Since the days of the hippie travelers of the sixties and seventies,
surfing has been the number one water sport attraction in Bali.
Even as far back a the thirties the Hawaiian Robert Koke had settled
in Bali, set up the Kuta Beach Hotel and imported a huge teak board
to ride the yet untouched Kuta Beach waves. Since then Bali has
become one of the top surf travel destinations in the world and
is ideal for both "hard core" surfers who are keen to
ride huge waves and for beginners who are content just to float
in the warm waters.
So popular is surfing that several contents are held every year
1. Serangan local challenge (February)
2. Aloha Garuda cup at Suluban beach, Uluwatu (June)
3. SMP pro at Suluban Beach, Uluwatu (July)
4. Quicksilver Indonesian Series (August/September)
5. Quicksilver Air Show (August)
6. Bali Open (September)
In addition to these local contests, Quicksilver, the world's largest
surf label, is planning to hold one of the surfing world championship
tour events at G-Land (Which is about 2 hours by boat from Bali).
The contest is scheduled for May 2004 and will host the top 44 surfers
in the world and points earned from the contest will contribute
to the world championship.
Once you can drag yourself out of the surf shops and restaurants
and actually into the surf, you will start to discover the real
attraction of surfing in Bali. There are a few reasons why the surf
is so good on this island. Apart from anything else, stripping down
to your boards (board shorts) and dunking yourself in the water
is a refreshing option.
Bali is most unique for surfing because of the huge swell that is
built as it travels north from southern oceans and catches the sores.
The island's coasts wrap around and fully cover a 360-degree area,
catching a swell travelling in any direction. There is always somewhere
to surf in any wind condition. As "off-shore" winds are
required for the best surfing, the easterly winds of the dry season
mean that the point breaks and beach breaks of the western coast
are ideal, while conversely, in the rainy season the reefs of the
eastern coast are perfect. With an almost circular isthmus at the
southern tip of the island, most of these destinations are only
a short distance apart, so checking the conditions for the best
surfing spot of the day is not a problem.
Dry Season (Best Spots):
Beginners : Kuta Beach, Legian Beach, and Medewi
Intermediate : Canggu, Kuta Reef, and Balian
Advance : Uluwatu, Padang-padang, Bingin and Airport lefts
Wet Season (Best Spots):
Beginners : Sanur, Serangan and Ketewel
Intermediate and Advance : Nusa Dua and Sanur reefs.
The Kuta to Legian stretch of beach is the most obvious place to
start a surfing tour. Being the historical home of surfing in Bali,
it is still one of the most popular surfing destinations for both
beginners and experienced surfers. These waves can be very large
at times and there is often a strong undercurrent here, so although
the conditions may appear to be fine, caution should be exercised
at all times. You can go to surfing school here, hire boards or
just sit back and enjoy watching the great number of surfers and
foreigners who flock to this particular location. At the southern
end is the airports break, where you sit and watch the planes take
off between sets.
On the southern isthmus there are several beautiful beaches with
spectacular cliffs and equally spectacular waves. With steep rocky
cliffs to clamber down and natural caves to paddle out through,
this is a very different surfing experience. Uluwatu is the most
famous of these beaches and it has many small warungs offering massages,
surfing gear, fried rice and jaffles. Padang-padang and Bingin are
two other beautiful, tucked away surfing locations on the Bukit.
Many places also offer a simple place to stay the night a veritable
surfer's paradise to wake up at the crack of dawn to the crash of
waves and the sight of line after line of perfection.
Out of Town
It is wroth travelling on the main road that follows the western
coast up towards Tabanan in the north for the scenery alone, but
these drives can also lead to some beautiful uncrowned surfing conditions.
Just out of town is Canggu and a fair bit further north is Medewi.
Some hillside villas here offer simple understated comfort and make
the most of the great ocean views and wonderful surfing opportunities.
Although Bali's surf is the ideal surfer's paradise, one needs
to treat the ocean with great respect and be aware of the potential
dangers. The waves can have tremendous power due to the long distance
travel of the huge swells. Very strong currents and rips are common
and many people find themselves caught in rips that are impossible
to swim out of. Often the waves travel in "sets", with
up to ten minutes between sets in which the ocean can appear calm,
so before entering the water it is always a good idea to observe
the conditions for an extended period of time.
Between the full day and new moons there can be a difference in
water level of up to 2.5 meters in tides, so the coral reef being
surfed over in the morning may have people walking on it and exploring
it in the afternoon. The surfer needs to be aware that the calm
lake-like conditions may be transformed into a sucking surge of
water with a change in tides.
Where to Learn to Surf
Bali learn to surf is located at the Hard Rock Hotel, Kuta. It
is a professional surf school that teaches raw beginners the ABC's
of surfing. You can experience the thrill of surfing with qualified
professional instructors on the long rolling waves and safe sandy
bottom of Kuta Beach.
The school boats a highly qualified team of International and local
surfers who are accredited instructors that have met all legal and
Cheyne Horan School of Surf was founded by world surf champion,
Cheyne Horan, in 1998 and operates on the Legian beach just a few
minutes from Kuta Center.
It teaches a comprehensive curriculum in waves, board handling
and surfing techniques, the classes available cater to beginners
through to the experienced surfers.