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The Ultimate Guide to Surfing Uluwatu

Uluwatu is the most famous surf spot in Bali.

Known for its consistent waves and stunning scenery.

The waves at Uluwatu are some of the best in the world.

Uluwatu attracts surfers from all over the world and has a legacy dating back to the 1970s when it was first spotted from the air.

Uluwatu is an advanced surf spot and a goofy-foot surfer’s paradise with so many different peaks that turn on at different tides and swell sizes.

In this comprehensive guide to surfing Uluwatu, we’ll reveal everything you need to know to master this Balinese gem.


Uluwatu has five main known peaks:

  • Temples
  • The Bombie
  • Outside corner
  • The peak
  • Racetrack

There are also two unknown spots, which we can’t give the exact location for. But one spot works well on a small swell at low tide, and the other on a medium swell at high tide.

Each peak is optimal at different tides and swell sizes.

These five main peaks all break to the left because of the shape of the reef and the swell direction, which is always from the SSW or SWS.

Read on as we delve deeper into each of Uluwatu’s surf spots.


For advanced and expert surfers seeking a heavy and fast ride, Temples offers an intense experience.

The wave at Temples breaks heavy and fast in shallow water.

There’s usually a lighter crowd here because there’s a long paddle up at the reef. But you’ll usually find some hardcore surfers here at Temples.

Surfers that make it to Temples are rewarded with a powerful wave, which picks up even a small swell.

So on smaller days, you may find it worthwhile to paddle up the reef to Temples because it picks up more swell than the other spots further down the reef.


The Bombie is an indicator wave that softly breaks on small to medium-sized swells. On small to medium-sized swells, The Bombie is not rideable.

But when the conditions align and the swell reaches epic proportions, then the Bombie is transformed. This spot can hold waves up to an awe-inspiring 40 feet.

The Bombie produces rideable waves in the 20 feet and above range. The rides can go for up to 2 km and link up into Outside Corner (read on and we’ll cover that next).

But a lot of the waves at The Bombie shut down. So you’ll need to be prepared because you may endure the wipeout and hold down of a lifetime.

Uluwatu’s The Bombie is a surfing spectacular that you must see if you’re in Bali and there’s a huge swell running.

Few surfers are brave enough to paddle out at The Bombie on a big wave. It has claimed a few unfortunate surfers.

Because the wave travels very fast in deep water, surfboard sizes tend to be in the range of 10 feet. Hawaiian Rhino gun category since paddle speed is the priority.

It goes without saying, but on days when the swell is running large, the Bombie is only for expert surfers.


Outside Corner is renowned as the premier big wave spot in Bali, if not the entirety of Indonesia.

Outside Corner is best experienced at low tide and during a substantial swell. It’s where big wave surfers can find their calling.

This section of Uluwatu commands the utmost respect. Even accessing the water across the shallow reef and with a lot of water moving is a significant challenge.

On massive swells, Outside Corner will still break well, even on a medium tide. But it will flatten out at high tide.

Outside Corner is for serious big-wave surfers only.

But it can be a great viewing experience from the safety of the cliffs. From here, you can see the battle of surfing gladiators as they conquer massive waves.


The Peak is a high tide break that’s positioned just south of the cave entrance at Uluwatu.

The Peak is the heart of Uluwatu and is the most consistent section of the various waves you can get and can offer an abundance of barrel opportunities.

While the other sections at Uluwatu tend to have longer lulls between waves, The Peak is like a wave machine.

But The Peak attracts crowds of surfers who see the consistent waves. So if you decide to surf at this section of Uluwatu, you should be prepared for a competitive atmosphere.

You can expect punchy medium-length rides with plenty of barrels at mid to high tide.

On smaller swells, The Peak flattens out at high tide. But on a medium to large swell, The Peak is amazing at high tide.


Racetrack is the entry point as you paddle out from the cave at Uluwatu.

Most surfers visiting Uluwatu tend to start at Racetrack, but end up at The Peak due to watching the consistency of waves at The Peak. Also, the current at Uluwatu runs in that direction.

The majority of local Balinese surfers like to stay on the Racetrack section because it’s considered the best section of the reef at Uluwatu and offers the longest rides.

The rides at Racetrack are fast and powerful, where medium-sized barrels are thrown on takeoff, and huge barrels can be had on the end section. You can expect 300m to 400m rides on a good day here.

The Racetrack is best at low to mid-tide. But it gets super shallow and scary at dead low tide, so proceed with caution.


Surfing Uluwatu comes with a range of common hazards.

As you know, Uluwatu is the premier surf spot in Bali and it attracts top local and traveling surfers. So the competition here can be fierce, particularly at The Peak as the takeoff spot is small.

If you’re not an advanced surfer, then it’s advised to look for a less-crowded spot.

You could also choose a less popular time of the day. Early mornings or sunset are usually quiet and can offer a less competitive atmosphere.

Make sure to always check a surf forecast before you go out, so you know what to expect.

At any time in the day, at least one of the five peaks at Uluwatu will be breaking well. As the tide rises, the waves become slower and mellower, making them more suitable for less experienced surfers. Expert surfers can make the most of lower tides and the hollow performance waves they offer.

Uluwatu is known for its crowds, even when the surf is small. A “small crowd” at Uluwatu could be considered a “considerable crowd” at many other surf locations. But as the surf reaches 6 feet and beyond, the crowd tends to thin out.

Entering and exiting the surf, especially through the Racetracks section at low tide, can be hazardous (continue reading as we have useful tips to help you enter and exit the surf at Uluwatu safely).

Strong currents, sharp reefs, and shallow waters are an inherent part of any session at Uluwatu and demand your respect for the surroundings.

When you make your way down the cliff to the surf, be mindful of the steep stairs and the powerful waves pounding the cliff face, especially during higher tides. These aspects require careful navigation to ensure a safe surfing experience at Uluwatu.


Your journey to surfing Uluwatu begins here.

The rickety ladder leading down to Uluwatu is gone.

Now, you have a choice of three different staircases that provide access to the cave below.

  • The first stair access used to get shut off in the rainy season by a river of water.
  • The second staircase gave you a fighting chance of making it down the stairs, without getting seriously injured by the biblical water flow, but it was rather scary.
  • The third staircase is impervious to any volume of water from above or below and offers safe, 365 days a year access to the cave.

There are goat tracks around the temple area but quite challenging to navigate with a surfboard so everyone enters via the cave, but not all make it back to the start point!

After climbing down the stairs on the Uluwatu cliff you will exit the cave and into the water on a high tide or have a 100m walk across a sharp reef on a low tide.

When paddling out straight in front of the cliff avoid drifting with the current into the way of oncoming surfers ripping the Racetrack section to pieces.

Not only will you get in the way of oncoming surfers but you have a good chance of getting dragged over the shallow and sharp reef if you’re not a strong paddler.

You can also take a left at the bottom of the staircase through a small cave bringing you out on the small stretch of beach known as Suluban Beach. Here you can walk further down the beach towards Temples and paddle out wherever you see the best opportunity.


So you’ve just finished your surf session at Uluwatu.

But now a new challenge emerges: successfully exiting the surf.

Getting out of the water at Uluwatu can be challenging, especially on a big swell and high tide.

Remember, the bigger the swell, the stronger the current. And on the inside, the current is always running in the direction from Temples to Padang Padang.

During low tide, it’s possible to walk back on the reef.

But at high tide, the current will push you past the cave.

The best way to get out of the water at Uluwatu is to catch a big rolling whitewater set wave. It’s the fastest and easiest way out of the water, and you’ll also avoid getting swept by the current.

On massive days, it can be almost impossible to get into the cave. At mid-tide or above, you’ll need to paddle up onto the peak with the risk of getting flogged by a cleanup set.

It can be intimidating on a big day to paddle up and get a set wave in. If you miss the cave on a big day, the alternative is to paddle about a mile down to Thomas Beach. From here, you’ll do the walk of shame back to the Uluwatu car park.

Here’s a local insider tip that’s worth knowing about the cave: There is a keyhole access to the cave, which is accessible at all tides. But it can be dangerous on a big swell at high tide.

So if you do unfortunately miss the cave, then you can try to get into this keyhole and gain access to the cave by climbing up a rock to avoid another lap of paddling and the risk of again missing the cave.

Exiting via this keyhole needs to be well-timed when there is a surging swell. Further, down the reef, it’s possible to walk back at low to mid tide. At high tide, there is no beach and the current is too strong.

We will let you into a secret! There are not 1, but 2 staircases that will take you all the way to the top and avoid the long paddle to Thomas beach, and the hike back. The first staircase will lead you to a derelict building, and it is just a 5 minute walk to where you parked your bike. The second staircase will lead you to Ulu Cliffhouse and again it’s just a short walk. The staircases are not obvious to see, but if you do find that you have missed the cave and the current is too strong, head for land and look up.


Uluwatu is one of the most consistent surf spots in the world and can provide surfable waves throughout the year. But the quality and the size of the waves can vary based on the seasons.

The best time to surf Uluwatu is during the dry season, which runs from April to October. In the dry season, the winds create favorable offshore conditions at Uluwatu and provide clean and well-formed waves.

The main reason why the dry season is the best time to surf Uluwatu is because of the wind direction.

In addition, the swell size also tends to be larger in the dry season, so the surf at Uluwatu is more consistent.

November is also a good month for surfing Uluwatu. In November, the surf is generally smaller, and there are light winds and fewer crowds.

The wet season is still a great time to visit Bali and Uluwatu can still be excellent in the wet season when the wind is light. Sometimes the wind in the wet season switches to offshore.

But the wind in the wet season is predominantly onshore W or SW and can be too strong, which is unfavorable for surfing at Uluwatu. You could head out in the early mornings during the wet season before the winds pick up.

It’s worth noting that the swells in the wet season may be smaller and less consistent compared to the dry season. So this may be a more suitable time for beginner and intermediate surfers.

You’ll also want to consider the tides when planning your surf session at Uluwatu. Higher tides can provide softer and more mellow waves. Lower tides can result in hollower and more performance waves.

In terms of the time of the day, early mornings are an excellent time for surfing at Uluwatu. In the early mornings, the wind is calm or light, which can provide cleaner and more glassy conditions.

Crowds are also less in the early morning and can result in a more enjoyable session.

Getting to Uluwatu at the crack of dawn can be rewarding and you may get the waves to yourself. You could also get to Uluwatu before dawn and paddle out in the dark.

As the day progresses, both the wind and the number of surfers increase. But there can be windows of good conditions in the late morning or early afternoon.

Sunset sessions at Uluwatu can offer a unique surfing experience. Surfers enjoy the atmospheric lighting at sunset and less crowded lineups. But it’s worth noting the wind can pick up as the sun goes down.

Ultimately, the best time to surf Uluwatu can vary depending on the conditions of the day and individual preferences. So we recommend checking the local surf forecasts or hooking up with local surf guides that can help you to determine the best time to surf at Uluwatu on any given day.


Uluwatu is generally not recommended for beginners. The waves at Uluwatu are often too big, powerful, and challenging for beginners. There are many other surf spots in Bali that are better suited for beginners.

Because Uluwatu is the most famous surf spot in Bali, it attracts a large number of surfers, especially when the conditions are good. So the lineup can get crowded, which can be challenging for beginner surfers to find space and get waves safely.

Uluwatu attracts experienced surfers looking for challenging waves. Beginners can disrupt the flow and pose a risk to themselves and others.

If you’re a beginner surfer, then we recommend checking out some beginner-friendly surf spots in Bali with milder waves and a more forgiving environment. There are several surf breaks in Bali that are better suited for beginners, such as Baby Padang.

Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule.

Any break can be suitable for beginners if the surf is small enough. There are a handful of days a year when Uluwatu is suitable for beginner surfers.

Our surf school has taken beginners out to surf at Uluwatu on days when the swell is very small and at a mid to high tide.

If you’re a beginner, we recommend taking lessons from an experienced instructor before you attempt to surf in Uluwatu.

Beginners may also want to hook up with a surf camp that can help them choose the best place to surf on any given day.


As you know, Uluwatu is a world-famous location that is known for its quality waves.

If you’re visiting Bali as a non-surfer, or your surfing friend or significant other has dragged you here while they go and play in the water, then there are still things for you to do.

Uluwatu Beach isn’t quite like other beaches. You see, the beach is small and accessed via the cave.

At high tide, you can’t access the beach. But there is a small beach inside the cave suitable for frolicking in the water, sunbathing, and watching surfers come and go.

Never go deeper than waist-deep as the current here is extremely strong.

The beach is white sand and beautiful. Low tide exposes the reef and it’s truly beautiful. The Indian Ocean washes Uluwatu clean daily and this is a pristine beach location.

If you’re looking for other non-surfing-related activities to do in Uluwatu, here are our favorite things to do in Uluwatu.

Our favorite place for sunset drinks and to hang out and watch the surf is at The Edge.

You could also head to the Uluwatu Temple. This is the mother temple and the Balinese will travel from all over the island to pay homage.

The temple has a magnificent setting overlooking the Indonesian Ocean. Every evening there is a “monkey fire dance”. The monkey fire dance at Uluwatu Temple is a must-do thing in Bali.


Uluwatu has a range of accommodations from all budgets. From cheap hostels costing US$10 a night to resorts costing US$1,000 a night.

In between this price range are homestays, bungalows, villas, and hotels.

Homestays are particularly Indonesian style of accommodation, comparable with a B&B in western counties.

Rooms at the lower price end are typically fan-cooled or low-powered aircon.

Check out our accommodation recommendations which offer excellent value for a fair price.


After a long surf, you’re likely ready to eat.

Lucky for you, there are countless warungs (small local restaurants) in the Uluwatu area and on the cliff face looking down at the surfing breaks.

Recently many Western-run restaurants have opened and increased the range of dining options.

Street food such as BBQ corn and BBQ chicken satay is highly recommended as a budget option and is usually available in the parking area in the evening.


Uluwatu is not just a surf spot, it’s a sanctuary for surfers.

Uluwatu offers a playground of waves for surfers with varying tastes and desires.

Here you can get the experience of a lifetime and make new memories to leave a lasting mark on your soul.

But remember, Uluwatu demands respect. The raw power of its waves and the challenges it presents requires you to be mindful and attentive.

Each moment you spend at Uluwatu can be a challenge. From entering the surf to navigating the crowds, and getting back out. So take the time to understand the conditions, and tides, and ensure your safety.

We hope this guide has armed you with the knowledge you’ll need to tackle Uluwatu.

Now, take the passion that’s within you and get ready to explore the incredible surfing paradise of Uluwatu.

Your journey to Uluwatu awaits.

We’ll see you in the water.