I grew up just a few miles from Huntington Beach, California, and most of my friends surfed that legendary beach as often as they could. The problem was, when the waves weren’t breaking they were totally out of luck until things changed. The fact that one doesn’t need to be a slave to a single beach is just one of the things that makes learning to surf, or surfing with an experienced guide, so brilliant in Bali.
Padang Padang is one of the most popular surfing camps on the island of Bali, and when you click around the internet searching for reviews it’s easy to see why. They’ve purpose-built their own all-inclusive surf resort on the Bukit Peninsula, walking distance to at least three reliable breaks, but they also keep close tabs on what’s happening all over the island, so if the close beaches are no good they drive the guests to one that is. If you are curious as to how this works you can just click over to their homepage and check out their daily Bali surf report, which explains what is and isn’t happening at the moment.
Not just a surfing school
The resort complex is an ideal place for newcomers to the sport to learn enough to be surfing on their own almost right away, but it’s also set up as a proper surf camp catering to all levels. Beginners will learn the basics starting in the pool right on the grounds, before making their way into the ocean for the experience part.
But surfers of every kind also make the pilgrimage to stay here because intermediate and advanced surfers have a daily program all for themselves. There are two long surfing sessions every day (times depend on the breaks), and non-beginners will be taken by experienced guides to find special spots and learn the best strategies for each one.
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I recently had a chat with Andrew, who runs Bali Surf Camp, and he mentioned their success with beginners is no accident. “We have very experienced fully qualified instructors who will get you riding green unbroken waves very quickly, and in addition to learning quickly, you will have great fun with the instructors.” Their location is another part of their success according to Andrew. “We have the best beginner surf break in Bali very near to us but are fully mobile and will travel to other breaks according to the conditions on the day.”
The waves in Bali have a reputation as some of the finest in the world for experienced surfers, and that worries some novices, according to Andrew. “Occasionally first time surfers tell us that they see the images of huge waves on the site and worry that the conditions are going to be too big for them. Bali is indeed blessed with many world-class breaks, but our guides are skilled in finding the right break for every level. Great waves are well documented in the site’s surfing photos archive section. Our surf photographer does not only follow the advanced groups, within that section you’ll find the beginners group, surfing what can only be described as perfect glassy beginner breaks.”
The camp is almost all-inclusive
The Padang Padang Surfing Camp is set up, in a way, like one of those fancy all-inclusive resorts in nearby Nusa Dua, but the price is much lower and the whole thing is specifically set up to house and entertain surfer-types. Dinner isn’t included in the one or two-week package prices, but just about everything else is, from airport transfers to accommodations to two healthy meals each day to almost all of your entertainment as well.
If this is your first time and you’ll be learning to surf, the lessons package adds an extra €150 (about US$200) to the price, but for everyone else the guides and transport are all included with your stay.
The camp holds 16 people when it’s completely full, but as the camp gets quite a few solo travelers you’ll typically find only between 8 and 12 international campers in the 8 double-occupancy bedrooms. They do get quite a few repeat visitors and referrals from previous guests, so they usually stay fairly full, but if you reserve early enough you should get a spot.
Prices of surf camp
- Basic room: €295 (about US$420) per person for 1 week, or €550 for 2 weeks (based on double occupancy), single rooms are €399 for 1 week and €740 for 2 weeks
- Deluxe upstairs room: €399 per person for 1 week and €740 for 2 weeks (based on double occupancy), single rooms are €565 for 1 week and €1050 for 2 weeks
- Villa rental for up to 8 people in 4 bedrooms: €1095 per week