Places like Bali in Indonesia are home to the kind of waves that have inspired and shaped the progression of surfing, fuelling the culture to help build what it is today.
Magazine features, video clips and surf content over the past few decades from ‘Indo’ have set in the minds of many surfers the dream of that perfect wave and gave us something to aspire to in our surfing. Somehow this placed waves here at almost the pinnacle of surfing, with a kind of ‘if you’re able to surf here you’ve made it, you’re established’ mentality. Though that may be true it neglects to tell the full story of what is on offer here. Everybody starts somewhere and while Bali is best known for its waves that appeal mainly to the more experienced surfer it deserves some praise for its more user-friendly beaches as well.
wether you get spat out a barrel at Padang or battle your first white water wave in Canggu, it’s all good in Bali
So where would one go to surf in Bali having had very little or no prior surfing experience? Here are two good beginner waves in Bali that we have been frequenting over the past two weeks with our current group of beginners and I feel you can’t go wrong by using them as your starting point.
Batu Balong Beach
You could be forgiven for calling Batu Balong Beach the heart of beginner surfing in Bali, this large stretch of black sand beach in Canggu offers a bit of something for everybody from white water reforms to open faced rides. The beach is covered with tanning beds and umbrellas coveted by beautifully bronzed bodies from all across the globe, behind them you’ll find everything you’ll need for your first experience surfing. What would you need exactly?
Well, if you’ve never surfed before I’d highly recommend a surf coach, the locals here prefer to work on a one to one (or two) basis and are some of the most enthusiastically passionate people you’ll come across. They love surfing and can’t wait to get you involved! You’ll find a surf coach at any of the beach’s board rental stores, just ask. The coach will also ensure you have all the correct equipment and are looked after in the water so you’ll be up and riding in no time. I must warn you though, it’s HIGHLY addictive!
Batu Balong is a fairly comfortable safe place to learn to surf as nearly everybody else out there is trying to do the same. No pressure
Being in such a densely populated area of tourists all wanting to try their hand at surfing makes crowds the biggest issue here, you may have to walk down the beach to find a space less congested in the water (having a local coach takes away a lot of the anxiety here as with them you’ll experience the VIP treatment and your pick of waves). There are some areas of scattered rock which will be noticeable on the lower tides and not at all noticeable on the high tide. There are medical facilities nearby should any incident occur and there are plenty of restaurants and places to eat and refresh afterwards to really make a day of your experience. In Canggu the wind really starts to pick up and swing on-shore after midday so the best conditions are usually in the early mornings. The beach is also exposed to open ocean so unfortunately when bigger swells come through it may mean conditions won’t be suited for lessons and you’ll have to watch the more experienced surfers take it on from the safety of the beach.
Kedungu Beach is few kilometers north of Canggu near a place called Tanah Lot and is a wave equally as well suited as Batu Balong to the beginner surfer. After discovering it we decided to make it our home wave over our two week stay in Bali. The reason being we had consistent large swells coming through and this little corner of coast offered some shelter from it. It wasn’t much but it was manageable for the level of surfing we were accommodating.
Kedungu is very easy on the eyes, lesser known spots like these mean a less crowded line-up.
Like Batu Balong there is something for everybody with bigger running waves out back and smaller white water reforms on the inside. On bigger days like a few that we had during the course of our stay the left hand corner next to the cliffs is where the beginner surfer can expect to find a wave, it is mainly a white water reform that offers a short ride. On smaller days the backline at main break is where you can expect to be. There is a board rental store on the beachfront where you can find a local guide to help you out in the water (again highly recommended).
Scattered rock, a shore-break and a greater presence of rip currents are your biggest concern here so surfing with somebody who knows the line-up will be very helpful. The crowds here are marginal in comparison with other spots around Bali so if you’re someone who struggles in crowds this may be your best bet on any given day. Kedungu is a bit more removed than Batu Balong so have a contingency plan in place should any incidents occur where you’d require medical assistance (pack a 1st aid kit).
A local guide is the best investment a beginner surfer can make in Bali
These two spots are only a 20minute drive from one another so if you make your home base in Canggu you could mix between the two to really try to maximize you surf holiday. There are plenty more waves suited to beginners and intermediates in the area as well so if you get on well you wont have to look far to get your fix. These are just the two waves we take our crew that we are willing to share 😉
There’s actually loads of waves in Bali and the neighbouring islands which are good for the beginner surfer, they just depend on the state of the tide. ‘Razor’s for example in Nusa Lembongan, an island known for it’s huge tubes at spots like Shipwrecks and Lacerations, sounds terrifying and it is if you’re there at low tide. However, when the tide hits its high point, the waves fizzle out with way less ferocity over the reef, which becomes more than deep enough to learn on.
There’s also a left hand point up the coast of Bali, which does indeed break over cobblestones, but in a small swell and high tide it can a beginner surfer’s paradise.
If you’re in Bali anytime soon, let us know how you find these waves as a beginner. Or if you are a beginner and want to join one of our Bali Surf Tours this season, get in touch 🙂