Bali Surf Trips, Surfing Bali Images
In July, the ASP World Championship Tour swung through Bali for the Rip Curl Pro Bali Surfing tour. Four dozen of the world’s best surfers swarmed an unnamed left reef somewhere on the island of Bali, and reminded the world that Bali is home to the mother and father of all reef breaks – and all that has come since: Grajagan, Nias, Restaurants, Cloudbreak, Namotu, the Mentawais.
Bali is the mystical Island of 1000 Temples - and hundreds of waves. Some of the names are familiar - Uluwatu, Padang-Padang, Bingin, Kuta, Sanur - and for good reason. No region in Indonesia has a broader variety of world-class waves that are so easily accessible. But for every wave you have heard of, or dreamed about, there are three or four that are less known. And once you get to know them, you will wonder why you’ve never dreamed of them.
Flight attendants, servicemen on R and R and pioneering travelers were among the first Bali Surfers in the 1960s. Most of the Bali surfing was done in the easy beach breaks of Kuta, because it wasn’t until the shortboard revolution of the late 60s and into the 70s that surfboards had the refinement to handle fast, barreling waves over lava/coral reefs. Surf movie makers Bob Evans and Alby Falzon filmed Nat Young, Mark Warren, Col Smith, Steve Cooney and Rusty Miller riding Kuta Beach and Uluwatu in the 1970s and the world went crazy over these images of young men walking through rice paddies to cliffs lined with temples, and walking carefully down paths to paddle through caves and out into dreamy tropical waters teeming with spinning barrels and sea snakes.
Uluwatu begat Grajagan on the island of Java and Nias, an island off Sumatra. Surf camps popped up in these places, and then surf charters lead to further explorations going as far southeast as Timor and as far northwest as the Mentawai Islands. The world is now surfing every corner of the Indonesian archipelago, but during this exploring and media attention, the surf of Bali has been pumping all along. The attention on it has diminished, but the quality of Bali’s surf has not, and it’s still dreamy, hypnotic, tropical, perfect.
Thirty years later, surf tourism is one of the major industries of Bali – which has been developed for all levels of surfers from beginners to pros. Bali’s Asian/International Bohemian vibe is relaxed and friendly. The greater Kuta area at the base of the Bukit Peninsula - bordering the long stretch of Kuta Beach - is a hive of high end stores, surf shops, boutiques restaurants, food carts, clubs and hotels of all shapes and sizes and open air stalls with local vendors selling their crafts.
For those that want to party, the nightlife often does not get started until after midnight, and runs well through the night. Or you can relax at a bar with a cold Bingang (local beer) and watch the world go past.
For those who prefer a more tranquil environment the Bukit Peninsula offers a variety of accommodation options that are far from the madding crowds of Kuta. The west side of the Bukit Peninsula is one massive long left reef broken up into smaller individual waves with Uluwatu’s Outside Temple at the top and Kuta Reef at the bottom. From Uluwatu to Kuta is only a 30 minute drive, so it is easy to stay in Uluwatu and go into Kuta for shopping or nightlife, or stay in Kuta and head up onto the peninsula to explore the surf.
Whatever you desire, Bali will satisfy.
Although a separate island from Bali, G-Land on Java is almost an extension of the greater surfing arena people visit on trips to Bali. An easy overnight transfer, or morning boat trip can land you along one of the most legendary left reef breaks in the world, well deserving of its reputation.
Since Bali was opened to the world in the late 60s and early 70s, it has become as much a jumping off point for other parts of Indonesia as it is a destination itself. But in the past few years, more and more American and Australian surfers – famous and infamous – have been expatriating themselves to Bali, spending some or all of the year there. One visit and you’ll understand why.