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Saturday, 26 June 2010

Keep Your Eyes on the Tides!

   When I first arrived in Bali, a local person told me 'Oh, full moon - big waves today'.  I thought this sounded like a bit of an old wives' tale, especially coming from someone who did not surf - how wrong I was!  Bali, with its position so close to the equator, has a very different tide pattern to anywhere I have visited before.

   At first glance, the biggest tide of the month being around 2.4m did not register with me, especially as, coming from Wales where we have 12m high tides quite regularly,  this seemed like nothing.  Again, I was
very wrong!  The biggest tide of the month, which coincides with the the full moon (as I'm sure most of you already know), always seems to pull in a big swell from somewhere.

Suggested soundtrack to this article!!

Check out the Full Moon swell for the end of February / start of March - quite a bit above the seasonal average!

  Still sounds like garbage? Check the windguru archive to see for yourself.  Also, click here for a link to Bali tide tables, that way you can check when the full moon was, and how the swell was. You should see a definite pattern with the swell arriving on the day or day after the full moon.  It seems to be a well-known phenomenon here in Bali and well worth knowing the tides!! Remember, every full moon means a massive tide and usually an equally massive swell!!

This is not to say that this is the only big swell that will arrive every month; far from it.  It is just something to bear in mind and usually a guaranteed rise in swell which, in itself, is something to be aware of.  It seems to be an extremely reliable measure and peculiar to this part of the world.  I have no idea, however, if this is the same for other spots on a similar latitude - I'll leave you to find that one out!

Here's the current moon phase - if it's full / new - expect a good swell!

Another point is that, with this big high tide comes the equally extreme low tide.  I wouldn't recommend surfing  any of the gnarlier reef set-ups like Bingin, Padang Padang or even Uluwatu around the low tide mark on of the said big tides unless you are an expert, as it gets pretty shallow over nasty coral.

It should also not be a massive shock to find out that in Bahasa Indonesia, the words for both 'month' & 'moon' are exactly the same - 'bulan'.  When you think of, they are almost the same thing in English and just makes you realise how our calendar is finely tuned with nature, so we should be too! For which, keep your eyes on the tides!


  1. Massive swell today (4 mtrs @ 15 secs) and, surprise, surprise, it's a new moon....weird but true!!

  2. Thanks, it was interesting.


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