The hype roots back to 1936 when an American surfer, Bob Koke moved from Hawaii to Kuta in search of greener pastures. Not long after, locals started to pick up surfing and the word eventually spread worldwide.
Without a doubt, surfing is one of the most fun activities you can have on water, and certainly the grooviest!
Besides being physically fit, surfing involves knowledge of the waves, as well as concentrating on timing every movement just right. It requires a great deal of understanding and ‘feeling’ of the waves to carve up a perfect break.
To avoid getting hurt, it might take a few sessions with a coach before you can head out to the open waters for yourself.
Don’t ruin your vacation by settling for the wrong surf school – here are the 10 best places to learn how to surf in Bali.
PS: We’ve made sure to provide both surf schools where you may pick up surfing, and surf camps which provides accommodation for you to stay with your surfer buddies.
SURF CAMPS (with accommodation)
A pair of shorts is all you need to surf here, so let Padang Padang Surf Camp do the rest for you. When you’re done hitting the waves, lounge on the hammocks by the pool, and treat yourself to the freeflow of fresh juices – before heading back to your room at the surf camp!
Photo via rusdisanad
Photo via lachiechall
Located on Bukit Peninsula, the camp is walking distance from some of the most famous surf beaches on the island, including the world renowned Padang Padang, Balangan beach, home of the ‘barrel’ waves, and Dreamland where the beach is as beautiful as the waves. There is just too many to choose from!
Photo via abeachaday
If you have only started picking up the board, this side of the island is perfect to get to know the different types of waves and their unique approaches with the help of the surf guide team at the camp. And since safety is the main concern, the guides will arrange transportation to a safer beach when the water gets too brutal.
Photo via lucassparapane
Photo via sylviadrenalin
Bring 6 of your best buddies along and pitch in for the Villa, with glass window panes surrounding every room to appreciate the view of the surrounding mountains, rivers and Balian Beach which is just a few footsteps away. The Padang Padang Surf Camp also offers a great package for couples! Starting at around $50 (700,000 IDR), couples can check in at the camp with complimentary surf lessons, transportation, and even two meals a day!
2. Learn from the Pros at – Pro Surf School
Gaining multiple awards over the years, including the top 5 surf schools in the world, it is no wonder the Pro Surf School eventually received sponsorship from Billabong, one of the biggest names in surfing.
Photo via tprosurfbali, surfmania_camp
Situated along the face of the Kuta beach, the Pro Surf School is where the party is at. Monthly events on the camp make getting to know the family at the camp so much easier. Not feeling 100% the morning after? Take part in the Yoga classes by the pool to get your head in place, or have a hearty breakfast to get your stomach ready for your next surf session.
Classes at the Pro Surf School are divided into six sessions – three beginner lessons starting at the swimming pool inside the camp, and three intermediate sessions out at the open water.
Choose between the 6-person or 4-person shared rooms and get to know your neighbours, or the superior room if you’re looking for a bit more privacy. Make sure to opt for the seawards facing room for a view of the Kuta Beach from your balcony.
Besides being qualified by the Academy of Surfing Instructors in Australia, the instructors are also trained lifeguards familiar in handling all sorts of emergency in the water. Here at Pro Surf School, you know you’ll be in good hands, beginner or not!
3. Be a Part of the International Surf Scene – Rapture Camp
The founders of Rapture Camp had one thing in mind; to set up surf camps that are safe and easy to get to, located in exotic countries, and affordable to everyone.
Surfing classes range from complete beginner classes to professional-level surf schools, instructed by registered Australian Qualified surfers complete with adequate equipment as well as insurance.
Photo via thejourneyjunkie, noorensurf
With Balinese-styled bungalows providing bathrooms with hot water (thank God), prices for accommodation at Rapture Camp are extremely reasonable – at $41 per day for the cheapest board available!
Established in Portugal, Nicaragua and two branches to choose from Bali; the Padang-Padang beach and the Bukit Peninsula beach – the Rapture Camp lives up to its reputation as an international surf community, or at least as a really cool place to hang out with people from different places all over the world.
Pay tribute to Bali’s surf scene founding fathers of the Legendary Bukit Peninsula beach at the ‘Cliff Camp’ away from all the hustle and bustle to focus on finessing the waves, or chill with the rest of the crowd at the ‘Padang Camp’.
4. Awaken, Inspire, and Celebrate the Goddess in You – Surf Goddess Retreats
Regarded as one of the best women’s wellness retreats in the world, Surf Goddess Retreat offers a boutique wellness holiday for women of all ages, combining health, fitness, culture and divine pampering.
Brought together by women, for women, the exquisite atmosphere of the Surf Goddess Retreat is the ultimate vacation to replenish the mind and the body – away from all the stresses of modern life, and maybe make new friends along the way.
Photo via geelord
Spoiler alert: after you have made your way past the pool in the courtyard, the scent of potpourri welcomes you into your room, where your name will be spelled out with flower petals that trail from the door.
Especially if you’re a lady and are more comfortable learning surfing from another lady, Surf Goddess Retreats is perfect for you. Bring your girlfriends along, and make it a great girls’ trip with the added bonus of taking up surfing. (Then go home and brag about your newfound skill! ;P)
Customise your getaway to your liking! There are other activities available at Surf Goddess Retreats if you’re interested – ranging from water activities like stand up paddling, rafting and snorkelling, to cultural indulgences such as gourmet Indonesian cooking classes, Batik printing, and even eco bike trails through the jungle.
We also know you ladies love a good round of relaxation, so pamper your tired feet after a day of sightseeing at the resort’s spa, where you can choose from ten different massages available. Or restore your mindfulness and partake in the many yoga classes held at different times of the day!
5. More than just Surfing – Ripcurl School of Surf
Brought to Bali by the pioneers of the surf scene, it is no doubt that top-notch service is expected from Ripcurl School of Surf. Only the best equipment make it through their selection to ensure safety, and even helmets are made compulsory to beginners!
Their largest club in Jimbaran is the perfect place for young surfers since the waves are much calmer than elsewhere, protected by the crescent shaped bay and with shallow waters. Better yet, if you’re looking for a surf camp located nearby luxurious accommodation – Ripcurl School of Surf gives you exactly what you need.
While they do not have their own accommodation, Ripcurl School of Surf Jimbaran is located at Intercontinental Resort. This means you get to enjoy staying at a really nice place, while being able to conveniently go for surf lessons!
Ripcurl School of Surf is a hub for all sorts of water activities. Besides surfing, you can wakeboard, kite-surf, wind-surf, paddle board, sea kayak, body board, and even qualify for diving certification.
There are also several surf school programs depending on your goal and how much time you want to spend. For beginners, you will want to take up the Level 1: Beach Surfer course.
At $141 for 3 sessions with a course study book that includes surf science (wind, swell, waves, tide), you know you’ll be getting a comprehensive introduction to all you need to know about surfing as you learn from these pros.
For experienced surfers, Ripcurl School of Surf also offers a programme called the ‘Surf Safari’ where you will be taken on a three day adventure to explore the best waves on the island. There is just so much to do at Ripcurl School of Surf!
SURF SCHOOLS (no accommodation)
6. Have it Your Way – UP2U Surf School Bali
If you can forgive the cheesy name of the surf school, the UP2U surf school delivers the biggest bang for the buck! For just about $25 (350,000 IDR), you can get intensive surfing lessons from a registered professional for a whole day. Simply rent your board from UP2U’s shop on Legian Beach, get connected with your instructor – and start surfing!
Located in the heart of Kuta next to the Legian Beach Hotel, you won’t have much trouble finding the UP2U Surf School. Although beginner classes are usually carried out in the nearby Padma Beach, surfers with experience can choose among the many killer spots with even better views all around the island.
Safety and service is a big deal to the crew – dedicated to sharing the life-changing experience of surfing, the UP2U Surf School ensures that guests enjoy surfing as much as they do. With a crew that is more like a family, it is no wonder why the UP2U is known to be on of Bali’s top Surfing Schools.
7. Get on a Personal Level – Surf Buddy Bali
The key to an unforgettable experience is the people you are with, especially when you are learning how to surf. With affordable surfing lesson packages for beginners – whether you prefer private lessons ($30) or group lessons ($25 for 3 pax or more), Surf Buddy Bali offers a pretty great environment for learning to surf.
Run by a super chill local surfer called Buddy (we know), the focus is to give more than just surfing lessons. Born and raised in Bali, the guy knows everything there is to know about the island, including the best sights and eateries you won’t find on the internet.
Buddy brings guests on two daily trips to Medewi, his native village, lodged in the part of Western Bali that has remained intact despite the rapid development that has happened on the rest of the island.
If you are an experienced beginner, Medewi also has powerful swirls that will have you riding on the waves for a longer time, and even barrel waves if you’re lucky. Perfect if you want to take beginner surfing up a notch.
Bring friends and family along for an even better deal. Don’t worry about not getting enough exposure, Buddy usually tags his friends along to ensure every student gets enough attention.
8. Stand Up on Your First Session – Odysseys Surf School
Sitting right in front of the Mercure Hotel in Kuta, it’s hard to miss the surfboard with a burly figure of a long haired dude as you drive along Jl. Pantai Kuta. Established in 2003 with support from Oakley, the Odysseys Surf School is one of the most prominent surf schools in Bali, just 10m from Kuta beach.
Photo via nakasei424
Making sure you know how to surf is their main priority – even better, you get a free lesson if you can’t stand up on your board on the first surf lesson.
And even after that, your sessions are recorded on GoPro cameras, not just as memoirs, but more importantly to help in perfecting your surfing.
Apart from that, they also provide plenty of facilities such as free safety lockers, changing rooms and clean shower.
Photo via meowsyy
Slump on a bean bag at their beach lounge after a day of surfing, as you watch a replay of the session, and discuss where you can improve in either Bahasa Indonesia, English, or Japanese!
9. Get Closer to the Local Community – Santai Surf School
Owned and operated by Gede, a family man native to the island of Bali, the Santai Surf School is the place to go if you are looking for a warm surfing experience. His wife Henney from England takes care of what happens behind the scene, and furthermore, a chunk of their earnings go straight to a local community foundation.
Previously an instructor of the Ripcurl School of Surf, Gede knows exactly what he’s doing and understands how to deliver surfing lesson. It is no surprise that the Santai Surf School is on the list of the best places to learn surfing. Born and raised on the island, you can ask Gede about anything Bali-related.
Without the fancy brand endorsements or a stylishly furnished office, the Santai Surf School gives you exactly what you want, at almost half the price of most surf schools! And they are also an accredited surf school by the Association of Surfing Instructors (ASI).
Make sure you make a booking in advance since Gede and his small team of friends work on a freelance basis that can’t take too many students at a time.
10. Hang out with a Local Legend – Desu de Bali Surf
Many people surf, but few can actually teach. Om Suwastiastu delivers his knowledge through personal approach and lots of patience. His shack is located in the well-known Double Six Beach of Kuta, where he usually hangs out – and maybe have a beer or two with his students to discuss the progress made.
Since the beaches of Kuta could become overcrowded, Om Suwastiastu takes his guests in his minivan to other cool spots nearby, depending on the different wave levels most suitable for his students.
If you are taking a whole day lesson, he will plan out the day according to your goals and abilities, and consult tide charts to locate the best conditions for you.