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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 in Bali:
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.

surfing in baliHowever, 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.

The Bukit

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.

Take care

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 government requirements.

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.


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