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Bali Surf Trips

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A Guide to Surfing Bali

Known for decades as the ‘Island of the Gods’, Bali has, for its size, a rich and varied selection of surfing breaks, comfortably catering to surfers of all abilities. This is both a curse and a blessing for the island; a curse because a certain wave can quickly become crowded, a blessing because there is often another, less crowded option for the surfer within reach. The trick, as with any other surfing destination, is to be prepared: check the forecast and have reliable transport ready. That way, you will put yourself in the best position to score fun waves (that, hopefully, aren’t too crowded). Below is a brief guide to five of the more well-known surfing spots on the island (in the interests of diplomacy, I have tried to include breaks for beginner, intermediate, and advanced surfers), along with the suitable ability levels for each spot and the wave direction each spot offers.

Note: While Bali is a year-round holiday destination, the surfing season (which is during Indonesia’s dry season) is typically from April until August. Bear in mind that if you decide to visit Bali outside this period, conditions for surfing (both in terms of wind and wave quality) are much more unpredictable.

Kuta Beach

Ask anyone for a mental image of a Balinese beach and most likely they will conjure something that resembles Kuta beach; a long, sandy strip populated by locals peddling anything from cold drinks to counterfeit watches, massages to mie goreng. Though Kuta is no longer the central focus for both accommodation and nightlife it once was (areas such as Seminyak, Canggu, and Ubud, have, in recent years, stolen some of its marketshare), Kuta beach is still a fun beach to surf, offering waves along its entire strip, all the way to Legian beach. The waves are usually between one and three feet and run both left and right, making it an ideal beach for beginners. Add to this a plethora of surf schools and board rental companies lining the beach, and you have a sound place to begin your surf holiday.

Level: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced

Wave direction: left-hander, and right-hander

Tuban Beach

Tuban beach is located 1.5km south of Kuta beach, beside the Ngurah Rai International Airport (also known as Denpasar). While there are often small, rideable waves along this beach, there are better quality waves at the end of the airstrip which juts out into the ocean. There is a break on either of the strip (aptly named ‘Airport Lefts’ and ‘Airport Rights’), both of which are reef breaks, handling waves up to six feet. These breaks are reached by rented boat ride and are better suited to intermediate and advanced surfers.

Level: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced

Wave direction: left-hander, right-hander

Canggu.

Canggu is an area north of Kuta and Seminyak, home to many different surfing breaks. The beaches here are typified by their black sand and fast waves (well, faster than places like Kuta); however, despite the increased pace of the waves, they often arrive in sets, with nothing in the interval, which means you have to be patient if you are going to enjoy yourself. Though this area gets its fair share of crowds, there is enough on offer to appease most surfers, regardless of their ability and stance.

Level: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced

Wave direction: left-hander, right-hander

Keramas.

Unlike the surfing breaks mentioned above, Keramas is located on the east coast of the island, in the area of Gianyar. Like Canggu, Keramas is recognisable by its black sand and fast waves, most of which are right handers that break over a lava reef. In recent years it has become extremely popular, in no large part to the Komune Beach Resort which looks out upon the break, and the string of recent professional surfing competitions held there. If crowds are something you want to avoid at all costs, this might not be your first choice destination. However, if you are cunning and eager enough, you might score this break on a less-crowded day; should this happen, you will be in for a super-fun session.

Level: Intermediate, Advanced

Wave direction: right-hander

Padang Padang.

A hollow, shallow, medium length left-hander, Padang Padang is located on the south-west peninsula between Bingin and Uluwatu. Due to its power and consistency, Padang Padang is popular amongst professional and advanced surfers (like Keramas, it regularly hosts professional competitions). Beginner surfers beware: despite surfing break being accessible, the wave itself is anything but; wipeout here and you will most likely come in contact with the razor-sharp reef. If you believe you are good enough (and patient enough, as the fight for waves here is intense), though, you might end catching one of the best waves of your life.

Level: Advanced

Wave direction: left-hander

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