Surfing in Southeast Asia

“Everybody go surfing, surfing S.E.A”

You are gliding along on the crest of a wave in the sunlight, perfectly balanced and at one with the mighty ocean, the elements and Mother Nature… Your first time surfing is more likely to be similar to putting your head in a washing machine than the elegant, smooth moves of a pro surfer. However, we’ve all got to start somewhere and where better than South East Asia’s surfing capital, Bali?

Bali, Indonesia

The southwest and southeast coast of the beautiful paradise island are affected by powerful swells, which come directly from the Antarctic Ocean, meaning wicked surf breaks for experts and beginners alike. Read our destination guide to Bali here.

It was in the 1930’s that surfing was first introduced to Bali when Californian surfer dude, Bob Koke brought his longboard from Hawaii and opened the first hotel, the Bali Hotel on Kuta Beach. He had the breaks to himself for nearly thirty years on this undiscovered isle. It was only until the 1960’s that Australian surfers began trickling iintoBali’s warm, tropical waters looking for new breaks.

For first time surfers, it is always good to take a few lessons to learn basic skills like how to catch a wave and the manoeuvres you will need to stand up on the board. Lessons cost around $ US45 for a 22.5-hour surfing lesson including board rental, where you’ll spend time the water and also learning skills on the beach. Some schools will actually guarantee that you will stand up on your board during first lesson – or they’ll give you another lesson free! After that, you can hire a surfboard from the beach and tackle the waves on your own. Renting a board from Kuta Beach for an hour costs around 35,000 Rupiah or $ US4.

The popular tourist hub of Kuta with its long sandy beach and constant, relatively mild surf break is the place where most beginners learn, although it can get quite crowded in peak season, June to October.

More experienced surfer dudes head to Nusa Dua, the famous Uluwatu and the beautiful and aptly named Dreamland that has to be surfed, to be believed.

Surfing at Uluwatu in Bali.
Surfing at Uluwatu in Bali.

Batu Keraz, Java, Indonesia

Elsewhere in Indonesia, there are less commercialised spots where it is possible to learn how to surf, such as Batu Karas, off the coast of Java – popular with locals and long-term hippies.

The exhilaration you get from even just catching one wave and standing up once during a one-hour session will be enough to get you addicted and keep you going, hungry for more wave action  – you’ll be doing flips soon! The day after, aching arms and legs, suntanned face, windswept hair and a vest rash, you’ll be able to sit on the beach sipping a Bintang knowing that you were out there with the best of them. And that is gnarly, dude.

Surf lessons in Bali, Indonesia.
Surf lessons in Bali, Indonesia.

We highly recommend that adventurous travellers have Travel Insurance before the set off to Southeast Asia.

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