Bali’s surf scene is legendary – in fact, some of the first Western visitors to the island in the 1930s were wave worshippers captivated by the warm, clear waters off Kuta Beach. While urban development has mushroomed in some pockets, Bali still has its fair share of off-the-beaten-path surf spots and uncrowded line-ups. Couple this with trendy surf-themed eateries and quality surf schools and you have the winning formula for a swell holiday.
The starting point: Kuta Beach
Once a quiet stretch of sand, Kuta Beach is today teeming with vendors hawking anything and everything from massages and henna tattoos to ice-cold drinks and local snacks. But rampant tourism hasn’t dampened the beach’s allure as a prime surf spot. Renowned for its accessible swells and reliable waves, Kuta is an ideal training ground for beginners. More seasoned surfers can head to nearby Kuta Reef, an offshore break easily accessible by boat.
The store: Drifter
Get kitted out at this shop, café and gallery all rolled into one. Drifter stands in stark contrast to larger surf stores on the island. Instead of retailing big-name brands, it focuses on promoting independent and up-and-coming labels, as well as surf-related art. Here, you’ll find one-of-a-kind surfboards, stylish accessories, surf-related books and collectibles. Complete your shopping experience with an espresso at the on-site café.
The surf school: Chillhouse
Chillhouse opened back in 2005 when the hipster stomping ground of Canggu was still very much a sleepy surf village. Today, the long-standing institution offers surfing lessons for all levels, along with accommodation and yoga classes. Sign up for one of the various packages and hone your skills on the punchy barrels of Canggu’s fringing reefs.
The restaurant: The Balcony
This breezy second-floor café in the heart of Kuta has welcomed surfing legends such as Rob Machado, Kelly Slater and Mick Fanning. The décor here is on point – think surfboards adorning the ceiling, a Wall of Fame documenting famous visitors and shelves stacked with surfing magazines. On the food front, there is a diverse menu of salads, pastas, seafood dishes and Indonesian classics – best washed down with a frozen margarita or two.
The secret swell: Balian Beach
Approximately a 2.5-hour drive northwest of the airport, Balian Beach makes for a great escape from the nearby tourist enclaves of Canggu and Seminyak. Still relatively undeveloped, this unpretentious beach is known for its long swells and picturesque black sands. Balian village also offers accommodation and restaurants for those who wish to stay in the area overnight.
The all-in-one venue: Surf Camp Bali – Cliff
Guests at this surf camp on the picturesque Bukit Peninsula practically live and breathe the sport. Surrounded by caves and hills and only accessible via a stepped path, this laid-back venue offers accommodation, surfing lessons and yoga classes. Some of the island’s best surf breaks – including Green Bowl (which is just 150m away), Padang Padang, Uluwatu and Impossibles – are within easy reach.
The night surfing spot: Komune
Fancy a challenge? Head to Komune on the east coast of Bali, one of the first resorts in the world to offer night surfing. Every evening from 7pm to midnight, the Keramas reef is illuminated by enormous floodlights, with daredevils riding the powerful right-handers and deep barrels that spill onto the gorgeous black-sand beach. Limited to just six surfers per night, it’ll certainly be a surfing experience like no other.
The post-surf bar: Old Man’s
Named after one of Canggu’s most popular surf breaks, Old Man’s attracts a mix of expats and tourists, who often come in straight from the waves. The open-air venue features a long bar and a lounge area with plenty of seating, where you can quench your thirst with an ice-cold beer or an espresso martini. Refuel with an array of pizzas, salads, burgers, fish and chips, or Asian dishes like chicken curry. Visit on Wednesdays for beer pong nights, and on Fridays and Saturdays for live music.
FEATURE IMAGE BY TOMMY SCHULTZ
SEE ALSO: Best yoga retreats in Bali
This article was originally published in the August 2018 issue of SilverKris magazine