Surfing The Wild West of Bali: Balian Beach
Balian Beach is located in the wild west of Bali. Off the grid and away from the busyness of the main touristic attractions of the Island, Balian remains relatively less frequented by tourists.
We came to experience the virgin island life of Bali only to discover that most of the surf destinations have become very touristic and over-crowded. Refusing to succumb to this unfortunate reality we went searching for a more relaxed and less exploited surf spot. And we found it!
Escape the crowd
After surfing in Kuta and Canggu, we wanted to escape the crowd and head for the wild west of Bali where surf spots remain less jammed. Too many people in the water means you’ll get less chance of taking a wave and a higher probability of getting a head injury due to the uncontrollable drops of carless surfers. Balian beach was our destination and we couldn’t have chosen better. Although getting there was a real hassle, surfing on the other hand ended up being a very rewarding experience.
The waves were too high
The swell was surprisingly big with 6ft high mellow glassy waves curling up one after the other. On top of the hill, from where we stood, the ride seemed pretty easy. It wasn’t until we got to shore and saw all these professional surfers ripping throughout the curls, drifting, jumping and making all kind of tricks that we understood: this place wasn’t a playground for beginners.
Bea got discouraged and it is completely understandable. Several Australian surfers had advised her not to even step in the water. Not only the size of the waves was the issue here but also the current was too strong, deadly conditions for novices. So Bea didn’t get to surf in Balian, but that didn’t stop her: She got to ride some waves in Medewi, another surf spot in the wild west of Bali, only 30 min away from Balian beach.
As for me, I had some bad falls and got stuck in the washing machine several times. But I guess that’s the price to pay if you want to upgrade your surfing skills. By the end of the week, I finally started catching several waves easily on a 6”4 shortboard, the first shortboard I have ever ridden. Yessaa!
Balian isn’t just about surfing
What’s nice about Balian is that you don’t have to be a surfer to enjoy it. Besides its edgy surfing attraction, the place is unique for its rural and provincial atmosphere. We woke up every morning to the beautiful chant of tropical birds and got to drink daily freshly squeezed milk (susu) from the roaming cows in the surrounding green hills.
Practicing Acro yoga on the beach was also a daily ritual along with a brand new breath-taking sunset.
Not into yoga? Join local fishermen in their nightly fishing sessions, or take part of a Hindu ritual on the beach, the kind where you’d be projecting all bad spirits and negative energy towards the sea.
Or, head for the local market and grab some real nice satti and fresh fruits at half the normal price; after having mastered the art of bargaining of course.
Even simply watching professional surfers practicing their art can be a very joyful pastime.
Best time to go
The spot is functional during both the wet and dry season. Go for early morning sessions or sunset sessions. It tends to become windy at noon, which is ideal for all you kite-surfers out there. Be careful for low tides: even if it is a beach break, it still is a rocky beach.
Waves and swell
Waves are mellow waves always higher (2 to 3ft) than the forecasted waves in Kuta. The best size of waves can range between 4 to 6ft, excellent for intermediates and experts. And for all the explorers out there, you can always drive around and explore new secret surf spots since Balian is a long beach stretch.
The selection of rental boards around here is satisfactory for beginners and intermediates. As For experienced surfers it is better for you guys to get your own boards.
Ultimately, with the offered conditions, you can ride any board. But shortboards, in my opinion, remain the best choice.
The road from Kuta can take you up to 3hours due to heavy traffic. A multitude of industrial trucks would be jamming the streets. So Leave early mornings, or late at night. The best time is before 7AM or after 9PM.
Where to stay
We stayed at Krisna Villas, a beautiful and affordable homestay including a pool, a shared kitchen, a delicious breakfast and an awesome staff. Not to forget Douda the lovely dog.
Where to eat
Pondok Pitaya is the place we chose. Straight on the beach, you can use the pool for free, have incredibly generous meals and work with free Wifi. You’ll get to meet tons of professional surfers and witness the “behind the scenes” of surf documentaries.
- Limited facilities around the area: no supermarkets, no money exchanger desks…
- It’s slightly more expensive than the rest of Bali since facilities are hard to reach.
- Accessible daily yoga classes at Pondok Pitaya