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The Ultimate Surf Guide to Bali

Bali is said to be blessed by the gods, who were very generous in giving the gift of perfect waves to this lively island. Since the 1960s, Bali has been a top destination for surfers of all experience levels in search of the ride of their life. Planning a surf trip to Bali? Use this guide on Skyscanner Australia to grab the details of everything that you need to know.

There’s no place on earth like Bali. Its landscape, culture, and coastline is unique in a way that keeps surfers and travellers coming back for more. Whether you’re an experienced surfer, or a first time wave rider, there is sure to be a special wave for you.

This guide is separated by region and will cover the ideal swell size and direction, tide, wind direction, and other essential information. Due to the unpredictable nature of the sea, this guide is only intended as a reference. Always surf within your abilities. If the waves look too big, the surf is too crowded or shallow for you, then it probably is.

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At a glance

Best waves in Bali for beginners: Canggu, Dreamland, Kuta Beach, Seminyak, Jimbaran Bay Playgrounds. Best waves in Bali for intermediate-advanced surfers: Padang Padang, Uluwatu, Impossibles, Shipwrecks, Airport Rights, Nusa Dua, Lacerations. Water temperature: Stays warm (27-29 C) all year long. No wetsuit needed, but wear a long sleeved rashguard for sun protection. Reef booties are recommended for many breaks. Special precautions: Many waves in Bali have a shallow coral reef bottom. Reef cuts are extremely common (if not inevitable). If left untreated, coral reef cuts can lead to serious infection. Treat all cuts with triple antiseptic and stay out of the water as much as possible.

Bingin surf break
Bingin, Bali. Photo by Ben Gollow

West Bali

Balian: A long and friendly left that attracts longboarders and shortboarders alike. Though you can go right, the left is much more reliable and is further from the murky rivermouth. This swell magnet breaks over a deep reef and huge sets roll through without warning. Avoid surfing here after a rain as the rivermouth gets extremely polluted – attracting sharks. Best conditions: S-W swell, NE winds, 2-10 ft, and all tides.

Canggu: A stretch of beach with various peaks in front of a trendy neighborhood with surf camps, cafes, and shops. Canggu can get very crowded with beginners and aggressive riders. Paddling out at sunrise is your best bet to find a peak with a mellow crowd. Best conditions: S-W swell, NE winds, 2-10 ft, all tides.

Seminyak: This black sand beach hosts all types of beach breaks ranging from peaky A frames to walling close-outs. The sand banks tend to shift around, but are generally reliable at Double Six beach. If it’s small in Kuta, head up to Seminyak where it’s likely to be much bigger. Best conditions: S-W swell, NE winds, 1-8 ft, all tides.

Lacerations in Nusa Lembongan
Lacerations in Nusa Lembongan

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Legian: Away from the Seminyak and Kuta crowds, Legian offers peaky beach breaks that range from short barrels to pummeling closeouts. A great spot for intermediate surfers or surfers looking to be more versatile. Beware of rip currents. Best conditions: S-W swell, NE winds, 1-9 ft, all tides.

Kuta Beach: Notoriously crowded and known for drawing surfers with an inverse skills-to-arrogance ratio, Kuta Beach can get chaotic. If one peak looks too hectic, it’s easy to walk down the beach and find something better. 700 meters offshore is Kuta Reef, a crowded, left barrel breaking over reef. Best conditions: S-W swell, E winds, 1-8 ft, all tides.

Airport Lefts: Two main left-hand peaks that link up once the swell gets better. Not one of Bali’s best waves but can be less crowded and fun for surfers looking for novelty. Pay for a boat to bring you there and back. Best conditions: S-W swell, E winds, 4-10 ft, mid to high tide.

Airport Rights: A beautiful right-hand barrel that can take you up to 100 meters along the shallow reef – though rarely works as it needs a huge S-SW swell. Save your arms and hire a boat from Jimbaran Bay to access the wave. Best conditions: S-W swell, E winds, 4-14 ft, avoid at low tide.

Jimbaran Bay: A fun shorebreak perfect for beginners and intermediates warming up to surfing. The crowd, if any, usually consists of friendly long boarders and surfers with a SUP. Expert surfers will probably want to head elsewhere for more of a challenge unless the swell is massive. Best conditions: S-W swell, SE winds, 1-8 ft, all tides.

The Bukit Peninsula

Balangan: Set in a beautiful and undeveloped bay, Balangan is a unique left-hand wave with challenging sections. Best conditions: S-W swell, SE winds, 3-12 ft, mid to high tide.

Dreamland: Left and right hand peaks over a sandy reef means this break attracts surfers of all abilities, even when barreling overhead. Though all tides offer surf, high tide and a larger swell turns Dreamland into a painful closeout.
Best conditions: S-W swell, SE winds, 2-10 ft, low to mid tide.

Bingin: A crowded, shallow, and fun left-hand reef break directly in front of the stunning Bukit cliffs. Though all tides work, many surfers who venture out at low tide return with either a dinged board or scraped body, depending on what they prioritised to protect. Best conditions: S-W swell, SE winds, 2-8 ft, avoid at low tide.

Bingin Left
Bingin, Bali. Photo by Ben Gollow.

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Impossibles: If the crowds get too chaotic at neighboring breaks, head to Impossibles, where the large stretch of reef hosts multiple takeoff zones. However, the break tends to be fickle and mainly works when a large swell rolls through. If you’re wanting nothing but barrels, go at low tide and bring booties. Best conditions: S-SW swell, SE winds, 4-10 ft, all tides.

Padang Padang: One of Bali’s best waves and certainly the most iconic, Padang Padang is a long left-hand barrel that works once the swell gets huge. The ride is short and sweet, drawing in top surfers from all over the globe as soon as it starts working. Less advanced surfers can paddle to the peaky reef break on the other side of the beach. Best conditions: S-SW swell, SE winds, 5-12 ft, avoid at low tide.

Uluwatu: Affectionately known as Ulus, this break is a home base for Balinese surfers and all who visit. This wide, left-hand reef break works in virtually all conditions and can handle a crowd larger than most other breaks. After your surf, head to the cliffs for a post-surf Bintang at one of the many restaurants for a well-rounded classic Balinese surf experience. Plan your paddle in and out carefully, there is a cave you must go through to get to Ulus. During large swells it can be dangerous. Best conditions: S-W swell, SE winds, 2-16 ft, all tides.

Bingin in Bali
View from the Bukit Cliffs. Photo by Ben Gollow.

East Bali

Nusa Dua: Half a kilometer offshore is the wide break of Nusa Dua, with shifting peaks and multiple takeoff spots. Though the right-hand rides are better, surfers who love going left won’t have a hard time finding a spot as well. Hire a boat and save your strength for the strong current that sweeps around this break. Best conditions: S-W swell, NW winds, 2-18 ft, all tides.

Tanjung Sari: Out in front of its hotel namesake, Tanjung Sari is slightly friendlier than neighboring Sanur Reef due to its easy paddle out and generally less aggressive crowd. You can easily find both lefts and rights, though the rights tend to be cleaner and better. Like so many waves in Bali, booties and a rashguard will help you keep your skin on this shallow reef-break. Best conditions: S-W swell, NW winds, 3-10 ft, all tides.

Sanur Reef: Shallow, unforgiving, and rarely working, Sanur needs a huge swell to get going. Bigger swells and higher tides correlate at this break, where crowds and localism then make Sanur Reef even more of a challenge. Best conditions: S-W swell, W winds, 7-15 ft, avoid at low tide.

Keramas: A world-class wave renowned for the size of its right-hand barrels and jagged lava rock bottom, Keramas attracts surfers of the highest caliber. Fortunately, this wave is consistent though more and more surfers are braving its conditions. Expect an aggressive crowd comprised of locals and entitled tourists. Best conditions: S-W swell, NW winds, 2-10 ft, all tides.

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Nusa Lembongan

Playgrounds: A fun A-frame known to draw a friendly crowd. Breaks left and right over semi-shallow reef though the left tends to be better. Boards can be rented at the beach for 50,000 Rp per day. If nearby Shipwrecks and Lacerations are too heavy, head here. Best conditions: S-W swell, E winds, 2-10 ft, all tides.

Playgrounds in Bali
Playgrounds, off of Nusa Lembongan

Lacerations: A shallow, fast, right-hand tube that is fun for surfers in search of a challenge. When you need a break, paddle over to one of the pontoons offering fresh juice and snacks to tired surfers. On small days, intermediate surfers can grab their fair share of waves as well. Unfortunately, this spot earned its name for a reason and you’ll often see surfers sporting bandaged bodies as a testament. Best conditions: S-W swell, E winds, 2-10 ft, avoid at low tide. ,

Shipwrecks: If Lacerations is too intense and Playgrounds is too mellow, you’ll likely find a happy medium at Shipwrecks, a right-hand ride easily found by searching for the rusting bow of an old shipwreck. Best conditions: S-W swell, E winds, 2-10 foot, does not work at low tide.

Nusa Lembongan
Nusa Lembongan

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