10 reasons why Bali is the world's best surf destination

3/1/2022

1. Bali is a year round surf destination

First and foremost about why Bali is the world’s best surf destination, is the consistency and quality of the surf. Unlike the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans which deliver swells intermittently, the Indian ocean is a consistent year round swell making machine. The swell travels thousands of miles, so when they reach Bali, they are perfectly organised into long period quality waves. The local offshore wind groom these waves, and the reefs are perfectly sculpted by the Gods, to exactly match the swell direction, and thus give consistently long peeling waves.

bingin

The main surfing season coincides with the high tourist season which is from April to October and known as the dry season. During these months, the trade winds blow from the South East which is offshore at most of Bali’s famous surf breaks, and the weather is consistently sunny, but not too hot. The weather and wind is very consistent, and the surf will vary in size from head high to massive, at exposed spots like Uluwatu which is always sunny and offshore. No matter how big or how small the surf, there is always some breaks that are the right size, either because they are sheltered from the swell, fully exposed or partially sheltered. It is a little known fact that in the early morning, most breaks are offshore so it is possible to surf the less popular East and South coasts during this time, and find near empty line ups. Seek and you shall find!

The rainy season is from November to March. During early and late season (November and March) the winds are typically light and variable, which means all surf breaks on East, South and West coast come into play. From December to February the wind is predominantly from the west and south west, and this is when the East coast will be consistently good. There are countless different breaks on the east coast and some are truly world class such as Sri Lanka and Keramas.

Bali does not have monsoons and even in the middle of the rainy season, there is an average of 8 hours sunshine a day. Most days in rainy season the weather is sunny, interspersed with heavy showers. Most of the rainfall is overnight or early morning, and there are always sunny spells. Rainy seasons can be surprisingly dry if it is an El Nino year, but La Nino years are always wetter.

What makes Bali so special as a surfing destination is that it is never ever flat, and there is always somewhere nearby that is offshore. Padang Padang Surf Camp is strategically located to be within close distance of the world class dry season waves such as Uluwatu, Padang Padang and Bingin, but it is only 10 minutes to south coast waves such as Nyang Nyang, Green Bowls and Pandawa which pick up any swell from any direction. Nusa dua is just 20 minutes away and the choice of surf breaks include, Nico, Geger left and right, Chicken wings, Mengiat, Black stone, Musroom rock, Sri Lanka and Benoa. During the rainy season the island blooms with tropical vegetation and the crowds diminish so you can find quiet surf breaks, and don’t need to make a reservation for your favourite restaurant.

2. Bali has a unique culture and religion

Indonesia is predominantly Muslim with some Christian enclaves. Bali is unique within Indonesia in being a Hindu island. The religion is so entwined with the culture, that it is hard to differentiate the two. The rhythm and central tenet of Balinese life revolves around the ceremony, which is unique to Bali and breathtakingly beautiful. The most important aspect of anyone's visit to Bali is the ceremony. It is impossible to try and understand the meaning and importance of ceremony, from reading any guide book or blog. You need to immerse yourself in the culture, and attend the ceremony with friendly Balinese locals, to get any real perspective on the purpose and spiritual feeling of this holy event.

batur

Uluwatu temple is very close to Padang Padang Surf Camp and the highlight of our daily activities is a trip to the Kecak (Monkey) fire dance, which is performed at sunset every evening. Go early and stroll around the temple, and take in the amazing views of the surfers riding Bali’s premier surf spot. You are guaranteed to be mesmerised by the traditional dance and come away enchanted.

There are many temples in Bali, but none compare to the majesty of Uluwatu which is located directly above the surf break and has views all the way from Kuta to Java. Uluwatu temple is known as the mother temple, and Balinese will travel from everywhere on the island to pay homage to the Gods that live in this holiest of places.

3. Bali has incredible natural beauty

Bali is surrounded by stunning white sand beaches and soaring cliffs, while the interior is lush jungle, mountains, rivers, and thundering waterfalls. No other surfing destination compares with Bali for natural beauty and cultural sites. The view of the surf break is incredible and in fact is only surpassed by the view from the water.
uluwatu

Vertical cliff faces, soaring mountains and volcanoes, picture post card rice fields, ancient holy temples, fast flowing rivers, and beautiful traditional villages is the view from Bali’s world famous surf breaks. Uluwatu, with its famous beach cave has a perfect view of 11th century Hindu mother temple above; Keramas haa a direct line of sight to mount Agung which is 3000M2 high active volcano, and would be above the snow line if not at a tropical latitude; Balian surf break is formed by the mighty sacred river, and has perfect views of rice terraces and majestic mountains that form the interior of Bali. These mountains are not just beautiful to look at, they are so high and cool, they drive an offshore wind every morning (irrespective of the season) to all the surf breaks in the region. The mountainous interior of Bali, is the reason so many surf breaks are offshore in the early morning, before the trade winds rise up around 10am-11am.

penida

4. Bali is suitable for all budgets

You can stay for $1 a night, $10,000 a night or any price range in between. For surfers on a shoestring, the longer you stay, the cheaper the trip works out, as the main cost is the flight. Eat local food, and stay with a local family on the beach, and it’s possible to live on much less than you would spend living at home.

On the other end of the spectrum, Bali has the most amazing luxurious hotels and resorts. 5 star hotels in Europe and America are a pale imitation of Asian luxury hotels, which are built on a much bigger and grander scale, due to the lower operating costs. Staff heavily outnumber the guests, and the service levels here are truly out of this world. Of course, Bali has everything in between the shoestring budget to the movie star opulence. Every budget and style is catered for so you are guaranteed to have something to suit your tastes as well as your bank account.

5. Bali has world class cuisine and nightlife

In the early days of surf tourism, the nightlife was centred around Kuta, but now you can listen to world famous DJ’s on the Bukit near Uluwatu, and Canggu is now the party capital of Bali. There is an abundance of amazing restaurants and bars all the way from Uluwatu to Canggu, with Seminyak setting the bar very high for world class cuisine.

platter

Fresh seafood on the beach, Australian BBQ, Balinese, Chinese, Indian, Japanese, Italian, French. All styles of cooking for all budgets with the only consistency being excellent value and outstanding quality.

Within short distance of Padang Padang Surf Camp, the entertainment highlights include live music at Kashew tree on Thursday night, DJ’s and amazing food at Ulu Cliff house Friday, world famous DJ’s at Savaya Saturday, biggest event of the week anywhere in Bali is Sunday’s at Single Fin with bars and dancefloors at many levels.

la-brisa

6. Bali has countless activities

Even if you’re hard core surfing from sunrise to sunset, you will need to take a break from the mid day sun, and do different things occasionally. Bali’s waves are so good and consistent that even the most surf starved surfer will eventually become “surfed out”.

The surf breaks are breathtakingly beautiful, and it is mesmerising to watch perfect sculptured waves. However, Bali has so much more to offer than perfect reef breaks and white sand beaches, world class restaurants, bars and clubs.

The list of activities is endless but includes world class white water rafting, snorkeling, scuba diving, big game fishing, swimming, paragliding, parasailing, snorkeling, scuba diving, paintballing, quad biking, cycling, nightclubbing, fine dining, and tasty street food. Visiting ancient temples and attending at least 1 ceremony is a must. Most tourists stay within the southern strip between Canggu and Uluwatu but there is so much more to see in the mountainous interior. Ubud is a cultural centre, Candi dasa and Amed have world class snorkelling, Bedugul is the capital of the lake district. Bali is a tourist’s dream. Service levels and friendly smiles are out of this world. Find yourself spiritually, experience the delights of yoga, or spoil yourself with a spa treatment. Bali is the jewel in the crown of tropical Asian holiday islands.

rice-paddies

Whitewater rafting is possible year round, but during the rainy season the rivers swell and you can ride the rapids for a thrilling 20KM. Countless waterfalls in Bali’s interior are incredibly powerful and a must see.

7. It has an established and thriving surf culture

Bali has the most surf shops in the world and every leading brand is available. As Bali is a year round destination, surfing brands use it as a testing ground for product development. Many of the products are manufactured locally, and that makes the price very competitive. Surfers were amongst the first tourists to visit Bali, and have become closely embedded into the lifestyle and culture. Surfing is very popular amongst the local Balinese, and surfers are well liked and respected here. This makes it a great place to meet other surfers, learn how to surf from qualified instructors and take advantage of the 100+ surf spots, many of which are world famous.

8. Bali is the ideal place to learn how to surf

Bali has deep water reef breaks which are perfect for learning to surf due to the consistency, quality and length of the ride. There are many expert surf breaks, but also many soft breaking waves that are suitable for complete beginners to learn for the first time, and for intermediates to improve. Learning how to surf in warm water is so much easier without the restrictions of wearing a wetsuit. Not only is it easier to learn without a wetsuit (lighter and freer movement) it is also much more fun.

padang

Suitable beginner and learner waves very near to Padang Padang Surf camp include baby Padang Padang, Dreamland and Balangan (when very small swell). Our instructors know the best surf break for any ability, swell size and tide. Baby Padang Padang is arguably the best spot in the world to learn to surf, due to the wave characteristic, which is soft breaking and offers a long ride to enable you to find your balance.

9. Bali has a huge variety of breaks to suit any level of surfer

The Bukit is not just incredibly beautiful with soaring cliffs and white sand beaches, it is also home to an incredible cluster of world-class surf breaks. Though known for its big waves spots like Uluwatu and perfect barrels of Padang Padang Left (Balinese pipeline) and Bingin, there are also great beginner waves like baby Padang Padang which break right into a deep water channel and peel left all the way to the beach.

A boat trip to airport reefs is a highlight of every surfers trip to Bali. Airport rights is a perfect advanced wave and if you are lucky, you may spot Kelly Slater in the line up. 300 metres from this advanced wave is Toro Toro which is always smaller and breaks mellow. Toro Toro is a perfect wave for intermediates as it breaks softly and consistently in deep water, and produces very long rides. Inside from Toro Toro there are smaller waves that are suitable for beginners at high tide.

boat

10. Bali has over 100 surf spots that are all reachable in 1-2 hours drive from the airport.

Nowhere compares to Bali for the sheer number of quality waves. On any given day 50 or more of these surf spots will have good surfing conditions, due to the consistency and quality of the swell that propogates here from the Indan Ocean.

The west coast has great waves from the long coastline that includes Medewi-Balian-Canggu-Legian-Kuta-Airport reefs-Balangan-Uluwatu. The south coast picks up all the swell and has left and right waves from Nyang Nyang all the way to Nusa Dua including Green Bowls, Pandawa and many secret spots which we will not name. The East coast has great waves all the way from Nikko to Jasri and include Geger, Blackstone, Sri Lanka, Serangan, Sanur, Ketewel and Keramas. There are so many surf spots, no one can can quantify the number, and no one has surfed all the spots. So many of the surf spots are still undiscovered by the masses, as the famous breaks are so good, it’s hard to move from the known spots. Bali has lefts, rights, A frames, reef breaks, point breaks, beachies and river mouth breaks. Bali ticks all the surfing boxes and every other positive box. No one has ever been disappointed on a Bali surfing holiday, but if you want to make the most of your experience, best to stay with operators that understand both the surf breaks and local culture.