Just the name conjures up blissful days, beaches and boards; Bali maybe a bucket list destination for most, but for surfers, it is a treasure trove of world-class surf spots!
No matter if you're on an old hand or a shaky legged learner; Bali is the ideal place to hunt down some dreamy barrels or simply get to grips with the sport. Either way- it’s an ideal spot no matter your surfing level.
Whether you like reef breaks, sandy peaks or just watching the pros in awe, Bali has got you covered with everything from heaving waves to friendly beach breaks.
In this guide we explain when to go, how to get there, where to get the best waves and a whole lot more! If it’s your first surf trip we’ve got some top packing tips and essential rules to travelling with boards so you don’t find yourself all at sea!
If that's not enough, we've also highlighted six of the most popular beaches in Bali so you know how to get the most out of them.
But hey, it's ok, maybe menacing sets just aren't your scene? If you're looking for a holiday to suit the best of both worlds - sand, surf, sun and fun, then Bali is just the ticket! So what are you waiting for....it's time to get on board!
Bali doesn't really have an offseason. Sitting just south of the equator, visitors are drawn to beautiful Bali all-year-round due to its perfect waves, warm water, offshore winds, and tropical climate.
Whether you're getting to Bali by train, boat or plane a few insider tips can help you to the island of the gods trouble-free. Local transport is also worth researching; from dodgy taxis to precarious motorbike services, you'll need to keep your wits about you getting around this small island. Keep reading for some top safety travel tips for Bali.
Bali's popularity has made this little island very accessible from all around the globe. It means you're spoilt for choice when it comes to getting to the island by air or sea.
Be prepared to take a chill-pill when getting around Bali, the traffic moves at snail pace. As a guide, it's likely to take one to two hours to drive the 14km between Nusa Dua and Kuta.
Type: Reef break | Tide: All tides | Swell: South-West | Wind: North-East | Best for: All skill sets
Balian (“sacred” in the local lingo) is the perfect place to unwind and enjoy the waves for a few days. Just an hour's drive from Kuta on the South West coast, Balian's unspoilt coastlines makes for a calming retreat from chaotic Kuta and crowded Seminyak. Perfect for those looking to get off the grid (even on a tranquil paradise like Bali) Balian's surf will suit all skill levels. Just be sure to time your trip well as conditions will differ depending on the time of year.
The early bird surf is best in Balian as it tends to get pretty blustery later in the day. Perfect for longboards, Balian's left-handers (waves breaking from left to right) are longer and better shaped than its rights, but you should beware of currents when you first enter the water. Once you're in, paddle out about 50 meters to the left for long gnarly rides back to shore.
As with many of the beaches along this side of the Balinese coast, Balian is a black sand beach and not necessarily the nicest spot for a swim. However, there are plenty of great vantage points perfect for spending a lazy afternoon.
Not too far away is Kutuh Beach, a tricky spot to get to but well worth a visit too. Accessible only through an enormous quarry-like ravine; the payoff is that you'll most likely have the place to yourself. And be sure to check out the nearby Soka beach too. Be sure to stick around till dusk where thousands of bats emerge from a hidden cave situated above a Balinese temple. It's a rare attractions you won't want to miss!
Type: Reef break | Tide: All tides | Swell: South West, West 2-12ft | Wind: South, South East, East | Best for: Intermediates & advanced
Uluwatu is one of the most iconic coastal spots in Bali, and for good reason. Depending on the tide, different sections of the reef can offer up dredging left-hand barrels and some very exciting rides.
Thankfully there are a number of peaks you can take off from, which is helpful because the place absolutely packs out with tourists at the slightest hint of swell. Even the walk down to the water’s edge is worth the trip. You’ll have to navigate a number of tourist-packed bars, and spiral down hell’s own staircase to get down to the water’s edge. Don’t let the scenery fool you though, Uluwatu is a serious wave, especially at its peak size. Even on high tide, wiping out on a bigger one will most likely result in you getting scrubbed across the reef. Always remember; if in doubt, don’t go out.
Safety Tip: At mid and low tide, you’ll have to walk a decent distance across coral reefs to get into the surf. Wear booties to avoid reef cuts and if you do get injured, make sure to come straight in and scrub the coral out with some lime or disinfectant. The warm water speeds up bacteria growth, meaning nasty infections are easy to come by.
Type: Beach break | Tide: All tides | Swell: South, South West 1-6ft | Wind: North East | Best for: Beginners
Legian (also known as Double Six) makes up part of the long stretch of Seminyak Beach. It's a learner’s dream, with a variety of surf schools to choose from and endless deck chairs and umbrellas to curl up under and enjoy the view. You can even partake in a spot of fishing if you so fancy!
Double Six is a fairly mushy beach break, great for longboards, fish riders or if you’re just starting out. The shifting sandbanks offer both lefts and rights, and there is always plenty of room to test out your skills (although the best banks will always have a few locals sitting on them). You’ll be lucky to find any barrels here, although Legian does offer longer rides than your typical beach break.
Safety Tip: The sun is the biggest danger here so be sure to get under some shade particularly during the hottest parts of the day. Remember to zinc up, bring plenty of water with you and wear a long sleeve rashie if you have one. They’re not the most fashionable thing in the world, but neither is heat stroke!
Type: Reef break | Tide: All tides | Swell: South-West | Wind: South-East | Best for: Advanced
Padang Padang, so good they named it twice. Also known as the Balinese pipeline, it's a wave only for the best of the best!
The fast long barrelling wave certainly lives up to it's reputation. Breaking over a shallow coral reef. Padang barrels right from the take-off, so you can expect a racetrack all the way to the inside section, which can get extremely hollow on a low tide.
Padang can be ridden in conditions up to 10ft, but anywhere near this, you'll need nerves of steel to even consider paddling out. This spot is certainly not one for the faint-hearted...you have been warned! Perhaps you prefer to just watch the pros? The Rip Curl Cup takes place annually in Padang Padang and is not an event to be missed.
Safety tip: Be careful when duck-diving, especially on low tide, as it is very easy to ding your board on the reef.
Type: Reef break | Tide: All tides | Swell: South, South West | Wind: South, South East, East | Best for: All surfers
New to surfing? Then Kuta is a great place to start! Bali has many famous surf spots for beginners, but none are as popular for surf, sand, a great night out on the town as Kuta. In fact, many of Bali’s south-west beaches provide safe sandy breaks ideal to practise on without doing too much damage to yourself.
The drawback with Kuta is that due to it's popularity it can get very busy in the water - sometimes up to 60 surfers at a time can be found competing for waves. However, due to the varying skill levels of surfer in Kuta you can be sure to sneak a few every so often.
New to the sport? There are a heap of surf schools right on the beach, so whether you need a quick refresh or you're a total novice, check yourself in for some island-style lessons. The best waves in Kuta are usually during the dry season, from April to August with prevailing offshore winds.
And if surfing isn't your thing, kick back and relax at any number of the beach bars along this long stretch of beach.
Type: Reef break | Tide: Mid tide | Swell: South 3-8 ft | Wind: West, South West | Best for: Intermediate to advanced
Previously a secret spot, Serangan is quickly becoming one of Bali’s most popular waves. You’ll have to drive down about 15 minutes’ worth of unsealed road, hold your nose passed a rubbish tip and pay a toll just to get to the place, but don’t worry...the waves make up for it!
The paddle out can look daunting, however near the break wall, and towards the south end there are gaps in the reef you can scarper through.
The wave itself is beyond fun, and can offer rip-able walls, ramp sections and the occasional barrel, sometimes all on the one ride. In front of the break wall you’ll be able to scratch into both lefts and rights, and further north there is a consistent left, however be prepared to battle a strong sweep outside the shelter of the wall.
Safety tip:If you’re newer to the sport, sign up for a lesson or rent a longboard and sit on the south end (to your right as you face the beach). It’s much mellower than the main break.
It's not as easy to pick up spare surf equipment in Bali as it is at home. So make sure you pack the following items for your trip ...
This is all about preparation and a little know-how. Picking your board up at baggage collection to find a big crease in your favourite thruster can certainly ruin a trip. Especially seeing as your shaper will be miles away!
A little preparation and TLC for your board can go a loooong way:
Having travelled to over 40 countries, studied tourism management and worked as a flight attendant for over three years, Natalie knows more than a thing or two about travel! She’s an adventure-lover, whose favourite trips have been trekking Machu Picchu and volunteering in an animal shelter in the Amazon. Qualified in Tier 2 General Insurance General Advice and specialising in travel insurance for the last five years, she in passionate about helping travellers get the most out of their holiday.