You know those destinations that call your soul? The ones, that for some unknown reason, land on your must-see list and ignite an undying intrigue that has you endlessly researching and checking flights? For me, that’s always been Bali, Indonesia. And while this popular Indonesian island is best known to attract wellness lovers, yogies, spiritual junkies, artists, surfers, deep-sea divers and other curious wanderers, it was only upon researching the destination (again) earlier this year, that I learned about kitesurfing in Bali. (Wait, what?! Yup, that was my reaction too.)
Located on the south-eastern side of the island, Sanur Beach is where you can find the best kitesurfing in Bali. I can’t say that I had any preconceived expectations before making the long journey, but today, I can say with certainty that this Indonesian island cannot disappoint. Below is a short review of what to expect when kitesurfing in Bali.
1. The Picture-Perfect Location for Kitesurfing in Bali
If I were to dream up idyllic conditions for kitesurfing, Sanur Beach would definitely hit close to the mark. A strikingly expansive body of flat shallow water, protected by a reef quite far-off the shore, offers plenty of room for kitesurfers to shred back and forth for hours. There is minimal boat traffic in the area, and very few other obstacles around so you’re guaranteed a safe session almost every time.
The water is warm so no wetsuits are required, but you may want to pack or rent some booties to protect your feet from coral reefs in case you ever need to relaunch your kite from the water. Once you get further out, the water is deep, but you’ll want to take note of tidal fluctuations. Every day, the tide comes in and goes out at different times which can potentially leave you stranded if you’re too caught up in the high of the ride.
2. Where to Go Kitesurfing in Bali? The Schools and Setup
If you’re new to kitesurfing and looking to take lessons, there are a handful of kitesurfing schools in Bali that line the coast of Sanur. A quick walk down the boardwalk on the southern end of the beach will introduce you to the inventory. If you’re an independent rider, there are two main spots that you’ll want to check-out:
They’re a Carbrinha-affiliated school at the southern tip of the kite beach. From what I understand, they are one of the oldest schools on the island, and a stomping ground for local kitesurfers.
Their spot has a massive open stretch of beach where you can pump and launch your kite. In case you didn’t want to lug gear to Indonesia, they also offer Cabrinha gear rentals onsite. To the right, just south of their shop is an popular boat anchorage, so you’ll need to travel up wind some distance to really benefit from obstacle-free riding, or circumnavigate the boats.
If you’re not up for the maze, or like me, still learning to master upwind maneuvering, then you can also get a drop offshore for a nice long downwind session. While I was there, they were hosting a ‘Cabrinha Testival’ event where pro kitesurfers such as Keahi De Aboitiz were on site to showcase and test the latest 2017 kitesurfing gear from Cabrinha. (Same gear we use for Sun Tribe!)
They’re an IKO International school with a more central location on the kite beach in Sanur. Since they are the official watersports facility for a large hotel next door, they offer lessons and gear rentals for all kinds of watersports activities.
While the lines of parked kites and designated launch and land zones on the beach will immediately catch your eye, the best part about kiting here are their well-equipped facilities. For a minimal fee, I rented booties and was given free access to the automatic pumping station, and the wash-off area with showers and tubs of fresh water.
After-session hang-outs are also quite common amongst kiters from all over the world who grab a Bintang beer, sit back on the grassy inland strip and share session stories.
3. The Wind Conditions for Kitesurfing in Bali
And now for the most important part: the wind. Like other destinations, the wind was predictably unpredictable. According to both schools and local kiters, the windy season peaks from May to September in Bali, with the best kiting in June, July and August.
Since winds only generally picked up around 1pm, it’s an unknown every morning. And even though decently windy days were forecasted, every walk to the beach at lunch time was like eagerly-anticipating the results of a multi-million-dollar lottery ticket. Thankfully, one lucky day, I won. With my 14m kite in hand, I finally was able to get a taste of kitesurfing in Bali, and it was glorious. There is so much room to play, and so much water to explore, that with a dash of wind, I was quickly transported into a kitesurfing dreamland.
Now, here’s the best part: Bali is not just great for kitesurfing; it’s an action-packed, cultural and spiritual mecca full of things to do and experience. So even when there is no wind, you’re not stranded with disappointment and boredom. Stay tuned for my next blog which will give you a glimpse of all the activities and fun that can be had in Bali, whether there is wind or not.
UPDATE: Check out what’s happening in Bali when there’s no wind. – Posted November, 1, 2016.