Even if you’re just getting into surfing, you’ve likely heard about Bali, the “Island of the Gods”. It is one of Asia’s most popular tourist destinations — and for good reason. Chock full of incredible beaches and countless surf spots, Bali is also home to a surfing culture that, despite its young age, rivals those of California, Hawaii and Australia.
When should beginners surf Bali?
Bali’s peak or high season lasts from April to October — the island’s dry months. The remaining part of the year is known as the wet or “off” season for both surfing and tourism. If you want sun and a lively time, hit Bali during the dry season, when you’re sure to mingle with many other tourists and fellow beginner surfers.
On the other hand, the rainy months can still have sunny days and some great surfing. Beginners who don’t mind rain should consider the wet season for surfing Bali, since the waves are smaller and less intimidating, but still consistent. You’ll also avoid the crowds and benefit from lower off-season prices. It should also be noted that the change in winds during the rainy season benefits right-hand waves at places like Green Bowl, Keramas, Sanur, Nusa Dua, Balian and Medewi.
Where can beginners surf Bali?
Famous surf spots like Uluwatu, Impossibles and Padang Padang (the “Balinese Pipeline”) attract experienced surfers, pros and daredevils from across the globe. As a beginner, however, you naturally want to find out about surf spots that won’t put your life in danger the first few times you’re out on the waves.
Here are 5 beginner surf spots on the magical island of Bali:
1. Padang Padang Right
Located on the surfing mecca that is the Bukit Peninsula in Bali’s far south, Padang Padang Right is next to the more famous barrelling wave of Padang Padang Left. “Right” is a beautiful sandy beach break suitable for beginners and intermediate surfers. During high tide this long, unbroken wave is an ideal spot for practicing your technique and taking the step from surfing white water to unbroken waves. Just 3km north of the temple at Uluwatu, the beach at Padang Padang is also popular with swimmers, sunbathers and other water sports enthusiasts.
Also on the Bukit, north of Uluwatu on the northwest portion of the peninsula, is Dreamland. Dreamland is a sandy-bottom break that works well for beginner-level surfing when the swell isn’t big. Stick to Dreamland’s soft, flat waves. When the swell is approaching 6 feet or more, leave it to experienced surfers.
Bali’s most popular surfing location and centre for Balinese surf culture, Kuta provides everything you might want on your surf holiday except peace and quiet. As Kuta is Bali’s original surf town and party spot, its backpacker/tourist scene is big. Expect large crowds in town and on the beach. There is also a very busy nightlife scene during the high season. Despite the crowds, the wave itself at Kuta is a good place to learn the art of surfing, as are some of the neighbouring sandy beach breaks like Legian, Tuban and Seminyak. Surf when the currents are gentler and follow the advice and instructions of your surf school.
On the island’s southwest coast, about three hours north of Kuta, is the smooth left-hander of Medewi, providing amazing 30-second long waves. Known as a friendly spot for surfers of all levels, Medewi beach is also a nice place to hang out and enjoy local seafood.
Also located on Bali’s southwest coast to the north of Kuta, the popular tourist destination of Canggu has waves for all levels of surfers in both wet and dry seasons. However, be sure you don’t cut your teeth on the more powerful breaks like Canggu’s famous barrels. Beginners should stick to spots like Eco Beach and Batu Bolong when the swell is mellow.
More tips for a beginner’s Bali surf trip
Choosing the right surf school for beginners
Most surf schools in Bali offer lessons for absolute beginners. However, be sure to choose one that has everything you want in a surf holiday. Are the instructors certified by an official body like the ISA (International Surfing Association)? Is it a camp? How is the accommodation? How far is it from a good beginner’s wave? When choosing your first surfcamp in Bali, ensure that it ticks all the boxes for a great entry-level surfing trip.
What kind of board should I use?
Surf schools will usually provide you with a board that is suited to your needs as a beginner. However, if you’re looking to buy your own board, tailored to your individual tastes, make sure it’s the right one. This means getting a surfboard that matches your height and weight. Keep in mind that boards which are too big are hard to turn and manoeuvre, while smaller boards can make it more difficult to get speed and catch waves. This surfboard size chart should clear things up a bit.
As a beginner, it might be a good idea for you to try out the learner soft boards at your surf school first and then move on to something like a Mini-Mal. For more information check out this article on buying the right surfboard.
While Bali can be a great place for beginner surfers, make sure you do your research and come prepared. Then you’re sure to enjoy a novice surf holiday that can’t be beat!