.com –  World class surfboards made in Florida!

www.Aquatech.net – Aquatech SLR water housings
www.Proshotcase.com – Making the best Water Housings for my iPhone!

SlaveToTheWave.com

See more of my work: 
Commercial: www.BocaRatonPhoto.com
Fine Art: www.BenJHicks.com
Instagram: @benjhicks
Facebook: www.facebook.com/benhicksphotos

Wednesday

 

Glassy flat with a little trace of leftover south swell in the water on this beautiful Wednesday morning. The forecast is looking good for Friday and the weekend. I’m hoping to get a little offshore winds Friday morning but it’s probably wishful thinking.

What a Great time we had on Sunday at Art Basel. Kulcha Shok put on a great event with some of the best bands I’ve seen in a while and an Artist workshop for the kids! Pure STOKE!!!

 

 

IWS CHRISTMAS PARTY

4x6

Check Out What You Won’t Want to Miss!

Join Island Water Sports, RVCA, and Embrace Life Children’s Foundation for the most festive event of the year. We are hosting a BIG thank you Holiday party for all our amazing friends and family who support us.

Check out what you won’t want to miss!!
Iws holiday party 

December 8, 6 PM to 9 PM

The 5th Annaul Ben Hick’s Slideshow. 

  • 25% OFF ALL RVCA + receive a FREE RVCA gift bag valued at $150 for the first 30 RVCA customers. 
  • Bring a toy for the “Embrace Life Childrens Foundation” and receive a free paddle board rental, $5 off at iws, and $100 off cocoa beach surf camp!! 
  • Enjoy Free food, craft beers & Christmas cocktails
  • Holiday raffle 
  • Candy buffet 
  • Hot cocoa and S’mores
  • Beach ornament decoration station
  • And more

    WIN BIG in our HOLIDAY RAFFLE!!!
    All proceeds from the raffle will benefit the Embrace Life Childrens Foundation. 

    We hope you can make it!!!

4:30 Boardroom So. Fl. Shakedown

13501714_1012367015498336_8780625925886574842_nWhere can you find ROCKABILLY, PIN-UPS HOTRODS, BURLESQUE, BIKINI FASHION SHOW and MORE?! Here’s Where! SUNDAY JULY 31ST Join Me and 4:30 BOARDROOM as we get together with local sponsors to give you the biggest SHAKEDOWN of the year!!! There will be RAFFLES & VENDORS as well! DRINKS-Sponsored by SAILOR JERRY. VINTAGE CAR &MOTORCYCLE SHOW- Registration is $20/PRE 1972 /TOP 20 Trophies -Top 3 trophies courtesy of IRON ALLEY FABRICATION. PIN-UP CONTEST -Lots of goodies for the winner please direct message me to Register. This is a family event no lingerie , lets keep it sexy but classy and most importantly vintage or vintage inspired! RETRO BIKINI FASHION SHOW-Swimsuits are by BLACK CAT BIKINI! BURLESQUE SHOW by CUPCAKE BURLESQUE! Sponsors also include:
Erika Nelly Photography
Calavera Tattoo Company
Retro Red’s Beauty Shop
The South Florida Pinup Scene
Dirty Mistress Events
It’s a Mid Mod Mad World
Vintage Iron Club

BC Surf & Sport and Hang Loose Surf School

Community DayJoin us Friday August 5th for Community & Camper Appreciation Day! From 8:00 AM to 12:00 PM.

Beach Clean Up from 8:00 AM to 9:30 AM!
FREE SUP & SURF DEMO From 9:30 AM to 12:00 PM!
PIZZA will be provided!

Location:
On the Beach
One Block South of the Pelican Grand Beach Resort

Hosted By BC Surf & Sport and Hang Loose Surf School

Questions Call
954.564.0202

Hope to see you there!

Sunshine SUP Series race #1

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ALOHA! Who’s ready for some summer action?

MARK YOUR CALENDARS!
The dates have been set for the 2016 RK Sunshine SUP Series and plans are already being made to make this years event bigger and better than ever. Sick trophies, new course challenges and just an overall fun beach day!

Last year’s series we had over 120 racers and over 150 Extreme Kayak fishermen along with thousands of spectators at each event.

One of the biggest races in Florida, the Sunshine SUP Series race showcases Elite racers from all around the country.
The race will be on Saturday June 18 and Saturday August 27, 2016 on Pompano Beach, and includes an elite 6 mile course, a 3 mile rec course, sprint races,kids races, and more.

Live music will be playing on the big stage on the beach, D Fit beach challenges, Board demos, Vendors, Free food and drinks with entry!

This event benefits the Broward Childrens’ Center.

Stay tuned for more info here or at

www.SunshineSUPSeries.com

Labor Day

Another flat day in South Florida. Great day to be on the water tho! SUP, fish, dive or just chill on the beach!

Not looking like much for waves in the forecast for us down here this week. DaBuh is hinting towards a little North swell filling in for Northern Florida in his latest update. It doesn’t seem like it’s worth the drive but if you were planning on going up anyway it might be worth it.

We have some tropical activity coming off Africa this week. TS Grace is the first one to keep an eye on. Here’s what Dr. Masters has to say .The tracking models are NOT hyping Grace much but they are keeping her a tropical system once she reaches the Caribbean. As of now The long range WAVE models have her coming thru the Bahamas this time next week. Way too far out to speculate our wave potential but at least it’s something to keep an eye on!