Top 7 Places to Surf in Bali
by Ben Stower.
This post originally appeared on Flight Centre AU.
Surfing Bali wasn't the Beach Boys' style, but they never had a 12-hour-plus flight from Asia to the USA to deal with. In the end, Bali is far more affordable and easily reached for Australians, with fewer Visa concerns and more emphasis on finding that perfect swell.
Those memorable Bukit Peninsula waves, first truly utilised by American Bob Koke in the 30s, still exist along the island's many beach and reef breaks, giving birth to local surfing legends and a natural playground.
So where exactly is the best place to surf in Bali? We've discovered not one, but seven of them through the experiences of local and international surfers.
Echo Beach (Pantai Batu Bolong)
Originally called 'Pantai Batu Bolong' by locals after a temple in the area, Echo Beach has become one of Bali's favourite surfing sons. Featuring a flat rock bed and waves typically under six foot (two metres), Echo is perfect for beginner to intermediate boarders.
About 30 minute's drive from Kuta, it's on the right side of Bali for appreciating sunset, which is when many surfers stroll down for a ride. It's around this time when nearby food stalls and beachfront bars open up, serving sundowners and local eats.
Keramas Beach is one of Bali's popular reef breaks, often boasting large, crisp waves before 7am. The wind takes the edge off after this time, but it's still possible to catch great rides.
Regardless, you'll want to be careful of the shallow depth near shore where a sharp reef and sea urchins await those who fall off their board.For this reason Keramas is best for intermediate and professional riders.
You might actually miss the dirt track down to the beach, with its limited signage. This harks back to Keramas' days as Bali's best-kept surfing secret. However, even today, known around the island and beyond, you still won't need to fight for surfing room.
Uluwatu may be one of Bali's most interesting and famous surfing spots, if only for the famous wave of the same name and the legendary local soul surfer Made Lana. Reaching one of this beach's best breaks, The Peak, requires you to go through a cave with reef underfoot, popping out where the waves are crashing.
With numerous breaks, including The Peak, Outside Corner and Racetracks (good for tubes), you're practically guaranteed decent surf any time of day. However, the great waves come with hazards including shallow water, sharp reef and an often overcrowding amount of surfers.
The best time for expert riders to turn up is between August and September when the waves are spectacularly high and you'll have your chance to tame the famous Uluwatu. Can you live up to the standard set by Made Lana?
Legian Beach is best known for its surf schools, which have grown to become some of the most effective in Bali. You can learn how to ride the gentle breaks along Legian with the help of accredited instructors and without feeling like you're disrupting the more experienced riders.
Legian often sees its waves grow in size later in the day, so you should head down early for the best beginner waves.
Situated on the southern end of Bali, Padang-Padang has delivered enough quality surfing over the years to earn itself the moniker of the 'Balinese Pipeline'. Competitions are held regularly on this beach, due to the challenging left-hand break with wave height ranging from six to 12 foot (one to four metres).
Out deep you have coral and other surfers to watch out for, but closer to shore is a calm right-hander perfect for beginners. However, you should be aware of the two extremes and if you're skill set is somewhere in the middle, you might be better off at another beach.
Kuta is reputedly Bali's first surfer's beach and still remains one of the best surfing spots in the country for beginners. The beach's common swell is small and many of the waves make for great learner rides even after they've broken. Plus, there's only soft sand and warm water to land in if you fall off.
Close to the popular tourist town of Legian, Kuta is often busy with beach-goers, but is also well stocked with stores, hire huts and beachfront bars. If you're really new to riding fibreglass, there are numerous surf schools to get you standing.
Seminyak Beach is serviced by a line of beachfront resorts, making it one of Bali's most convenient surfing areas. If you're staying in the right resort, you can check the waves out from your window before heading down.
The waves on Seminyak are usually slightly bigger than Kuta, making this beach a bit more of a challenge for intermediate surfers. Walk along the sand to the border of Seminyak and Legian to find a decent break with surf schools and less crowds than Kuta.