The Best Destinations for Surf Trips – Bali (Beginner – Advanced)

For most, it’s been a long couple of years, with the ability to travel all but removed and our choice of surf destinations subsequently drastically limited. For those of us fortunate to live near enough to a quality surf break or two that might not have been such an issue, but nonetheless being able to take to the air in search of an overseas surf trip will be something that is welcomed back with open arms. In this series, we’ll take a look at some of the best surf trip destinations around the planet for surfers of all abilities, and in this article we’ll cover one of the most well-known of them all – Bali.

The famous Bali. One of the most popular international destinations for Australians on the planet. And while some towns on the island have been inundated by tourists in Bintang singlets to the point that you’d barely know you were in Indonesia, there is still plenty of beauty – and a whole lot of great waves – to be found there. And not only are there a lot of waves, but there’s also a huge amount of variety considering how small the island is, meaning surfers of all ability can enjoy the surf that it has to offer. 

Within the space of a few hours, you can surf the enormous, often terrifying and crystal-clear waters of the Bukit Peninsula, as well as the far more mellow, rolling right-handers at Canggu, making Bali a hugely popular surf destination for anyone from complete beginners, to the very best in the world.

Getting there

Unlike somewhere like the Mentawais, which requires numerous steps of travel to reach, getting to Bali is super easy. Denpasar Airport services the island and is available from all major cities in Australia and plenty of others around the world. From Australia’s south-east you’ll spend about six hours in the air, while from Brisbane or Perth you can cut that down to about four hours, making it as quick to get to as it is to go from one side of Australia to the other.

Upon arrival in Bali, however, if you’re there for surfing then it’s likely that you’ll want to get away from Denpasar as quickly as possible. It’s hot and busy, and the adjacent beach is Kuta, a place which the crowds suggest appeals to many but which is probably the least favourite part of Bali for many more. You can surf at Kuta, but the waves aren’t nearly as good as they are elsewhere on the island and even if they were, the brown, foamy water would likely compel plenty of people to stay on land.

There are a couple of options to get to where you need to go. If you’re staying somewhere not too far away like Seminyak or Canggu, getting a ride in a tuk tuk or hiring your own scooter could be an option, though if you have a surfboard or two and a bunch of luggage, you might be better off in something bigger. There are plenty of taxis on the island which will happily take you to popular places a little further afield such as Padang Padang to the south or Balian Beach to the north-west.

The waves

As mentioned, there is a little bit of something for everyone in terms of waves in Bali. Whether you’re an experienced surfer looking to get some of the best rides of your life, or you’ve never touched a surfboard and want somewhere user-friendly to learn, this island will be able to deliver. These are five of the best of them, covering all range of difficulties.


Uluwatu is one of the first ports of call for experienced surfers when they head to Bali. Located on the Bukit Peninsula and surrounded by an incredible backdrop of huge cliffs, this is a left-hand reef break with five different main take-off sections, each of which offers its own challenge and functions best at different tides. Crowds watch on from the adjacent clifftops as some of the best surfers on the island, both local and from abroad, strut their stuff, while from further to the north-east you can see lines upon lines of perfectly organised swell hitting the reef in crystal clear waters.

Padang Padang

Another break on the beautiful Bukit Peninsula, Padang Padang is often regarded as one of the best lefts on the planet, and the crowds reflect as much. The long, perfect barrels could give you one of the rides of your life, while if you want to take it a little easier you can jump onto the much shorter right-hander heading in the other direction. Located at the bottom of a narrow, winding staircase, if you’re on the Bukit Peninsula then checking out Padang Padang is a must.


Canggu in itself has enough different waves to cater for an entire surf trip. Located about 40 minutes to the north-west of Kuta, this rapidly growing town accommodates surfers of all abilities. The Canggu river mouth is one of the better-known waves in Bali, with the hollow, peaky barrels here where many of the best surfers from the region cut their teeth. Just across the river is Batu Bolong and Old Mans, a long, mellow right-hander which you’ll be sharing with seemingly every man, woman and dog on the island, but which is a great place to learn, longboard and anything in between.


Keramas has, for a long time, been one of those rare waves which is both of extremely high quality, and relatively unknown. Once the domain of locals and a handful of lucky tourists, however, it’s quickly becoming a more populated break, though the surrounding infrastructure hasn’t yet caught up – which, in the eyes of many, is only a good thing. A recent Championship Tour there only served to increase the profile of this heavy right-hander, which boasts both hollow, barrelling sections and long, stretched-out walls for high-performance manouevres. Both the locals and the reef here demand plenty of respect, so make sure you know your way around a surfboard if you head out here.

Balian Beach

Another hour or so to the north-west of Canggu, Balian Beach is a little less well-known than its populated counterparts to the east, but for many that’s part of the attraction. Home to a number of surf camps, the break at Balian Beach is an A-frame peeling off a river mouth. It might not be as picturesque as the spots on the Bukit Peninsula, for example, but it draws in plenty of swell and on different days, can offer anything from mellow waves ideal for beginners and longboarders, through to heavy ones with a barrelling section tacked on the end.

Bali is enormously popular among western tourists for a variety of reasons, but the surf is among the most significant of them. This little island is home to some of the most high-performance waves in the world, but within a remarkably limited proximity there is still plenty on offer for those with a little less experience in the water. There’s a reason that so many surf trips take place on this Indonesian surfing wonderland, and if you’re looking for a place to take one of your own, this should be high on your list.