Wondering how to choose the perfect board for your trip to Bali? Whether you’re a beginner looking to catch your first wave or an advanced surfer chasing the big ones, having the right equipment can make all the difference. In this guide, we’ll explore the critical factors tailored to Bali’s unique space, consider your surfing level, and focus on how you can make the right choice when buying your own surfboard. Dive in to ensure your next ride is with the ideal board beneath your feet.

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Understanding Bali’s Surf: Matching Boards to Waves

Bali’s stunning coastline is a playground for those who love surfing, boasting a variety of conditions that cater to different skill levels. Before you paddle out, remember that waves and surfboards are as unique as the individuals who ride them. Matching your board to the ocean’s conditions isn’t just about enhancing your performance, it’s about ensuring safety and making the most of your surfing adventure while riding waves.

Your ability level also significantly influences the choice of the right board for your surfing experience. For novices, picking the right first board can make the learning process easier, while for those who are more experienced, a different type of board can challenge their skills and increase their thrill. Indeed, the thrill of surfing stems from not only conquering the waves but also from mastering the equipment that makes it possible.

Reef Breaks and Board Types

Reef breaks are one of Bali’s iconic surf spots, promising an adrenaline-pumping ride for the experienced surfer. These breaks are characterized by faster, steeper waves, presenting a thrilling challenge that requires both speed and maneuverability. This is where shortboards come in, designed with these challenging conditions in mind.

Shortboards, with their compact size and lightweight build, are ideal for taking on Bali’s reef breaks. They allow for quick speed generation and provide the maneuverability needed to navigate the nuanced conditions of these waves. But remember, these boards are best handled by surfers with a high ability level who can leverage these features effectively.

Beach Breaks: Softboards and Longboards

On the other end of the spectrum, Bali’s sandy beach breaks offer a more forgiving environment, ideal for novices and local surfers dipping their toes into the surfing world. These breaks feature slow, mushy waves that are best tackled with longboards or softboards.

High buoyancy and momentum, the characteristics of these boards, are two fundamental factors for novice surfers. The high buoyancy allows for easier wave catching, while the momentum provides a stable ride. This makes longboards and softboards a popular choice for beginners, setting a firm foundation for their surfing journey.

The Beginner Surfer’s Go-To: Soft Top Surfboards

An image of a collection of colourful surfboards

When you’re just starting out, knowing which surfboard to pick can seem overwhelming. But for novices, the choice is clear: softer surfboards, also known as foamies. These boards are crafted with beginners in mind, offering high buoyancy that makes it easier to ride waves. They’re also lightweight and resistant to damage, making them a practical choice for those still learning the basics of riding the ocean.

But it’s not just about the type of board; the dimensions matter too. A soft surfboard usually benefits from being wider and thicker, as these features further increase buoyancy and stability. With an above-average paddling/flotation ratio, these boards facilitate easier riding, which is a crucial skill for beginners to master.

On the flip side, a shorter board often comes with greater manoeuvrability, however, this can come at the expensive of stability, which can make them incompatible for a first-time surfer.

So, what size should a beginner start with? Most adults, up to a weight of about 75 kgs, are well-suited to a 7’0 foamie baord for their initial surfing experiences. This size offers a compromise between stability and manoeuvrability, providing a gentle introduction to the thrilling world of being on the water.

Price and Quality Balance

Joining the surfing community doesn’t have to break the bank. Soft beginner surfboards, with their foam construction, offer an affordable option for novices. Though price is a consideration, balancing this with quality is equally important. After all, a board is an investment in your wave-crashing journey, and quality directly impacts your surfing experience.

When assessing the quality of a foam board, pay attention to materials, craftsmanship, and design features. These elements should withstand the powerful waves in Bali, ensuring your new board lasts as you progress in your surfing skills. A higher quality beginner surfboard might have a higher upfront price, but it will likely endure more wear and tear and remain functional over time, making it a worthwhile long-term investment.

Transitioning from Soft to Hard Boards

As you become more comfortable in the ocean and your skills start to improve, you might find that you’re ready for a new challenge. At this point, it’s advisable to transition from a softer board to a hardboard.

Hardboards offer a new level of performance and can further enhance your surfer progression, allowing you to tackle bigger waves and learn more advanced manoeuvres.

Finding Your Fit: Size and Volume

But surfing isn’t a one-size-fits-all sport, and finding the right board goes beyond merely choosing between a softboard or a hardboard. A surfer’s height and weight are significant factors in determining an appropriate board size, which ensures suitability and stability while in the water.

While body weight impacts the board’s volume, affecting its buoyancy and stability, it’s also essential to consider the surfboard’s size. A new surfboard that’s too big or too small can hinder your performance and progression.

When determining the optimal balance and floating experience, take into account:

Personalizing Your Paddle Power

Size matters when it comes to boards, and it goes beyond just the length. The surfboard’s stability in the water, a vital aspect for beginners still honing their balance, is determined by its width and thickness.

Stable surfboards with adequate width and thickness make it easier for the surfer to paddle. Easier paddling is not only less physically demanding, but it’s also vital for efficient wave catching. After all, catching waves is what it’s all about!

Balancing Length and Maneuverability

As with all things in life, finding the right board is all about balance. In this case, it’s a balance between length and manoeuvrability. Longer boards provide more stability, making them an excellent choice for novices who are just learning to balance and ride waves.

But as your skills progress, you may crave more control and the ability to perform tricks and turns. That’s where the shorter board comes in. This range of boards offers greater manoeuvrability, allowing for more dynamic movements. However, they also require a higher ability level to manage effectively, making them a goal for many beginner surfers to work towards.

For those looking for a middle ground between a shortboard and a longer board, mid-length boards provide versatility in style and the ability to catch waves early, suited for various wave sizes.

Advanced Surfers: Choosing Boards for Performance

An image of a man shortboard surfing

As surfers progress to a higher ability level, their board requirements evolve. Veteran surfers need a board capable of matching their enhanced skills and the increasingly challenging waves they tackle. That’s where performance boards like shortboards come into play.

Shortboards are designed for active and aggressive surfing, enabling excellent control and precision even in medium to large waves. They’re ideally suited to experienced surfers who are comfortable with quick speed generation and manoeuvrability on their own board, showcasing their unique surfing style.

Fish surfboards also cater to surfers beyond the beginner level. These boards are specifically designed to perform advanced turns and carvings, particularly in smaller waves. They allow more experienced surfers to further refine their skills and challenge their abilities.

Shortboards Require Skill

Shortboards aren’t for the faint-hearted. Surfers need to be comfortable, quick, and deliberate in order to maintain momentum and achieve a good surfing stance. These skills are essential for a successful surfing experience. Moreover, they demand a steeper wave face to drop in, making them ideal for Bali’s challenging reef break waves.

These boards offer more control over manoeuvrability and are less forgiving of window rolling and involuntary body motions. In other words, they’re tailored for experienced surfers who are ready to take their surfing to the next level and tackle more complicated maneuvers, unlike a first board which is designed for novices.

Customized Epoxy and PU Boards

For those looking to make their mark in the surfing space, a customized epoxy or PU board might be the answer. These boards offer different performance advantages, with epoxy boards increasing speed on small waves and PU boards offering better control in choppy and hollow wave conditions.

Epoxy board has several advantages:

The beauty of these boards lies in their customization. Seasoned surfers can discuss their preferences, ability level, and intended wave conditions with a shaper to create a board tailored to their needs, optimizing individual performance.

The Social Wave: Surf Camps and Bali Surf Lessons

Surfing isn’t just a sport, it’s a lifestyle, and it’s a lifestyle that’s best experienced in the company of others who share your passion. And what better way to immerse yourself in this vibrant surf culture than by joining a Bali surf camp? These camps cater to a range of guests, including:

They offer a friendly and comfortable environment with traditional grass huts or villa accommodations.

In addition to the camaraderie and the unique cultural experience, these camps offer comprehensive services that enhance your surfing journey. Some of these services include:

All these elements work together to provide a holistic surfing experience.

Expert Advice at Your Service

Choosing a surfboard can be a daunting task, especially for novices. That’s where top-tier advice comes in. Whether it’s seasoned surfers, specialists in surf shops, or instructors from surf schools, learning from the insights of these experts can guide you towards the perfect board for your needs.

Beginners, in particular, are advised to take Bali surf lessons and get help from an instructor to choose a surfboard suitable for their ability level. As a beginner surfer, it’s important to consult experienced surf shop staff or professional instructors who can assess a surfer’s skill level, discuss preferences, and guide them toward the most suitable board for their needs.

Joining the Surfer’s Paradise

Joining a Bali surf camp is more than just about learning to surf – it’s about becoming part of a community. These camps offer:

The social aspect of surf camps doesn’t end with making friends. As you improve your surfing skills, you’ll have a supportive network of fellow surfers to:

Accessories and Essentials: Beyond the Board

An image of a man holding a surfboard about to enter the sea

Surfing is about more than just riding a board; it’s a sport that requires the right accessories to enhance your performance and safety. One such accessory is the surfboard fin, whose size and number must be appropriately selected to ensure desired levels of stability and manoeuvrability on a surfboard.

The rash vest, another must-have accessory for surfers, offers the following benefits:

The Role of Fins in Stability and Control

Fins are to boards what wheels are to a car – they provide stability, performance, and drive. They’re an essential accessory that influences the surfboard’s behavior in the water.

Your choice of fin setup might vary based on your ability level and the wave conditions. Beginners, for instance, benefit from using a thruster (three-fin) setup which offers greater stability and is easier to use while learning how to surf. On the other hand, veterans might opt for different setups to suit their style and the wave conditions.

Protecting Your Skin: The Importance of Rash Vests

While the thrill of surfing might make you lose track of time, the sun certainly won’t. Spending hours in the water under the Bali sun can lead to severe sunburn. That’s where vests come in. These vests protect against sunburn, making them a must-have.

In addition to providing UV protection, vests also help to:

Made from durable materials like Lycra, polyester, and nylon, these vests are a must-have.

Keep in mind, the comfort and effectiveness of a rash vest in preventing chafing and sunburn hinges on its correct size. An ill-fitting one can cause discomfort and compromise these benefits.

Riding the Right Wave: When to Surf in Bali

Equipped with your board and gear, you’re ready to embrace the waves. But, when exactly is the best surf time in Bali? The dry season from April to October provides the best surf conditions, with June to September being particularly ideal. These months see the southeast trade winds generate consistent, top-class waves along Bali’s west coast, making it a popular time among surfers.

Monsoon Surfing: Fewer Crowds, More Waves

But what if you find yourself in Bali during the wet season? Fear not, Bali is a surfer’s paradise all year round! The monsoon season might bring heavier rainfall and onshore winds, but it also brings fewer crowds. This means a bigger amount of waves for you and your friends, and a decidedly more relaxed vibe.

The wet season, lasting from November to March, typically brings choppier conditions and smaller, less consistent waves on the west coast. However, for the 2023/2024 rainy season, due to the El Nino weather pattern, Bali is expected to experience a drier and warmer rainy season. This means more favorable surf conditions with less rain and calmer water, making it an excellent time for surfers to visit.


So there you have it, everything you need to know to choose the right surfboard for your Bali surf adventure! Whether you’re a beginner or at an advanced level, the right board can enhance your performance, boost your confidence, and increase your enjoyment of this exhilarating sport. Remember, there’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to surfboards. It’s about finding the right fit for your ability level, the water conditions, and your personal preferences. So gear up, seek advice, and get ready to ride the waves of beautiful Bali!

Frequently Asked Questions

A foam surfboard with a lot of volume and stability is the best choice for beginners looking to start to surf. While it might be tempting to start looking at the best surfboards money can buy, as a beginner, we’d recommend going with an entry-level model before you fully commit to a big investment.

How does the surfer’s skill level influence the choice of a surfboard?

The surfer’s skill level determines the choice of surfboard. Beginners usually use larger, more stable boards, while veterans switch to smaller boards as their skills improve. However, as you get more experience with other surfboards, you’ll soon learn what works for you and your surfing style.

Can a surfboard be customized to fit specific preferences?

Absolutely, surfboard customization is a common practice. By working with a shaper and sharing your preferences and style, you can have a board tailored to fit your needs perfectly. The best boards are ones that are suited to your needs and allow you to hit the water safely, and it can take a while to get things just right.

When is the best time to surf in Bali?

The best time to surf in Bali is during the dry season from June to September. There is a range of different spots around Bali that are suited to people of a certain level, which is why we’d recommend working with an expert to assess your ability level and make sure you don’t overextend yourself.