Surfing in Bali
Surfing in Bali
Bali is the most famous touristic destination in Indonesia. The island started to attract tourists in the early 70’s and today is known as a surfing paradise that brings thousands of surfers from all over the world every year. There is something magical about this place, usually referred to as the Island of Gods. The water is warm, the scenery is tropical and the amount of world-class waves is unreal. Even though there is a constant flow of surfers visiting the island, it’s still possible to find uncrowded spots, especially during the low season (wet season). During high season (dry season) the Indian Ocean produces solid ground swells that hit the coast continuously, so if you stay long enough during this season you will definitely score some epic surf sessions.
Why surf in Bali?
Bali has everything a surfer needs. There are several surf spots scattered on both coasts giving many options of waves for all kinds of surfers. Besides the quality of the surf break, Bali offers all the infrastructure that you will need to have a perfect vacation. You can find comfortable accommodations for cheap prices, amazing restaurants with local and international cuisine and also, all the best surf brands in the world have a headquarter on the island. It’s probably one of the bests places in the world to buy surf equipment. It’s not unusual to see people traveling boardless to Bali intending to buy a brand new surfboard there. Renting boards is also very easy and you will find any kind of equipment for irresistible prices. For these reasons and more Bali is a destination that every surfer in the world has to visit at least once in a lifetime.
Here are the top reasons to have a surfing holiday in Bali:
Climate in Bali
Bali has a tropical monsoon climate with two different seasons, dry and wet season. The wet season occurs from October to April and the dry season happens from May to September. During the dry season, it’s when the big swells are most constant and the southeast wind is blowing every day. The weather is dry, the sun shines every day and you rarely see any rainfall. The wet season is the opposite. There is less wind, the swells are smaller and you see rainfall almost every day. However, it’s most likely that the rain occurs in the morning and that it will be sunny during a good part of the day during this season.
Best time to go
Surfing in dry season in Bali
This is the season that the big swells happen. From June to August it’s when the most powerful swells strike the island creating the best conditions for the famous surf spots on the west coast. The southeast trade wind starts to blow in the middle of the morning and the offshore grooms the walls of the waves producing perfect barrels.
Surfing in wet season in Bali
During the wet season, there are no huge swells but there is still plenty of action in the Indian Ocean. The best part about surfing during this time of the year is the glassy condition generated by the rains and the low crowds that avoid this period because of the unstable weather and lack of triple overhead waves. If you are a beginner or just enjoy fun small waves this is the best time of the year for you to visit the island.
Main Surfing areas in Bali
This super consistent spot is the main attraction of the Bukit area. The wave breaks on top of a long reef that has 5 sections (The Bombies, Temples, Outside Corner, Racetrack and The Peak) and can handle any size from 2 to 20 ft. On the busiest days, the crowd spread out so there are always waves for everyone. The break is located at a breathtaking spot where the sun sets right behind you while surfing. The feeling of walk through the cave and paddle out from there to get to the line-up is magical.
It’s an epic barrel machine. It needs a major swell to break properly. On the best days, you should expect a steep takeoff that takes you directly to the barrel. There is also an inside section called Baby Padang that it’s a beginner's paradise on small days.
This wave looks picturesque from the cliff. It has long left walls and most of the days are impossible to make all the sections, that’s where the name comes from. It’s perfect on a 4-6 ft south swell. That’s when you can score burning leg rides with multiple barrels on the same wave.
This is certainly one of the most mechanical waves in the peninsula. This left-hander is friendly on the high tide and super shallow on the low. The trick here is to backdoor the takeoff and kick out before the reef dries out. The beach is small and beautiful with many cozy restaurants overlooking the ocean.
This beach is known to be close to a golf court and a huge hotel. The wave has nothing special compared to the others. Deepwater and sand-covered reef. It’s good for beginners to get on their feet before adventuring on other breaks. Better on lower tides.
Close to Bingin Beach, you will find the beautiful Balangan beach. This left-hander starts on the left corner of the beach in front of a big cliff. The wave has sections on small days but on big days it can connect long rides. Beginners and intermediate surfers will have fun on small swells and the more experienced surfers will charge when the waves get big. The beach has warungs all along the shore where you can enjoy a beer after your surf session. It’s also a perfect place to leave your family or girlfriend chilling in the sun.
This wave is located at the end of the runaway on the left side. To reach the line-up you will have to get a ride on a boat out from Kuta beach. There are many locals waiting eagerly to provide this service. The wave works best on high tide and above 4ft you can score really long leg-burning rides.
This wave is located at the end of the runaway on the right side. As goes for the right side of the runaway (Airport Rights), you have to get a boat from Kuta Beach to reach the line-up. This side of the strip is more exposed to winds and swells so anything bigger than 6ft will probably shut down the break. In the right conditions, there are two take-off spots that can be connected. Crowds are higher on this side, but the vibe between surfers is still mellow as long as you respect your turn.
This surf spot is located on the left corner of Kuta beach, about 800 meters offshore. The line up is barely in paddle distance so most surfers hire a boat to take them out. The break has multiple sections that are suitable for different kinds of levels of surfers. If you are not very experienced you should try to stick to the shoulder of the wave. The proximity of this wave to the center of Kuta makes it usually very crowded. Don’t be surprised if a local surfer drops in on you.
This break is situated 20 minutes walking down south from Batu Bolong. It has some rocky reefs that hold the sand, making a sandbar with fun right-handers and a few nice lefts as well. It’s good for intermediate surfers that want to improve their skills and to run away from the crowded Batu Bolong.
Batu Bolong (Old Man's)
This is the main beach in Canggu. It’s a famous longboard surf spot and it’s the beach where all the surf camps take their students to learn how to surf. You can find many shops near the beach renting longboards, soft tops or twin fins for 4 USD / 2 hours. There are waves breaking all over the beach and the crowd spreads out evenly guaranteeing a wave for everyone.
Just 200 meters up North from Batu Bolong you will find Echo Beach. There are 3 main breaks over there.
The first one is located near the rocks on the left side of the beach. There you will find a fun wave breaking to the left on top of a rocky reef. This wave allows you to do a couple of turns and sometimes even has a quick barrel on the first section of the wave.
In the middle of the beach, there is a break called Sandbar that works best from mid to high tide. Fun waves break all over the place and it’s perfect for intermediate surfers to test their skills.
In the right corner, in front of the river mouth, you will find another really good wave. It’s a right-hander that on epic days has a barrel on the first section and lets you do a few turns before you reach the beach. These 3 waves on this short stretch of beach will guarantee you a lot of fun.
This A-frame wave breaks in front of a river mouth creating steep and powerful rides. The left-hander is longer and more mellow than the right-hander, which can be shorter and steeper with an occasional barrel.
This surf spot is a beginner’s and longboarder’s heaven. It’s a mellow left-hander wave that breaks on top of cobblestones creating long, perfect rides. It’s a fairly uncrowded since it’s located around 2-3 hours drive from the center of Kuta.
If it’s flat here it’s flat everywhere. This wave is completely exposed to the south and to all the swell directions possible. There are 500 steps long hike down to the beach which makes it uncrowded. This is one of the most beautiful beaches in the peninsula. Take all your provisions with you because there are no warungs at this beach.
This beach shares the title of the swell magnet with Nyang Nyang. It’s very exposed to the wind and the best windows are usually in the morning. Watch out for strong currents here.
Right next to Green Bowl you will find Pandawa Beach. This place has a lot of warungs which makes it a perfect choice if you want to bring your family for a day at the beach. There is a right-hander in front of the restaurants and if you walk down the beach toward the cliffs you will also find a really fun left-hander.
The best time to surf in Nusa Dua is during the wet season, between November and March. During the dry season, a good tip is to try to sneak in early in the morning before the trades kick in. This 2 km long reef has many shifty spots all over the place. The breaks are far from the beach so we suggest that you get a local boat to take you out.
This beach has plenty of A-frames breaking on top of a long reef. There are soft shoulders that are good for intermediate surfers or steep walls with occasional barrels that are good for high-performance surfers. This white sand beach is situated on an island with amazing surroundings. Looking out in the ocean from the beach you will see a steady stream of planes arriving at the Ngurah Rai International Airport.
This wave breaks over a shallow reef and can be described as quick and hollow. This surf spot needs a proper 8-9 ft swell to be working and prefers a south swell to make the barrels more open and perfect.
This surf spot is considered the swell magnet of the East Coast. It breaks with any tide, but it works best from mid to high tide. During high season (May to October) the best time to surf is in the mornings before the wind picks up. You can expect some amazing barrels on a 6ft south swell.
Surfing in Bali: what are you traveling style?
Luxury / Nice / Upscale Surfing in Bali
If you want to experience a vacation of a lifetime there are many upscale accommodations to choose from. Bali has a lot of perfect getaways for those who want to explore the beautiful island and live in a relaxing environment at the same time. You can choose to stay in a modern resort that will blow your mind, or in a more secluded Balinese luxury style villa with a private swimming pool, amazing local decorations and all the modern world amenities that you might need.
There are accommodations that offer surf lessons in front of their own hotel and yoga classes that suit all levels of competency.
From 39-315 USD/night.
Surf boat Charters in Bali
Seven days, seven nights fantastic Surf adventure alone or with your friends aboard. You will surf Bali, Lembongan, Lombok, Sumbawa, and you will be taken to all those uncrowded secret spots along the South Lombok coast, where none of the other boats can go, there is a huge selection of rights and lefts along this stretch of coastline and no crowds.
You will be visiting some of the most beautiful and exotic surf spots on the planet during your 7 days, there is also plenty of time to fish, dive and of course, kick back, relax and have fun, while checking out the islands of Indonesia.
You will have the luck to be taken to the best surf in the area, depending on weather and surf conditions. You will surf some of the best surf spots in Lembongan, Lombok, Sumbawa: Nusa Lembongan (Shipwreck, Laceration, Playground), Lombok (Desert Point) and Sumbawa (Scar Reef, Supersuck, Yoyos), but aswell all those uncrowded secret spots along the South Lombok coast, where none of the other boats can go to.
Bali, Lembongan, Lombok & Sumbawa Surf Charter sleeps up to 14 guests comfortably in large bunk style beds. There is ample storage space for packs and surfboards, a large, covered, open-air dining / chilling out area, and two air-conditioned lounge areas, and sleeping area below deck.
Budget Surfing in Bali
If you are looking for a cheaper choice of accommodation there are homestays all around the island.
Kids and Teen Surf Camps
If your dream is to learn how to surf in a tropical paradise there are plenty of surf camps all around Bali where you will have an amazing stay, sharing waves with your friends and family. You can stay in a private or shared accommodation, a bungalow or a villa, only a few minutes away from the best breaks on the island. The chances to find good surf conditions for any level of surfers are high all year round. If you want to explore more ways of surfing, there are camps where you also can learn how to kitesurf, wakeboard, windsurf and much more. Opportunities are endless!
Price range: 70-140 USD/night.
Bali is an amazing destination to have the most amazing vacation with your best friends. The island has a beautiful mix of perfect waves, amazing food, tasteful beer and exciting nightlife which is a combination that can not go wrong if you are gathering your best buddies. There are many choices of accommodations and you can either stay in a shared villa or in your own private rooms.
Bali Travelling Guide
Packing and equipment: what should I pack for a surf holiday in Bali
The weather in Bali is warm all year round, but in the wet season, you can experience downfall during some parts of the day. If you get caught in the rain there are shops selling rain ponchos for cheap prices (around 3 USD) around every corner. In the dry season it can be a little bit chilly at night, so bring an extra sweat-shirt if you are going there during that time of the year. If you want to do other activities than surfing, for example, to climb a volcano, we recommend that you bring an extra pair of pants, a sweatshirt, and jogging shoes since it can be a bit chilly up there and the terrain can be muddy depending on the season.
Bali adapts the same electrical plugs as Europe, so we recommend that you buy an electrical adaptor before traveling to Bali if you are not using European standards.
It can be a good idea to buy a sim card when arriving in Bali if you want to stay online at all times. The most popular company is Telkomsel and you can get the card and a data package for a cheap price.
You can easily travel to Bali with a suitcase since taxis usually drive you all the way to your door. If you are traveling from Bali to the islands around by boat, it might be a good idea not to bring your suitcase since there is a risk that you might be rolling it on the beach after the boat dropped you off.
Bali is a part of Indonesia so the locals speak Indonesian, “Bahasa Indonesia”. However, every island in Indonesia has its own language, and the people of Bali also speak Balinese.
Balinese people communicate really well in English in touristic areas. They are known to be friendly and service-minded, so even if you are struggling to understand each other, the locals will try to do their best to understand you despite their lack of English. Learn some basic Indonesian or even Balinese, and you will have a much better and way more fun experience communicating with the locals.
The currency is the Indonesian Rupiah (IDR) and 14 410 IDR = 1 USD.
Prepare yourself to become a millionaire!
Visa / Documents
Visa on arrival, also called tourist visa, enables you to stay for 30 days in the country for free. This requires that you have a passport that is valid for at least 6 months after entering the country.
If you already know that you want to stay for more than 30 days in the country, you can buy a visa on arrival in the immigration at the airport that gives you the opportunity to extend your visa for 30 more days before the first 30 days expire. This will cost you around 35 USD.
Vaccines / Health
Hepatitis A and B.
Cases of malaria happen especially during the wet season, but that’s not a major concern.
Be extra careful with dogs, cats, and monkeys. If you are bitten, go straight to a local hospital to get yourself a rabies shot.
If you are coming from high-risk countries as South America or Africa you need proof of yellow fever vaccine.
Getting to Bali
Ngurah Rai International Airport also referred to as Denpasar International Airport is the only airport on the island, situated in the southern part around 13 kilometers from Denpasar. The airport is a 40 minutes drive away from the Bukit area, and a 15 minutes drive away from Kuta.
Moving Around Bali
Moving around between different villages is done by car or scooter. Depending on the time of the year and what the time of the day it is, there might be some traffic jams around crowded and touristic areas. Being in a car with air condition can be a really nice break from the heat of the island, on the other hand, the scooter can go in between cars making it easy to move fast in the heavy traffic
Rent a scooter once you have arrived at your hotel/homestay and give yourself the opportunity to explore the island without any specific destinations or plans, it’s an exciting feeling.
Indonesia is a cheap country and that also includes Bali. The price of food, gas, accommodation, rentals e.g. is way below western prices, which makes a holiday here even better.
Local food: 1-3 USD/meal.
Western food: 5-8 USD/meal.
Fine-dining: 15 USD/meal.
Sim cards: Telkomsel, costs around 7 USD for a sim card and to recharge your internet. The easiest way to recharge your internet is to use an application on your smartphone.
Gas price: 0,6 USD/liter.
Car rental: From 25 USD/day.
Scooter rental: 3,5 USD without surf rack/day, 4 USD with surf rack/day.
Accommodations: From 10 to 100 USD/day.
Surf rental: Renting a surfboard for two hours costs 3,5 USD.
Other things to do while Surfing in Bali
Eat Nasi Campur and discover Bali’s famous national dishes
The local food in Bali will blow your mind. All the different flavors, the mixes of spices, the ingredients and the way the locals cook it in front of your eyes is an amazing experience. The typical island dishes are fried rice or noodles with meat (mostly pork or chicken), Tempe (soy-bean patties) or tofu (soy-bean based) for vegetarians. Before leaving the country you need to try Nasi Goreng (fried rice), Mie Goreng (fried noodles) and Nasi Champur (a mix of different dishes of your own choice with rice).
Bali is also known for having a mind-blowing availability of western healthy cafés scattered all over the island. Smoothie bowls, healthy salad bowls, and raw, vegan desserts are everywhere to be found. It’s a paradise for all you vegan-friendly people out there.
Sightseeing - Culture in Bali
If you need a break from the pumping waves of the island there are endless adventures and cultural places ready to be explored. The island is known for its magical religious vibe, so take some time to explore a few of the temples that are scattered across the island. One of the most famous ones is the Tirta Empul Holy Water Temple, situated in the middle of Bali. As a tourist, you are able to go into the water and feel the healing process of clear water yourself.
If you are more of an adventurous kind of person, there is a volcano called Mount Batur that has an amazing view of the sunrise from the top. Don’t forget to bring warmer clothes.
Skateparks are available on the island as well.
Type of Risks
Bali has a lot of reef breaks which means that there is a risk that you can get a small scratch or two from surfing. To make your life easier, bring a first aid kit so you can clean any possible wounds quickly.
The country is known to suffer from earthquakes. Most of the time the tremors are minor and you will only feel a short shake, nothing too serious.
There is also an active volcano on the island, Mount Agung, that has erupted in the past year. The effects of the outbreak don’t usually reach the touristic areas so you don’t need to worry about that either.
Indonesia’s sun and long daylight hours make it mandatory to wear sunscreen/zinc or a UV shirt. Avoid paddling out alone, as strong currents can pull you out to sea. Let people know where you are, and go with a buddy to look out for each other.
Many beaches don’t have lifeguards, so check the surf forecast before you go. Look out for useful info like the presence of jellyfish or an upcoming storm. Shark attacks almost never occur in Indonesia, so you shouldn’t need to be worried about that.
Always get travel insurance before heading out on a trip. WorldNomads is a good option, but If you already have insurance, make sure it covers surf accidents, and check which hospitals they recommend near your surf camp. Also, a basic emergency kit for your Indonesian surf holiday should include ear drops and plugs, eye drops, Band-Aids, gauze, rehydration salts, and a broad-spectrum antibiotic.
There are a lot of hospitals and clinics on the island. Both the doctors and specialists speak well English and you will be good taken care of if anything would happen.
BIMC Hospital Kuta
(113) · General Hospital
Badung Regency, Bali, Indonesia
+62 361 761263
Open 24 hours
Emergency department: Open 24 hours
BIMC Hospital Nusa Dua
(67) · General Hospital
Badung Regency, Bali, Indonesia
+62 361 3000911
Open 24 hours
Kasih Ibu General Hospital Kedonganan
(58) · Hospital
+62 361 703270
Open 24 hours
Emergency department: Open 24 hours
(44) · Medical clinic
Jl. Raya Sanggingan No.21
+62 361 2091030
Open 24 hours