Even though, Bali is known as the most consistent surf travel destination in the world, from time to time the swell gets too big or the wind blows our home beaches. But Bali would not be Bali, if there wouldn’t be an option! While the east coast of Bali can be a good option during rain season and for expert surfers, the west coast can be in dry season. Especially the famous lefthand pointbreak Medewi is always worth a visit, when the breaks around Canggu and Kuta can no longer hold the swell (10- 12 ft. and bigger).
An outstanding lefthand pointbreak - Medewi
Medewi beach is located in the left corner of a bay and the swell does not hit the spot as hard as in the south and south-west. Speaking in numbers, the waves at the Medewi spot usually are 2-3 ft. smaller, compared to Canggu. In addition, this spot is an interesting training ground for intermediate to advanced surfers. On a good day, even step up beginners can have a look. Although Medewi is breaking over rounded rocks, the wave is much smoother than many other pointbreaks and not as dangerous as if it would be breaking over sharp coral reef. Usually it is also not as crowded as many other breaks along the coastline, especially compared with those spots closer to the Bukit peninsula.
Medewi, a village between past and future
Contrary to many villages in East Bali, Medewi has a large muslim population. Like anywhere else in Bali, they get along with the surrounding Hindu culture very well. But that’s not the only contrast found over there. The little village is just about to improve to the next step. Shortly after the first tourist resorts have been built in the nineties, Medewi experienced a serious drawback after the terrorist bombings in Kuta in the early 2000’s. Now that the situation is obviously stable again, the village has recovered and as a first sign, you can see a constant effort to improve the infrastructure. The road to the beach gets repaired, some new houses are built close to the shore, more and more little shops open at the main road. In only 5 -10 years, Medewi will probably have changed a lot and the local people are really looking forward to that.
The Medewi Boardriders Club
Soon after your arrival, you will notice some of the local beach bums. Most of them are members of the Medewi Boardriders Club and their main business model is selling their t-shirts to tourists. With the money from the t-shirt sale, the club helps local kids with equipment and organizing an annual surfing competition. The shirts are quite pricey compared to a typical sweatshop in Bali, but if you are not short on money, maybe consider to buy a shirt or make a little donation to the club. You won’t regret it. The locals know how to appreciate a friendly gesture and will always help you with information about the village, the spot, the conditions and everything else.
Besides our surf camp Bali FAQ, that offers the most useful information about all needs and requirements regarding your travel, visa, customs as well as all questions about the surf camp and the surf lessons, here are some more questions that we get asked quite often. Most of them are about the daily life in Bali and easy to answer. If you have any other questions, you are invited to contact us via our contact form or in a Facebook message.
Please be aware of the time difference. If you write us an inquiry from Europe and for example its early in the day, our office is already closed over here and most likely your email can not be answered on that same day. If you have an urgent question, you better give us a call.
The ultimate Q&A for questions you may never think of:
1) Which sunblocker should I use?
- We recommend sunblockers with SPF +30 minimum. If you know you have sensitive skin, go for SPF +50. Products containing zink oxide are usually the most reliable option. Just to name a few products that have a good reputation by experience as there are: Daylong, Headhunter and … Better buy your sun blocker at home, cause they can be pretty pricey in Bali, since they are mostly imported. Never forget to put in on your feet, behind the ears, on the back of your legs and your lower back as surf jerseys tend to slide!
2) Can I use my mobile phone in Bali?
- Using your mobile phone from home is mostly too expensive, but you can by pre paid sim cards and similar items almost everywhere, even in the smallest shops besides the road. The cost of telecommunication is very low in Bali and you can use whats app and facebook for a low rate, too.
3) Is there a lot of crime in Bali?
- The crime rate is very low around rural areas, such as Canggu, where our surf camp is located. Even though you should always be aware of some basic rules, especially you are around more touristic areas, like Kuta. We haven’t had an incident with one of our guests for a very long time, but always be cautious of pickpocketers, money changers and if you enter a taxi, make sure it is a registered official cab with a taximeter or negiotiate the price before you get in the car.
4) And the narcotics?
- Don’t even consider to buy illegal drugs. You probably won’t get what you pay for, tourists are often blackmailed and if you get caught, you face serious penalties starting from several thousand dollars to even death penalty for trafficking. Also be cautious with alcohol, regarding a few recent incidents with methanol, sold as wodka. Even if you buy a cocktail in a bar or a sealed bottle of booze, you can’t be completely sure. Better stay with beer, the stuff you brought from the duty free or ask expats for reliable sources.
5) How about insurance?
- No matter where you come from, your health insurance will probably not cover all the costs of medical treatment in Bali. There are some real good travel insurances around, for example worldnomads. If you are from Europe, a simple holiday insurance like Ergo direct will cover your trip up to 2 months for less than 10 Euros. You should definitely check before you start your travel. No matter what, you will probably have to pay for your treatment in Bali in cash or with your credit card and keep the bills for a refund as soon as you’re back home.
6) Can I come to the surf camp alone?
- Our surf camp is perfectly suitable for everybody, regardless if you travel alone, as a couple or in a group. We always arrange our rooms to fit the needs of our guests. If you come alone, a place in the dorm is usually a good option. We often have guests that travel alone, so you will find company soon enough. By the same time, the camp has various areas to hang out, so you will always find a spot on one of the terraces, where you can have a moment on your own.
7) Is it dangerous for women to travel alone in Bali?
- Bali is not an Islamic Island, even Indonesia mostly is. People are determined by Hindu culture and they are open minded, always friendly and helpful regardless your gender. You will most definitely never face rude behavior by Balinese men. Our camp is certainly very women friendly too.
8) Are there dangerous animals?
- Well, there are some wild animals that could also be harmful to humans, but in the more populated areas, they are hard to find. There are some small scorpions, snakes, sea urchins and jellyfish. The most dangerous animals around here are for sure dogs, which like to bark when you pass by their house/territory and can get aggressive if provoked. Rabies are no longer a problem along the coast. There are some sharks, but the number of shark attacks in Bali per year tends to zero. Statistically seen, your risk of having a traffic accident or food poisoning is a lot higher. Mosquitos could, but will most likely not spread dengue fever. Malaria in Bali is not a problem anymore, since vaccination and medical treatment wiped it away. If you are not travelling to other parts of Asia, there is no need for malaria prophylaxis for Bali.
9) Where can I find the best waves?
- To find good waves you still need to search, even in the most swell consistent area of the world. Depending on the swell size, wind directions and tides, we provide daily guiding to the most interesting spots for our guests. Since we are located right in the middle between the Bukit and Medewi, we minimize our time on the road, to maximize our time in the water. Our local spots around Canggu are probably the most consistent surf spots in Bali, if the swell is too big we take the action to the Bukit to less exposed spots, like Kuta or Jimbaran. With the right conditions we also like to check out the famous Bali pointbreaks like Medewi or Airport Reef.
10) How expensive are the cabs and transport in general?
- Like we mentioned before you always should negotiate the price before you begin the ride. Taksis and drivers in Bali can be hired for less than 3 $ for a short distance. The way back from Echo Beach to the camp is about 3 $, Seminyak ~8 $. From Kuta to Canggu you should reckon with something in the 12-15 $ range. A driver for a whole day including surfboards will cost 50 $.
11) When is the best time to visit Bali?
- The dry season starts in April and ends in October. The rain season is usually a bit hotter, but not as rainy as you might think. It’s not like we are having 6 months of monsoon. Normally we only have very few days during the rain season which are completely rainy. In the rest of the time, it just rains for a short while in the morning or in the evening and there are ven periods with no rain for many days in a row.
12) Is there nightlife in Canggu?
- Canggu doesn’t have a night club, but a bunch of nice bars and party venues like the famous “Deus Ex Machina”. If you want to visit night clubs and discos, we recommend to go to Seminyak, which is a little more sophisticated than the typical tourist clubs in Kuta around Poppies Lane etc.
13) Can I buy boards in Bali or should I bring my own?
- There are many places in Bali, where you can buy a used board for a reasonable price, as long as you want to buy a shortboard. Used beginner boards, Malibus or longboards are nearly impossible to find. Our board rental offers beginner and step up boards, that fit your surfing skills perfectly and the best of all, you can return it. If you have found the perfect board for you, we can certainly help you to find a board at one of the local shops. New quality boards without fins start at around 400$, as used ones go by 200 $.
14) Is the tap water drinkable?
- No. If you won’t risk an infection with streptococcus or similar bacteria, you should avoid tap water. Bottled water is available everywhere for as little as 3k – 5k IDR / liter.
15) How much does food cost in Bali?
- Eat Indo, pay Indo. Eat western, pay western. If you eat at local warungs, you need 1 - 3 $ per meal. If you order a pizza or burger meal at a typical beach restaurant you have to reckon with 6 – 15 $. Beware! Tax and service fees are not included on the menu and can double up your bill.
16) Can I rent a scooter in Bali and what does it cost?
- Scooters in Bali are the most used transport vehicles and widely used by tourists as same as locals. The rates differ from 2 $/day to 6 $/day depending on the season and the term of lease. Fuel, or “Bensin” can be bought in “Absolute Wodka” bottles at many little shops besides the road for 0,6 – 0,8 $/liter.
17) Can I walk barefoot in Bali?
- In Canggu you can, but not in Kuta. The Balinese usually do not drop many bottles, so there is not as much glass on the ground as on French parking lots or in Orange County. But in the more populated areas, there is a lot of litter beneath the road and we would not recommend walking barefoot there. In addition, the streets get insanely hot during midday and a pair of flip-flops is available for less than 1 $.
18) Can I pay with my local currency in Bali?
- The local currency is IDR (Indonesian Rupies). US Dollars are widely accepted, as long as the notes are in a very good condition. Some places accept Euros, for example at the airport, but better go for dollars or even better, just get some local currency from an ATM with your credit card.
Bali daytrip to Uluwatu
Instead of a lazy weekend, most of our guests at the surf camp choose the option to go on a daytrip on sunday. We usually don’t offer surf lessons during the weekend. The surf spots in Bali are mostly too crowded then and our surf guides need a day off from time to time, too :) This time, it was decided to go on a tour to Uluwatu, which is one of our favourite destinations, besides Ubud, the Kings Graves, the monkey forest and the temple of Tanah Lot. On the way to Uluwatu we usually stop by at another famous surf spot of Bali, that goes by the name of Padang Padang. Afterwards we often join the traditional firedance ceremony at Uluwatu.
The streets of Kuta are a little less crowded during the weekend, but still busy, compared to the roads in Europe or anywhere else in the western world.
Padang Padang – one of the best surf spots in the world
Padang Padang is not only a lovely beach, it is also one of the most famous surf spots in the world, that offers perfect conditions nearly all year long. Just 30 meters away from the parking lot,the beach of Padang Padang is entered through a steep stairset, cutting through between the cliffs. The beach itself is just a short stretch of 200 meters, next to a high cliff on the left and sharp rocks to the right. The waves break over a shallow reef 70 meters away from the beach and even if you don’t surf you will be well entertained by those who do. The real Padang Padang, a shallow, barreling lefthander, which is not visible from the beach cause it is hidden behind the cliff, usually hosts a bunch of real good surfers on the. Beginners and intermediates are well served on the smaller break, right in front of the beach, that goes by the name of “Baby Padang”. Like usual, the beach is pretty busy with vendors of all kinds of souvenirs, surfboard rentals and little warungs. Since the beach is not that extended, it gets crowded early and runs out of shady places pretty fast, but if you stay longer you can rent an umbrella to stay cool.
Overview from the above the beach at Padang Padang
The famous Uluwatu cliffs and reefbreaks
After Padang Padang, it’s not that far until you arrive at Uluwatu, which is another well known surf spot in Bali, famous for its long and hollow tube rides in front of a stunning view from the cliff. Both spots are considered to be “pro spots” and only well trained surfers should go out there, especially at a swell size which brings the spots to life, somewhere above the 6ft. mark.
The Channel, your way into the break at Uluwatu
Big spray and cutback at Uluwatu
Watch the surf and relax
All the way down the cliffs at Uluwatu, many small shops, cafés and restaurants are built into the cliff walls, which offer everything to satisfy the needs of the visitors. On a good day, you can spend hours and hours, just catching affordable food from the restaurants, have a few cold beverages and watch the incredible surf. If you surf there yourself, every single wave will be caught by professional photographers on the cliff and you can buy your shots later in one of the booths, that are specialized in that business. A common price for your shots is about 150.000 IDR.
Campers hanging out at one of the restaurants on the cliff.
Traditional Balienese firedance
If you are not too tired after your Uluwatu experience, our drivers take you to the temple where you can enjoy the traditional firedance ceremony at Uluwatu, before everybody gets transferred back to the Stormrider Surf Camp.
Firedance ceremony, Uluwatu at sunset