Learn how to Surf in Bali
Bali, the island of unique beautiful nature, exotic fruits, and smiling local people. An island of a hundred beaches, where gold, white, and black sand can all be found in a wild variety of different locations. Couple this with world class waves, and where else would you possibly prefer to learn surfing?
When I first arrived in Bali, I had no idea of how many places to learn surfing there would be. Indonesian, Australian and even Russian schools are offered at every step along the main beaches. Beach boys from Kuta through to Seminyak all offer to teach you surfing, with three main methods:
1. Learning to Surf by Yourself
Obviously the most affordable way to learn surfing. Local boys who are working in pop-up rental shops right on the beach will rent you any surfboard you need. This option is the best for learners who have already tried to surf at least a few times before, and know the basics. Otherwise, you may need an instructor. Renting a surfboard will cost around $5 per day, but you can always bargain, especially, if you require a long term rental.
2. Learning to Surf with the Local Surf Instructor
Another way to learn surfing is to pay an Indonesian local instructor, who can explain the basics of surfing. Usually, in the same surfboard rental shop, there are staff, who will offer to teach you. Indonesians like these are all authentic surfers, they were born, and grew up spending their time on the beach. It is essential for them to impart local knowledge to teach not only the basics but also explain the safety rules on the water, and indicate where currents and rips are, etc. These “surfie” local instructors may or may not have ISA (International Surfing Association) certificates, but you are in good hands if you keep asking questions and get them to show you how best to learn the ropes.
3. Learning to Surf in the Surf School
Surf Schools in Bali equally may or may not have certified ISA instructors either, but still learning to surf in a proper school has several advantages. Firstly, they put the customer’s safety first. All surf schools must provide insurance for the whole lesson, so I highly recommend to inquire before paying for teaching, as surfing is an extreme sport and you need to be covered. Secondly, many surf schools provide free pick-up and drop-off services, which is very convenient.
Another advantage is that all instructors are selected according to their skills, so it is good to be able to gauge where your level is at, and what advice and training you need in order to move forward in your abilities. And, finally, you do not need to buy or rent a surfboard or protective rash-shirt guard as it is already included in the lesson price. The majority of surf schools also organise surf camps over several days, however, the price is usually exaggerated, considering the quality of living and the number of students per one instructor.
How to Choose the Surf School?
Below are highlighted several rules, which may help guide you when choosing the right surf school for you.
1. Choose a school close to your hotel. Pick-up may be included when going to the one-day surf trips, however, the rest of the time, you may need to walk to the school or find your own transport. You don’t want to spend your valuable holiday time commuting, or stuck in traffic. Especially when it’s early mornings and the tide waits for no man!
2. Choose a place where instructors speak your language, and to a decent level. Otherwise, misunderstandings cannot be avoided. In the water, especially in extreme conditions, it is essential to hear and understand everything that the coach tells you.
3. Check what is included in the surf package, and how many lessons the school provides. For some people, three lessons are enough to learn the basics, yet for others sometimes it’s better to have a week with the coach so they can really help instruct you specifically on key learnings.
4. Ask how many people are in the group lesson. More than five really begins to dilute the experience and what you get out of the sessions, as it is hard for a teacher to accommodate each on what they need to improve, etc.
Learning to surf in Bali has countless options. There are individual instructors right on the beach (ranging from skilled Balinese locals, to experienced Australian or Europeans on a working holiday), surf schools, and surf camps. Overall, surf schools provide an excellent proportion of time allocated for a good quality price, however, do speak to the instructors to gauge what level they teach at to ensure you will get the best attention for your skillset. Surf’s up!