Stumble Into Indonesia's Unseen Places
Bali has gained an international reputation as a heavenly destination for surfers. It’s a small tropical island surrounded with surfable waves and the water temperature is relatively warm. Being the beach where most surfers chase waves and located closest to the international airport, it quickly swarmed up and gain popularity even amongst non-surfers like me. Only when visiting Bali a few weeks ago, I found out that some advanced surfers directly go surfing in Balian and skip the crowded beaches.
I visited Balian beach as an invitation from Pondok Pitaya along with Vindhya and the professional surfer Gemala Hanafiah. While Vindhya and I were mostly lazing around and swimming in the pool, Gemala was trying out the waves of Balian with the surfboard she brought from Jakarta. So there is no better way to tell you about surfing in Balian than through a quick interview with her.
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You have to at least be fluent in paddling and ‘reading’ the current. The entrance point has a quite strong current because it’s close to an estuary. But once you’re further out, it’s much calmer.
Balian has mellow waves, so a fun board or a malibu would do. With a fun board, you don’t have to paddle too much, just glide with the wave.
Expect left and right-hander, both long ones.
I would say it’s safer to surf at mid to high tide so that the water is not too shallow, because it’s quite rocky with corals underneath. I was lucky to be there on an off-season, so I didn’t have to wait for my turn too long after the other surfers. But still, it’s much less crowded than Kuta over all.
Actually there is a surfboard repair place near Pondok Pitaya, so you don’t need to worry. Pondok Pitaya at that time didn’t have complete fixing tools, but having many surfers around I was lucky that there was another guest at the resort that helped me with that.
Overall, I liked it! I liked the long wave, I just wish I had a chance to try the right hander, too. It looked more hollow and faster compared the left hander. I don’t like when surfers get too aggressive, so I enjoyed surfing in Balian because we were all waiting for our turns. Oh, I really want to go back there again!
Definitely. I find Balian a suitable area for surfers who are into calm and natural ambiance.
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There you go, surfers. Experiencing the Balian waves, you must try. If you don’t want the hassle of bringing your own board, Pondok Pitaya has several long and short boards to rent out for the price of IDR50,000 per day.
Photos of Gemala are courtesy of her and Pinneng.