Learning to surf in Bali

Bali is a dream destination for some many people around the world. It boasts stunning scenery, lush landscaping, luxury resort & spas, world-class diving and surfing. As a matter of fact Bali has some of the best surf in Indonesia!

Situated in the middle of Indonesia just East of Java and West of Lombok. Bali is ideally located in the South Pacific and is only a few hours flight from Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. This makes it a perfect getaway from the banana pancake trail or a perfect end to a South East Asia trip!

The island host a pro surfing competition on the north side but one of the best places for beginners to learn how to surf is in Canggu. This is where I decided to give it a go and learn to surf. With surf lessons ranging from 300,000-400,000 IDR PER HOUR I decided to teach myself to surf.

Surfing in Canggu

Canggu is located about 20 km north of the airport and costs around 200k IDR to get the town. This surfing town is quickly being developed due to its popularity and proximity to two great surfing spots. The roads to the beaches are lined with custom motorcycle shops, surf shops, healthy restaurants and many temples. No matter where you go you are surrounded by the beautiful Balinese architecture!

Learning to surf

While most people decide to hire a surfing instructor their first time out I did not. I decided I would just hop on in and figure it out! This is just how I like to get into things!

Day 1

Upon waking up in my sleepy residential neighborhood I hoped on my moped with my two hostel mates and road across the rice fields to make my way to Old mans surf break. Once we arrived  and grabbed our boards, mine of course had to be the biggest blue and white foam board possible! It was like my board came with training wheels or they wrapped a pool noodle around the whole thing! It took me both arms to make my way down to the temple area where our surf shack owner told us to enter.

Walking through the temple grounds to exit onto the beach led to an amazing view of the break. He was right about where to enter! The water was flat and easy to paddle out from there. Well at least for my mates it was! I however,  was paddling in a zig zag pattern because I had no idea how to do it correctly!

After about twenty minutes of paddling making Zorro symbols I made it past the break. I just happen to come across several surf lesson being tought so I just eavesdropped in and figured out what I was doing wrong which apparently was a lot!!

I spent the next several hours falling off my board until I decided to call it a morning and go eat breakfast at the beach!

Day 2

I woke up early again for the high tide and rode out to the same spot.  I hit the surf shack up and grabbed Ol’ Blue then headed down to the beach. At this point I felt like I could catch a wave as I fell many times the day before. My body sure noticed that as well because I was pretty sore! After a couple of failed attempts on my third wave of the morning I caught my first wave! I was so excited I was yelling and fist pumping in the air while I was riding it! Looked like a total noob if they didn’t already notice! I spent the rest of the morning chasing down the waves and riding them!

Day 3

I figured since after my successful day of surfing the day before I would upgrade to a shorter fiberglass board so I looked cooler. Boy this sure would turn out to be a mistake! My lack of experience shined and I was paddling all over the place and I could barely stay on the dang thing! This day turned out to be some much bigger surf and I would definitely pay for it. The waves absolutely crushed me and I was only able to catch one wave all morning. While I could have gone back to get Ol’ Blue I decided to not give up and spent all morning wiping out! Still turned out to be a blast!

After a morning of being destroyed I went back to rest and eat before heading back out. When I hit the beach again I decided to take Ol’ Blue off the bench and get him back in the game. This was great call and I spent the rest of the afternoon riding waves!

What I learned

Surfing is definitely not as easy as it looks! After three days of wiping out and being toss like a rag doll in the white wash I gained a new respect for the raw power of mother nature. We are such a small piece in the world and the ocean will let you know in an instant! However, I would not change a thing! I love just jumping in an figuring out how to do something and since I am a strong swimmer I felt like I could handle it. The turned out to be such a memorable learning experience and I learned most of all another level of what I am made of.

Pro Tip: If you are not a very strong swimmer then maybe give an instructor a shot so you don’t drown.

Where to surf

Batu Balong surf break

Batu Balong surf break aka Old man’s surf break is an extremely popular surf spot in Canggu. The waves are small to medium and considered to be the easiest of the three spots to surf. This is due to its mostly fat low power waves that are easy for beginners. At high tide the waves grow in size and surfers at all skill levels come out for the bigger waves. This is also a great place to meet people and grab drinks! Old Man’s Bar hosts a huge beach party once a week!


Echo beach

Echo beach is a favorite for beginner to intermediate surfers due to its consistent break with under six-feet waves. This spot is also not as crowded as old man’s so catch waves is a little easier. It is also a great place to watch people surf by the pool side!

How to get around

When you are in Bali there is only one way to get around. By motorbike.  You can rent one daily for around 50,000 IDR but you can try to negotiate the price down if you rent for a week or longer.

Where to stay

While many people opt to stay closer to central Canggu I would recommend staying at The Hideout Hostel. Located less than ten minutes by motorbike from Old Man’s Beach and two minutes from Echo Beach it is ideally located. It is new and located in a quite neighborhood with incredibly cheap food around the corner. I was eating Gado Gado for 5,000 IDR and the most expensive thing on the menu was 13,000 IDR! So cheap!!

Tanah Lot Temple makes a great side trip

A must see stop from Canggu is the Tanah Lot Temple at sunset. The waves crashing onto the rocks while the tide rushes in and surrounds the temple creates a dramatic backdrop to watch the sunset.

It’s only a twenty-minute ride North from Canggu by motorbike which you can get for around 50,000 IDR per day.  The ride to the temple is very easy to navigate but be prepared to pay an entrance fee of 50,000 IDR PLUS 2,000 IDR FOR PARKING. Make sure you get there around sn hour before sunset do you can get a good spot picked out and snap some great pictures during the golden hour! If you are looking for some gear to take pics like this and keep your stuff dry check out my travel gear page!

Canngu is a great spot away from the bustling party scene of Kuta and even better place to learn to surf. I really enjoyed my time here and have already come back after my trip out to Komodo National Park. It is an up and coming town that is quickly commercializing due to it popularity. So be sure and check it out next time you’re in Bali!

I hope this was helpful and as always PLEASE LIKE, COMMENT BELOW AND SHARE!!!

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