Today a surfing trip does not just involve boardshorts, roof racks and a tent. Although there are still some who enjoy the hedonistic, hippy approach, catching the perfect wave these days can also be a five-star experience where your most arduous task will be your pop-up. And as any true surfer knows, riding the waves is not just a hobby, it’s an obsession, an eternal quest that often takes you to far and distant beautiful shores.
Here is our chic pick of the best surf spots in Bali where the waves are beautiful and the living is good.
The island of the gods
Photo credit: Nicolas Lannuzel
If you haven’t been to Bali yet, then you must have lost some brain cells on that last wipe out dude! Epic rides, beautiful sandy white beaches, luxury hideaways and a laid back tropical ambiance – what more could you ask for? Bali is one of the 13,600 or so islands that make up the Indonesian archipelago. Its coastline receives consistent, powerful swells that originate from huge storms out in the Indian Ocean. With no major landmass to block or alter these swells, they arrive on the reefs and shores as well-groomed, orderly lines, creating excellent surf spots in Bali for all levels of surfers.
The island is also a scenic paradise filled with friendly locals, bamboo forests, rice paddies, ancient temples and miles and miles of turquoise sea. The classic surf movie Morning of the Earth first brought it to the attention of surfers in the 1970s. Over the years, the excellent surf spots in Bali have made this a great surfing destination with easy-to-reach breaks, long clean lines and predictable sets. Today it is considered a surfer’s dreamland and a place where you are likely to exchange a couple of ‘Cowabungas’ with some of the best surfers in the world.
All year round surfing safari
The best thing about surf spots in Bali is that they don’t have an off-season. While the winter months produce big swells along the west coast, the east coast offers tamer riding in the summer, and the island as a whole is said to have some of the greatest surf anywhere on earth. The air and water temperature remain consistently warm so at most you will only need a spring suit. Depending on which spot you surf you may need booties as conditions vary from sand bottom beach breaks through to heavy, hollow bottom reef breaks.
While Kuta is the island’s original surf capital and a good place for beginners to ease into things, it attracts loads of tourists and the water can get very crowded. If you are looking for less congested but equally vibey surf spots in Bali, then Seminyak Beach is the place to be. The swell is usually good here and provides a strong beach break. It is also one of the chicest and upmarket areas on the island with plenty of cool restaurants and beach bars. Accommodation choices are extensive; however, The Oberoi, Bali stands out with its old world Balinese charm and perfect location, right on shore. The hotel has its private beach, and you can keep an eye on the waves while lounging around the pool with a cocktail. Its central location puts it within walking distance of shops and entertainment so if the sea is flat there is no shortage of things to do and places to go. The hotel also provides surf boards so if you don’t have your own you can still catch a ride when the waves start cooking.
Big wave surfing for the pros
Uluwatu Beach is another awesome surfing experience not to be missed, but be warned, pro surfing skills are needed for these big waves. The beach itself is located deep under a cliff bank on the Bukit peninsula and is famous for its fast and powerful waves. If conditions are off the hook, you may be lucky enough to catch a four-foot barrel but watch out for the shallow water and reefs and be sure to have a good, strong leash. What makes this spot extra special is the sacred temple of Uluwatu that sits on the cliff bank and looks especially striking in the late afternoon as the sun sets behind it. The local Hindu population is well known for the peaceful and spiritual approach to life, and the temple is regularly adorned with fresh flowers and offerings.
Besides being a place of religious devotion and pilgrimage, Uluwatu is also fast becoming the Asian epicentre of style and luxury and is home to many elegant private mansions and five-star hotels. If you want to spoil yourself or indulge your partner while living out your endless summer fantasy then try out the Semara Luxury Villa Resort. Accommodation consists of seven gorgeous villas perched on the edge of the cliff with spectacular vistas of the Indian Ocean below. And after a hard day’s surfing what could be better than lying on the beach while you wind down and ease your muscles with a pampering couples massage.
The island of Bali really does offer a unique surfing experience for everyone and as long as you stick to your skills level and don’t drop in on any locals, your rides should be epic and leave you feeling stoked.
First-time travellers to this ravishingly beautiful island should be warned of one thing, however. Although your surfing experience should not be a life-threatening affair, getting around could be slightly more dangerous, especially if you are travelling with your surfboard in tow. Most locals and a lot of holiday makers choose to get around on motorcycles. There are plenty of these for hire, and they have convenient attachments for your surfboard. However, learning to ride one of them with your gear affixed is a rite of passage, and many more surfers wipe out on their motorbikes than they do on their boards!
All you have to do is pack your bags and go and don’t stress if you forget anything. Bali is a surfing island so everything surf related can be bought there. In fact, even if you don’t surf, the surf spots in Bali are a good place to start, with surf schools on just about every corner and tropical beauty all around.