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Bali surfing trip

For gliding sports enthusiasts, Bali is a leading destination in Indonesia. Surfing requires a certain degree of physical fitness, but remains within reach of anybody at ease in water.

Practical advice for beginning and getting equipped.

Surf culture is everywhere in Bali , and to prove it, there are mopeds equipped with a surfboard carrier for hire. In Kuta, there are throngs of surf shops in the streets and surf schools flourish on the seaside.

A first lesson, if you are a beginner, is not superfluous. You are taught, on the sand to begin with, techniques for getting up on the board, how to catch a wave, to know the currents and especially, to respect others and the right of way in the water. Kuta beach with its regular easy to catch waves, is therefore perfect for making a first entrance into the somewhat closed world of surfers. On the other hand, the spot is crowded and the quality of the water really leaves a lot to be desired. A friend of mine came out after a swim with bits of plastic stuck in her hair!

If you have not booked a lesson and therefore no board either, on arriving in Bali you will have to get fitted out, making use of what business sense you have! For example, for the same price in Kuta, you can hire a board on the beach for two hours only, or in town for three whole days! It is all a question of place and bargaining. The other solution, if you have no equipment, is to buy a surf and sell it back to the same shop at the end of your stay. There again, it is also possible to be properly had: a 150 pound board will only fetch you 37 pounds at the end of your stay! Inform yourself about airline regulations, with some companies (Emirates, Malaysia Airlines, Singapore Airlines...), you can take it back to your country free of charge!

Surfing spots in Bali

Discover Bali while surfing , it is another way to grasp the island!

The Impossible spot

The majority of Bali spots are concentrated on the west coast and the most reputed are clustered on Bukit peninsula to the south, far from the bustle of Kuta. For example, there is Padang Padang, a magnificent beach between boulders, under a panoramic viewpoint, from where monkeys watch you. It is a left-hander reef wave, quite a distance from the shore: you have to paddle for quite a while. Go there at high tide, otherwise you run the risk of ending up on the coral. When the swell rises, Padang Padang's barrel wave can only be ridden by confirmed surfers.

Next, head for Uluwatu, Padang Padang's neighbouring beach to the south: a legendary wave, of world repute; a lovely left-hand breaker, barrel, reserved for experienced and professional surfers. Gettiing on the water is difficult, the current is strong, the wave is hollow and the fall on the coral unforgiving. I therefore invite beginners to go and admire the wave tamers from the cafe terraces on top of the cliff. The surf shops nestled on the rocks do not hesitate to bring out the zoom lens.

For a souvenir of you on the waves, go and see them: they will ask at what time you went surfing and you will be able to find your photo! Still on Bukit peninsula: the Impossible spot, which gets its name from the difficulty of accessing the beach, is a left-hand, well-known to professionals, which unrolls so quickly that it is almost impossible to follow! Then Dreamland, a less technical spot, for all levels: a sand breaker which opens on each side of the peak (where the wave breaks).

When to go

The season of big waves lasts from May to September, during the dry season, but you find waves all year round. For example, East coast spots like Sanur and Nusa Dua, which offer beautiful waves that open on the right, work better during the wet season. 

So many people in the water!

Sometimes it is a bit of a battle to surf a wave, as the spots are often taken by storm. Bingin, for example, is reputed to be occupied by aggressive locals, little inclined to let you get through. Australians, come to put their minds in a whirl in Bali, are mostly unsmiling, ruthless and not very polite either. Do not let this stop you from making a niche for yourself in the surfing world, though. Here, you are in the best place to progress; the water varies between 27 and 29 degrees all year round.

Moreover, if it can reassure you, the number of shark attacks on surfers in Bali is virtually nonexistent compared to Australia and Reunion island! Lastly, do not hesitate to embark for the islands around Bali: Nusa Lembongan, Lombok, Sumbawa and Sumba are all just as conducive to the practice of this magnificent sport! 

Lisa Gaillard
47 contributions
Updated 17 November 2015
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