Known alternately as the “off season” or “wet season”, the Bali rainy season provides an alternative to the tourist crowds and busier surf spots of the dry months. Don’t let frightening images of South and Southeast Asian monsoon rains scare you off. Bali’s wet season is considerably tamer, the worst conditions resulting only in minor floods and heavy winds, during which road travel should be avoided.
Some days it doesn’t rain at all, making the decision to come here during the rainy season seem like a stroke of genius.
When is Bali’s rainy season?
The core wet season in Bali lasts from November to March, with October and April sometimes being included or — along with May — referred to as “border months”. Most rain falls from December to February, but expect humidity to be high during all months of the season.
The winds also switch during seasons, opening up east coast breaks for some quality surfing during the rainy months. Dry season surfing is focused on the legendary spots like Padang Padang and Uluwatu on the west coast of the southern portion of the island, especially the Bukit Peninsula. Border months (and even the height of the wet season when the weather is good) can offer good waves and smaller crowds at these spots as well.
Those that come to Bali for whitewater rafting also take advantage of the rainy season for what it does to the island’s rivers, especially the Ayung, a favourite for beginners and experienced rafters alike.
Advantages of the Bali Rainy Season
If you’re considering visiting Bali during the wet months, here are some pros to consider:
- Cooler weather — While it will still be quite hot (sometimes even hotter than the dry season) rain can cool down the effects of Bali’s blazing sun and bring some much-appreciated relief.
- Smaller crowds — If sharing space with lots of tourists isn’t your thing, then the off season might be better for you. All the typical pains associated with the high season, such as heavy traffic, crowded beaches, tourism sites, bars and restaurants will be considerably more manageable. You might even find a deserted beach!
- Fewer distractions — Come to Bali to truly get away from the chaos of modern life? If you are not one for noisy parties, packed clubs or the bar scene, a bit of wetness should afford you with more peace and quiet and make it easier to concentrate on writing that novel or whatever you plan to do. It’s also more relaxing!
- Natural beauty — The rains bring life to the landscape of this lush island. Vegetation never looks so gorgeous and vivid or smells as fragrant as when it’s wet and well watered.
Surfing during the wet season
During the rainy season, November to March, the east coast is generally better.
Bali’s rainy season is when the winds change and west coast surfing gives way to lots of great east coast breaks. These come mostly in the form of right handers (as opposed to the left handers of the west coast/high season waves) and some have very good consistency.
Here are just a few Bali rainy season breaks:
One of the better known east coast breaks on Bali, Keramas beach is a right hander that provides thrilling, big and fast waves as well as deep tubes, which attract pros and expert surfers eager attempt its tricky swell. A black sand beach that gives way to a spectacular wet season wave, Keramas is also the site of international competitions.
If you want to avoid the bigger crowds head out in the early morning. Be careful of the reef and rock bottom!
Rustic and unspoiled, Green Bowl (sometimes called Green Ball or Green Balls) is still considered somewhat off the beaten path. As for now there are still no businesses on the beach so make sure you bring your own water!
Technically neither east coast nor west coast, Green Bowl is located at the center of the southern coast of the Bukit Peninsula (near Bali Cliff resort) and is surfable during the wet months. Getting to the actual spot (or rather your return climb) is a bit of a trek down some 500 steps. Suitable for experienced surfers and up, on a good day Green Bowl provides waves of 4 – 6 feet (1.2 – 1.8 m). If you come during a weekday you may even have it all to yourself!
Situated on the east coast of the Bukit, this popular wet season wave is also a decent surf spot for beginners when accompanied by an instructor, though novices should sit out big wave days and beware the strong current.
Nusa Dua is a reef break, with the reef located some 500 meters off shore. The off-season west/northwest winds provide solid swell and the peaks line up it is a truly excellent wave of 4 – 10 feet (1.2 – 3 m) with some nice tubes. These waves make Nusa Dua perhaps the most popular Bali rainy season surf spot, though the big wet season crowds do not rival those of the dry months.
Like many of Bali’s famous spots, Serangan was once “secret”. However, this gem of wet season surfing is growing in popularity. Located off the east coast of Pulau Serangan or Turtle Island near the Makro warehouse club store, Serangan is about an hour’s car journey from Kuta. The spot is marked by a large stone jetty.
A reef break, waves can reach 4 – 6 feet (1.2 – 1.8 m) with a southerly swell, providing a mix of lefts and rights. Depending on the swell, Serangan can be surfed by all levels, but be careful of the sharp rocks and coral on the floor.
North of Serangan and southeast of Denpasar, Sanur is a double reef location, with both Sanur reef and Tandjung. The spot is off a nice white sand beach so expect crowds. Beware of possessive locals (or at least respect them!) and the sharp rocks and coral slab.
Sanur’s wave is a nice right-hander that can reach 4 – 6 feet (1.2 – 1.8 m) on good days, resulting in some decent barrels. Not as reliable as some other spots, this wave is more coveted and a low swell makes the surf less common. However, there are good waves to be had. The right edge of the spot (watch out for the coral!) is suitable only for experts, but the left side is surfable for the less experienced.
Not to be confused with the country of the same name, this surf spot is another right-hand break that is suitable for all levels of surfer. It is of medium consistency so good swell means bigger crowds, though the spot is known for not being crowded. Only surfable at half tide and up, some consider Sri Lanka a generally fun and easy wave, though it can be challenging and even dangerous considering the shallow coral reef.
Sri Lanka is located near Nusa Dua in front of Club Med. It provides some more manageable conditions when Nusa is too intimidating. If you are not staying nearby, accessing it may be a bit time consuming.
Other Bali Rainy Season surf spots include Hyatt Reef, Niko Beach, Mushroom Rock, Geger Beach and Ketewel.
So if you’re looking for something a bit different when visiting Bali — whether its for surfing world famous waves, checking out the island’s unique culture or just getting away from it all — the wet season may have just what your looking for. If you live in the northern hemisphere, it may also be a great time to get away from those cold winters.