Nestled in the Indonesian archipelago, Bali with its cultural richness and pristine beaches, has a remarkable pull on backpackers, digital nomads and surfers. With a rise of SUP culture and more paddleboards to be found in the lineup, paddlers’ eyes are now set on this beautiful island. TotalSUP caught up with RRD International Team Rider, Davide Codotto in between his flights to Bali, to talk about the culture and his favourite SUP locations on the Island of the Gods.
Hi Davide! Thank you very much for finding the time to chat! Why stand up paddle in Bali?
Hi! Bali is an amazing place for every kind of SUP size. From really small boards to big ones like 11 foot. It always depends on the spot and the most important thing here on the island, the tide. Even if you want to surf in the most dangerous spots that normally works with the low tide, with the high tide the waves are mellow and easy to take. But you always have to be aware of the tide because everything can change in less than thirty minutes. When the tide goes down the reef current starts to suck, and it means that the water from the channel reef creates a lot of strong current that can bring you into the impact zone of the waves and then the conditions can be really dangerous with powerful waves.
What’s your SUP board choice?
I really like small SUP boards so my choice for this year is the new RRD I-wave pro surf 7’2’x 24/73 Lts. It’s also difficult to say because there are so many waves you can surf on the island, from beginner to expert, so you can use all kind of boards, from longboard to shortboard.
Are there any SUP spots for race training in Bali?
For SUP racing there are many places where you can practice inside the reef. Especially in the West Coast from the south side like Nusa Dua all the way up to the north side, like Sanur. Inside the reef the water is really flat and there is no current so even beginners over there can find a good place for easy paddling or for training hard on a race board. There is just one thing you have to pay attention to: the Sun. The Sun is so strong in Bali! It’s always good to wear a cap and drink a lot of water or coconut water to stay hydrated.
Any downwind SUP spots you would recommend in Bali?
For the downwind SUP, this island is not so good because of the wind direction. In the wet season the wind pushes to the west side and during the dry season the wind pushes to the East. All the south side, that should be good for downwind, in reality is not really, because the coast is too irregular to go straight to one direction and the cliffs create a lot of back wash. The only way to make a good downwind is to paddle far away from the cliff and have a boat that follows you because if something happens you can be in a serious trouble.
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Any good foiling spots in Bali?
Bali is not really good for foil cause the waves are powerful and the reef in most of the spots is far away (like 100, 200 meters from the shore) and when waves break on the reef they lose all the power.
There is only one good spot for foiling in Bali and it’s Pandawa Beach (South of the Island) just in the front of a warung (an Indonesian restaurant) the wave there breaks on the reef and continues to roll slowing down and picking up again… The reef is almost 200 meters long and there is not a lot of difference between the beginning of the reef and the main point.
What are your top SUP spots in Bali?
From the west side…
Located 200 meters from the Uluwatu Temple, it’s the most famous wave in Bali and still one of the best waves in the world. Good for beginners in high tide till middle tide and up to 1 meter high. When it’s more than 1-1,5 meter then it’s only for experts. It is a really dangerous and heavy wave. It’s the so-called Paparazzi wave. On the cliff there are professional photographers that shoot every wave you catch and then will try to sell you their work for a really good price.
Medewi is a long, soft lefthander, situated north of Canggu area. Also, it’s a wave that remains manageable with big swells. Everyone on the Island says that Medewi is the longest and easiest wave on Bali. It can work from 1 meter high till 3 meters and it remains always soft and mellow.
Balangan in high tide up to 1 meter is suitable for beginners, but from mid to low tide (from 1.5 m up) it’s reserved for experts only. Balangan is a very long lefthander of almost 100 meters in length, with two barreling sections in low tide. With the high tide this wave remains like super soft and easy to surf, good for SUP surf manoeuvers and with no dangerous zones.
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From the south side…
Pandawa, Green Bowl and Gunung Pajung
Pandawa, Green Bowl and Gunung Pajung bring good waves for beginners with a really high tide up to 1 meter. From mid to low, the waves are only suitable for intermediate to expert paddlers.
Pandawa is a good wave for learning SUP surf manoeuvers, really soft and a long lefthander.
Green Bowl is a long and easy righthander. Normally all the beginner paddlers and surf schools are here. From half tide up to high tide it’s good for SUP cause it’s more mellow and soft. From mid high to low tide the wave changes and the drop becomes more deep with some barrel sections.
Gunung Pajung is the longest righthander on the south of Island. Really good for SUP surfing cause it’s never crowded and the wave is mellow with easy drop with all the tides. It’s definitely the easiest righthander here on Bali.
What is the surf culture like and life on Bali?
The surf on Bali is one of the most important aspects of the lifestyle. Here you can find the best waves on the planet. Surf shops, surf houses and surf schools are everywhere. Surf is such an important part of the local culture that even restaurants play surf videos on TV. Everyone here talks about surf…
Religion is another big thing. You can find temples everywhere and people who bring “offers to the Gods” across the island, on the beach, in the middle of the street and even in front of the houses. If you find a closed shop it means that the owner is not on holidays but most likely he is at a ceremony praying. People are so religious and devoted here that there’s even a silent day during which you cannot go out of the house, and lights and noises are not allowed for 24 hours.
Thank you for your time Davide!
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