Surfing in winter with brain freeze and numb toes leads you to one decision, Bali surf trip!
Always spend a good amount of time doing your research to maximise the experience. Here’s some help to get you on your way.
Bali is home to many perfect waves during the months of May-August. From long, large rideable walls in Uluwatu to hollow bottomless pits at Padang Padang; Bali can give you that dream surf holiday you always wanted.
Commonly referred to as Ulus, this is a picturesque surfing destination. Ulus was made famous by the classic 70’s surfing film “Morning of the Earth,” which featured the area’s long stretched out punchy waves, ultra-short board shorts, and crystal clear water. Check out this film – it really gives a feeling for that perfect wave we surfers always dream about.
A couple of things have changed since then - the crowds are way denser and the water probably isn’t as pristine. One thing’s for sure though, Ulus still offers the potential to snatch the ride of your life!
If you’re lucky enough to be there on a big swell get ready for some serious 6-10 foot monsters that seem to go on for miles. Be careful though as there has been plenty of drownings here in the past so if you’re not an experienced surfer then probably best to give days like this a miss and go check out the ample other attractions that Bali has to offer.
The only entrance to this break is paddling out through a cave which opens up into what seems like the greatest playground ever created. You must time this right because when the swell is big then there’s a lot of water moving around. When you’re burnt to a crisp and surfed out, coming back into shore can be a nightmare so make sure you follow or ask a local. You have to time your re-entrance to the cave on a wave just right otherwise the strong current will take you straight pass the entrance and across the reef only to find yourself back where you started. Some people tell stories of marathon paddles going around in circles for hours. Once you eventually make it back in you’ll know that you have just had the surf session that you have always searched for. After that sit back, relax at your villa with a Bintang and repeat later that afternoon.
If it’s big pounding barrels you’re after then a bit further down the coast is the famous Padang Padang. A lot more relaxed then Ulus, Padang Padang is quite a sheltered break so it needs a decent amount of swell for this place to work. When that happens then this place is epic and not only the waves become world class but the whole beach erupts with bars, music and all.
Ultra sharp shallow reef means you’ll come across some serious dredging, heaving barrels when the swell is on so be ready to be in awe of this greatness. Locals here are pretty relaxed considering how packed this place gets during the months of June and July but make sure you share the waves so they stay like that!
If it’s smaller waves and a fun beach break you’re after then definitely head to Seminyak or Kuta beach. A much more chilled out vibe then the cliffs of Uluwatu. Kuta can get good banks in June/July and surf schools are set up along the beach as well as board hire.
What to pack
You’ll need a surfboard or two ranging between 6”0 and 6”8, depending on the swell.
Wetsuit, well…. You won't need one of these when water temp hits 27, unless you plan on bouncing off the reefs in big surf. Consider purchasing some booties as reef cuts aren’t ideal in these warm waters and there’s plenty of bacteria. Big stiff fins with a thruster set-up is ideal for Padang Padang whereas you’ll probably need a set of Quads Fins for the long racing walls of Uluwatu. Take a couple of extra pairs as broken fins are pretty common here. Ding repair kits are a must along with sun curing resin. Don’t forget warm water wax as cold water wax is useless in Bali and it’ll just melt off.
Definitely worth taking plenty of footage to document that perfect wave.