The Ultimate Guide to Uluwatu Surf

by Oliver Sander

Uluwatu surf means some of the best darn surf in all of Bali. There are five spots, all with truly rippable walls and sweet barrels.

Uluwatu Surf

Uluwatu surf at a glance

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The good

  • Five breaks in one, each with something very different
  • Ridiculously reliable
  • Challenging but still fun

The bad

  • There’s a really cliquey local crew
  • Paddle out to the far breaks is hard
  • Nothing for beginners until Padang Padang!

This guide is just one part of our complete guide to surfing Bali

What’s in this guide to Uluwatu surf?

An introduction to Uluwatu surf

Ulu’s is a wave of serious quality. Actually, it’s a few waves of serious quality. Like Padang Padang and Keramas, it’s one of Bali’s famous spots. Surfers from Slater to Florence have carved its fat, rippable shoulders and dropped into the barrels here. There’s also a loyal local following on the Isle of the Gods – some of the best surfers the island can muster if you ask us.

Set beneath the huge cliffs of the Bukit Peninsular, the waves of Uluwatu get their power from the S-SW Indian Ocean swell. That means they’re typically at their best in the dry season, when the tubes of the east coast aren’t working so well. Ideal conditions here look something like this: SW groundswells of 8+ foot, NE offshores (although wind isn’t such an issue under the high cliffs), and an early morning start to beat the crowds (there are ALWAYS crowds).

Let’s get one thing straight before we push on: Uluwatu is NOT a beginner break. It’s seems to be – wrongly in our opinion – a bit of a rite of passage for any “serious” surfer in Bali. That breeds some annoying localism, and detracts from the serious quality of the wave itself. That’s honestly worthy of drooling over. Uber-sectiony and very dynamic, it can hold whopping 17 foot swells and actually splits up the crowd between four different inside section and a more exposed XXL spot.

TL;DR – The Uluwatu surf is famous around the globe for a reason!

Where is Uluwatu?

A surfer in Uluwatu

Uluwatu is best known for its mystical Hindu temple, conveniently known as the Uluwatu Temple. The surf spot, despite what many guides will tell you, isn’t actually right below that, it’s round a few rugged headlands just to the north. It’s not far but too far to paddle, and you’ll need to get the right one if you’re coming in by taxi or on your own scooter.

The main entry point to the line up are at Blue Point Beach. You’ll have to squeeze between the high rocks. There are stairs leading straight down into the cove, which is known, simply, as The Cave. Skid over the reefs and the breaks of Ulu’s will be right in front of you. Surfers heading to Outside Corner or Bombie might be better of ducking under to Suluban Beach to paddle in. It’s a little closer but is only accessible on low.

A guide to the Uluwatu surf spots

The Uluwatu surf isn’t just about one spot. It’s actually about five different breaks. They spread north-west up the coast of the Bukit Peninsula from the bays north along from Uluwatu Temple. There’s about 100-120 meters separating them. Strictly speaking, each is the next section of a single left-hand point, which does – when the heavens open and Jupiter is in alignment – link up. Masterful surfers could connect a ride all the way from the outside to Racetracks. Boy that’s a leg burner hardly worth thinking of!

The Bombie

The Bombie is the least-ridden of the Uluwatu surf breaks. It’s the only XXL wave here that can crank up to tow-in heights. It’s basically an out-at-sea break that wedges up well beyond the reefs. Only for the pros but rarely big enough to really get thumping.

Temples

Temples is called Temples because it’s the closest of the breaks to the Uluwatu Temple. Obvious, eh? That means it’s a little far out, so expect a hefty paddle from the Cave on Blue Point Beach. In fact, there’s a better cove to paddle out from just to the south of that. Without the protection of the Uluwatu cliffs, Temples is a bit of a swell magnet (that’s really saying something out here too). It can work when other sections of the Uluwatu surf aren’t. The wave is a punchy left hand reef that can get hollow but is really sectiony. Watch for the reef landing zone. Crowds are pretty good.

Outside Corner

All hail Outside Corner. This is unquestionably the most famous surf break in Uluwatu. Nah, scratch that – it’s one of the most famous surf breaks in all of Bali.

Coming left off the cliffs to the south of Blue Point Beach, it’s the third outer break and so really visible from the clifftop bars. The swell needs to hit at least six foot for Outside to get going. Thankfully this is Bali and the Indian Ocean, so it’s usually there or thereabouts. The wave is best when it peaks to 12-15, which brings the classic Outside Corner walls in, with a crumbly peel that never interferes with one of the purest straight wave faces in the world. It’s rippable like you’ve never seen rippable before.

The Peak

Consistency is the drawcard of the second to last break on Ulu’s majestic lineup. It’s classic shortboard stuff, with a peak that moves from right to left depending on the angle of the swell. So, positioning is the first challenge (don’t expect lazy sits in the line up here). Then you’ve got the pit, which is way narrower and tighter than others here. It’s a real duck job. The Peak will last into some sectiony bits where you can let off and cruise a little, but be sure you know where to pull up because there are rocks at the end.

Racetracks

This one’s named because its fast. Like, seriously fast. It’s probably the quickest section of all in Ulu’s, so you’ll need to be real nifty with the realignment into the pocket if you want to catch it. The drop-in is the closest to the cliffs, and there’s hardly a whisker of front clearance. On punchier days it’s basically a pop and grab the rail jobby, followed by a push on the back foot to enter the small barrels. A few turning sections do open up but you’ll need to be brave if you want to take them. Racetracks can be steep and rolls straight into the shallow reef shelf, where jagged rocks are just waiting to be fed!

Other surf breaks near to Uluwatu

The thing about Ulu’s is that it’s situated at the southern end of the Bukit Peninsula. That’s Bali’s surfing mecca. There are all sorts of breaks to the south and north. It’s basically wave territory extraordinaire. Some of the ones you can get to from Uluwatu with ease include:

Padang Padang (north)

The next famous Bali break on the menu to the north is Padang Padang. There’s two for one here. The Padang Padang Right is not the one that puts it on the radar, but is a rare beginner wave in this corner of the Isle of the Gods. The Left is where the money shots are. It’s a classic Indo barrel factory with sculpted pits that’ll chew you up and spit you out at zoom speed. High tide is best and the crowds can be unbareable.

Binging and Impossibles (north)

Bingin is a lovely left break that can get neat and hollow on 5 footers and up. It sits below the Bingin cliffs and has a lovely vibe that’s a little more chilled than other spots. The wave is fast and rides aren’t long, but they’re a dream for goofies. That’s also true of the longer Impossibles reefs that lurk to the south of Bingin itself. You’ll need to hit high tide for those and be really wary of the uber-shallow reef shelf. The paddle out is from nearby Padang Padang.

Nyang Nyang (south)

Nyang Nyang is the Wild West wave of the Bukit Peninsula. It’s completely exposed to those strong south swells so it’s super-reliable but lacks a little in shape and style, especially compared to the reef points of the main Uluwatu surf. High tides are best on the push because they drag in more water to create A-frames over the reef that are doable on both rights and lefts. It’s pretty hard to get to and the rips are strong. Good intermediates and up only please!

Where to stay when surfing in Uluwatu

There are plenty of hotels and surf camp accommodations in the vicinity of Uluwatu. Some put you real close to the waves. Others are by nearby beaches like Bingin or further south, which is a tad quieter.

The Korowai ($$-$$$)

Surf-hotel-top-pick

AHMAGAD The Korowai is stunning! Clinging the cliffs above gorgeous Bingin Beach, it’s a boutique coast hotel with loads of style. You’ll be just a short drive from the paddle out to Ulu’s, but also within reach of Padang Padang and Impossibles. Did we mention than it’s absolutely gorgeous!?

Tregge Surf Camp Uluwatu ($-$$)

Best for: Walking distance to the Uluwatu surf spots

There’s hardly a surf camp in these parts that’s closer to eh Uluwatu waves than Tregge Surf Camp Uluwatu. It’s literally within walking distance to the paddle out at The Cave, so you’re well placed for beating the crowds to Outside Corner on days when it’s working its magic. The camp itself is basic but fun, with a shared lounge and a lush tropical garden.

Ocho Bali Surf Camp ($$)

Best for: Being away from the crowds

Ocho Bali Surf Camp is close to Pandawa Beach on the south side of the Bukit Peninsular. That means it’s great for accessing eastern breaks like Green Balls and the epic spots at Ulu’s itself. It’s a cracking accommodation that’s away from the big crowds around Bingin and Padang Padang, offering rustic bamboo bungalows fronted by a shimmering Balinese pool.

When to surf in Uluwatu

As if we haven’t said it enough times yet: Consistency is the mantra on the Uluwatu surf. It’s really rare that things aren’t working here. That said, there are some times of the year that are simply better for giving those clean faces ready to rip up than others. Essentially, the dry season is the one for that. Check it out…

Temples in Uluwatu

Wet season (November to March)

The wet season hardly closes down the west coast breaks of the Bukit. There will still be days when they are epic, all the way from Kuta to Green Balls. It’s more that there’s a slight dip in the reliability, with a downturn in the groundswells from the SW. Westerly onshore winds are also an issue.

Dry season (April to October)*

This is the most reliable season of all. It’s got the cream of the SW swell channels working, which means it should be good day after day in Uluwatu. The waves aren’t just more reliable than in the summer months. They are also bigger, with 10-foot+ on the forecast hardly an issue. Bigger periods coincide with the mega overheads to give Uluwatu its longest run of working.

Uluwatu surf getting you packing the rash vest already? You’re going to need some good sun protection. Check out our guide to the five best sunscreens for surfers on the market right now to get one of the finest possible. That will basically be a block with zinc oxide that’s okay for both your skin and the ocean!

Surf shops in Uluwatu

You’ll probably find more in the way of big surf emporiums back up in Kuta and Seminyak. There are still plenty aroudn Ulu’s, with a big push on shaped boards and designer Bali beach wear. All good stuff.

Drifter Surf Shop Cafe & Gallery

The Drifter Surf Shop Cafe & Gallery is housed in a lush Balinese cabana with palm-thatched roofs on the main road leading into Padang Padang. You can easily make a pitstop en route to the Uluwatu surf. The stock is fantastico, with shaped boards, retro boards, independently designed surf wear, and oodles of surf art and publishing. The on-site cafe is pretty banging too.

BGS Uluwatu – Bali Surf Shop & Coffee Bar

The BGS Uluwatu – Bali Surf Shop & Coffee Bar is best known for its awesome brews (basically, if you don’t come for a new fin setup you’ll HAVE to come for the beans). It also stocks some bespoke surf hardware and locally designed swimsuits. Great bunch of guys, all really close to Ulu’s.

Where to eat in Uluwatu

Uluwatu surf is such a scene that a whole town of hotels and eateries has popped up around these breaks. Some of the spots to chow down are simply fantastic. We’ve listed a few of our favs below. For extra suggestions, trust in The Honey Combers Ulu food guide.

Ours Bali

Brunch or breakfast here after your early-morning session is always going to be a treat. The menu at Ours Bali features uber-healthy acai bowls with natural berry mixes along with more indulgent options like haloumi salads and labneh cheese in the Turkish poached eggs. Look for the joint on the main road leading down to Padang Padang beach.

Single Fin

Single Fin is a legend on the Bali bar scene. It studs the top of a cliff just above the Uluwatu surf, so has undeniably fantastic views across all the famous spots. The place gets crazy busy around 6pm for the sunset and then the party starts from there. However, you can drop in during the day to enjoy a menu of sliders, pizzas, and barista-made coffee.

Delpi Cafe

Delpi Cafe has arguably the best position of all for watching the surfers rip up the Outside Corner. It’s sat just above The Cave paddle-out point and has an open deck for checking the drop ins from. Menu wise, you’re looking at simple local food with medium sized portions. Most come for the cold beers and the panoramas!


We might use affiliate links in this post. Basically, you click em’ and we get a little something from your booking or purchase. They help us keep offering more and more in-depth surf guides to awesome places all around the globe. So, thanks for that!

This article is just one part of our complete guide to surfing in Bali

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