Bali shot to surfing prominence on the back of Albert Falzons 1972 epic Morning of the Earth. The opening shots of this now infamous surf movie featured the trademark cave of Uluwatu (but the wave itself was actually Australia's Winki-Pop, contrary to popular belief). Now after years of adventure, exploration, and intrepid traveling against nature and all odds, Indonesia is one of the most sought after and cherished surfing destinations on earth, with Bali its base station and beating heart.
Sitting roughly in the middle of the Indonesian archipelago's 17,000-plus islands, Bali lies 8 degrees south of the equator and enjoys two distinct seasons. The shorter, hotter wet season runs from December through to the end of March while the more popular and longer season runs from April through to the end of November. Bali has breaks on both the east and west coasts, meaning hungry wave seekers can find offshore conditions on this world-famous surfing island every day of the year. Now that the east coast waves of the wet season are becoming more popular and well known, surfing tourists are starting to visit in larger numbers at this time of year, too. With the quality and consistency of waves in Bali it is possible to escape the masses by venturing further away from the more famous spots.
The Breaks -- As far as surfing real estate goes, pound for pound, mile for mile, Bali's Bukit Peninsula is only perhaps equaled by the meccalike North Shore of Oahu, in Hawaii. Uluwatu lies on the southwest corner of Bali and is the home to one of the most sacred Hindu temples on Bali. Padang Padang is one of the country's heaviest and most dangerous waves. Just north is Bingin, a short and hollow ride, suited to tube-riding and the flamboyant trickery displayed by the cunning local surfers who govern the place. On the east coast, Sanur is a high-quality surfing area in the most picturesque of settings. Sri Lanka is another highlight to this surfing wonderland. The beach is immaculate, a rarity in these parts, and carries the polished persona of a private resort-style beach. Nusa Dua can get big -- really big. With a take-off zone the size of a football field, the heaving chunks of ocean swell provide aquatic thrills to the willing and can deliver the uninitiated into a world of unforeseen pain. Join the throngs of tourists and locals at Kuta Reef, easily spotted from your plane window to the north of the ocean-intruding runway. For years a tight and dedicated crew of local and expatriate surfers kept Keramas pretty much to themselves. Now, the secret is out and the reef that once nobody dared to talk about is on the list of must-surf Bali destinations.
Lombok is home to the infamous Desert Point, voted by Australian surf bible, Tracks magazine, as the best wave on earth. Notoriously fickle and affected by the strong currents ripping through the Lombok trench (the world's second-deepest stretch of ocean) many surfers camp out here for months on end waiting for magic to happen. Now within easy striking distance from Bali, particularly if you own a helicopter, when the waves get good here the word gets out pretty quickly. In stark contrast to Desert Point, Ekas has a variety of waves for beginners all the way through to advanced surfers.
Outfitters & Information
Most of the surfing outfitters on the islands will be able to set you up with a full surfing itinerary. Some of the best equipped are: Tropicsurf (tel. 07/54554129 in Australia or 08/1916766607 in Bali; www.tropicsurf.net), headed by Jack Chisholm (ask for Jack), offering private guided and personalized coaching services. The only surf school worldwide to be inducted into Australia's surfing hall of fame, Tropicsurf is the global leader in surf coaching, for beginners to world champions, and is the best upmarket service in Bali. Marcy, a handsome suntanned New Zealander, has 20 years coaching experience in Bali alone. Marcy's Surf Coaching (tel. 08/123859454; email@example.com) is the true original and he will get you on your feet in no time. Best one on one, but he'll also do groups. Girls Surf Retreats (tel. 08/1916766607; www.girlssurfretreat.com) offers surf, fitness, yoga, and spa pampering retreats with a maximum of six guests. Women only. Surf Goddess Retreats (www.surfgoddessretreats.com) is run by girls for girls. The company organizes all inclusive, "surfari" packages, including yoga and spa treatments. Special care is also placed on the accommodation and food, which are second to none. The Rip Curl School of Surf (tel. 0361/735858; www.schoolofsurf.com) is an internationally respected surf company that organizes surf and paddle boarding -- the latest craze to hit the shores -- courses for beginners and experienced surfers.
Surf Travel On-line (tel. 0361/750550; www.surftravelonline.com) features up-to-date information on surf packages, boat charters, and surf camps in Bali, Lombok, and throughout Indonesia.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.