Where: Bali, Indonesia
When: Best during the dry season… April- October
Why: Ridiculously good lefthand coral reef break
Stats: From 2ft plus… it's on.
If ever there was a time to make use of the word ‘sacred' in terms of a surf spot, now is the time… Uluwatu is a sacred wave, held in awe and admiration by the Balinese and international surfing world. Lying on the south west coast of Bali, Indonesia
, Uluwatu is home to one of the three most sacred Balinese temples and a world class left hand break. So what is it that has captured the hearts of surfers since the 1970s to trek to ‘Ulu's' barrelling waves?
When flying over Bali
and coming in to land at Denpasar International Airport you get a pretty good view of one of the best surf coastlines in the world. The west coast of the Bukit peninsular (found at the southern tip of Bali) is blessed with perfect break after break… to the point that it's known as the land of lefts. So for all you goofy footers out there- welcome home.
Crowning all the amazing breaks of the Bukit is Uluwatu, which works at any tide, and manages to pick up almost any swell, so works in almost all conditions. As tides diminish, so too should the numbers in the line up as the wave becomes perilously shallow and dangerous. The reward for those expert enough to surf at Uluwatu? Perfect tubes and fast walls, ready to be spat out.
Although one of the most famous Balinese breaks, and hence one of the busiest, there is a lot of line up to be had. If looking out at the ocean and the break from one of the many cliff top warungs (cafes), to the left is Temples (directly below Uluwatu temple unsurprisingly), which turns into The Peak (where most attempt to surf), to the right is Racetracks (like the name suggests- it's fast), and finally on the right is Corners and Outside Corner. On really big days (+15ft) when there's only a few surfers in the ocean, even Bombies might break out at the back.
There is a lot of competitiveness and localism that can go on as surfers are always looking to prove themselves at the famous break, however no one is going to think kindly to anyone who drops in on them. It is essential to respect the sacred wave, especially as it is deceptive in how easy it looks to paddle out and in from. If the tide is low, then the majority of surfers wear reef booties to protect their feet from the sharp coral reef that creates the wave, whereas on high tides it is a fine art attempting to paddle in… Surfers have to aim for the small cave that is the entrance and exit for the break, and the only way to gain access to the ascent back up the cliff steps. Over shoot the mark, and either they have a face of cliff, or they're paddling to the next beach along.
If this all sounds like a whole lot of hard work, then picture this: warm 26 degree C surf, waters so clear you can see to the seabed, opalescent coloured sunsets… and only boardshorts or bikinis required. All of which is followed by a good bintang beer and nasi goreng at one of the many delicious warungs over looking the mesmerising break. Even if you can't surf Ulu's it's worth the trip
to just watch the pros lighting up the break.
Check out the clip below for a little taste of why Ulu's is just so freaking good...