Surfing in Bali is surely on the bucket list of every surfer – whether you’re just learning to surf or an experienced waterman.
The “Island of the Gods” is easily the most famous island in Indonesia (which has over 17,500 of them!) and is arguably one of the most famous surf destinations on the planet. For good reason too – warm water, tropical vibes, pumping surf breaks and a low cost of living tick all the boxes fo any surf trip!
I’ve been coming back to Bali again and again for years and although it has changed a lot, underneath all the development it’s still the same fun, tropical island with epic surf that it has always been!
So if you’re planning a surf trip to Bali anytime soon here’s everything you need to know…
Surfing In Bali – The Ultimate Surfers Guide
Bali Surf Season & Weather
Although surfing in Bali is a year round option the time of year you go will have a big impact on both the weather and which surf spots you’ll be paddling out at – so take this next section into serious consideration when planning your Bali surf trip!
- Wet Season = November to March
- Dry Season = May to September
Travelling on the shoulder or wet season does make things cheaper and also less crowded. But just keep in mind that depending on the season you’ll be heading to either the East or West coast to score the best waves…
- Bali East Coast Surf Season = November to March
- Bali West Coast Surf Season = May to September
- Bali Peak Surf Season = May to September, there are consistent pulses of big, clean swell throughout dry season
Basically if you’re looking for the perfect combo of weather and waves then head to the West Coast of Bali in the dry season and you’re sorted with all the major spots lighting up!
Also the water temperature in Bali is tropical all year round, so dig out those bikinis or boardies! In wet season you might want to go with a thermal rashie as well.
Bali Surf Spot Map
Before we delve into the breakdown of all the main surf spots in Bali, including the type of break and the best surf spots for different abilities here a handy Bali surf spot map so you can put everything into perspective!
Top East Coast Surf Spots (Rainy Season)
When it comes to surfing in Bali during the rainy season the East Coast, which offers a huge range of right handers, is the place to head. Here are some of the top spots to paddle out at…
The home of the WSL stop in Bali most surfers worth their salt will know all about this wave. A punchy right hander breaking across a reefy river mouth get ready for barrels and air sections galore. So go channel your inner Toledo or Medina and see how you measure up on this awesome wave!
Green Bowl/Green Ball
Once the hidden gem of the Bukit and a wet season nugget the word has spread about Green Bowl (sometimes call Green Ball) but its secluded location and access still keep the crowds down and there are plenty of waves to be had.
This right hander breaks over a pretty sharp reef so not suitable for beginner surfers – also be careful of the current, you’ve been warned!
Less singular surf spot, more an area with numerous reef breaks Nusa Dua is the home of the best right handers in Bali as well as some infamous big wave surfing. Despite being nestled amongst the luxury resorts that populate the area and the white sandy beaches this is no beginner spot.
Capable of holding a big swell the fast, punchy right handers at Sanur break over a very sharp, very shallow reef – so expert surfers only and be prepared to leave a chunk of skin behind during your session!
Along with Keramas Serangan is one of the most well known wet season waves and as a result it can get a bit crowded when its working. But offering up a selection of lefts and rights there’s plenty of waves to go around so its well worth checking out and has something for intermediates upwards.
Hang on aren’t we talking about surfing in Bali? Not the country, but the surf spot Sri Lanka sits slap in front of the Sofitel Hotel in Nusa Dua. Almost like a right hand Padang its a quick take off, barrel and out – its also pretty busy so get ready to hustle.
Top West Coast Surf Spots (Dry Season)
Surfing in Bali during the dry season is a West Coast affair – where some of the most famous left handers on the planet begin to work and offer up some epic rides…
Airports – also know as Kuta Reef – sits a short boat ride off of the main part of Kuta Beach, surprisingly either side of the Airport runway (I wonder how it got named?!). This deep water reef can handle some serious size and it can be easy to underestimate it when looking from the beach.
Offering both lefts and rights (depending on the side you surf) it’s best left to the more advanced surfers.
A mellow semi reef and beach break Berawa offer up both lefts and rights.
Situated right in front of Finns Beach Club (check out my full Bali Beach Club Guide here) you’re not too far from a post surf beer, or simply chill in the pool and watch the waves after your session!
Great for all levels of surfer
Echo Beach sits a few hundred meters up the coast from the main section of Canggu. This spot consists of 2 main breaks – the reef and the beach. Echo Reef is a short but punch left hander, which can offer a few cheeky cover ups.
Echo Beach is again super punch with some cover up sections and offers both left and rights.
With both options be aware of the tide as both can get super shallow and unforgiving on the rocks below!
This fun little reef is actually not in front of the beach bar that bares the same name, it’s just off to the right towards Echo. A deep reef it runs for agggggges and I’ve clocked up rides well over 200m long. The take off can be punchy but then get prepared for some serious rail to rail game on the easy walling sections.
Can be a bit of a nightmare with lessons out there, but great for a fun surf or on a longboard, but can also handle some serious size.
Ah Medewi! A goofy footed long boarders dream! This fun left reels for days across a rocky bottom point and trust me your arms will be like noodles after a session here but for all the right reasons! It was a bit of a hidden off the track spot a few years back but don’t expect an empty session anymore.
Also reef boots might be a consideration as there are plenty of urchins kicking about!
The Bukit Peninsular (Dry Season)
Seeing as the Bukit Peninsular is ram packed with world class waves I figured I’d give it its own section in the guide, and if your a serious surfer then surfing in Bali isnt complete without ticking these spots off your to do list! As a rule of thumb though if you’re wanting to get the best of this area then dry season is the best time to hit it up.
Fast and punchy, the left hand reef at Balangan is great on all tides, although low tide does offer a much more advanced wave, especially with a big swell. The key at Balangan is speed to make the section! A great spot for more experienced surfers its also much less crowded than other spots in the area.
One of the more crowded waved in the Bukit due to the fact it offers waves for all levels of surfer and the fact the beachfront is home to numerous luxury hotels and resorts. Best at low tide and offer both lefts and rights (admittedly the left is much longer) it’s a greta step up spot – but when the swells pumping there’s plenty of barrels to be had for advanced surfers.
One of the most consistent, fun and picturesque waves on the Bukit, the lefts at Bingin are a Mecca for those looking for clean, open barrels. Often crowded and with a tight take off spot – but well worth it when you lock into one of those reeling lefts.
Named after the fact it looks much more makable than it is the speed of the barrels and sections at Impossibles are picture perfect, reeling for well over 400m. If you catch it on the right conditions though (over 5 foot at mid to low tide) get prepared for the waves of your life…and a paddle out to match! Dont be fooled by the perfection and beauty of this wave though – advanced surfers only!
Paddle, drop, tuck, get spat out – that’s Padang Padang in a nutshell! This fast hollow left hand reef break is one of the most famous barrels in the world and home to the Ripcurl Padang Padang Cup. Honestly it’s incredible to watch but definitely reserved for advanced surfers only!
If you’re beginner or intermediate the inside reef at Padang does offer a more chilled affair, but only when the swell permits!
Saving the best – and most famous – for last! Seriously what can I tell you about Uluwatu (aka Ulus) that you probably dont already know? The cave paddle out, the speed of the section at Racetracks, THOSE barrels. Uluwatu is pretty legendary and the chances are if you haven’t heard about it you shouldn’t be paddling out there anyway – so go grab a cold beer at Single Fin instead and watch the show!
Where To Learn To Surf In Bali
When it comes to where to learn to surf in Bali there are 4 main spots that offer beginner surf lessons that I’d recommend;
- Canggu – one of the most popular options
- Kuta – this beach break is perfect for beginners and also one of the cheapest places for lessons
- Seminyak – much like Kuta, but with a slightly higher price tag due to the area!
- Padang (inside) – even though this is a reef break on smaller swells they do also do lessons here
Many sites also recommend Nusa Lembongan as a good place to learn, but personally I’d strongly advise against this due to the shallow reefs and increasing crowds. If you want to learn to surf safely a mellow sand bottom beach break is the ideal option!
…trust me, I’ve worked as a surf coach all over the globe!
When it comes to surf lessons in Bali you can get a private local lessons for around 350,000IDR ($35AUD, £20, $25USD) or pay a premium and go for an accredited surf school (like Mojo or Odyssey) but this will be much more expensive at around 700,000IDR ($70AUD, £40, $50USD), so double the price. What this will however get you is a certified surf coach, decent surf kit and insurance.
I’m all for supporting locals and they’re great if you just want to give it a try, but honestly the quality and safety of an accredited lesson are something I highly advise.
Best Surf Spots For Intermediates
Already comfortable on unbroken waves, smashing out some turns and wanting some solid waves to get your teeth into? No worries there are plenty of surf spots in Bali suitable for intermediate surfers – but here are some of my favourites.
- Padang (inside)
- Green Bowl
- Kuta Beach
- Kuta Reef (Airports)
- Old Mans
- Echo Beach
- Uluwatu (depending on the swell!)
Keep in mind that all of these spots can hold a big swell and when they pump it’ll be advanced surfers only – I’ll leave it down to your judgement on when to call it quits!
Best Surf Spots For Advanced Surfers
As well as being able to enjoy all the beginner and intermediates spots (many of which can hold a solid swell so can become advanced waves in the right conditions!) here are some of the advanced waves that Bali has to offer…although you’ve probably heard of most of them already!
- Padang Padang
- Sri Lanka
To be honest if you’re an advanced surfer you’ll probably just be heading to the Bukit – but trust me it’s worth having a look around at some of the other fun waves Bali has to offer too.
The Best Surf Camps In Bali
With camps surf camps in Canggu, Java, Nusa Lembongan, The Mentawais and even Sumbawa Mojo Surf certainly has the largest range of surf camps in Bali and Indonesia as a whole! All their camps are clean, comfortable and certainly more flashpacker than you’d expect from a surf camp!
Their Canggu Surf Camp is the perfect spot to learn to surf in Bali though, right on Batu Balong a walking distance from the beach, bars and restaurant. And when you’re not partying or surfing you can relax in the pool and escape the Bai heat!
They also run some pretty awesome Bali surf trips too (linking together their surf camps) which are ideal for those looking for waves but who want to explore some more too.
Another big name on the luxury surf camp list it’s no wonder than LaPoint have a Canggu surf camp in their portfolio! Not quite as central as Mojo but still boasting all the flashpacker vibes you’ll find plenty of Scandinavians here!
Definitely one of the pricey options, but all their camps are more like surf villas than anything else!
If you’re looking for a smaller, more boutique surf camp then Dreamsea is a solid choice. With surf camps in Canggu and Uluwatu (well actually more Padang!) they’ve created some seriously awesome hipster, white washed vibes.
Admittedly the Canggu option is out of town a bit, but the Uluwatu one if slap on the ocean and absolutely stunning!
Ticket To Ride
Although not a permanent fixture in Bali, Ticket To Ride run a couple of Bali surf trips each year – suitable for all levels of surfer. These include their Canggu Surf Camp, Medewi Road Trip, Island Hoppers (over to Lombok and Lembongan) or combining them all into and Ultimate 6 Week Bali Surf Trip.
Their coaches are some of the best I’ve ever encountered (and also run their popular South Africa Surf Adventure) so if you really want to take your surfing to the next level (now matter what level that is) you’re in good hands with them!
Kima Surf has been running Bali surf camps since 1995 and they’ve put their experience to good use – with options in Seminyak, Padang, Canggu and Green Bowl, as well as villa options in Canggu and Seminyak…oh and the Kima Boat too over in the Maluku Islands!
With a range of dorm and private rooms all their camps cater for all budgets and are all seriously gorgeous!
Rapture Surf Camps
Rapture (who also have camps in Portugal, Nicaragua and Costa Rica) have two Bali surf camps – Bali Padang and Bali Cliff. Bali Padang is as you might expect at Padang Padang, whereas the Bali Cliff is down towards Green Bowl – making it an ideal option for the wet season.
With both options expect lots of creature comforts, awesome pools and pumping waves!
Bali Surf Resorts
Want to combine all the creature comforts of a good hotel with world class waves on your doorstep? Well here are some of the best surf resorts in Bali – ideal for surfers with a bit more of a budget or travelling with a partner or family who want somewhere a bit more luxurious to relax!
You’ll instantly recognise the pool and logo of Kommune as it’s splashed all over the WSL each year when the world tour comes to town! Situated slap bang on Keramas surf break this is an epic spot to stay. With beachfront pool and restaurants offering views of the waves, in-house spa and yoga studio for post paddle warm downs and plenty of cold cocktails! I had a blast staying here – you can check out my full review in this post.
Overlooking the reeling left hander of Medewi (one of my favourite surf spots in Bali) Bombora Waveloadge is a surfers delight! With an infinity pool that you can watch the waves from, in house stay and relatively budget friendly rooms it’s ideal for those who want to be based on the beach.
“The Residence” is also the perfect option for honeymooners or small groups/families – with its own private pool (overlooking the waves of course) and amenities.
Como UMA (Canggu)
If Canggu is where you want to head then look no further than Como UMA. These luxury eco hotel overlooks Old Mans with Echo Reef and Echo Beach less than a 2 minute walk from the doorstep!
The chilled out beach club is also the perfect spot fo a sunset beer and for those just looking to learn to surf the in-house surf school offers lessons and longer surf packages.
Anantara Hotels are some of the most luxurious I’ve ever stayed at (check out my review of Anantara Dhigu in The Maldives here!) and their Uluwatu hotel is no exception. Right on the ocean it is actually closest to Impossible surf spot, with Uluwatu a short drive around the corner.
Certainly the bets option for those looking for luxury, but the price tag might be a decider for some!
Uluwatu Surf Villas (Uluwatu)
A firm favourite amongst surfers from around the world Uluwatu Surf Villas is right on one of the best breaks on planet and with an epic setup too.
Bulgari Resort (Uluwatu)
Another Uluwatu option, the Bulagri Resort offers some truly stunning clifftop views from the infinity pool and a range of private pithing the resort. Choose from a one bedroom villa for a romantic getaway through to the 5 bedroom mansion for the ultimate family or group Bali surf trip!
Bali Surf Charters
Dreamweaver Surf Charter
This is the one I’ve been on and had an absolute blast!
Covering Bali, Lombok and Sumbawa the A/C cabin is basic but comfortable and the crew are super experienced in finding the best waves for the conditions. Grab a spot on their week long trip from $1500AUD ($1037USD, £820)
Bali Surf Instructor Courses
If you’re looking at becoming a surf instructor then Bali is an epic spot to complete your training! At the moment there is only 1 accredited surf instructor course in Bali, with start dates year round.
For those who haven’t surfed much there is a 12 week “zero to hero” style course based in Canggu combining heaps of coaching, day trips around Bali and even surf trips to spots like G-Land, so you’ll get to experience lots of what Bali has to offer as well as pushing your surfing to the next level! It comes complete with villa style accommodation and loads of extras.
As an added bonus the first 6 spots on each course date include a free flight too, so its well worth getting in early and nabbing that one!
If you’re already a competent surfer they also offer a more condense 8 and 4 week surf instructor course option – but obviously with less coaching. All 3 options culminate in the ISA Level 1 and surf lifesaver awards – world recognised certifications which will allow you to teach globally.
Board Rental & Board Buying (Or Bring Your Own?)
When it comes to buying v renting surfboard in Bali you a lot will come down to how you’re travelling around, your level or surf ability and of course how long you’re spending in Bali!
You can rent a surfboard in Bali relatively cheaply – around 50,000IDR ($5AUD, £2.70, $3.50USD) for a couple of hours so for beginners this is a no brainer and the perfect way to dip in and out when you fancy a paddle.
For more experienced surfers advanced kit can still be rented, but it will be much more expensive and very limited in selection.
Buying boards in Bali can be relatively cheap too, with a brand new board from companies such as Freedom Movement for around 5,000,000IDR ($500AUD, £270, $350USD). However the consensus amongst the surf community is that boards made in Bali aren’t quite as robust and tend to ding (or even snap!) much more easily.
The bottom line is if you’re coming to Bali for a serious surf trip, it’s best to bring your own kit!
Check out my surf trip essentials here and get packing!
Custom Board Bags
If you’re on the look out for a new board bag you can get custom board bags made in Bali for a fraction of the price they cost in places like Oz, UK and USA. This is great news if you’ve got a fairly odd shaped board (such as fishes or mini longboards) or are looking to invest in a coffin board bag for your travels.
There are shops all over the island but be warned spots like Canggu are more expensive than the little locals spots or outside major tourist areas.
Personally I get all my board bags made by Oros Board Cover, in between Poppies 1 and Poppies 2 in Kuta. Not only is the owner super friendly and helpful but the bags are extremely well made and he turns them around in around 48 hours!
I got a custom, 6’6, double board bag (you get to pick all the colours and strap styles as well as adding additional pockets if needed) and upgraded it to 20mm padding all around for 900,000IDR ($90AUD, £50, $64USD).
To put this into context the same bag in the UK (non custom) would set you back around £150 – so 3 times the price!
If I’d just wanted to stick to the standard 10mm padding it would’ve been 750,000IDR ($75AUD, £43, $53USD) but when you’re dealing with airline baggage handlers I’d say the upgrade is more than worth it!
I’ve spent 2 years travelling with my last coffin bag from Oros (including the Mentawais, South Africa, Mozambique and Australia) and it’s held up perfectly – with solid straps, zips and padding, so he comes highly recommended.
Drop him a What’s App on +62 819-1650-8424 and he’ll hook you up!
The WSL Corona Bali Protected Surf Comp
No guide to surfing in Bali would be complete without mentioning the yearly WSL stop at Keramas Beach would it?
The worlds top surfers descend on the island to tear apart one one of the best right handers it has to offer – with the likes of Kelly Slater, John John Florence, Gabriel Medina and Filipe Toledo all battling it out to be crowned the winner of the 3rd stop on the world tour.
Hosted by Komune Resort, if you’re in Bali when around mid May when the even window is open it’s well worth heading over and watching it with a cold Bintang in hand!
Surfing Beyond Bali
If you’re looking to continue your Bali surf trip elsewhere in Indonesia there are some epic spots super close by where more incredible waves await and some with heaps less crowds too!
One of my personal favourites, this gorgeous little island lies just a 30 minute speedboat from Bali. With a lot less crowds and a much more chilled vibe it’s the perfect Bali escape. Spots like Playgrounds (I love this spot!), Lacerations and Shipwrecks offer up some punchy reef breaks, with plenty of barrels to be had on the right swell.
Off the west coast of Bali lies Java – one of the biggest islands in Indonesia and just like Bali the coastline is packed with surf spots. However unlike Bali many of these spots remain incredible uncrowded! So if you put in the time (either a flight across or a long drive + ferry combo) you’ll be in for a treat.
Red Island would be my pick of the bunch, with some super fun beach breaks and total lack of crowds asides from a few friendly local surfers.
Also if you head that way you can also bounce across to G-Land, famed for heavy, reeling barrels – although if the swell is big a much more forgiving spots called Tiger Tracks (a right hander) offers up some long rides too.
Often referred to as “the next Bali”, Lombok is either a short flight, or 4-5 hour ferry away and is littered with pumping surf spots. Kuta Lombok is the main hub, with a variety of guest houses and surf camps catering for those hunting for waves.
The waves here cater for all levels, with some deep reefs which are surprisingly well adapt for beginner surfers.
Spots like Gerupuk, Ekas and Mawi and offer a huge variety of waves for all levels with the famed Desert Point being the crown jewel…for highly experienced surfers only!
The one thing you should know about surfing on Lombok though is many spots are either remote or need to be accessed by a boat ride from the shore – so it’s not as simple as just paddling out. Something to consider for your time and also budget.
Unfortunately the crowds are starting to build here already so get in quick!
For experienced surfers The Mentawais is the ultimate surfing playground, with more epic surf spots than you care to imagine!
Situated off the west coast of Sumatra it’s not the easiest place to get to (it’ll be a couple of flights from Bali), but you’ll be rewarded with some of the best waves on the planet and stunning tropical backdrops.
Spots like Bank Vaults and Rifles offer big, open barrels whereas spots like Burger World, Beng Bengs and Good Times offer punchy, yet much more forgiving rides!
Check out my full Mentawais guide for all the info.
Bali Travel Info
Getting To Bali
Getting to Bali is pretty easy and affordable these days – with lots of major carriers like Emirates, Singapore Airlines, Qantas, Virgin Australia and Qatar offering long haul flights from Europe, Australia and beyond.
If you’re already in Asia (or Australia for that matter!) it’s also worth checking out the likes of Air Asia, Scoot and Jetstar who all offer low cost flights to Bali.
…personally I smash my dates and route into Skyscanner as a good starting point!
When it comes to visas you’re not actually getting a Bali Visa, you’re getting an Indonesian one! For most countries (including UK, Australia and USA) you’ll get a free 30 day visa on arrival – but make sure you double check with your embassy for the most up to date info on this.
It is possible to extend your visa for a stay of up to 60 days via a visa extension – check out this Bali Visa Extension Guide for full details.
How To Get Around
When it comes to getting around Bali there are a couple of options to choose from – private driver, Grab, local taxi or hiring a scooter.
If you want to go the private driver route (the most convenient and comfortable in my opinion) finding a good Bali driver is a must. Luckily for you my driver (and good friend!) Budah said I can pass his details on – so drop him a Whats App on +62 819-9785-1578 for a reliable and reasonable contact!
If you want to save some cash then Grab is a great budget option (especially Grab Scooter) – simply download the app and enter your route, same same as Uber! The downside on this route for surfers is they wont have racks, so it’s more for short trips or getting between main destinations.
Local taxis I’ve put in here simply to say try and avoid them! Most will rip you off unless you can get them to do it on the meter so beware! They’re especially bad with airport transfer prices, you have been warned!
Hiring A Moped
If you’re in Bali for a while and want the ultimate in flexibility then hiring a moped is something you’ll probably be looking at doing. This can be done directly with most hostels or guesthouses, but there are plenty of rental places all over Bali.
For surfers make sure you ask for one with a rack – which makes it super easy to get to all the breaks! Price wise the day rate is usually around 50,000IDR ($5AUD, £2.70, $3.50USD) but if you rent for a month or more this will easily drop to around 800,000IDR ($80AUD, £44, $55USD), which works out at 26,000IDR per day (just $2.50AUD, £1.40, $1.80USD)
Please please please make sure you wear a helmet and just be aware – traffic in Bali is organised chaos!
Accommodation Costs In Bali
You’ll be stoked to hear that no matter what your style and budget Bali has you catered for when it comes to accommodation – from 5* villas to budget backpacker hostels!
For those who want some comfort and a splash of luxury there is the full range of hotels across Bali. Expect to pay anything from $35USD/£25/$50AUD right through to $100s depending on the location and standard. Check out Booking.com for the biggest range.
If you’re on a bit of a budget and travelling solo hostels are one of the best options to meet some new travel buddies and not smash your wallet. Again there’s a huge range of hostels from as little as $3.5USD/£2.5/$5AUD per night right through to some fancy flashpacker options (like Kos One in Canggu) which offer a more luxury at around $17USD per night.
This is my personal recommendation for accommodation in Bali. Not only does this support the locals, but if you’re staying for a week or more this can also be the best option price wise too! And dont think you’ll be slumming it either, most have A/C and a lot also even have pools! Bargain for a monthly rate for long term stays and save even more!
Want to go all out and pimp it up? Travelling as a group? Then renting a villa in Bali is also a solid shout. Prices vary depending on the size of the villa, season and location so you can be paying anything from $105USD per night to $1000’s!
If you’re going the villa option one of the easiest and most convenient ways to find something is going to be Air B n B – use this link to save yourself $38 off your first booking too!