Surfing Uluwatu

surfing uluwatu

SURFING ULUWATU

Everything You Need to Know About Surfing Uluwatu

For decades, surfers have been traveling 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 travelers venture to from all over the world. Ulu’s, as it is often affectionally called, is the epicenter 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 epicenter 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 traveled 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 favorite travel destination for surfers of all levels. Bali attracts surfers globally, in part, because it is truly a destination for any budget.

Budget travelers will be able to pinch pennies, while still eating, sleeping, and traveling 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 travelers 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. Travelers can even view religious ceremonies and dances.

To a traveling 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 epicenter 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 traveling 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 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.

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 travelers and it is just a short scooter drive from the doors of our Bali surf camp.

Q: Tell me more about Swell bali
A: Swell is a purpose-built Surf camp Bali in the center 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 >>

uluwatu surf report

ULUWATU FEB 16

 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

BALI SURF SEASON

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

SURFING BALANGAN   A surfing guide to surfing Balangan Balangan 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 BALANGAN Balangan is located just north of Bingin and Dreamland beach, about

Read More »

ULUWATU JAN 9, 2021

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 »

RESTAURANTS IN AND AROUND BINGIN

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 SURFING PICTURES

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 DREAMLAND

SURFING DREAMLAND A surfing guide to surfing Dreamland Dreamland 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

Read More »

ULUWATU OCT 22

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 OCT 21

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 OCT 13

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 SEPT. 26

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

BEST SURFING DESTINATIONS

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 AUG 11

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 SURFERS

TOP 10 SURFING TIPS FOR INTERMEDIATE SURFERS There’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

Read More »
surfing bali guide

INTERMEDIATE SURF SPOTS IN BALI

If you are considering Bali as a choice for your intermediate surf holiday, it’s a  wise one.    We will get into the detail of why Bali is such a great place if you are an intermediate surfer.  INTERMEDIATE SURF SPOTS IN BALI       But first, in order

Read More »
bali surfingcamp

ULUWATU & PADANG JULY 18

Solid Swell on the Bukit   Pictures from July  18th 2020 at Uluwatu & Padang.   More and bigger Swell forecasted for Bali for tomorrow and the coming week, so more pics to follow. Looking for the ideal Bali Coworking space?

Read More »

BALI SURF REPORT MID JULY

Bali Surf report Uluwatu – Padang – Impossible & Bingin Surf report July 11 to July 15 “The last week has seen non stop quality waves here on the west coast of the Bukit in Bali. Uluwatu has been solid 3-5 x overhead with not many people out. Padang Padang

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

Learn to surf in Bali

Learn to surf in Bali; surf lessons for all levels.   Why  Bali is the ideal destination for a surf holiday If you are wondering about which country to choose for your surf holiday, this article might help you decide. We’ve tried to provide as much information as possible about

Read More »
surfing impossibles drone

IMPOSSIBLES & ULUWATU EARLY JULY

Uluwatu & Impossibles Surf report July 1 to July 4, 2020 “The last few days had one of the first solid solids of the season. Uluwatu and Impossibles had solid 2-3 overhead waves. Bingin had lots of Barrels and lots of Balinese locals from out of the village came to

Read More »

ULUWATU SURF REPORT JUNE 21

Uluwatu Surf report June 21, 2020 “Uluwatu and most of the Bukit’s surfing beaches are ‘open’ again for surfing. The last few days had a nice SSW Swell with double over head waves at Uluwatu and 1,5 overhead waves at Impossibles and plenty of barrels at Bingin. Strong offshore winds

Read More »

Bingin & Impossibles Surf report

BinginSurf report June 16, 2020 Good waves here on the Bukit in Bali, most of the beaches are ‘open’ for surfing.  Strong southerly Swell brought overhead + waves to the west coast of Bali. Strong offshore winds make for tricky surf conditions today. Bingin had plenty of barrels. Dreamland had

Read More »

going to bali soon?

See our brand new surf hotel in bingin

Walk to the best surf spots!