Also known as the ‘Island of 1,000 Temples’, locals believe Bali is blessed by the gods. With 271 miles (437 km) of coastline, idyllic breaks, barreling waves and laid-back atmosphere, it certainly seems to be. From a surfer’s standpoint, Bali truly is a paradise found.
The most popular and most recognizable island in Indonesia, Bali receives constant swell from the Southern Ocean all year round. Furthermore, water temperature ranges between 80 and 84 °F (27 - 29 °C) throughout the year, making surfing in Bali possible at almost any given time. However, the peak surfing season is during the Dry Season (May – September), when legendary waves on the west coast put on their best performance. This is also when the island is most crowded. Luckily, Bali’s Wet Season offers quality surf too. Between November and March, the east coast welcomes surfers on relatively uncrowded waves.
If you’re planning a surfing trip to Bali, here’s when and where you need to be to catch the best waves:
Surfing in Bali during the Dry Season
The Dry Season in Bali lasts from May through September. This is when the west coast and the Bukit Peninsula receive big swells and strong offshore winds, powering up world-class waves. In some years, October and November are also good to surf here, as there are occasional big swells. South of Denpasar, the Bukit Peninsula is the first choice among surfers. Here, Kuta is the gateway to the island’s most famous breaks and has the highest concentration of surf shops in the world.
Beginners & Intermediates:
Kuta Beach – a popular right & left-hand beach break with a sandy bottom that’s just perfect for beginners. Being the first choice among most travelers, Kuta Beach can get very crowded. There are also numerous surf schools here.
Canggu – right & left reef breaks that offer a little something for all surfers. There are actually three breaks here, and on small days they are suitable for beginners as well.
Dreamland – a right & left beach break and an awesome place to learn how to get barreled. Unfortunately, it can get crowded.
Balangan – a left-hand reef break. Fast and hollow, the waves here are more suitable for intermediate surfers and are best at mid to high tide. Crowds were not a problem at Balangan before, but with the new road offering easy access, more and more surfers are beginning to flock here.
Airport’s – right & left reef breaks for all levels. Airport Left is located 0.6 miles (1 km) offshore, in front of the airport runway in Tuban. Airport Right is situated on the southern side of the airport runway and offers long rides. Both can get crowded, and it’s better to rent a boat instead of paddling out to save energy.
Medewi – a left-hand point break for all levels that offers long, uncrowded waves.
Advanced & Experts:
Padang Padang – one of the best left-hand reef breaks on the planet. Bali’s most iconic wave and one of the most famous in the world, Padang Padang starts to work when big swells kick in. Unfortunately, it can get very crowded due to its worldwide fame.
Uluwatu – a world-famous left-hand reef break that rarely goes flat. Another one of Bali’s iconic waves, Uluwatu is very wide and can handle larger crowds. There are actually four different sections here:
- Temples – long and hollow wave that works best at mid to high tide.
- The Peak – best at high tide.
- Racetrack – a fast barrel that works at low tide.
- Outside Corner – considered by many to be one of the best waves in the world.
Bingin – a shallow left-hand reef break that works best at high tide. At low tide, surfers are prone to injuries due to the sharp reef at the bottom. Bingin can get crowded on good days.
Kuta Reef – a world-class left-hand reef break located half a mile (0.8 km) offshore. Waves here are long with hollow barreling sections and can get very crowded.
Impossibles – a famous, world-class left-hand reef break that rarely gets crowded thanks to its multiple take-off points.
Surfing in Bali during the Wet Season
The Wet Season offers a great alternative to the crowds, which can get pretty big during peak season. Also known as the off-season or the rainy season, the summer months between November and March see quality swells on the east coast and on Nusa Lembongan. In some years, October and April, sometimes even May, are included in the wet season. These are border months, and this is usually when surfers can hang ten on both the east and the west coasts.
Beginners & Intermediates:
Playgrounds – a semi-shallow right & left reef break off Nusa Lembongan. Excellent for beginners and intermediates, this is the friendliest break on Nusa Lembongan.
Serangan – a right & left reef break that can produce waves up to 6 ft (1.8 m), suitable for all levels of surfers. Please be wary of the sharp rocks and coral on the bottom. Not too long ago, this was a secret spot. Nowadays, it can get crowded on good days.
Advanced & Experts:
Nusa Dua – a famous right-hand reef break with wide barreling waves, shifting peaks and multiple take-off points. This powerful wave lies 0.3 miles (0.5 km) offshore so it’s better to rent a boat to save your energy for the strong currents ahead.
Keramas – a popular and quite tricky right-hand reef break with a rocky bottom. Expect big, fast waves and deep tubes. Early mornings are the best time to hit the waves. Given the right conditions, Keramas also works during the dry season and is one of the most popular east coast breaks in Bali.
Green Balls – an off-the-beaten-path right-hand reef break for experts and pros only. Crowds are not a problem here.
The sea is unpredictable, and our guide is only intended as a reference. Severe weather changes can occur and can have a great impact on the waves. Also, please take note that Bali’s legendary waves are big, fast and treacherous and should be tackled only if you have enough experience under your belt. Last but not least, remember to respect the locals.
Are you planning a trip to Bali anytime soon? Surfing is on top of any traveler’s to-do list when reaching this dream destination, so make sure you add a surf camp in Bali to your bucket list.