Am I ready for Bali?

Written by on 13th November 2014
Published in Surfing, Travel
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So you’ve surfed around the UK a bit, maybe taken a 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. But with all those stories of powerful waves breaking on shallow reefs, crowded by annoying Aussies who rip it’s right to ask oneself  “Am I ready for Bali ?”

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The Surf

Let’s get straight into it. There is an abundance of waves on Bali and an equally generous number of surfers competing for them. Happily, there are waves for every level from the total beginner through to pro’s. Beginners should head to the beach at Kuta; it is possible to find a quiet’ish place to practise here as it isn’t regarded as a great wave considering the world class wabes nearby. It is also like surfing in a circus, the beach is nuts, full of  tourists and great fun. Or if you don’t fancy the Kuta mayhem, Canggu up the coast is a great beach break, it also breaks on black sand which is a great novelty (but is very bloody hot on your feet!)

If you’re basing yourself in the Kuta Vortex, Intermediates will enjoy Kuta Reef which is a great intro to reef-break surfing. It’s about 1km from the beach, so a long paddle or you can pay one of the many locals to take you there on a boat. For the intermediates up in the Canggu area, the beach break itself packs enough of a punch for you to not want to surf anywhere else, but there is a sick left hand reef to the left of the beach, or you could head up the coast to the quieter area of Balian and Medewi which are perfect intermediate reef breaks. Medewi is the longest wave I’ve ever surfed…

For the more advanced surfers just head down into the famous teardrop shaped Buket Peninsula where you will be frothing on the famous lefts of Uluwatu and if you’re up for it, the bonkers barrels at Padang Padang. These waves are world famous for a reason and although you may not get as many waves, the waves you get will be the most memorable ones of you life.

In short, if you surf or want to get into it, Bali’s got the wave for you.

The Crowds

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.

Basically it is busy, but I found that the island of enchanment not only helps with your surfing by throwing all these insane waves at you, but also helps you become a ore patient, respectful person. Patience is a virtue in all things in life.

The Culture

Are you kidding me! The culture in Bali is incredible. I would put it on the bucket list just to experience the culture. Bali is also unique in Indonesia in that it has a Hindu culture, which is good. 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 so let your self get swept up in it and tap into your own spirituality.

The people are extremely friendly so you will never feel alone in Bali. Expect to find yourself in conversation with many locals throughout the day and you will make friends with many fellow surf trippers.

The Hassles

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. Usually the latter and there is a death penalty for drug crimes. You’ve heard of Shappelle corby right?

When it comes to the hassle from the local ladyboys (Benchongs) who relentlessly offer you ‘banana hands’, although you may be riled up after a few packets of extra joss and 6 big Bintangs, they will rob you if you take him/her home. Best advice: be smart, avoid both in the first instance. You are there to surf. There are some more tips here that are very relevent…

The Logistics

The hardest part about Bali is the actual travel. The flight in is long and you will have a layover  but as all you’re doing is sitting their drinking beers and eating salty plane food it’s not that hard. Denpasar airport is close to the Buket Peninsula and Kuta so transfers aren’t an issue, just don’t pay over the odds (half what the first taxi guy offers). Moving around the island done cheaply by motorbike rental, or rather more safely by car rental or even rent a driver. 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. Read this for more help on this issue.

In summary

To summarise, YES YOU ARE READY. My girlfriend surfed Medewi and she won’t surf North Fistral. If you need a Winter escape and fancy surfing in your boardies or bikini, chilling with a cold beer and new mates after a day in the best waves you’ve ever seen, then let Errant Surf arrange the perfect trip for you.

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…

The following images have been completely stolen from Lewis‘s last trip to Bali and aren’t overly relevant but give you a good idea of Bali Bali Bali. Cheers Lewis.

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