Overview of surfing in Bali
Bali, one of the most sought after surf destinations in all of the world. This island, part of the Indonesian archipelago, is well known for having an incredibly high volume and concentration of top level surf spots. It’s rich culture and incredible landscapes are more than enough reason to go, but become just the icing on the cake once you see a perfect set rolling through emerald water before unloading onto a perfectly shaped reef. Bali has the allure of Java with much more ease of surf access, and the surf quality of Lombok with many more amenities.
For all of these reasons, Bali has also become much more crowded in comparison to the stories that 80 year old local will tell you when it gets around you have a flight booked. However do not despair, with the crowds come money and more amenities and options outside of the surf, as well as easier access to and from for a more streamlined trip. For those looking for perfect waves, a new culture to explore, and many non surf activities to pursue, Bali is the perfect destination.
Bali has world class waves, but you didn’t need me to tell you that. What makes this island unique is not only some of the perfect set ups, it is the sheer concentration of top level spots in a small region. The reefs are well known for forming perfect left handers like Uluwatu or Impossibles, but on the other side of the Bukit peninsula you find one of the best rights for high performance surfing, Keramas. Fear not, intermediates and progressing surfers, Bali is also full of less critical reefs and user friendly beachbreaks. These set ups are perfect for getting your chops ready for some of the heavier breaks or get warmed up before a big swell is hitting.
Top Surf Spots
For a bigger list and more detailed overview of the best surf spots in Bali, check out our article here!
Uluwatu is one of the best lefts in the world. There are many peaks and take off zones that get spread around with the tide and swell, which helps with the crowds. The wave can barrel or be canvassy depending on the section, swell, and tide. Have fun and watch out for the reef! Learn more here!
Keramas is one of the best right handers in Indonesia. This wave starts with a steep barrel section and then turns into a broad wall for turns and hacks. This break tends to be best during the wet season and can get crowded. Learn more here!
Padang Padang has been called the best left in Indonesia, although there is plenty of competition in that arena. This is a long and shallow wave that creates big and beautiful barrels on its day. Watch out for the ultra competitive crowd and the razor sharp reef. Learn more here!
Bali is one of those places that has more than enough options for any budget. The one area that you might find lacking are the camping options, which are few and far between. Surf hostels are incredibly popular and offer a great experience for a traveling solo surfer or a dedicated group of surfers. These are great places to make friends and surf buddies. There are also plenty of villa rentals, great for couples or small groups that do not need a guide or direction in the area of surfing. Resorts and hotels are also widely available, which can offer a seamless experience from airport to bed to surf, a great option for families or couples that have plenty else on their minds. Most of these can be found directly in front of or right next to some of the best surfing spots in Indonesia.
Bali can be divided into three separate regions: The East coast, Bukit Peninsula, and West coast. The West coast contains some very popular beachbreaks and a couple reefs. This area is well known for having some of the more built up towns and party atmosphere of any of the other regions. Kuta, for example, is party central! Many surfers use this area as a launching pad for the rest of their Bali adventure. The Bukit Peninsula is home to the most famous spots. Iconic lefts such as Uluwatu and Padang Padang are found here, as well as Impossibles. This region is full of top level surfers and top level breaks. The East coast is home to surf spots that are better served during the off season as the winds are predominately offshore during this time. There are waves like Keramas, but also many unnamed reefs and beaches that offer fun to challenging and epic surf.
Access to Surf and Location
For the most part surfers will find surf in Bali very easy to access. The most you’ll have to do is walk down some steep cliffs! However this doesn’t mean there aren’t long paddle outs. Most will fly into Kuta, which is found at the border of the West coast and The Bukit Peninsula, making it an ideal location for traveling surfers. Check out the town and the surf break before heading to your accommodation! Getting to the surf is simple enough, there are plenty of motorbikes, scooters, and cars to take you or rent while you are here. Beyond that, if you are staying at inclusive resorts or your accommodation is close to the surf spots, you won’t need to rent any transportation as it will either be taken care of by the resort or your feet!
Bali, like most of Indonesia, caters to tourism. Most can enter the country visa free for 30 days, while visas can easily get you a 30 day extension, or more. Select countries will need to pay for a visa upon entry. Check out the Indonesian Government’s site for more up to date details on your country of origin.
The 32 best Surf spots in Bali
Overview of surfing spots in Bali
Surf spot overview
Bali is crowded, at least compared to some of the neighboring islands. This leads to some very competitive line ups. Do not expect to get the best waves while you are out there for the first few times. It will take a long time to learn the more difficult lineups, and even longer to gain the respect of the fierce locals and ex pats. This is not to say that locals are not friendly, they just know the waves and will make sure they have the best ones. That being said, there are plenty of less competitive breaks that will offer higher wave counts than, say, Impossibles on the best day of the season. Show respect, follow the rules, and waves will come.
Surf seasons and when to go
The best time of the year to surf in Bali
Indonesia has two seasons: Wet and Dry. The wet season lasts from October to April and is considered the off season for much of the island. This is due to the predominant winds which blow out the more well known spots, and the slightly smaller swells that hit. However, the East coast shines during this time. The dry season lasts from May to September. During these months spots on the West and Bukit Peninsula will really come into their own. Bingin to Uluwatu will be pumping more days than not during this time of year.
Bali surf travel guide
Find trips that fit a flexible lifestyle
Activities Other Than Surf
While the surfing in Bali is exceptional, the island’s allure extends far beyond its waves. For those days when the arms need a rest or the sea is quiet, Bali presents a myriad of alternative activities. The cultural heart of Bali, Ubud, is a must-visit with its serene rice terraces, such as the Tegallalang Rice Terrace, and the sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary, home to hundreds of mischievous long-tailed macaques. Art enthusiasts will revel in Ubud’s vibrant art scene, showcasing local crafts at the Ubud Art Market.
For a touch of spirituality or simply a stunning sunset, the ancient water temples of Tanah Lot and Uluwatu offer dramatic cliffside views and cultural performances. The island’s underwater life is as rich and varied as its cultural expressions, making snorkeling or scuba diving around the coral reefs an unforgettable experience. From catching glimpses of the majestic manta rays to exploring the sunken USAT Liberty wreck at Tulamben, the aquatic adventures are endless. Furthermore, Bali’s wellness retreats offer yoga, meditation, and spa treatments that perfectly complement the island’s laid-back lifestyle.
In Bali, the linguistic tapestry is as rich as its cultural one. Bahasa Indonesia is the national language and is widely spoken across the island. In addition to Bahasa, many Balinese people speak their own local language, Balinese, which is used in homes and temples. However, due to Bali’s global popularity as a travel destination, English is commonly spoken in most tourist areas, making communication relatively easy for visitors. Learning a few basic phrases in Bahasa, though, can be a delightful way to connect with local residents and often leads to warmer interactions and shared smiles.
The Indonesian Rupiah (IDR) is the currency of the land in Bali, and while it can cater to both shoestring backpackers and those seeking luxury, understanding the local cost of living can greatly enhance the travel experience. Street-side warungs (local eateries) offer delectable local dishes like nasi goreng and mie goreng at very affordable prices, often amounting to just a couple of dollars. Markets and local vendors are commonplace for shopping, where bargaining can be part of the fun. On the other end of the spectrum, fine dining restaurants, upscale boutiques, and five-star resorts can be found in areas like Seminyak and Nusa Dua for those wanting to indulge. Regardless of budget, wise spending and a little local knowledge go a long way in Bali.
Staying connected in Bali is rarely an issue; the island is well-covered by various mobile networks. Cell coverage extends to most areas where tourists frequent, though it can be spotty in remote spots or on outlying islands. WiFi is readily available in hotels, villas, cafes, and restaurants, often free of charge for customers. For those requiring a more reliable connection, purchasing a local SIM card is a cost-effective solution, providing access to Bali’s 4G networks which offer robust speeds suitable for everything from streaming to video calls.
Conclusion/Why to Go!
Bali is a unique confluence of natural beauty, cultural depth, and spiritual calm. Its reputation as a surfing paradise is well-deserved, but the island offers so much more. Whether it’s the rich tapestry of cultural practices, the lush landscapes, the mouthwatering cuisine, or the warm hospitality of its people, Bali resonates with the soul of every traveler. The island embraces everyone with open arms, offering an experience that extends far beyond the typical tourist trail. From the adrenaline of catching a perfect wave to the peace of a Balinese massage or the energy of a traditional dance, Bali promises memories that linger long after the tan has faded. It’s not just a destination; it’s an experience that nourishes the adventurer within, making it a compelling destination for anyone looking to enrich their travel portfolio.