The surfing in Bali was made famous in the 1971 movie “Morning of the Earth.” That movie caught the amazing ride of a 15-year-old Australian surfer and was responsible for publicizing the surfing potential in Indonesia. One of the most important things to remember when you head for the beach in Bali is that the reef present very sharp points that can do serious damage, so don’t be too cool to eschew footwear.
Uluwatu can be found about an hour to the south of Kuta and offers some of the most amazing surfing experiences in the world. The huge break at Uluwatu is dependent on the swell approaching Ulu cave, which is the only exit point. This means that timing needs to be perfect, so beginners should definitely avoid this Bali surf point. When the swells are at their peak, the waves here can reach as high as 30 feet. Combine that serious height with the necessity for good timing and the hazards of sharp coral reefs, and you can see why only experienced surfers mount their boards here.
Bingin is 45 minutes south from Kuta. The same hazardous coral reefs make this a dangerous place for beginners, but the waves aren’t nearly as huge as at Uluwatu. Riding over a reef break, the waves generally stay beneath 15 feet. Bingin adds the hazard of being more crowded than Uluwatu because it isn’t as imposing. A less crowded area can be found south of the reef at a long wally known as Impossibles.
Padang Padang is between Bingin and Uluwatu, and when the big waves are being ridden at Uluwatu, you can catch a 15-footer at Padang Padang. The barrel here is less impressive if Uluwatu isn’t cooperating. When that’s the case, the waves at Padang Padang are more likely to be between 6 and 10 feet high. This Bali surf site might even be considered more treacherous than Uluwatu because of the canyons in the sharp reef. The best time to hit this area is from April to October, when the tide is high.
Legian Beach provides excellent surfing opportunities for both beginners and experts. Large swells can reach nearly 20 feet, while during down periods Legian Beach waves may get only as big as 2 to 5 feet. The potential for smaller waves means that really experienced surfers usually head to Uluwatu or Padang, which makes Legian Beach slightly less crowded and better for beginners. The best time to head for Legian Beach is during mid- to high tide from March through October.