Bali West Coast

The first time you see the famous lineup of Uluwatu will be a sight you will remember forever.

Imagine what it was like for young Steve Cooney and Rusty Miller when they first paddled out through The Cave in 1971, surfing over the sharp coral reef without legropes. Lucky for us Alby Falzon was on the cliff, filming what would soon become Australia's highest selling surf movie,1972's "Morning of the Earth". Remastered DVDs are available in our "Shop" link above, direct from Alby. 

Best time to travel: 
April
May
June
July
August
September

Uluwatu

ULUWATU

Uluwatu is Bali’s most consistent left. Almost always 4 foot plus, so almost always crowded too. But you can score less crowded dawn or sunset sessions by staying at one of the many new Villas nearby. You can hang all day on the clifftop enjoying cheap food, drinks, great views of the surf, and relaxing après-surf massages. It doesn't get fully crowded till around 9am when surfers arrive from their hotels in Kuta an hour's drive away. And the last hour or two before sunset sees crowds thin out.

Padang-Padang

Mega Semadhi, The High Priest of Uluwatu. Photo: Tommy Schultz

Pronounced Pah-dung. Real name Labuhan Sait. Bali’s hollowest, most dangerous left, tubing over very shallow coral. Only breaks on big swells when Uluwatu is getting out-of-control, over 10 or 12 feet.  The only way to make the wave is to backdoor the 2nd tube section in front of the cliff, so it is a place for experts only, safest at high tide. Low tide gets insane but deadly. 

Bingin

Beach Cafe view, Photo Thanks to Emiliano Cataldi

Bali’s shortest, most makeable tuberide, best at mid to low tides. Remember to pull off before the inside sucks dry. 

Bingin used to be “the last secret spot” in Bali, but now there is a paved road from Pecatu right to the cliff, and a string of thatch-roof warungs lining the beach, offering food, iced drinks, massage and souvenirs. Plus some great value losmen and Villas along the clifftop and beach from Padang to Bingin to Dreamland. 

Impossibles

Top: Impossibles and Padang, Photo Pat Koroman. Warung view, Paul Billings. Below: Photo Tom Bauer www.surfingthenations.com

Impossibles is well named. Renowned for high-speed tube runs, but sooner or later it will race past you. Sometimes though it lines up perfectly, usually on giant swells at dead low tide. You can either paddle out from Padang or Bingin. 

Take-off spots tend to shift around a lot, so don't worry if it looks a bit crowded. Take your time checking where the sets break wide, and then get out there and be patient waiting for your Impossible dream to come true.

Balangan

Above: Balangan at 4 foot high tide, Photo Gory Spain.

Balangan is a very fast left reef break, best on the highest or lowest tides of the month. Not a perfect wave, because most mid-tide waves tend to close out. Some surfers surf near the cliff, others surf the tail end. To get there turn right off the Uluwatu road into the road through the Suharto family owned “Pecatu Indah Resort”.

Lots of surf schools take absolute beginners there these days, so don't worry if it looks a bit crowded. Most are just floating around, not catching any waves over 3 foot high.

Jimbaran & Airport Rights

Above: Balangan headland by Mick Curley. Middle: Balangan aerial by Nate Lawrence. Below: Airport Rights by Jon Huberman

On big swells, a fun kid’s beachbreak appears at high tide on the inside of Jimbaran Bay, near the seafood restaurants. But the quality wave here is Airport Rights, a hollow right reefbreak out near the southern end of the airport. You can get an outrigger from Kuta Reef to drop you off and pick you up later, but you need 6 foot plus of solid swell, a high tide and virtually no wind.

Airport Lefts

Plane @ Airport Rights

Airport Lefts is the first reef to the north of the airport, always bigger than the more famous Kuta Reef, but not as hollow. It still offers high tubes and a workable shoulder. There are two distinct takeoff peaks, so choose your waves carefully. The next break in the reef is Middles, an intense short ride for experts only, with a close-out end section.  Rogue sets often catch everyone inside

Kuta Reef

Even in 1980 it was crowded. This empty wave was during the Balinese qualifications for the Om Bali Pro. Photo Peter Neely

The first reef break you should try. Picture-perfect 50 to 100 metre rides. Best on high to mid tide, with swell 3 to 8 feet. Over 8 feet it doubles up for a very precarious ledgey takeoff. Low tide is often too shallow. Kuta Reef is Bali’s most crowded reef break, with locals and tourists alike, so show plenty of respect and friendliness. Also don’t paddle too far inside, towards the first peak, because you can’t make the wave from there and locals will drop in on you every time. Try to take turns and share. 

Kuta Beach Breaks

Maddi, Halfway Kuta.  Photo thanks David Deckers

The softest sand-bottom waves in Bali. Usually the smallest waves on the island, so Kuta is the best place for beginners and less experienced surfers. The long fast walls are a fun and exciting alternative to the dangers of surfing over sharp coral reefs.

Legian

Dede Suryana. High tide + Small swell = FUN at Legian. Photo David Deckers

High tide at Legian can serve up some of the most power-packed beachbreaks in the world. Always bigger than Kuta, although it usually closes-out on low tide. It also closes out on high tide if the swell is over 8 feet. Because Legian is in the curve of the beach, it collects the compressed energy of all swells. A much more powerful wave than Kuta, 2km south along the sand.

Seminyak to Tanah Lot

Tanah Lot Temple

This is the best area to avoid crowds and find fun beachbreaks to yourself. 

Canggu: Pererenan, Berawa, Tugu

The famous Pererenan right peak, Photo thanks Pete Cox @standuptraveller

Pronounced Chahng-goo. A town with 6 breaks that are reliable swell magnets, always 2 or 3 feet bigger than Kuta, so it gets very crowded on small swells. To get to the best break drive 45 minutes north of Kuta along Jalan Legian. Turn left at Kerobokan traffic lights, follow signs to “TPA Sampah Canggu” and then left to Pererenan.

This world-class right peak tubes over volcanic black lava rock, with three fun lefts nearby. It’s a good intermediate area between the safety of the beachbreaks and the dangers of the coral reefs.

Balian

Balian rivermouth, 3 hours drive from Kuta. Photo Troy Roennfeldt, www.baliwaves.com

Pronounced Bali-ahn which means magic healer. A very peaceful rivermouth left and right peak, rolling for 200 metres over round river rocks. Cops heaps of swell, rarely under 4 foot and often bigger than Uluwatu, so gets crowded when small.

It takes close to 3 hours driving from Kuta to Tabanan, on to Soka, then follow the coast 6km and turn left just past Sacred River Resort.

Medewi

Medewi cobblestone pointbreak, 3 hours drive from Kuta. Photo Wayne McCormick, Out Of Control Surf Centre

Pronounced Mer-Day-wee, but some surfers mispronounce it as “Ma-Dow-ee”.

A long left pointbreak, rolling gently over round river stones, a bit like a reversed Malibu. Perfect for longboards and intermediates. Can be a bit fat and slow, but still lots of fun.

Our #1 Recommendation for Bali West Coast

It's definitely worth the $5 a day for TRAVEL INSURANCE to avoid having to pay $50,000 for an Emergency Flight if you get badly injured on the sharp coral reefs or crazy roads.

Get the best value Travel Insurance here

Top Travel Tips

Rips Off & Safety

We could fill a whole book with the scams and rip offs we have heard about over the years.  But the same could probably be said for tourists going to New York, London, Sydney, Paris, Bangkok or anywhere else in the world. 

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