Mini-Malibu, Egg, Longboard, Fish, Step-up, Semi-gun, Shortboard? So many different shapes of surfboards, but which one is the right pick for you and what is the best board for Bali?
It's not the board that decides wheather you will be a surfer one day, or just one more kook, playing in the whitewater. Your individual ambition and what you know from skateboarding, will not make you a better surfer. And neither will a board, that does not have enough flotation and stability to send you off to the first couple of good rides in your surferlife. Competitive swimmers might have a learning advantage, but due to their experience, they are usually very reasonable in terms of the appropriate board size. Taking a board too short, is a waste of time. As long as you haven't trained your stability on a bigger board, it's useless to try catching waves with a shortboard. If the board is too big, it will be harder to do maneuvers, without having advanced skills. The boards that you should consider to become the first allround piece in your quiver will mot likely be a funshape/mini malibu board in the 7'ft. range.
The most simple way to calculate the length of a beginner surfboard is: Body-height + 17 ‘Inch
Widely used for surf classes and amongst beginners in general are mini malibu boards and softtops between 7″2′ and 7” 10′. These middle sized beginner boards are built very solid, which makes them a little heavier, but at the same time gives them more stability in the water, but is still able to get some good turns done. If you are not convinced, ask your surf guide to take a wave on a beginner board and you will see, that beginner boards can be fun, too.
If you have around average body measurements, start with a board like that. They are inexpensive and can be sold at a good value. They are the best option, too learn your take off quickly. It's a common mistake, to buy too short. If you skip that stage, you probably safe at least three weeks of surfing time.
Longboards might not be suitable for the average beginner, but if you have the BMI of a NFL linebacker, a sumo wrestler or a professional basketball player, a board above 8 foot can be a good advice. Nevertheless, the smooth style of longboard riding is up to date again and if you really want to lay hands on one, it is probably the best, to contact your local shaper. A longboard can be a real fun machine – if it has the right dimensions. Egg shapes can make sense, if the surfing student is still growing, or rather one of the small and dainty people. The same features apply to fish boards. Just to be clear, hybrid boards and step-ups can have a fishtail, but real fish, depending on the definition, has a maximum length of 6” 3 ‘and that’s no size for a beginner board at all.
Even experienced surfers tend to take longer boards when they travel Bali. Especially in high season, the waves can easily extend your comfort zone on a 5"9' freestyle chopper. Better look out for a barrel gun, or just surf another beach that day, cause every day there is a perfect wave for you somewhere on the island.
If you are not completely sure about the size and type of your future board, try to rent different boards and whenever possible, test each plank you can get under your feet.
If in doubt, go to your local shaper, take his/her advice and order a custom-made board. A perfect board will never be too big or too slow. It will keep up the fun for the rest of your life. Although this might be a major investment, it will be only about a third more expensive than a board from the factory. In addition, you will probably never be unconfident with your quiver. Better buy one good board only once instead of buying cheap. In the end you will pay double if you buy a less matching board in the first place. If you are searching for new surfboard, he will ask you the right questions.
Here is you're checklist, what you should have accomplished on your beginner surfboard, before you look out for a smaller size..
Ps: Stay close to the curl. Front hand points, where your nose goes next. Backhand supports the rotation and up and down flow of your upper body. If you want to test our quiver, with over 25 different boards, then book your stay at the Stormrider Surf Camp Bali now.
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 buy 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.