When it comes to Bali, nothing says nomadic lifestyle haven like Canggu. With its wealth of sandy beaches, trendy spots for health food, Kombucha, and even the odd cocktail, this is the place to be. Not least because it also houses some killer surf spots! Not to mention a couple of beaches that are absolutely suitable for beginners. In fact, Canggu in the north Kuta district, Badung Regency, could arguably be termed the ‘goldilocks’ spot for all levels of surf bod. So permit us to bring you the top five banging Bali surf spots, right in the heart of Canggu!
Whilst there is decent surf in Kuta, Canggu is a perfect spot for your surf camp holiday! For a comfortably bikini and rash-vest temperature water all year round, for sunny days and minor rainfall, pick Canggu! Keen to build lasting holiday friendships, and a lasting love affair with the waves? Pick Canggu surf!
But we know the best way to get your attention is to let these spots do the talking. So, we have prepared a run-down of the best surf spots in order of intensity, from beginner to advanced. We talk beach and reef breaks, where to hit up in Bali if you want to push your new-found skills (think intermediate spots!), fast tubes and slow swells. We also cover what makes a great spot for beginners, and just how much it will set you back for a surf lesson in the region. If you want your heart stolen by Bali, this is the way to go about it! Lets dive in.
Bali is similar to Costa Rica in that it is a great spot for novice surfers. And, as in many countries, it is widely accepted that the more built-up a beach local is, the better it is for beginners. Same goes for Batu Bolong. Shops and restaurants sit amidst board rentals and surf schools, with a high percentage of bathers milling about. Waves here tend to break from the left to the right as you face the shore. This is known as a ‘left’.
The surf here is fabulous for novice surfers as, while this is a reef break, the water is deep enough to shield the reef from people. And vice versa! Whilst a shallow reef break can cause some nasty cuts and bruises, you wont get that here on a high or medium tide. The depth also allows for clean sweeping lines, moving slowly toward the shore. So whilst this is great for beginners, you will also find the odd intermediate surfer paddling out here.
Going for the slow clean lines gives experienced surfers a chance to flex their new skills, and practice carving and cutbacks. It also feels pretty satisfying catching a long ride into the shore! Be warned, however, these waves can get crowded with people, and so it is best to arrive early in the day to avoid disappointment. Most surfers in the know will be up with the sunrise to get a clear run on the best spots.
This is an even greater area to surf if you are new to Bali, for its beautiful views over coastal Jimbaran villages of Canggu and Kuta. And the best thing is, whilst there are dangerous animals in Bali, and sharks in these waters, they’re mostly the shy reef-shark kind.
Best for: Beginners with little to no experience
Close into Batu Bolong sits Old man’s, facing the opposite side of the channel. This is another dream spot for beginners, which can also prove satisfying for regulars when the swell is right. Similarly, the reef sits low under the water, so mid and high tide presents no danger if thrown from your board. The minor difference is that even low tide here presents less of an issue, with many people taking to the waves even then. Plus those gentle rolling breaks aren’t likely to throw you a great distance if you take a spill.
The waves roll both left and right in this area, so be cautious when learning. Perhaps take advantage of one of the many surf camps that sit along the beach. Again, you will find the shore teaming with eateries, shops and tanned nomads in this spot. Whilst this surf spot is a reef break, you will find it pleasantly sandy close to the shore.
It is the slow moving swell here that really serves beginners. With such an easy-going lead-up, newbies have time to assess those oncoming waves, and make those first few stands without pelting towards the shore. If you want our advice, head here first! But again, you are going to need to turn up early to avoid sharing the surf with those crowds, this is an incredibly popular Canggu surf spot.
Best for: Intermediates with some previous surf experience
Whilst this is a reef break, good and proper, the surf breaks on both rocks and sand. For its shallower waters, especially close into the reef on the right side, that this is named as an intermediate surfers ground. Some smaller swells will allow beginners to take on its break, though it is generally a quieter beach all-round when it comes to the board. The fact that it’s the last beach you will find, towards the northeast of Canggu, could also have a hand in this.
With both left and a right hand waves, some choose to section this area off into ‘Pererenan right’ and ‘Pererenan left’. However the beach is not demarcated as such. What you will find, however, is a right-hander that is a lot slower than those left-hander waves. Whilst the left sides tubular waves and fast swells lie on top of a seriously rocky bed, the ambient right has a soft sandy floor. Be mindful of those strong currents though, they like to pull unwitting boarders to the turbulent left!
This is one for the more well-accustomed surfer, though there are exceptions to this rule. If you are a brave newbie, and find a smaller swell on a high or mid tide, this could be your chance to practice without those crowds! The mix sandy bed to the right make for a much better base to fall on your ass. But we must say here, if in doubt always go with an experienced teacher.
Whilst the reefs in this area aren’t going to spark for the divers of Bali, the surfers certainly rejoice!
Best for: Intermediates with some previous surf experience
This is the first of a few well-placed intermediate to advanced surf spots along the 100 metre stretch of Echo Beach. Welcome to a world class level swell, and a beach break that has both left and right directional waves. Predominantly, the canggu surf spots in our top five are reef breaks, meaning the swell comes from hitting the reef. This, however, is a fine beach break with no chance of major damage. But be warned, with strong currents and some strong swells this is not for the faint of heart!
What it does do, however, is offer interim intermediates the chance to flex their surfing chops and learn a little more without fear of serious injury. These swells can sometimes be a little more intense than Echo beach and its reef! And are that is next up on our list of Canggu surf spots. Stay tuned.
The sandbar does offer a smorgasboard of surf, with left hand waves providing more panache and sudden breaks than its more chilled right hander cousin. The shorter waves here are likely to prove successful to those early-intermediates who want to get warmed up! If you are up for the challenge, head here for a mid tide or full tide for the ride of your life.
Best for: Intermediates to experts
Whilst the sandbar has a swell that can sometimes rival Echo Beach’s reef break, its sandy floor gives it the edge on safety. If you are more of a daredevil, and an intermediate to advanced surfer, the reef break is the one for you. With plenty of fast, tubular rolling waves breaking to the right over the shallow reef, this is the chance to bust out all your best moves. And with its pride of place position in front of the main promenade of Echo Beach, you’d better be up for showboating!
Whilst this beach mainly provides left-hander waves, you do also get some lesser right handers occasionally, so be warned. It is also worth noting that this is only really surf-able when at mid or high tide. Paddle out at low tide, and you are likely to find yourself on the business end of a close-out. This is when, upon drop in, the water below blocks forward momentum. This can happen when there isn’t enough depth above the reef to facilitate enough speed or movement.
The same goes for the swell at full or mid tide. These are the things keen surfers look out for. A swell of anything from four to eight feet is optimum, allowing for consistent waves and longer rides. The more you surf, the more aware you will be of all these factors.
If you are a beginner, we wouldn’t recommend even attempting this swell! Better to fill up your inspiration tank with a trip to Echo beach for an early dinner. Perhaps sit on the beach, or grab some food at one of the beachfront restaurants and catch the show. As with many Canggu surf spots, the sunset here is likely to thrill you as much as the surf!
Best for: Intermediates to experts
Is Canggu Good for Beginner Surfers?
Canggu is great for beginners as there are a number of spots to hit with low, peeling waves that are slow to stand up. If you are in this surf camp, get yourself to Batu Bolong or Old Man’s to find yourself some good beginner waves.
What also makes this a great spot for novice surfers is the array of beaches, and mix of challenge levels. It is a fact of life that some people will take to surfing more naturally than others. If you find yourself bored of those slower swells a couple of days in, you might head to a spot for intermediate surfers just to test yourself. If you are with an experienced boarder, go for it! But always be mindful of tides, currents and the swell you can expect that day.
Whilst we have covered the top five, another great spot for intermediates is Berawa. The sandy floor with flat rocks makes for a more enticing spot to try out some new skills. Plus, its a beach break with a sloping floor, so easier for getting out there. Fast, but not super intense, the waves can be really rewarding for those looking to brush up on their knowledge. You can even find some advanced boarders out there catching some perfect tubes when conditions are right.
Alternatively, try the River Mouth at Echo Beach. This is a right hand surf spot in Canggu that is mostly intermediate with a reef floor. Get out here on a mid or high tide with a gentle swell, and you could ride a wave almost to the sandbar!
How Much is a Surf Lesson in Canggu?
Whilst Bali is a fairly cheap destination to holiday or live within, a surf lesson will set you back around $35 USD. This figure is negotiable in many surf schools, however. There are a number of good schools to look out for when frequenting Canggu.
One notable option is the Canggu Surf School, which is part of the organisation known as the Chill House. This is the place to be for those who want to throw themselves into the Bali surf-tribe. They organise yoga, surf trips, and even wellbeing lifestyle retreats. When enrolled in surf-school, the emphasis is on contact time with the teachers. Two students to one teacher keeps that connection going, and day lessons start at around Rp. 600,000. This is around $40 USD per person.
Other notable schools are: Nengah, a private surf school that also offers kids lessons at reasonable prices. Also, Surf Bali Adventure, a fully licensed group of surf instructors who teach beginners, and help intermediate and advanced boarders to up their game.
Surfing in Bali is likely to be the best experience you could wish for. With so many options around the island, and such warm waters year round, its easy to get hooked. Some amongst you may be worried about the prevalence of Tsunami’s in this area, though this hasn’t occurred in Bali since 2004. And local officials are very much on the lookout for signs of future disturbances.
Canggu’s mix of heady intermediate and advanced surf spots and calmer, more accessible waves makes it a glorious haven! If you are keen to get in the water and learn some new skills, make this your spot. Once your feet touch that water, you will want to spend all your free time in it! By then, it might be time to brush up on your Balinese and move here permanently. You will be in good company, there are a huge number of digital nomads here.