Learn To Surf In Bali: Top 7 Spots for Beginners and Pros

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Bali is presently considered by surfing enthusiasts to be one of the top spots to surf in the world. The first known person to surf in Bali was American Bob Koke. He arrived on the island in 1936 via a steamship from Singapore. He was introduced to the Kuta Beach area by an eccentric British woman named Muriel Pearsen. He was instantly in love with the location. He had previously mastered the surf at Waikiki Beach in Hawaii, so he realized the surfing potential at Kuta Beach. Koke then sent for his surfboard to arrive by freighter and proceeded to surf the waves. He provided surf lessons to teach local Balinese to learn to surf Bali. By the 1960s the island surf scene was designated.

Bali is the perfect destination for the ultimate beach, sun and fun vacation. This beautiful island paradise offers a multitude of water activities. If you are one of those adventure travelers that seeks new places in the world to ride the waves, or a novice looking to learn to surf with surf lessons, make sure to consider the island of Bali. It is the perfect place for all levels of surfing experience ranging from first time surfers to experts year round. However, the best time to surf Bali is the peak season which is April through October. Be aware that during this peak season the popular surfing areas like Kuta Beach, Uluwatu, Padang Padang and Dreamland can be very crowded during this time.

Do you want to learn to surf Bali style? There are several ways that you can learn to surf here. Are you not sure if you should go at it alone with individual surf lessons, take the surf lessons in a group, or attend a surf camp or a surf school? You should evaluate your individual learning potential and decide which method a surf lesson will be the most beneficial to you. You can learn to surf just as easily as you can learn any other skill. We have discovered the best surf spots in Bali for a beginner’s place to learn, as well as beaches that are perfect for experienced surfers. There is nothing like a Bali surfing experience where it feels like endless summer.

If your preferred water activity is snorkeling rather than surfing, we have you covered. There are many incredible spots for snorkeling in Bali too.

Padang Padang Right

bali waves
Photo by Polina Kuzovkova on Unsplash

This is one of the many surf spots located on the Bukit Peninsula in the far south of the island. This area is also known as “Baby Padang”. The area to the right has a sandy surf break that is ideal for beginners when the waves are waist to head high. The best waves for a beginner are here as the soft reef break provides broken white water waves. Several surfing informational websites have named it the number one in ranking of the best beginner surf spots in Bali.

One thing that makes this surf break unique is its channel. This has an easy paddle out to the line up for the beginner as they may not yet have the skill to duck under the continuous white water waves that are more common at other beach breaks. If you catch a right hander wave you can maneuver yourself back to the line up.

Padang Padang Beach also has the novelty of being a location for a Hollywood movie. A scene from the Julia Roberts film Eat Pray Love was filmed at this stunning location. This had definitely brought this spot to worldwide recognition not only for surfers but for travelers too.

Kuta Beach

Sunset Kuta Beach
Sunset Kuta Beach Photo Credit: Wikipedia Commons

Kuta Beach is the most popular place to surf in Bali. For novices learning to surf, the gentle gradient provides unbroken white water waves which can run into the shallow water. A typical wave at this spot are soft waist to knee high which makes it a good spot for a beginner. The type of surf waves at Kuta Beach are beach break. These beach break waves run along the entire length of the two kilometer beach. The best known and therefore crowded peak is the Halfway Kuta, which is a right hand wave with a long break along the beach. During the low tide and big swell this peak at Halfway Kuta becomes a hollow dredging wave with good barrels.

Kuta Beach is a very crowded tourist area due to it being synonymous with Balinese surf culture and its popular nightlife scene during the high season. It is conveniently located right next to Bali International Airport and is great for young travelers that like bar hopping and nightclub life. The cost of accommodations is good for those on a budget. One thing this spot is not known for is tranquility.

If you are looking for the ultimate Bali surf experience as well as a hot and happening tourist destination, Kuta Beach is where you would go on your vacation to Bali.

Dreamland

dreamland beach

The ‘hidden beach’ located in the northwest part of the Bukit Peninsula is called Dreamland. The beach breaks are a source of awesome waves. Dreamland is great for first time surfers because it has a sand bottom and is the only spot on Bukit Peninsula that does not have reefs. Dreamland has some of the best breaks in Bali near the shore. Alas, beginner surfers must beware of the shore break wave, which looks harmless but can be ferocious and can easily knock a beginner off the board. Dreamland is considered one of the best beginner surf spots in Bali.

All surfers must be aware of the tide changes, so they are not moved down to the neighboring area of Padang Padang. Experts advise that once the waves reach the level of six feet or more, beginners should allow the advanced surfers to take on the waves.

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This part of the island is known for its great social scene and is an ideal place to visit. This spot is also known for its breathtaking sunsets. Dreamland is popular with beachgoers and beach chairs and beach umbrellas are available for rent. Just north of Dreamland, there are plenty of lodging options if you need to choose where to stay in Uluwatu.

Batu Bolong Beach

Batu Bolong Beach
Photo by Nick Mattia on Unsplash

Batu Bolong Beach is one of a number of popular surf spots located in Canggu. This area is also known as “Old Man’s” and it is located on Bali’s southwest coast. The swell here is mellow and ranges from one to six feet. The water contains a semi reef wave that flows to the right and left. The best time for surfing here is mid to high tide.

Batu Bolong Beach is known for its extremely long wave. This is a better experience for beginner surfers because this long wave allows the surfer to correct any mistakes and adjust their position if need be.

This beach is perfect for beginners and intermediate surfers. Although it can get crowded here, there is still plenty of space for all. It is considered a great place to learn to surf in Bali . Experts in this area recommend private surf lessons for those in the beginner surf group.

Batu Bolong Beach is also a good beach for hanging out, watching the sunset and enjoying a tropical drink from one of the local beach warungs.

Bingin

bingin beach

This beach is a wonderful place for surfers of all levels. Bingin is known as a great place for learning to surf. Bingin is regarded as the most perfect wave in Bali. The barrels are consistent but shorter than other areas of the Bukit Peninsula. The mid to high tide is an optimal time for beginner surf and intermediate surfers because the right hand wave is mellow and the swell waves break softly and are small. When the tide is low the waves become large and powerful and even pose a challenge for professional surfers.

The shortest waves are located at Bingin. Surfers need to make sure that they do not stay on this intense wave too long as that can cause a wipeout when the wave ends at a section called ‘Greedies’ which is over shallow reef. If you collide with this reef it can lead to possible injuries.

The surfing conditions at Bingin are very much affected by the tides. It is best to check the tides before you head out here to make sure that the conditions are compatible with your level of skill. The best time to surf Bingin is the dry season that is from April until November. It is a little more crowded here than in other surf spots like Uluwatu because the waves are not as intense.

When you are taking a break from surfing the waves, you can also purchase great food located just steps away. Local warungs have delicious Indonesian and western food for reasonable prices.

Impossibles

Big Wave Bali
Photo Credit: Jeremy Bishop Unsplash.com

The Impossibles is regraded as one of the great surf spots for advanced surfers. It received its clever name due to its intimidating break that serves as a challenge for experts to conquer its long and powerful swells. The famous area is well known for having long tubes that lock surfers out. Surfers will usually get caught behind the curtain due to the three sections separated by the straight bits of reef. These waves are considered impossibly fast and difficult to ride.

There are a few hazards for surfers at the Impossibles. The shallow reef here can be a cause of injury for the surfer when they enter or exit the water. The surf break here is very fast and a surfer needs to take care with extra caution so they do not get caught on the inside of the dry reef by the powerful waves. The best and safest ways to get in and out of the surf are to access the Impossibles from Bingin through a lagoon, paddle over from Padang Padang, or use the elevator at Anantara Resort and locate the slower sections of the wave.

This spot is also a treat for your eyes as you will see the irregular rock formations and a gorgeous beach while riding the waves. This is considered one of the most picturesque beaches on the Bukit Peninsula and on the island of Bali.

Keramas

Bali surf
Photo Credit: Maksym Ivashchenko Unsplash.com

For expert surfers, head to what his considered ‘surfers paradise’- Keramas. This popular Bali surf spot has heavy right hander waves that are pretty fast and have a height of about one and a half meters. The waves here are very powerful, with enough force to break your board. Swells coming from the east pick up and break over an uneven lava reef. Some of the best surfing conditions are experienced by advanced surfers riding a Keramas surf wave. Keramas is a must visit surf trip for surfers with a lot of experience on the waves.

The best season to surf Kermas depends on a surfer’s preference for conditions. Many prefer to visit in the rainy season which occurs from November through March. During this time there are fewer crowds and right handers because the waves on the east coast break properly. At the dry season the offshore winds are directed in the opposite direction of the west coast and the right handers are not as good. The tourism season is also at its peak during this time. Therefore, if you are looking to improve your surfing ability you may be sharing the waves with pro surfers who may impede your ability to learn.

This area also has night surfing events hosted by Komune Beach Resort and Beach Club Bali. The night surf events are very exclusive as only about six surfers are booked at a time for safety concerns. During the hours of 7 PM to midnight and 4 AM to 6 AM, these adventurous surfers can ride the waves under spotlights. Night surfing can only happen when the conditions are optimal including light winds and tides.

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This black sanded beach is located in Gianyar on the east coast of Bali. It has recently been getting many mentions from professional surfers and holds a Junior World Event. Keramas is also a site for many other major professional and grommet events. Many consider the Keramas to be the perfect wave.

Bali shore
Photo Credit: Nicole Bergstrom NicoletheTravelScribe.com

Can you surf in Bali?

You can surf year round in Bali, but the best surfing conditions occur in the high season from April to October. There are numerous surf spots in Bali appropriate for all levels of surfing experiences from beginner surfers with little or no surfing experience to intermediate surfers all the way to advanced surfers. There are several ways you can learn to surf with group surf lessons, a surf camp, surf schools or hiring a one on one surf instructor.

The Bali surf spot with the best waves for surfing is Padang Padang. The waves here on average range form 4-5 feet and can go all the way to 12-15 feet in height. The left hand waves have great barrels and two chances for surfers to pull in. Padang Padang should definitely be on the itinerary for your next Bali surf trip.

The recommended accommodations for surfers with the best views are all located in the Bingin Beach area. These great accommodations include La Joya, Sun and Surf Stay, Sal Secret Spot, The Temple Lodge, Mu Boutique Resort and Mick’s Place Bali.

Where can I surf in Bali for beginners?

The most recommended surf areas for beginners in Bali are Dreamland, Kuta Beach, Batu Bolong Beach, Bingin, Padang Padang Rights and Jimaran. The surf breaks in these Bali surf spots are optimal for beginner surfers. These are the best surf spots for beginner surfers to catch waves for their first surf.

What are the best surf conditions for beginners? For a beginner surf enthusiast you have a better chance of learning if you start out in an area with small wave height. A good wave height for beginners is about the range of 1.5 to 2 foot range. If you are unsure about the conditions where you plan to surf, your best bet is to ask a local who would have more inside knowledge of the places where the waves would be in this height range.

There are a few tips that novice surfers must know before they tackle the waves in Bali or anywhere else.

  • You should never, ever go surfing alone.
  • Know the entry and exit points.
  • The types of waves at your location.
  • Make yourself aware of all the hazards your chosen surf spot may have including reefs, currents, rocks and rip tides.
  • Know the crowd type at your destination including the size of crowds and if they are novices or more professional level surfers.
  • Look up the times for low and high tides, especially the hours for reef breaks.
  • The best time or season to surf at your destination. In Bali the best time for surfing is the dry season from April to October.

    Surf Bali
    Photo Credit: Renan Brun Unsplash.com

    How much do surf lessons cost in Bali?

    The average cost of surf lessons in Bali is USD $30-35 per person for each lesson. Another option is a surf school where you can purchase a bundle of lessons with a group of other surfers for approximately $39 per lesson. You can also get one on one instruction for about $78 USD per lesson. These rates for individual instruction can also be negotiated with the locals.

    If you decide to attend a Bali surf school you need to evaluate what the surf school Bali has to offer. Are the beginner surf lessons offered by instructors certified through the International Surfing Association? What are the conditions of the accommodations offered? Is a beginner given more personal attention during the surf lesson than a surfer with more experience that is looking to progress to the next level? All this research should be done prior to your arrival in Bali.

    Although Bali is the most expensive spot in the country of Indonesia, a surf trip here does not require a large budget. You will notice the island has plenty of reasonably priced accommodations and eating establishments.

    Is surfing in Bali dangerous?

    Bali is one of the safest places to surf, according to statistics gathered by surf spots worldwide. Overall, the possibility of dying while surfing is pretty low with estimates ranging in 10 or less deaths per year worldwide. In the water there is a small risk of dangerous undercurrents and even the rare tsunami. Surfing has a risk to bodily harm to people anywhere because we are interacting with a natural resource that is unpredictable. Millions of tourists visit Bali every year to enjoy the water activities available on the island.

    Some potential visitors to Bali for surfing or other water activities have raised concern about the cleanliness of the water. Many are concerned about plastic waste, pollution and bacteria in the water, especially in the heavily crowded tourist areas. Unfortunately, this is because of over tourism wreaking havoc on the natural resources. This is at its worst in the rainy season. Most people who swim in the waters around Bali are fine. The best advice offered is to avoid swallowing any seawater if at all possible. Just note that not all beaches in Bali have lifeguards and many beaches have strong currents.

    There are sharks located in the waters surrounding Bali. The species of White Tip and Black Tip Reef Sharks are numerous in the reefs around Nusa Dua and Padang Bai. These creatures are usually pretty shy around people and avoid any contact with humans. In other parts of the island, there are other animals that pose some threat to humans. Make sure you do not to run into any of the most dangerous animals in Bali no matter where you are on the island or what activity you are engaging in.

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