Why Visit and Surf Bali in Rainy Season
31 October 2018
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 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 don’t like noisy parties, packed clubs or the bar scene, a bit of wetness will help you to relax and keep things quiet. 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 is Keramas beach. It’s a right hander that provides big and fast waves, as well as deep tubes. Pros and expert surfers are eager to attempt its tricky swell. Keramas is also the site of international competitions.
If you want to avoid the bigger crowds head out in the early morning. Be careful with the reef and rock bottom!
Rustic and unspoiled, Green Bowl (also known as Green Ball or Green Balls) lies somewhat off the beaten path. As for now there are still no businesses on the beach so make sure you bring your own water!
You can find Green Bowl at the center of the southern coast of the Bukit Peninsula (near Bali Cliff resort). It works best during the wet months and getting to the actual spot is a bit of a hike – 327 steps, if want to know exactly. 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 some 500 meters off shore. The west/northwest winds provide solid swell and form a excellent wave of 4 – 10 feet 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, Serangan is about an hour’s drive from Kuta. You can’t miss the spot, because of its 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. Surfers of all levels surf Serangan, but the sharp rocks and coral are something to look out for.
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 on good days, resulting in some decent barrels. Although it’s not very reliable, it’s still a popular spot and there are good waves to be had. Experts love the right edge of the spot, whilst beginners or intermediates surf the left side.
Don’t confuse it with the country of the same name. this surf spot is another right-hand break that is suitable for all levels of surfer. Sri Lanka isn’t the most consistent spot, but when it works it’s great. Only surfable at half tide and up, some consider Sri Lanka a generally fun and easy wave. Although it’s sometimes challenging and even dangerous, considering the shallow coral reef.
Sri Lanka lies in front of Club Med, near Nusa Dua. 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.
If you’re looking for a bit different of an experience in Bali, a cooler, greener one — whether it’s for surfing world famous waves, checking out the island’s unique culture and cuisine or just getting away from it all — the “wet season” may have just what you need. And if you live in the northern hemisphere, it’s also a safe haven from cold winters.