Padang Padang Spot Guide

Bali’s crown jewel: Padang Padang is a fickle beauty with teeth. It’s the wave you want to get with but is probably out of your league.

When a major swell’s forecast during the dry season in Bali, thoughts always drift to Padang Padang, whether you plan on surfing there or not. Because it’s widely considered the best wave in Bali and it takes a rare combination of swell, tide and wind to break properly, it has taken on almost mythical status among the World class lefts on the Bukit.

Even with all the advancements in surf forecasting, knowing when Padang Padang is going to be firing can be difficult. Just ask the organisers of the annual ‘Rip Curl Cup’. Cancelled events and false starts are the norm during the month long waiting period every July.

The wave itself doesn’t really get ‘good’ until it starts hitting the overhead size range, but when all the elements are aligned the wave will start with a steep outside section and sometimes offer a full stand-up barrel on take-off. It can funnel all the way through to the channel, but more often than not there will be a distinct second barrel section that packs a thick lipped, squared out tube over extremely shallow reef.

Best size & tide: For classic Padang Padang you’ll need a big swell, low to mid tide and a stiff offshore wind. A big swell combined with a big tide can still offer a barrel, but it isn’t as round and tends to clamp. On smaller days when the tide is low, there may be a few makeable tubes, but it mostly sections out and will even horseshoe into itself with no exit over dry reef.

Beach Scene: Padang Padang beach is popular among general tourists and there’s also a soft right hander on the other side of the channel that’s full of surf school surfers. You’ll find hordes of Euro sunbathers packed into the relatively small beach with an entry fee of Rp10,000/person.

The Reef: Wiping out at Padang Padang is no joke. The end section is particularly nasty on low tides and big swells. Water rushes off the reef into the channel in a torrent, so there’s not much choice but to go with the flow and just hope that it doesn’t drain dry or you'll get hit by the next wave before getting flushed into the channel.

Crowds: This is the best wave in Bali and it might only get really good a handful of days a year, so expect a ton of locals and out of town shredders to show up when it’s working. In any Bali lineup the locals usually stand out among the crowd, but it’s even more noticeable at Padang Padang. They’re usually on the best waves, taking off the deepest and getting the longest tubes. Drop-ins aren’t uncommon, but considering how rare this place gets really good there’s a surprising amount of order.

Best Wind: East - South East

When To Surf Here: The dry season during the peak swell months of May-September.

Watch the best days at Padang Padang here

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