Surfing has been big in Bali since the 1970s, when renowned surfers like Gerry Lopez and Kim Bradley descended on the island. It is now one of the main draws to this popular holiday spot, along with year-round sun and hospitality. There are dozens of top surf locations today, including favourites Kuta and Uluwatu, and numerous surf shops and schools.
Bali is one of the best places to both learn and enjoy surfing. The weather is warm all year round, even during the wet season, and the swell is reliable. In addition, prices for a surf course and rental fees are reasonable. There are surf schools at all of the main surfing beaches of the south.
Surf schools graduate in stages, from stance and paddling at Level 1 right through to catching and trimming large waves unassisted at Level 4. Surfboards are sized to the individual’s weight and there is a huge range. Surfing is thus good for all levels and most ages in Bali, as long as they can swim and have a reasonable fitness level.
Surf season in Bali is March/April to September/October, with reliable swells falling on the southern shores, including Kuta and Nusa Dua. Wet season swells – usually from November to March – are less intense but still reliable. The beaches are quieter during this time, so it can be a better time to learn and practise.
Lying between the airport and Denpasar, Kuta Beach is surf central on Bali. The swell here is medium, good for beginners to intermediates, with waves up to three feet. Kuta also has a great range of surf schools, hotels and bars and the beach itself is good for bathing.
Legian Beach is the spill over for Kuta, with fewer competing surfers and yet similar sandy break surfing potential. Legian is also popular with beginner and medium level surfers, with higher swells in the summer and during the afternoon. The Legian Beach Hotel is noted for the highly rated Surf Academy.
Seminyak Beach is farther north and is quieter than Kuta and Legian, yet swells here can be huge. On a good day you can have barrel after barrel of perfect lefts and rights. Other noted surf spots include Batu Bolong Beach, which adjoins Seminyak and is a good alternative, and Dhyana Pura and Nusa Dua. Uluwatu Beach is best for more advanced levels, with more powerful barrels.