Surfing the Bali coasts: Newbies and Advanced
Booking a Bali villa is a sure fire ticket to experiencing the colourful food, culture, yoga, and festivals that this Indonesian island has to offer. There is one other thing however that Bali offers and it can’t be bought with money; only with time, a bit of effort, and a keen desire for a visceral experience of the landscape. Surfing in Bali. Truly a one of a kind activity as Bali harbours a unique collection of sparkling blue-water beaches with all types of sand and rock floors and a variety of breaks and qualities of waves.
Anyone from the most avid surfers to the newest of novices can catch a wave somewhere in Bali. The best part is having luxurious Bali accommodation to return to after a long salty day in the sun. So whether you are staying in a Canggu villa or Seminyak villa, or somewhere else on this magical land, you will be able to access waves suited to your experience. We’ve split up our favourites to target the more advanced surfer as well as the newbies, while some can be enjoyed by all levels.
Waves for Beginners:
Legian beach is only about 3 kilometres from your Seminyak villa or a bit over 10 K if you’ve booked in Canggu. If you’re really keen you can walk along the beach to get there so you can get warmed up and enjoy the scenery. It takes about 35 minutes from Seminyak beach. Otherwise, hop on a scooter or have a driver drop you off at Jalan Pantai Legian. This spot is a little less crowded than Kuta and so has less surf schools on offer, but there are enough to go around and you’ll get a little more elbow room in the water. While swells tend to grow in the afternoon, during the day you’ll enjoy waves under three feet and a sandy break, safe for toppling-over beginners.
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If you’re staying in a Canggu villa near Echo beach, then this is your spot! That said, it’s not a far motorbike ride from Seminyak villas and surrounds. Wake up in your luxurious Bali accommodation and head down to Pantai Batu Bolong, “Echo beach” as the residents now call it. There are plenty of surfboard rentals right along the beach so no need to book or plan ahead of time. While waves here tend to be under 6-feet and the rock bed is smooth and level, you’ll still need to have some discernment when the larger barrels come rolling along. Paddle out of the way if any waves are looking large and stick to the smaller ones. One of the favourite aspects about Echo beach is the calm surf in the evening on the pink and purple waters of sunset. Perfect place to go for a drink to watch the sunset. Make sure you try Old Mans which is right on the beach.
Perhaps one of the most famous surf-spots for those in the learning phase, Kuta beach offers long sandy bottoms and relatively small swells. If you’re feeling unsure about the growing-waves in the evening, head out earlier in the day to play it safe. If you’ve never hopped on a board before, book in to one of the many surf schools along the beach so they can teach you how to cruise along the reasonably sized waves. It takes about an hour to get to Kuta driving South from Canggu.
How could we leave off something with such an evocative name? Dreamland is a little farther from Canggu and Seminyak villas but it’s less than an hour and a half drive down to the peninsula, and you’ll be in close proximity to go watch some of the experienced surfers catching big swells at Uluwatu. Because of the sandy-bottom break, this tends to be a safe spot for wobbly beginners that want to have a go falling off and getting back up again! Occasionally swells get up over 6 feet so keep an eye out for those and wait for the smaller waves.
Waves for Advanced Surfers:
If you’ve just accompanied a less-experienced friend to have a go at Dreamland, then you’ve almost made it to the illustrious Uluwatu already. It’s about a 25 minute drive since the road juts inland, and about 1.5 hours if you’ve just rolled out of bed at your Canggu villa. With turquoise-blue waves crashing against the green cliffs below Pura Luhur, Uluwatu temple, Uluwatu is both a famous surf spot and a sensory download. As a practiced surfer you’ll probably be amply prepared but, just in case, make sure you bring your board and check out the tide changes before you head out as there tends to be dramatic currents. The best bet for pro surfers is to get when swells get bigger so you can ride barrels without battling the crowd.
Binging Beach and Impossibles
You can think of this as a cousin surf-spot to Uluwatu, and lies only a short drive north so it makes for a good second option if you’re beach hopping for the day. Binging is a good choice if you’re after slightly smaller waves and you don’t mind negotiating with the slightly larger crowd that comes with. While the barrel rides tends to be slightly shorter than Uluwatu, they are also rather consistent so you’re sure to get several good rides in before you head back to your Bali villa to put your feet up.
If you’re not quite done after BIngin, you can check out the long-reef surfing nearby at the Impossibles. Barrels aren’t massive but they are fun and challenging and will definitely satiate the appetites of keen surfers.
We’ll definitely reiterate that this one falls in the experienced category. Not to mention, you’ll need to be motivated to get there as it’s a bit of a journey. From your Bali villa up in Canggu or Seminyak, you can get a driver to head directly to the Southernmost tip, roughly 40 kilometres, which takes about an hour and a half. The beach is often quiet, and you can explore the bat caves on your breaks from the persistent and challenging swells. That said, you’ve got to get yourself and your board down what feels like a thousand stone steps embedded into the cliff face. While these strong and unpredictable Southern Ocean currents makes for an exciting and demanding day in the surf, you need to be confident in your abilities before you attempt these waves.
If we wrote about every fabulous surfing beach in Bali it would be an endless rolling barrel of an article. The spots we’ve mapped out are many of the best on offer and at least make for great starting points. Now you’ll be able to book into your Bali villa with confidence about where you might catch your first wave.