Am I ready to Surf Bali?
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So you’ve surfed around the UK a bit, maybe taken a surf trip to Hossegor or the Canaries, but now your thoughts are drifting to the tropical waters in the Southern Hemisphere, and more specifically, the surf Mecca that is Indo and a certain diamond shaped island for a winter escape. But with all those stories of powerful waves breaking on shallow reefs, it’s right to ask oneself “Am I ready for Bali ?”
This is what you travel to the other side of the world for
Let’s get straight into it. There is an abundance of waves on Bali, and equally generous number of surfers competing for them. Happily, there are waves for every level from the total beginner through to Joel Parkinson. Beginners should head to the beach at Kuta; it’s possible to find a quiet place to practise here. Intermediates will enjoy the nearby Kuta Reef which gives a nice surfable walls. Then heading down into the famous teardrop shaped Buket Peninsula shredders will be frothing on the famous lefts of Uluwatu and if they’re up for it, the gaping barrels at Padang Padang.
In short, if you surf or want to get into it, Bali’s got the wave for you. Take your gear, but know that some of the biggest surf shops on the planet are based here.
All these amazing waves peeling in crystal water under a tropical sun naturally attract surfers from the world over. Bali is a busy surf destination but as ever, with a good attitude and patience everyone can find their place. Give the locals plenty of room, they work long hours and deserve their share. Hang out in one of the many warungs (cafes) located on the beaches; enjoy some food and a massage, and when the crowd level dips, seize your chance.
Nigh times can see the streets of Kuta turning into a version of the Indy 500
Bali is unique in Indonesia in that it has a Hindu culture. Expect a riot of colours, smells and sounds to assault your senses when you step off the plane. Little spiritual offerings seem to be placed everywhere, it’s said that the island has a thousand temples and the inhabitants hold many fascinating beliefs. Let your self get swept up in it and tap into your own spirituality.
Night times are just fantastic. Kuta is pretty wild nearby Seminyak offers more sophisticated levels of entertainment and refreshment.
There is no reason to be bored or alone in Bali. Expect to find yourself in conversation with many locals throughout the day, and to make friends with many fellow surf trippers.
In such a busy tourist melting pot, there will always be an undercurrent who seek to make a living from less saloubrious means. At the lighter end, you’ll be pounced upon by many touts selling the usual souvenirs, innocent enough but really quite annoying and if you cave in on your first day, you’ll find yourself targeted for the rest of your trip. The murkier element is less obvious but offers the usual illegal goods and trades; sometimes you get what you pay for, sometimes you walk into a trap and thrown into a Balinese jail. Best advice: be smart, avoid in the first instance.
The hardest thing about getting to and around Bali is the flight in, and since all you need to do on a plane is sit there, you can deduce that getting around is pretty easy. The Denpasar airport is close to the Buket Peninsula and Kuta so long transfers aren’t an issue. Moving around the island done cheaply by motorbike rental, or rather more safely by car rental. Based in the south, your longest journeys will be no more than 45 minutes. It takes about 5 hours to drive to the far north of the island.
Expect the cops to flag you over and issue fines for random things – don’t be afraid to barter these down a bit.
It’s waiting for you…what are you waiting for?
What do you reckon then?
Feeling up to a winter escape, surfing in your boardies or bikini, chilling with a cold Bintang and some new buddies after a day in the best waves you’ve ever seen? If you’re still not sure, here’s a fact: 95% of all visitors to Bali say when they come home, that they caught at least one wave that ‘paid for the airfare’. The other 5% just stayed out there…