Bali Part II: Surfing in Ulu

Arrival shot

Hello again Bali!

On November 15 we arrived in Uluwatu, Bali from Lombok to discover the world famous surfing and enjoy a different part of the Bali island. We flew in and headed to the southern peninsula where we found rural small towns away from the touristy Kuta and Seminiyak (central Bali) areas. It was less developed and hopefully we could get a glimpse of the real Bali Indonesian culture and beach scene. Find out how we discovered the breathtaking surf, met some new friends and explored Uluwatu.

Map of south bali beaches

our location‘ was approx where our hotel was and these were some of the beaches we surfed.

 

Monkey Pad 2

Exploring a beach early morning during low tide when monkeys and fishermen catch their daily supply of fish.

Surf Camp in Uluwatu

Surf Day 1

After finding lodging for a decent price at Pink CoCo in Uluwatu and renting our third scooter (with surf board attachment) we went to search for a surf camp to help advance our beginner/intermediate surfing skills we had established in Costa Rica. We had no luck at our first stop, Raptor Surf Camp considering they would only offer transportation and no verbal coaching while in the water. What’s the point of paying for that?! Next stop, Padang Padang Surf Camp where we were welcomed to join the camp for a few days and pay per session. We signed up in hopes that the intermediate group would fit our skill level. I had my usual butterflies of excitement and fear of the unknown as we walked away from camp to get some dinner at Mango Tree and sleep before day one.

Surfing

Surf goof

Sometimes it gets ugly! Star fish fall.

Surf Best

On November 16th we woke early (5am) for the first day of our first ever surf camp with Padang Padang Surf Camp. We scootered over and met the others at the surf camp (5 including two instructors) for a 5:55am departure to Dreamland beach after picking out our boards in their “board room.” The wave sets were both big and small and it was so nice being on the water with two coaches and meeting other travelers / surfers. There were 3 others in the Intermediate Group: Max (UK), Julia (Holland), and Corine (Cali, USA). Dreamland is a left hand break and for the most part we had the waves to ourselves since we arrived so early. It was our first real reef break and we did well considering high tide put us well above the reef. It was so fun to catch some waves and try some turns and cut backs. It was also so exciting to watch each other surf and push ourselves outside of our comfort zones and excel. The teachers were helpful guides in the water and we learned plenty in just a matter of two hours. After a health dose of adrenaline pumping wave riding we signed up for the second session later that day. We were hooked and enjoyed learning with the group.

Breakfast

After a break at our hotel for complimentary breakfast and Italian espresso we were ready for surfing session #2. We joined the group at the crowded Padang Padang Beach. It’s a right hand break usually (unless it’s a left on occasion… Dang coaches) with a strong channel current to the right which meant lots of paddling. Also, because it was the afternoon and this is also a good location for beginners, there were heaps of surfers out there which made it a little tricky at times to catch waves. When we did catch a wave, it was always worth it. They were a little bit slower waves so Will was able to make a few more turns and try to do some cutbacks (both left and right). I focused on quick cutbacks and bailing so I didn’t have to paddle too much and could catch my next wave sooner. Also, the crowd made it like an obstacle course to weave through so bailing early was advised.
That evening we ate dinner with our new surf friends Corine and Julia at Bukit Cafe; never underestimate how much fun it can be to have dinner out with other people when you’re traveling long term. It was great to share our travel stories and learn more about life in different locations.

Monkeys Padang

Monkeys at Padang Padang Beach.

Surf Day 2

The next morning we automatically woke early and I went on a jog before it got too hot while Will went down to Padang Padang Beach to shoot some photography. The Padang Padang Beach has a Hindu temple that is situated at the beach entrance and is a site worth seeing. Lots of offerings are placed around the temple each morning and we were able to appreciate the Hindu tradition by watching some of the locals place offerings that morning. At the beach Will watched a large family of monkeys playing on the beach as well as a black lab mutt who followed him around with hopes for a treat. That afternoon we joined the group for a surfing session at Balangan Beach. The van ride to the surf spot was long and we had to wait for high tide so the waves would break. I’m not a fan of waiting, but it turned out to be well worth it! The waves were okay, but it allowed for some good practice and I enjoyed catching my own waves. Sunset drinksWe passed on the second session since it was the same beach and the waves weren’t great, the wind picked up and we were exhausted. The rest of the day we took advantage of the hotel pool, got a couples massage at Esthetic Day Spa, went to a resort rooftop lounge to watch
the sunset with *mocktails (*that we added our own cheap vodka to, so then they became real cocktails) and enjoyed another dinner with surf campers at Bukit Cafe. Very fresh and delicious food!

Green Bowl Day

Post-surfing stop for lunch at an Indo restaurant, the van we packed into, and the waves we surfed

Surf Day 3

Our final day of surf camp in Uluwatu didn’t start until 10am again due to the timing of high tide. We rode to Balangan again but the surf was lacking so we quickly re-packed up the surf van and took off for the east coast of the island to Green Bowl Beach. The right hander had large, slow rolling waves that were difficult to time when in the water. A few highlights from our session:

  • Will lost his board once due to a leash problem. Thankfully he was able to swim in and retrieve his board and the instructor gave him a new leash.
  • I caught a wave by myself (no instructor push) that was the largest wave I’ve had the pleasure of riding. I was thrilled to catch it with my scrawny arms paddling like mad, but it was one steep wave to carve through!
  • Will had a few awesome waves as well. The waves were bigger and faster than anything previously ridden or been in the water with. Definitely not a break for beginners.
  • The beach was a small white sand beach nestled against bright green cliffs. Let’s just say walking the surf boards to the beach was a steep walk taken one step at a time!
Green Bowl best

We surfed the set on the left side of this pic. What a spot!

Since we were wiped from the big surf at Green Bowl and second session wasn’t until 6pm, we skipped the second session and instead checked out the beach at Uluwatu Point. It did not disappoint — we found a pretty spot to relax on the beach and explored the unique coastal rocks along the cliffside.

Ulu Beach Single Fin

Ulu Beach

That evening we went to Single Fin, ‘the‘ hip post-surfing social spot, to watch the sunset with the rest of the camp crew (all the beginner, intermediate and advanced surfers). We cheers to a great week on the water, enjoy the cliff top views, ate a delicious acai bowl, sipped on drinks and listened to the live acoustic musician woo the audience with his Jack Johnson like vibes.

Single Fin friends

We topped off the night and our three day surf camp adventure with margaritas at Cachos and burgers at Om Burger with the usual suspects, Corrine and Julia. Om Burger was our favorite restaurant offering a build-your-own burger with vegan options. Now don’t get me wrong, we love a good beef burger, but the taste combos of their vegan options were delicious. Add some sweet potato fries and we were satisfied customers.

Breakfast NOT Other Food

The Om Burgers, acai bowl and some more of the island’s good food we enjoyed.

Seminyak for our final day in Indonesia

Beach Run 2

To the beach!

On our last morning in Uluwatu we took a short jog to one last beach we had yet to discover, Bingin Beach. It was a beautiful morning without a cloud in the sky, not one person on the beach and a cool(ish) temp for running. We strolled the beach before heading back to pack up and leave this amazing place.

 

Beach Run

Dewa (same friend/driver who drove us to Munduk, Bali) picked us up and took us to the Sense hotel in Seminyak. It was great to see a familiar face and catch up with Dewa on local happenings (like the volcano). We decided to revisit touristy Seminyak one more time to tend to a little unfinished business. Let the Christmas shopping begin! We went out and bought small gifts for our families to surprise them and planned to ship them once we hit Australia late November. We made it a pretty fun day with each other doing something we don’t completely enjoy — shopping. The highlight was going to a small wholesaler and picking out shirts. The Indonesian men wear patterned button down shirts and thought our dad’s would look sharp in one. The shop owner tried to talk us into the bright floral prints by asking, “you like this one? These very nice.”, we opted for the more neutral colored shirts which blend business casual with island style. It was funny trying to figure out sizes…”no he’s a L, I think yours is an XL, the Indos are smaller so an XL for one and an L for the other? Maybe you try one on?” I asked Will, “Okay, these work, if not I’ll end up with a hand-me-down shirt” Will replied.

Seminyak shopping

After an exhausting few hours shopping in the heat we needed some food and rest. We headed to our favorite (and best) restaurant, Mexicola, unfortunately we were so tired that the upbeat & loud atmosphere was not ideal. We quickly downed some tacos and one cerveza before jetting. On the short walk back to our hotel we saw a cheap massage shop. We learned our lesson not to skimp on cost for full body massages, but how about a foot massage? We instantly agreed it was what our feet needed and fell lightly asleep in our chairs during the massage. It cost 80,000 Rupiah (post negotiation) for two 30 minute foot massages which equated to about $6 USD! What a deal!

What a month!

Wow, Indonesia has some impressive islands (and we only visited two) and so much adventure! We kicked it off with the Jakarta marathon, moved on to the lush island of Bali, learned to dive in the pristine reefs off the Gili Islands, ventured to the surf and sunsets in Kuta Lombok, and finished with an amazing surf adventure in Uluwatu (south) Bali. We originally planned Bali as a two week “break” from our travels to just relax at a resort and unwind. We’re so glad we took the ‘we live adventure’ approach instead. The culture, people and natural world of Indonesia is unbelievable and hope you add it to your bucket list for an adventure all your own!

Keep adventuring,
Jenny & Will

Green Bowl

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