Bali sits 8 degrees south of the equator and enjoys a year round tropical monsoon climate. There is a slight seasonal variation in temperature and the main seasons are wet season and dry season. November through March is the wettest time of the year and April to October the driest.
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During the wet season in Bali the humidity levels are high, which compounds the slightly higher temperatures. Daily highs could be 32-34C, with lows of 26C. Dry season temperatures feature highs of 29C and lows of 24C. The effect on your experience can be quite dramatic. In the wet season you’ll feel clammy and hot most of the time, while in the dry season mornings and evenings are cool, days being sunny and warm.
The SW part of Bali receives the most rainfall, with the NE coast the least. As you head inland from the coast, climbing in elevation temperatures drop, cloudy skies are more frequent as is precipitation. It never snows in Bali.
Since Bali is 8 degrees south of the equator, the months of September to March are slightly longer than April to August, dawn coming around 6.25am and sunset around 6.30pm. Proximity to the equator means strong sunlight most of the time. Visitors should remember to bring a sun-hat, sunglasses and sunblock.
• Records and Averages for Denpasar
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During the height of the dry season, June-September, the SW coast, which includes Kuta, Seminyak and western Bukit (Uluwatu, Bingin, Dreamland) gets offshore winds, creating good surfing conditions. Winds are usually at their lowest in the morning, getting stronger in the afternoon. October is a very changeable month as far as wind direction, making the surfing less than perfect. From November through the rest of the wet season . winds are onshore for those locations, meaning the eastern Bukit (Nusa Dua) and SE coast (Sanur, Ketewel, Keramas) are the favoured spots enjoy offshore winds.
Bali gets it rain from storms coming in from the Indian Ocean to the SW. This means that the southern facing mountain slopes of Jembrana, Tabanan, Badung receive the highest amount of rainfall. East Bali gets less rainfall than the western side of the island as does north Bali. Bali’s 4 large mountain lakes (Batur, Bratan, Tamblingan and Buyan) mean most of the island is fed water year round.
A trip from Kuta to Singaraja on the north coast will take around 3 hours. One will notice after about an hour the clouds overhead and the cooler temperature. Reaching Bedugal in the highlands temperatures will be considerably cooler than at sea level, requiring a sweater / jacket. People travelling by motorbike should expect cool temperatures with increased elevation and failing to bring warmer clothing will leave you shivering. Likewise, a trip to the highlands (Bedugal, Munduk, Kintamani, Batukaru, Gunung Agung) may mean showers even in the dry season.
Visitors to Bali will notice that July is the month the local people fly enormous kites. July is the windiest month of the year, which may make life uncomfortable for some beach goers, on the south coast.
The wet season, November to March means some heavy storms, high humidity and temperatures. Ideal clothing for a tourist is a cheap umbrella, sun hat, shorts, t-shirt and sandals / Crocs. Streets can go from being bone dry to having a foot of water in an hour. You may get your feet wet, so pack accordingly. The increased humidity means fungus grows like crazy. Wet jean and shoes will stay wet and smell nasty, before a green fungus starts. Best bet is to bring light clothing that dries easily. Skin can also get affected by fungus in the air, so you might pick up a tube of anti-fungal ointment (Fungiderm) at one of the street-side pharmacies (apoteks).
If renting a motorbike during the wet season be sure to pick up a poncho. These go for a few dollars and do the job. Goretex rain jackets are more of a pain to use, because the storms may not last more than an hour or 2, then you have to carry a soaking jacket around with you. When using a poncho make sure the rear flaps do not become entangled in the rear wheel.
If you are renting a car during the wet season make sure the AC works before you drive off. Also make sure the windows roll all the way up.
Most people agree the dry season, especially at its peak (July-October) has the best weather of the year. Cool mornings and evenings at sea-level, clear skies and warm days allow you to maximize your time in comfort. Remember to bring sun protection in the form of a hat, sunglasses, sun hat, sun block and light comfortable clothes.
Air Conditioning or Fan?
People from northerly latitudes often prefer cool temperatures. Expats living in Bali for some time tend to get used to the climate in Bali and forget that fact. If you are trying to decide if you need a room with AC or fan at a sea-level location, chances are that between June and October you’ll be okay with just a fan. In higher elevations such as Bedugal, Batukaru, Kintamani you’ll never need AC.