Maui Surf

From Maui to Bali – A Surfer’s Comparison

October 22, 2012, 5:18 PM HST
* Updated October 23, 9:37 AM
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Surf reporter Carlos Rock writes in from Bali, where he went to check out how the surf compares to Maui.

By Carlos Rock

Balangan, only one of the many perfect “lefts” in Bali.

Every surfer knows the feeling. When the surf is bad in your area, you tend to dream of venturing off to other surfing destinations that boast perfect surf. Most importantly, another surfing mecca located in Southeast Asia, Indonesia.

Just take an 11 hour flight to the Philippines, a three hour hop to Malaysia, and then three more hours down to Indonesia and you are in the equivalent of surfing heaven. Warm, crystal clear blue water, lots of Australian chicks, and some of the best surf the world has to offer is a combination only made better by the friendly people.

Home to thousands of islands and thousands of reef passes, many surfers think of going to this place for a surf trip. One of the most popular destinations in Indo (and the most accessible), the island of Bali is basically a surfer’s paradise.

The entire island is 140km x 80km and the whole southern side is exposed to Indian Ocean energy, which means swell, and lots of it.

The island is predominantly Hindu which makes for a very spiritual experience with hundreds of temples and places of worship all over the island.

Need any more proof of perfect surf? Padang Padang. Photo: Mick Curley/Surfline.

During the summer months of April-October, the dry season sends surf to Indonesia when Hawaii is flat. It is not uncommon to see pictures of firing surf halfway across the world to give you the travel bug.

If you are goofy footed, Bali is riddled with left-hand point breaks that peel along the Bukit Peninsula on the south side of the island. Spots like Uluwatu, Padang Padang, Bingin, Dreamland, etc., are waves that you have probably heard of. These waves are all synonymous with the superlatives like “the best ever,” “perfect,” “doesn’t get better,” and so on.

However, the downside of this place being a surfing destination is that the most popular spots like Uluwatu usually fall victim to peak travel crowds, leaving you wondering if it was a waste of money to travel there. However, Bali is not the only place. Remember there are thousands of islands and if you have the time, and some extra cash, an adventure/boat trip to the outer islands like the Mentawai’s and Java boast perfect surf as well.

The island of Bali. Photo: Wannasurf.

What makes Bali so tourist friendly, apart from the perfect surf, is the cost of living. The currency there is 9,300 rupiah to $US1. This means that once you are in Bali, you can live lavishly for less than $50 a day, including a driver, food, hotel, and shopping.

Bali was just home to the Ultimate Barrel Riding Contest held at the world famous Padang Padang. A screaming left barrel with a tapering shoulder for an often times easy exit. Professional surfer and tube riding expert Chris Ward won this contest.

Surfers have been coming to Bali for many years for one thing and one thing only, to score perfect uncrowded waves. Time it right and you can very well come back with stories to make all your friends jealous and keep you dreaming about that one perfect barrel you got that one day out at (insert spot here), and the ice cold Bintangs (the local beer) to cap off a great day of surf.

Here’s one more. Padang Padang Photo: Mick Curley

The best thing about going to Bali, is when it is time to leave, you get to come back to another world famous surfing mecca, Hawaii.

For a lesson in how to surf Bali, watch Melali the Drifter Sessions to see surfer Rob Machado get tubed for days in Bali.

Here’s a clip from this awesome surf movie.


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