Balian is a steep and clean river mouth rock pile that can hold swells from knee high to triple overhead. Expect the unexpected clean-up set to wipe out the line-up from time to time. Balian surf can catch you off guard but is typically a reliable walled-up clean left shoulder that works on all tides and just might barrel (both ways) on the inside.
If you consult your standard Balian surf review, you’ll quickly discover Balian is a spot worth your time. Balian breaks left and right over your typical pile of cobbles that accumulates from a nearby river mouth.
The left holds longer and potentially more notably, however, the right can be a bit steeper and pitch to form the occasional barrel more often than the left. There is also a beach break on low tide over the river mouth at the south end.
River mouth/rock shelf peak
Left and Right
Sand and cobbles
Any shape or size
Typically low crowds
Balian River Mouth
Pollution from stormwater runoff at the river mouth can be a hazard at times. Be sure to avoid the first few rainstorms of the wet season in particular.
There’s a channel to the right and left of the peak. Depending on which side of the peak you plan to surf, you can paddle out past the shore break and head for the shoulder.
Balian is a 2km stretch of black sand that meets a river mouth on its southern end. Not typically crowded, Balian beach can be a nice quiet getaway from some of the more popular beaches outside of Kuta. At low tide, the views from the shore may require a pause and a few deep breaths.
There’s plenty of places to choose from in Balian. From luxurious treehouse accommodation to simple, local homestays. Depending on your price range, you can choose a locale that will keep your toes in the wax.
While it may not offer the spa treatment of some of the other accommodation on this list, Balian Paradise Resort offers a comfortable modern travel experience close to the surf. Mainly, you get what you pay for, which is to be expected in the cheapest price range of accommodation in Bali. However, most surfers search for the cheapest places to stay so that they can spend the maximum amount of time possible on their surfing holiday in Bali. About 100 metres from the beach, so you have got great access to the surf at Balian.
As you step towards a more luxurious accommodation, Gubug Balian Beach Bungalows is a great place for a rest-stop. Beautiful Asian architecture, breathtaking ocean views, infinity pools, and your choice of seclusion is more than worth the price. When you’re sitting poolside and wiped after a three-hour session, there is no other place you would rather be. Definitely, kid-friendly and a comfortable place to stay for the single surfer to the conventional family man.
Pondok Pitaya is not your average Balian surf accommodation. Kid friendly with beautiful views, you’ll find yourself poolside sipping a colourful drink before you can say “Bob’s your uncle.” The architecture gives you a traditional flavour of southeast Asia with bamboo furniture, high wooden ceilings, and open air. Be sure to book your lady (or fella) a spa treatment for extra brownie points and it might be worth one of yourself considering you’ll be surfing at least twice a day in consistent glassy (or off-shore) conditions.
Pondok Pitaya Beach Restaurant serves both Indonesian and Western food with nice vegetarian options as well. Food is always cooked fresh and ingredients are purchased locally which also has the added benefit of being organic and pesticide free. Everything is priced very fairly with a healthy juice, entrée and main only costing you about 80,000-100,000Rp ($8-$10). All while literally 10m from the beach!
Sushi Surf Balian can be found just off the beach and is known for accommodating prices, good food, and excellent cocktails. While the wait-time may leave something to be desired, the taste more than makes up for a handful of minutes sipping cocktails. Deki Warung, a short jaunt from Sushi Surf, offers a beachside view of the break, casual decor, and cold beer. If you’re looking for something a bit more authentic, and a bit more fancy, check out Tekor Bali for excellent food and a cozy backyard atmosphere.
It may not be the place to surf on Big Wednesday. However, the surf can hold clean lines overhead but the shore break can be overwhelming on a big swell. Medewi, about a half hours drive from Balian and is another great option for larger swells. If you are looking for things to do get in touch with any of the Bali white water river rafting tours and head inland to raft the very river that meets the sea at Balian.
Consider riding a board with a bit more volume. The shoulders can sometimes be a little soft and it’s nice to have a little extra float to push you through some of the more mellow sections before it walls up on the inside. Balian Surf Camp also offers beachside accommodation, board rentals, and lessons for beginners.
There’s plenty to see by foot but it’s always a good idea to consider a dirtbike, moped, or scooter when getting around. Traffic can bring out the anti-stoke in all of us and the drive to Balian is no exception. If you can’t get your hands on two wheels, four can suffice for carrying your quiver and getting from point A to point Balian.
Depending on your choice of travel, you can either make your way towards Krambitan via North Kuta or head inland through Denpasar. Either way, you’ll find yourself in Tabanan eventually and continue northwest toward Selemadeg before heading coastward and following signs for Balian. I recommend leaving Kuta to make your way towards the Kerobokan Rd, past the Canggu turn off and continue straight. This will lead you towards the major West to East highway and eventually Krambitan. Follow signs for Gilimanuk to head West. The coast will be in sight the majority of the way, you might find a peak or two worth a session along the drive. Eventually, you’ll notice signs for Balian as you make your way towards large hills off to your right.