If you have been surfing for any length of time, chances are you will have heard about the amazing surf in Bali, Indonesia. Sure it is well known for its world class barrels but Bali offers up hundreds of surf spots perfect for the new surfer as well as intermediates. We’ve put together some top tips for surfing and travelling to Bali.
1. Pack as light as possible. It is so hot and humid you’re pretty much sweating 24/7 for the first few days until you get used to it, so light clothes are the go. If you run out of clothes to wear it’s cheap enough to buy some new ones. I literally buy throwaway clothes when out there.
2. It is cheaper to buy all your sunscreen at home. One thing that is expensive in Indo. It’s also dodgy I reckon so get some factor 50 from Boots.
3. If you’re flying in from a winter climate try to have some light clothes in your hand luggage to change into before landing, same goes for returning back to a cold climate. No explaination necesarry.
4. All the surf accommodation options have them, but it is worth bringing your own first aid kit. As you never know when you might need to attended to yourself or friends.
5. Pack as light as possible. Again just reiterating the first point but guarentee your style will change out there, you’ll possibly find yourself wearing oversized vests and a rasta bandana, possibly a whacky fitted cap, so your perfectly folded Fred Perry polo will look out of place. You really only need your boards, boardshorts, sunglasses and three tops – one to wear, one to wash and one to be drying.
1. On the flight over you will be given a small white card from the nice people at immigration to fill out. You will be given back half of this card once you have been granted entry into Indonesia, make sure you don’t lose the other half, put it with your passport and ticket. As you will need it to help speed up your departure.
2. Don’t take your time getting to the Immigration checkpoint, the more people that get there before you, means the longer you have to stand in the very humid air and seriously, it’s like torture when you first get there, you just want to get through customs and in the ocean.
3. Unless you want a luggage porter to help you carry your bags (and are prepared to work out a price for his assistance) politely say no thanks when offered or if your bags are just suddenly picked up for you.
4. When you exit the arrival terminal, you will be surrounded by locals holding up name/hotel signs. If you have booked with Errant, then look out for your name and the Errant Surf logo. There are phone booths close and handy also, or plenty of taxis available depending on where you want to go. But remember that bartering over everything is standard in Bali, so expect to pay half of what the taxi driver/ luggage porter says first.
If you plan to be independent while you’re in Bali you will need some type of wheels. Mopeds and cars are great fun to drive on the crazy roads, but accidents are very commen and can be lethal, so:
1. Make sure you head into your local roads authority and pick up an international driving licence before you leave home. you don’t want any more reason to pay ‘fines’.
2. If you don’t have a motor cycle licence at home your international licence won’t cover you for one here in Bali either, and also indicates that you should stay right away from riding motor bikes.
3. When renting a car you should give the chosen car a good inspection for dings, damage and make sure everything that is supposed to work does. Don’t just pay the money, sign the form and drive away. All the Balinese are on a 24/7 hustle.
4. If you are the owner of an international drivers licence and the car/bike your using has the required registration papers you are street legal and unless you break one of the few road rules there are here, technically you don’t have to pay the police anything if you’re stopped for a licence check. But it is expected. Read this article for further info on getting out of paying these ‘fines’.
5. Traffic lights, now these little buggers can get confusing. At some locations you are permitted to go through red lights if not turning right. At others you can make left turns on the red, so you really have to look for signs/lights and watch and see what the other drivers are doing. If you’re unsure just stop at all red lights, someone will let you know quick enough if you’re blocking the flow. Make sure you don’t cross over the faintly painted white line at all traffic lights if stopping.
6. Please note: Traffic conditions here in Indonesia are very different from what you’re probably used to at home in your country. It is like imagining your worst ever traffic jam or driving scenario and then taking away any rules that may have been in place.
7. If you are staying with Errant Surf in Bali we provide airport transfers and a full surf guide option, so there is no need to drive.
1. When you’re out and about shopping do not tell them where you are staying (it’s hard to bargain when they know you are staying at a fancy hotel) just mention that you are staying at some little inn down on Poppies 2.
2. Always say that you are staying longer than what you really are, as you will be hassled beyond belief if they know you are heading out that day and you haven’t bought anything from them.
3. Leave your bling jewellery at home or in the hotel safe. Again, it’s hard to bargain when you are dripping in gold
4. Enjoy the banter – it’s a great laugh and the Balinese expect some to and throw with prices. I honestly would suggest paying half of their original offer
This is a fairly common and is also often mistaken for “Bali belly”. The main symptoms are a series of hot and cold sweats, nausea and the need to remain close to a toilet. You don’t want to eat and just about all you are good for is lying on your bed and moaning, not a good holiday look. Symptoms can stay with you for up to a week, depending on whether or not you go to a doctor and get some medical assistance. What you really have to remember to avoid this sickness is not to take the tropical sun for granted. Try and find some shade if you’re planning on hanging out at the beach, that’s what the Warungs are for. I’ve seen sun baking girls go to stand up after baking in the sun for an hour or two and fall straight back down on their faces, another bad holiday look. Wear a hat, and if you are after a tan try to get your doses of ultra violet bit by bit and keep the water levels up internally.
There are some more relevent travel tips here and here, but mainly just enjoy the land of the Gods, surf as much as physically possible, take loads of pics, stay safe and lap it up. Bali is a beautiful place you will never forget.