This is our Complete Guide to Surfing Uluwatu in Bali.
With kilometers of sandy beaches nestled in secret cliff base coves, the South West Balinese location of Uluwatu boasts several stunning surf spots and the perfect coral reef surf break. Accessible but still offering that elusive gift of untouched natural beauty, the pristine coastline is a big draw for surfers every year. Walk down a sheer cliff face of 170+ steps and suddenly find yourself in a surfers paradise.
Whether surfing underneath the stunning cliff-perched Uluwatu Temple or staying in the nearby Uluwatu Surf Village, you’ll find the allure of the secret beaches and surf mindset hard to beat.
Bali COVID-19 Travel Update
Updated 12th April 2021
Currently, all non-Indonesian travellers are prohibited from entering Bali, although there are exceptions to this ban – including for those with KITAS/KITAP.
On March 26 2021, the Indonesian government officially announced the reopening of some “green areas” in Bali where travelers will be allowed to visit and stay. This reopening is set for July 2021.
How To Get To Uluwatu
At only 45 minutes from Bali Airport, Uluwatu is a pretty easy location to get to. From the airport, take a taxi to Uluwatu for about 180k IDR (roughly 10 dollars), although make sure to book ahead, it can end up costing you double or triple that amount if you book a taxi after to arrive at the airport.
Uluwatu is close enough to popular areas like Canggu or Seminyak (approximately an hour’s drive away) that you don’t feel isolated. However, the Bukit Peninsula still feels like a real surf haven when you see the beaches tucked into the cliffs.
If you want to visit nearby coastal areas, rent a scooter, and go exploring. But if it’s pure surfing you’re looking for, Uluwatu’s surf spots are where you want to be.
Uluwatu Surf Spots
When looking at surfing Uluwatu, you’re really spoilt for choice, as there are so many great breaks to choose from. Each one has something special, from perfect locations to secret shipwrecks. Finding out which one’s right for you will make your surfing trip something extra memorable.
Padang Padang is a great surf spot to visit with friends if you’re a mixed ability surfing group. The beach itself is split into two breaks: ‘Padang Padang Left’ and ‘Padang Padang Right.’ The Left is an expert surfer’s mecca, with waves and speed galore, while the Right is a gentler break perfect for the beginner. Padang Padang Left is only safe at high tide, while the Right is excellent for the surfer looking to perfect their skill. The Left break is reminiscent of the Hawaii Pipeline, although the jagged rocks and coral make it a surf site for the experts only.
Padang Padang can get extremely busy with tourists, and with 100 steps down a cliff face, you’re guaranteed a workout before you even begin surfing. You’re only two miles away from Uluwatu Temple too if you plan on spending some of the days exploring. There is also a local surf club if you’re a novice looking for someone to find you the best waves. Get there early if you want to make the most of surfing before the full tourist surge hits.
Affectionately known as ‘Ulu’, the stunning sea view vista, caves, and the temple offers the perfect backdrop for a surfing Uluwatu hotspot. Not just because of the location, but also because of the six main surf peaks. The Peak, Racetrack, Outside Corner, Temples, Secrets and the Bombie all offer something unique for the advanced surfer.
There are approximately 100 meters between each peak, and if you’re lucky, you might just be able to catch a ride on all six peaks in one go. The most famous peaks are the Peak and Outside Corner, but you’ll see the pro surfers lining up for the Bombie, the deepest and hardest peak. The Racetrack is also a must-surf as it produces perfect continuous barrels time after time. You get into the water through a hidden rocky cave entrance, adding some atmosphere to what will always be an intense surfing experience. Emerge from the cave and paddle out to begin your surfing journey at Uluwatu.
A strip of golden sand with crystal seas, the best time to surf at Balangan beach is between April to October. Intermediate and advanced surfers can ride the wave at all tides, but for the novice, it is safer to stick to high tide to steer clear of the reef. Boasting waves that reach as high as 15ft, it is a surfers haven and is slightly set away from the main Uluwatu sites, so it is somewhat quieter.
If you’re taking a few hours break from the surf, you can watch the sunset at the shaded beachside cafes, or watch the local surf community hit the waves. The area is so popular it was almost turned into a luxury marina, but local surf legend Kim Bradley (known as The Fly), protected the area, so it remains the surf haven you see today.
Bingin beach is one of those secret surfing beaches you simply stumble upon by accident. Perfect for pro surfers, this beach is a little slice of surf paradise tucked between some luxury villas and hotels. There are no sun loungers so you can feel like you’re dodging the tourists. It isn’t the most beautiful beach in the peninsula, but you can swim and surf in a more rustic location than you might do at the larger beach areas.
Green Bowl is a fantastic location for steep, hard, and fast waves and barrels that will lure the professional and advanced surfer. At 300 steps down, it’s worth making the most of the day and bringing beach towels, supplies, and some decent footwear to explore the local caves. The accessibility does not make Green Bowl a family-friendly beach, but it is a surfer’s paradise. It feels like a million miles away from civilization, with an uninterrupted view of the sea, and a slight put-off for the regular tourist, so you can surf in seclusion.
Green Bowl beach was originally a local surf hotspot visited during the rainy season, so you’ll get a feel for the local chilled surf vibes. Although there’s now a clifftop resort nearby, you still get a surf spot much less busy than Padang Padang.
Dreamland is definitely one of the more commercial beaches, but it breaks in most weather conditions and is also a beginner-friendly surf beach. Best surfed at low tide, this is a mixed ability surf spot. Although the relative metropolis of hotel and golf course does loom over the beach, the bonus is an endless choice of beachfront restaurants and food choices.
Offering impossibly fast waves as the name suggests, the Impossibles is a picture-perfect beach which is rideable at high and low tide. As a south swell rolls in from Padang way, you’ll see surfers spread out by the speed of the wave, which is perfect for creating space and avoiding crowding. The Impossibles also avoids the issue of the tourist crowd, making this a pleasant beach to relax and surf.
Nyang Nyang is a little less frequented than the other areas on this list. The twenty-minute downhill hike will provide you with golden sands and dazzling sea, as well as plenty of swells. Commonly known as the secret beach, it is secluded from the tourist crowds and is the perfect spot for surfing.
Thomas Beach is also known as the ‘real Padang Padang’ beach and has a relaxed surfer vibe and minimal sun loungers. Thomas Beach has a decent swell and is also great for beginners and mixed ability surfers. A mix between a reef and a beach break makes it a great place to surf and also relax in the tree-provided shade on a sunny afternoon.
Surfing Uluwatu is so popular, there are many surf-friendly hotels to stay at.
If you’re on a budget look to stay in one of the many low-priced surf resorts in and around Padang-Padang and Suluban Beach. Ayodhya Uluwatu is about as close as you can get to Suluban Beach, it’s definitely a ‘no-thrills’ type of accommodation, but you can bag a private room with breakfast for just $33 a night.
Similarly, Brothers Villas, next to Padang Padang offers comfortable and clean bungalows from $41 a night.
If you want to be near the beach but avoid some of the tourist traffic, book into The Inn Possible Cliff House at Bingin Beach. You will need to carry your luggage down several hundred steps, but for as little as $72 a night, you’ll find incredible beachfront views and surfing at your doorstep.
If you’re a novice then Dreamsea Surf Camp offers cliff-side accommodation steps away from the surf at Impossibles. They provide guests surf and stay, with board rentals, surfing lessons, and tours for most of the local beaches including Padang Padang, Bingin, and Uluwatu. Book a room here from $112 a night.
If you want something way more upmarket when you’re surfing Uluwatu, then the secluded Alila Villas Uluwatu literally perches on the edge of a cliff in between Green Bowl and Nyang Nyang, with perfect sea views, poolside villas, and fine Balinese cuisine. If you really want to travel in style, stay here and use it as your relaxing center point for all your surf spot travels. It might set you back up to $780 per person per night though, so you really would be staying in the lap of luxury.
Surfboard Hire in Uluwatu
Many of the larger beaches like Balangan offer board rentals, but there are also lots of surf shops inland if you’re traveling around the area. Roughly 15 mins drive away from most of the main beaches is Bali Tubes. They sell everything, including funboards, longboards, fish boards, and shortboards, and also offer to buy any old boards if you don’t want to take an owned one home at the end of your travels. Borrow a board for as little as $5 a day.
There is also a chain of surf shops in Bali called Nusa that sells everything from surfboards to swimwear. Local surf schools also offer board rentals, as well as lessons to beginners. For 20 USD it’s also worth checking out a website called Rent A Surfboard, which delivers to all the major locations including Uluwatu, you just need to give them 48 hours to make sure your surfboard makes it to you.
Best Places to Eat in Uluwatu
From authentic Indonesian cuisine to a post-surf seafood treat, there are many local restaurants in Uluwatu where you can unwind and relax after a day of sun, sea, and surf.
The Warung at Alila Villas boasts clifftop Indonesian cuisine with breathtaking views of the sea. Try delicious traditional Ayam Betutu, a herb-infused Balinese chicken dish, or be brave and try Belut Sambal Merah (fried eel).
If you’re looking for something a little more beachside dining, try the Sunday Beach Club for a real taste of the finer things in Bali. An actual beach club, they serve breakfast on the beach at 9 AM, and from breakfast to dinner, you can enjoy the beach-friendly fare from simply delicious pizza to authentic Nasi Goreng. This is also a club that you can pay to visit each day, for a relaxing day interspersed between your surfing adventures.
For something with a real surfer vibe, chill out in the Drifter Surf cafe, which offers everything from vegan burritos through to seafood curries. The Drifter Surf also has an art gallery and a yoga studio to provide the surfer’s dream mind-body-spirit mentality. The cafe also hosts local events including themed food nights, film screenings and gallery nights.
To enjoy some real seafood specialties, check out Mana Uluwatu at the Surf Villas for Gohu tuna ceviche, spicy soft shell crab and delicious Baja shrimp. Take a look out over the ocean while sampling all the delights of the sea.
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