For many surfers who grew up in the 80’s and even into the 90’s, the mention of Uluwatu conjures up a surreal backlit image of an endlessly peeling lefthander breaking over a shallow coral reef.
On small days Uluwatu can get very crowded, as from the cliff top the waves appear easy to catch and well formed. For those intermediate to good surfers this place is a dream come true, but the beginner surfer will find that taking off on a reef break wave is much more intimidating than catching a wave at their local sand bottom beach break. So unless you’re prepared to sacrifice some skin to the razor sharp coral reef when you go over the fall at low tide, or get yelled at constantly by the more proficient surfers for being in the way , be content to watch and enjoy.
The paddle out through The Cave at mid to high tide is a unique experience. You’ll start paddling out towards The Peak and more often that not find yourself being carried north for awhile as the current coming down the reef sweeps you long. Eventually you’ll escape its clutches and make your way back to the take off spot. The most crowded spot at Uluwatu, The Peak works best at mid to high tide and from 1 to about 8 feet. At low tide you stop your paddle short of The Peak and take off at Racetracks, a wave that probably gives up more fun tubes than any other wave at Uluwatu, especially at 4 to 6 feet. But be careful not to get to greedy on the inside, as it often closes out savagely and will dump you onto the shallow reef at the end section.
When the swell gets up to 10 feet plus, Outside Corners becomes the ultimate Uluwatu wave in the sense of getting that “Morning of the Earth” experience. Late afternoon, law tide, and a big drop with a huge wall that just begs to be carved apart, and if you get lucky a nice barrel section will present itself. It can be a very long and thigh burning adventure, but a most memorable and sought after prize.
But if you are looking to escape the crowds and have sufficient reef surfing experience, you may want to paddle south until you are in front of the temple to surf Temples, which is the farthest point in the lineup and breaks in quite shallow water. But it can be a good bet on those smaller days when the other spots get too crowded.
Don’t forget, especially o those mid to high tide sessions when the waves are sizeable and the current is strong, to paddle south a bit farther than you think you need before aiming for The Cave to paddle back in. if you miss it the first time, you will either find yourself having a long paddle back out to try again or be swept down to Padang-Padang beach. Either way it’s a long trip home.
No trip to Bali would be complete without a trip out to Uluwatu, as it is truly the icon of Bali surfing. And if you have the skills, get on out there and have your own ” Morning of the Earth” experience, you will remember it forever.