The Birthplace Of Surfing In Asia


Bali is one of the 17,508 islands in the Indonesia archipelago, located east of Java and west of Lombok. It is also a province made up of smaller neighboring islands like, Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Ceningan, and Nusa Penida.

Bali one of the most visited places in the world and the most popular travel destination in Indonesia. According to Tripsavvy, “an estimated 80% of international visitors to Indonesia see only Bali”.

How surfing came to Bali

An American surfer named Bob Koke was the first person to ever surf Bali. He and his wife Louise traveled to the island by steamship from Singapore in 1936. They fell in love with Bali and decided to stay and open the Kuta Beach Hotel on Kuta Beach. 

Bob saw the surf potential of Kuta and had his redwood longboard sent by ship from Hawaii. He surfed Kuta Beach alone and was the only surfer for thousands of miles.

Part of the Kuta Beach Hotel experience was learning how to surf. While waiting for his surfboard to arrive, Bob had his gardening staff carve Hawaiian alaia surfboards out of local wood. Alaias are shaped like wooden ironing boards and have no fins. They can be ridden standing or lying down. Hawaiians have been surfing these boards for centuries.

Bob Koke
Bob Koke | Kuta Beach Hotel | Balinese surfers with alaias | Photo: Surfer's Journal

Bob taught his young Balinese staff how to body surf on alaias. He was the first person to teach an Indonesian how to surf. His staff became good at surfing and they started offering surf lessons to hotel guests.

World War II brought a sudden stop to surfing in Bali. Japan invaded in 1942 and Bob and Louise had to flee the island. Their beloved Kuta Beach Hotel was burned down during the invasion. It stood where the Hard Rock Hotel on Kuta Beach stands now. This spot is where surfing was born in Indonesia and Asia.

When Japan invaded Bali during World War II, Bob had to flee the island and leave his longboard. A local fisherman found the surfboard and used it as a fish cutting board for years. Luckily, the historic surfboard survived the chopping block. It is still in Bali and put on display at special events.

Bali would not be surfed again until traveling surfers rediscovered the surf paradise in the late 1960s and early 1970s. They searched for the surf spots made famous in the 1971 surf film, Morning of the Earth. This classic surf travel film showed the world the perfect waves of the Bukit Peninsula for the first time ever. It made Bali famous overnight and put the island on the world surf map. 

Bali is now the is the top surf destination in Southeast Asia and Asia. It has some of the best waves in the world and is the premier surf destination for professional surfers. 

Bali Surf Spots

ocean wave in the Bukit Peninsula, Bali

Bukit Peninsula

The Bukit Peninsula in Southern Bali is home to some of the best reef breaks in the world and the most legendary waves in Bali.

surfboard against blue sky in Canggu

West Bali

Located in West Bali, Kuta and Canggu’s beach and reef breaks has soft and slow waves for beginners, to fast and hollow barrels for experts.

blue ocean wave in east bali

East Bali

Keramas and Sanur are both right-hand reef breaks for experienced surfers. Find out more of the best surf spots in East Bali!

sand on the beach in Bali

Best Surf Spots in Bali, Indonesia

The number of fantastic surf spots on the island of Bali is nearly limitless. Here’s our guide on the best surf spots in Bali, Indonesia.

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