Learn to Surf in Bali for Beginners


Being raised in California, people would thought I am one of those beach bums that had Surfing as my daily breakfast. Nope, wrong girl. I’m one of those who loves to just lazed down by the Santa Monica beach, Huntington beach, Balboa Pier, doing some relaxed swimming, watching the excitement of the beaches romps including Surfers and stroll around the shops.

However, our year-end Bali trip last December 2012 was quite an adventure. My two grown-up children (Joshua 20 years old and Abigail 17 years old), asked me to try and learn Surfing for fun, so I thought, why not!

We started looking for Bali Surf Schools for beginner, there are quite a few top-end such by Kuta Beach. The rates runs from US$45 to US$60 for a half-day Surfing Lesson. Some will take pictures and sell it to you in CD for Rp.200.000,- per person for 50 photos and higher charges for more than 50 photos.

a Surf Lesson from Doni

After asking around, we took a stroll down Kuta Beach and saw a lot of tourists are taking surfing lessons from individual Bali Surfers for a much cheaper rate. We were approached and offered a Surf Lesson from one of the Surfers (Doni Liu) who handed us his Business Card. Since it we are beginners and on a “budget”, so we bargained for price and made appointment for next day morning lesson.

We were able to bargained for Rp.500.000,- for a group of three (me, my son and my daughter) on a half-day course (believe me half-day is enough for a beginner to start with). We were told to be at Kuta Beach to start the lesson around 8am the next day for best waves. The normal good weather and waves is usually 8 am or 3 pm in the afternoon, I was told. But this will also depends on weather and tide forecast of the day.

The next day we met Doni Liu, and he prepared us 2 instructors for the three of us. All you need to have with you is your swims suit, towel and change of clothes with you.  A wet suit or a one-piece swim suit for the ladies’ recommended, you don’t want to be wearing bikinis/two-piece because you do not want to have incident of your bikini top sliding off by the strong waves. The guys may prefer to also wear a wet suit since wearing only swim trunks and bare chested might hurt from the hit of the strong waves.

Practice session by the beach

We started with practice session by the beach. The instructors prepared three different sizes of surf boards depending on each of our body heights, the taller you are the bigger/longer surf board you need.

First, they taught us how to lay on the board, Our body positions should be right in the center of the board, face down and body position towards the lower bottom of the board with both of our legs and feet closed, heels up and toes firmly touching the end of the board.


We then learn the sequence to surfing with paddling with both our arms and heads held up facing front to have a clear view, then hold a firm grip with both hands on each side of the board by our chests to push our body upwards and stand with right leg in the back, feet pointed to the outer side and left leg in front with feet pointed the same side of your back leg. Your body should bend for balance. After several on-beach practices, and once we are confident enough, we then ready to go into the water and hit the waves.

The challenge will be balancing your body to stand

We walked into the water, have our surf boards floats, climbed onto the board and start paddling with both our arms synchronized (remember your arms must paddle closer to the board not too far apart). The instructor then helped us catch a good wave (they will choose mild shorter waves in the beginning to get us practice standing up on the surf board). Once a good wave is spotted, he then will turn our surf board around, told us to paddle until we hear his instruction to stand-up. You have to be ready to grab the sides of your board, push your body up and stand as practiced by the beach and do it quickly. The challenge will be balancing your body to stand since the waves will definitely rock your board. My two children was successful after only the second waves and I the fourth wave. It was definitely a fun ride.


Let me warn you that your arms will aches from the paddling against the waves, you will run out of breathes, this is not as easy as it seems but once you get the hang of it. It’s really, really fun and hard to stop. You will want to just get better and better at it. To start  a lesson, Half-Day is more than enough, as it will definitely take a good energy out of you. The instructors will give you some break times in between or when you need necessary rests.

Odysseys Surf School was established in Bali in October 2003 and is supported by the Academy of Surfing Instructors Australia, Oakley, and Hard Rock Café. Odysseys Surf School also possesses the Accredited Surf School Certificate from Australia.
Odysseys Surf School was established in Bali in October 2003 and is supported by the Academy of Surfing Instructors Australia, Oakley, and Hard Rock Café. Odysseys Surf School also possesses the Accredited Surf School Certificate from Australia.

I would say, for a Rp.500.000,- it’s worth it and the most important thing is that you get a memorable, quality time with your kids. Instructors were very good, friendly, patient with us and pretty flexible with lesson times. This you rarely can get from a surf schools.

For reference

If any of you are planning to visit Kuta Beach Bali soon and interested to learn Surfing 101, here is a contact you might want to consider: Doni Liu 081912955999 / 081220628999, email: donie_liu@yahoo.com, location Kuta Beach in front of Pizza Hut beside Hard Rock Hotel.

But if you want to try surfing schools in Kuta, there are Odyssey located in Mercure Hotel Kuta Arcade and Dekom in Inna Hotel Kuta. These schools provides pirck-up and drop-off from and to your hotels, issue surf lesson certificates, you may also choose a package with lunch and have your pictures taken and sold to you in CDs, of course there are extra charges for additional services.


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