Bali — Bukit Peninsula Surf Camps, Surf Accommodation
From a surfer’s perspective, the world is divided into two distinct regions—one which picks up northern hemi energy, and the other south. The southern hemisphere winter produces southerly swells for any number of coastlines on a variety of continents, but the undisputed epicenter of surfing in this “bottom half” of the planet is undoubtedly the reefs lining the Bukit Peninsula on Bali. The original Indonesian discovery (which in subsequent years would lead us to the wonders of Java [G-land], Sumatra [Lagundri Bay] and the Mentawais), Bali was placed squarely in the public eye in the early ’70s by the film Morning of the Earth. The first of what would soon become a seemingly endless list of perfect, tropical reef lefts, Uluwatu was the star of Albert Falzon’s seminal work, and surfers came in droves, quickly turning Bali into the “Australian Hawaii.”
Today, Bali is ground zero for professional surfing and surf-related tourism between the months of May and September, featuring team houses, international film-shoots, massive surf brand boutiques, and the debauchery of Kuta Beach. In many ways it is a changed Bali, one which only slightly resembles the quiet, idyllic Hindu island of days past, but as development continues to mushroom at an almost unbelievable rate and new resorts spring up virtually overnight, the waves of the Bukit Peninsula remain the same, pumping out perfection with an almost clock-work consistency, bathing Bali’s reefs in the blue symmetry that started all this madness four decades ago.
The Waves: This is the land of flawless lefthand reefs, where consistent Indian Ocean swell meets perfectly formed coral growth. The waves are shallow and consequential, often inspiring visitors to garb themselves in booties and helmets, but ask anyone and they will tell you—the reward of gems such as Uluwatu, Padang Padang, Bingin and Dreamland are definitely worth the risk.
The Water: Development is always accompanied by pollution, and this is no less true in Bali. But it takes a lot to ruin utopia, and the water is still cleaner and clearer than pretty much anywhere else in the world. And with water and air temps hovering around 82 F (28 C) year round, you are more likely to suffer heatstroke than hypothermia.
The Season: The Bukit Peninsula pumps pretty much non-stop from May through September.
The Vibe: As the old saying goes, “Call it paradise and kiss it goodbye.” Bali definitely suffers from its reputation, and is one of, if not the most crowded destination on the planet. Luckily, the Balinese seem to take this with a grain of salt, and the aggro attitudes of the visiting hordes are usually (and ironically) offset by the welcoming smiles of the uber-talented local surfers. And while everyone knows that you don’t come to Bali to surf by yourself, one perfect thigh-burner at Impossibles can make the crowd worthwhile.
Things To Do: Kuta Beach is the center of nightlife on Bali, if not all of Oceania, and if nightclubs, debauchery and arak-induced hangovers are your thing, you will find no shortage of entertainment here. If you are looking for something a bit mellower and more exotic, Ubud is the island’s cultural center, presenting the best in Balinese fine arts, dance and music.
Where To Stay: 5-star resorts are popping up on the beaches and cliffs fronting all of Bali’s favorite waves, and high-end villa rentals (complete with tennis clubs and gyms, cars and drivers, kitchen staff, butlers and in-house massage) abound. For the bargain hunter, the backstreets of Kuta Beach house accommodations to match every budget.
What To Bring: Depending on the waves you intend to surf, your quiver can include anything from a fish to a mini-gun. Bring tropical wax, sun protection, booties if you are afraid of coral reef, limes to clean out wounds if you aren’t, and your fancy flip-flops for a night out on the town—this is the quintessential idyllic island surf holiday, so pack accordingly.
Getting There: Bali loves tourism, and 30-day visas are handed out like candy ($25USD). As far as travel goes, depending on where you live Bali is either extremely close and easy to access, or extremely not. From Australia, tickets during the high season range from $500-$1000, whereas flights from LAX will cost you well over a grand. Ticket prices drop drastically in the rainy season, when the beach breaks and reefs on the east coast pump…but that is another story altogether. Airport code: DPS.