Surfing Uluwatu

surfing uluwatu


Everything You Need to Know About Surfing Uluwatu

For decades, surfers have been travelling by air and sea to reach the world-famous waves of Indonesia. What started as an undeveloped, wild surfer’s paradise now exists as a populated retreat mecca where surfers and wellness travellers venture from all over the world. Ulu’s, as it is often affectionally called, is the epicentre of Indonesian surfing, and rightfully so. The wave is a hyper consistent left-hander that produces powerful, racing waves with a cavernous barrel section.

Uluwatu is more than just a menacing wave, it’s embedded in Indonesian surf history and is even a significant religious site in the region. Uluwatu is largely considered one of the best waves on the planet, and it is just a short drive from Swell Bali. But what makes Ulu’s world-class?

Why is the wave the epicentre of surfing in Indonesia? Who surfed it first? Find out below!

surfing uluwatu

The History of Uluwatu

While it is commonly known that Bali was discovered as a surf destination in the early 1970s, not many people know that surfers were some of the first westerners to ever set foot on the island. Back then, most meals could be purchased for under $1, dirt roads ran where highways now exist, and the main mode of local transportation was a bicycle. Uluwatu was first discovered by surfers who had previously surfed in the Kuta area. The crew was actually a film crew, filming the 1971 surf classic, Morning of the Earth that was directed by Alby Falzon.

While filming, the crew stumbled upon the freight train left-handers at Uluwatu. To reach the wave, the crew had to descend the cliff by the temple and come out through the cave. The first wave ridden at Uluwatu was surfed by Steve Cooney, who was just 15 years old.

The wave was featured in the film, Morning of the Earth, which was released on February 25, 1972. The footage of the dreamlike left-hand wave at Uluwatu sparked the attention of surfers globally, igniting daydreams of far-flung surf adventure in the minds of every surfer on the planet. The film inspired many well-known pros at the time, like goofy-footer Wayne Lynch. Lynch travelled to Bali shortly after, where photographer Dick Hoole captured him in the barrel.

To this day, that image is renowned and celebrated as a representation of pure surf exploration. Another legendary goofy-footer, Gerry Lopez, who is known for pioneering G-Land on Java, was also inspired by the footage in Falzon’s film to travel to and surf Uluwatu.

surf uluwatu

The Location

Like many famous waves in Indonesia (Padang Padang, Impossibles, Dreamland), Uluwatu is located on the island of Bali, which attracts countless surfers to its tropical shores each year. The official name of Uluwatu is Pantai Suluban. Despite its ever-growing popularity as a surf destination, Bali remains a favourite travel destination for surfers of all levels. Bali attracts surfers globally, in part, because it is truly a destination for any budget.

Budget travellers will be able to pinch pennies, while still eating, sleeping, and travelling comfortably around the island. Surfers who fancy a more luxurious style of travel will find Bali’s luxury options to be beyond their expectations. Additionally, luxury travel in Bali, no matter how extravagant, is far cheaper than most other travel destinations. Bali attracts more than just surfers. The island has evolved into a wellness destination that hosts yoga and meditation retreats for travellers seeking inner peace.

Additionally, the island is a hotbed for cultural tourism. Indonesia is a diverse nation made up of many different religions. While most of Indonesia is Muslim, Bali is a Hindu island. The island is full of historic monuments, shrines, and temples. Travellers can even view religious ceremonies and dances.

To a visiting surfer, Bali is paradise. There are more world-class waves close to one another than practically anywhere else in the world. Beginner surfers will fall in love with the playful waves in Kuta, Seminyak, and Canggu. While intermediate and expert surfers will relish their time in the Bukit Peninsula.

The Bukit Peninsula is the southernmost tip of Bali, Indonesia. The peninsula would be a sperate island, and perhaps one day will be if it wasn’t for a tiny sliver of land just south of the airport that connects the Bukit Peninsula to the rest of the island.

The Bukit, as it is often referred to, is home to Bali’s most notable sites, such as the Uluwatu Temple and the cliffs of Padang Padang. To surfers, nothing beats the Bukit. Starting at the south end of the peninsula sits the gem of the island, Uluwatu. Further north there is Padang Padang, Impossibles, Bingin, and finally Dreamland. Out of all the waves in the region, however, Uluwatu takes the cake.

The Waves at Uluwatu

surfing uluwatu map

As previously mentioned, Uluwatu is the epicentre of surfing in Bali. The wave itself, like many of the other famed Bali waves in the Bukit, is iconic and recognizable by a mere photograph to most surfers around the world. Uluwatu’s’ fame is not undeserving; the wave is perhaps the most consistent in the region and is in proper form at practically any size. Unlike other Indo waves, Ulu’s handles sizeable swell and small swell quite well. It’s no secret that Bali is not the uncrowded, tropical paradise it once was.

Fortunately, Ulu’s spreads the crowds of surfers over several sections of the reef, making it feel seemingly less crowded compared to single peak waves.

The Bukit Peninsula is a swell magnet due to deep water channels that run along both sides of the southern peninsula. South swells meet the strong currents of low tide and produce gargantuan surf.

ulus surfing

Ulu’s breaks over a system of dead coral and it works well on all tides. The wave is best with a south by the southwest swell that meets a south-easterly wind. Ulu’s is surfable from 2 to 15 feet.

Several individual peaks make up the wave known as Uluwatu. The first break is known as Bommie. Bommie is located on Ulu’s outer reef and is renowned as a fierce, board breaking wave.

The next peak is Temples. Temples gets its name from the old temple that sits on the cliff above the takeoff. The wave at Temples produces long, hollow walls that offer plenty of head tuck and barrel opportunities during high tide.

Racetracks, the next peak over, can connect with “The Peak” in one long barrel section during the right conditions. If not, Racetrack is exactly what it sounds like, a speedy, hollow walled section where surfers race down the line under the veiled lip of the wave. Racetracks is best at low tide.

Outside Corner, which is another outside reef break, turns on during low tide with swells larger than 6 feet. When the swell turns XL at 8-10 feet, Outside Corner will produce terrifyingly steep drops into cavernous, expert only barrels. In the right conditions, Outside Corner can connect with Racetracks and The Peak. Large swells can produce rides nearly 300 meters long.

Further down at The Peak surfers will find steep, intimidating drops with a hollow barrel section directly in front of the famous cave. The Peak operates well during any tide condition, but is best at high tide, unlike many of the other breaks at Ulu’s.

Uluwatu video Surf Spot guide



The crowd is the most dangerous part of Ulu’s, followed by the reef. The paddle can be a bit difficult at times. Paddling into the cave requires a certain amount of focus and precision.

Today, Uluwatu stands as a mecca for surf travellers and it is just a short scooter drive from the doors of our Bali surf hotel.

Uluwatu surf video

Q: Tell me more about Swell Bali
A: Swell is a purpose-built Surf Resort in Bali in the centre of Bingin, for surfers, by surfers

Other surf spots in the uluwatu area

Share this page

More posts that might interest you below

Walk to the
best surf beaches

We are a new Surf Hotel in Bali  located right in the centre of Bali’s surf and wellness hotspot. A short walk to the wordclass waves of Bingin, Dreamland and Impossibles.
We provide boutique accommodation right in the center of Bingin for surfers and non surfers. Swell is an ideal place to stay for solo travelers, couple or groups of friends that are looking for a social place to stay , or a convenient co-working space for digital nomads who love to surf good waves in Bali, Indonesia.

More info on here >>


SWELL SURF CAMP DOMINICAN REPUBLIC & SWELL BALI JOBS Date: June 2021 Become part of a dynamic team in the surf industry: For our surf camp in the Dominican Republic, we are looking for Qualified ISA surf instructors  Assistant surf instructors. For Swell Bali Surf resort we have the following

Read More »
surfing bingin


BALANGAN & BINGIN SURF REPORT MAY 15TH, 2021 If you are in Bali now, and you are a surfer this will be a fun weekend for you. Waves are good! Uluwatu had some very solid overhead + waves in the mrning (sorry no photos today). Balangan had some fast barrels.

Read More »


SURFING ETIQUETTE: THE RULES (Or what to do and what not to do) When you decide to learn to surf, you are not only beginning a new sport.  The nature of surfing is not only about the physical activity of catching waves, it’s a culture, a lifestyle and for most

Read More »
surfers etiquete in the line up


BINGIN SURF REPORT MAY 6TH, 2021 We have had great surfing conditions here on the Bukit of Bali the last few days. Solid overhead waves at Impossibles, Bingin, Dreamland & Balangan. Uluwatu was in the double overhead wave range. Impossibles was still peeling long lefts today. The next few days

Read More »
surfing uluwatu

Uluwatu Surfing report April 25

 ULUWATU SURF REPORT April 15 , 2021 New Swlel arrived today, not quit the 12-15′ foot Uluwatu as predicted, but still solid waves in the double overhead range at the Peak, and Temples, and long peeling waves at racetrack. Light offshore wind and clear skies. The whole wind shows a

Read More »


 ULUWATU SURF REPORT April 10 , 2021 Swell arrived a few days late, but today seems to be the start of the Bali ’21 Dry surf season. Overhead + waves at Impossibles, The tide was a little too high for Bingin to be barreling at midday. Uluwatu had some solid

Read More »


 ULUWATU SURF REPORT MARCH 11 , 2021 Yesterday seemed to be the start of the surf season here in Bali, glassy and light offshore surf conditions here at the west coast of Bali. Clean conditions at Uluwatu (overhead), Impossibles (head high) and Bingin (head high). There are les and less

Read More »
uluwatu surf report


 ULUWATU SURF REPORT FEBRUARY 16, 2021 New Swell has strated to kick in, with pretty clean and glassy conditions. Tide was very high when the pictures were taken at Uluwatu. Only7 or so surfers out. and some had to do a loop around the cave to get back in because

Read More »
surfing bali


Thinking about a surf trip to Bali? If so, there are 2 important questions to ask yourself before going: 1- Where should you go in Bali? 2- When should you go to Bali? To answer the first question: we chose the south of Bali, the Bukit Peninsula for very good

Read More »
Surfing Balangan


SURFING BALANGAN A surfing guide to surfing BalanganBalangan is one of Bali’s iconic left-hand reef breaks that doesn’t get as much attention as it’s more famous siblings like Bingin, Padang Padang and Uluwatu.THE LOCATION OF BALANGANBalangan is located just north of Bingin and Dreamland beach, about 500 metres north of Bingin,

Read More »


ULUWATU SURF REPORT January 9, 2021 The last 2 days we had some light shifting winds, with pretty clean surfing conditions on the west coast of the Bukit, Bteween Uluwatu, padang Padang And Bingin. Bingin was clean all days yesterday and today with slight overhead waves and glassy surfing conditions.

Read More »


Info about the best restaurants in and around Bingin Our brand new surf hotel is right in the center of Bingin, one of the coolest little surf villages in Bali. Until a few years ago Bingin was barely known outside of the surf community, but in recent years the secret

Read More »
impossibles bali sunset


Bali Surf report November 2020 “November has been a pretty ok month for surfing here on the West side of the Bukit. Only the last few days has there been a very light onshore wind on the Dreamland to Uluwatu side. Earlier in the month it was still steady offshore

Read More »


SURFING DREAMLANDA surfing guide to surfing DreamlandDreamland is the odd one out between the several different surf spots we have here on the west coast of Bali’s Bukit( the southern part) region. Surrounded by left-hand reef breaks like Balangan, Impossibles and Bingin.Dreamland is a left and right fun playful wave

Read More »


SURFING ULUWATU OCTOBER 23, 2020 Swell dropped a little bit overnight, but there were still some nice barrels coming through at the Racetrack section of Uluwatu. Waves: 3-6′ Wind: offshore winds Temperature: Clear blue sky, no rain and warm Surfing Uluwatu picture gallery October 23, 2020  

Read More »


ULUWATU VIDEO SURF REPORT OCTOBER 21, 2020 Last week had some fun waves in the head high range  at places like Uluwatu, Bingin and Dreamland. Today  October 21st the new Swell is starting to appear. Long waits between sets made it tricky at Uluwatu. When the first good sets started

Read More »


BINGIN VIDEO SURF REPORT OCTOBER 13, 2020 We had 2 days of very good waves here in the Bukit region of Bali. October 12 and 13th saw good overhead waves at Impossibles, Bingin, Dreamland and Balangan. Off course Uluwatu was bigger with double overhead waves and solid barrel sections on

Read More »


Bingin Surf report September 26, 2020 “After a few days of small waves here on the Bukit in Bali, there’s a small pulse in the Swell. Bingin had some nice head high waves, and a decent amount of barells. Impossibles only had a few people out and they were getting

Read More »
Where are the best intermediate surf spots in Bali


In this article “best surfing destinations around the world”  we are going to explore some of the worlds best surfing destinations. Before we started Swell in the Caribbean in 2009 we operated a surf travel agency and that face us the chance to visit over 25+ countries to see what

Read More »


Bingin Surf report August 11, 2020 We had grreat back to backs Swell here in Bali in July and the start of August, now there’s another pulse coming up for the next 2-3 days which should bring some well overhead waves to Impossibles, Padang Padang and Uluwatu. This morning Bingin

Read More »
intermediate surfing tips


TOP 10 SURFING TIPS FOR INTERMEDIATE SURFERSThere’s a phase of surfing that is endlessly frustrating for novice surfers who are no longer beginners, but not yet at the real intermediate surfing stage (we class intermediate surfers as catching green, unbroken waves easily, trimming, turning and doing top and bottom turns). SURFING

Read More »

going to bali soon?

See our brand new surf hotel in bingin

Walk to the best surf spots!