Updated: Oct 12, 2022
Bali is among Indonesia’s most famed islands. It’s steeped in rich culture, stunning landscapes, delectable foods, and of course — epic surfing. Bali’s stature as a world-renowned surfing destination sparked in the late 1960s and early 1970s when travelling surfers discovered its pristine conditions. Today, this paradise attracts not only professional and world-champion surfers, but also travellers from around the globe seeking refuge from their hectic lives and the chance for a new adventure.
It goes without saying that a trip to Bali wouldn’t be complete without getting a taste of the surfing experience. This island offers year-round surfing in their breathtaking, warm-water beaches. For those who are dipping into the sport for the first time, there are a few notably beginner-friendly surfs. In particular, one of the best places for beginner surfers is Canggu. Only a 45 minute drive from the Ngurah Rai International Airport, this relaxed beach town is located on the south west coast of Bali, nestled between the hustling resorts of Seminyak and the picturesque Tanah Lot Temple.
This post will highlight some of the key attributes of a perfect beginner wave. We’ll also uncover the best beach in Canggu for first-time surfers. Finally, we’ll give you a sense of the incredible vibes and activities that draws so many travellers to this coastal town.
Finding Beginner-Friendly Waves
Not all waves are created equal. An experienced surfer must be proficient at reading and obeying ocean conditions. This skill is both an art and science that requires many years of practice. Nevertheless, there are a few key features that beginners can look for when determining whether the waves are a suitable match to their ability.
A wave’s level of difficulty is determined by five distinct features: size, power, shape, surface condition, and speed. Beginners should look for waves that are small in size, around two feet measured from the base of the wave to the lip. The waves should be breaking slowly and gently, which will be more forgiving than a powerful break. In addition, popping up and finding balance will be easier on a spilling wave that has a soft and gentle slope, as opposed to a hallow wave that takes the shape of a steep barrel or tube. Both beginners and advanced surfers are looking for smooth and clean surface conditions. Finally, for learning purposes, novice surfers will find that a slower breaking wave is more desirable.
On top of wave characteristics, there are a number of additional variables to consider when selecting an appropriate surf spot. For instance, both the surrounding geography and the profile of the sea floor can influence the quality of waves in a particular location. There are additional contributing factors that can fluctuate hourly, such as the wind conditions, swell quality, or tide pattern. In order to have the best shot at riding the perfect waves for your ability, you should hire a surf guide who can provide essential information.
Canggu’s Hub for Beginner Waves
One of best places for first-time surfers to find beginner-friendly waves is in Canggu. However, you should choose wisely before heading to the water, since some of Canggu’s beaches are known for their barrels with powerful breaks. For ideal waves to learn how to surf, you should head to Batu Bolong beach — the home base for Surf Well Bali.
Located on the southern edge of Canggu’s coastline, Batu Bolong is a semi-beach break — it consists of a sandy shore that mixes with a fairly flat reef bottom. This is a safe location for novice surfers, especially at mid to high tide, since the reef break is in deeper water with little chance of getting hit. If you arrive first-thing in the morning on a mid tide, you’ll enjoy ideal conditions with wave sizes between two to eight feet. Batu Bolong consistently provides a soft and slow, fat and friendly, medium sized wave that offers a very long and mellow ride. The waves tend to reform several times, which helps to spread out the crowds and gives everyone a chance at catching a wave. However, be careful to avoid riding the waves for too long at high tide, since it’s easy to head into the shoreline. On any given day you’ll find SUP boards, loggers and beginners on soft-top surfboards enjoying these relaxed waves.
Taking a surf lesson at this beach not only ensures pristine learning conditions, but also gives you access to the wealth of knowledge that local surf guides have to offer. They are the experts on local conditions and will make sure you are perfectly setup to stay safe and maximize your time on the water. In addition, the surf is easy to access with cheap parking located in the lot directly in front of the beach (just after Old Man’s). Alternatively, you can also arrange pick-up and drop-off services through Surf Well Bali.
Come for the Surf, Stay for the Vibes
Besides the phenomenal surf, Canggu has developed into a beloved destination for tourists to convene over fresh and healthy food, a vibrant nightlife, and diverse activities. Despite its recent growth in popularity, this beach town holds onto its reputation as a laid-back and hip paradise for surfers and travellers alike.
Between surf sessions, you can explore a number of activities that will satisfy any travel itinerary. Some of the famous Balinese sightseeing locations can be found in the area, such as the surrounding rice fields, waterfalls, many kilometres of beaches, and breathtaking temples. For those who like to stay active, there are unique classes offered by local gyms, indoor rock climbing, and outdoor adventure tours such a cycling or hiking. Meanwhile, on the days that you’re seeking more rest and relaxation, you can restore mind and body at one of the several well-established yoga studios or spas, or take a leisurely stroll through the trendy shops and markets.
There’s a broad range of accommodations that will fit any travel budget, from a backpacker’s hostel to deluxe villas. On top of that, you can explore the many dining options available, whether it’s traditional cuisine served in a local warung, or restaurants, lounges, and bars that offer delectable dishes in a bohemian-chic atmosphere.
For those who simply cannot get enough of the surf life, Canggu offers an exclusive opportunity to grab a fresh coconut and a spot on the beach to watch the some of the world’s best surfers shred the legendary Bali waves or compete in one of the many events held in the area. From your surf lesson at sunrise to a refreshing beverage at sunset, you can find yourself fully immersed in Canggu’s mellow surf culture.
At the End of the Day
As one of the best surfing destinations in the world, taking a surf lesson in Bali is a no-brainer. There is nothing else quite like riding a wave — especially when you’re in the shimmering tropic waters surrounded by soft sandy beaches and lush palm trees. Each year countless travellers have the remarkable experience of catching their very first waves at one of the best beginner beaches in Bali — Batu Bolong. Besides these epic moments, tourists find themselves captivated by the quintessential surf-town vibe that runs throughout Canggu. Between the ideal beginner waves and a no-stress atmosphere, it is not surprising that Canggu has developed into the ultimate place to learn how to surf.