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Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Wet season Vs Dry season in Bali

Before I came to Bali I wondered how big a difference there would be between the wet & dry seasons.  After having seen out the entire wet season & just a little bit of the dry season, I thought I would weigh up the pros & cons of each to let you figure out which would be better for you as, depending on what you are looking for and are used to, it may differ quite a lot from person to person.  I should note that the wet
season is from early November through to late April / early May and the dry season is mid-May until late October.

First, the wet season;
  • The wet season is extremely humid, combined with daily temperatures of 30C + daily, it can feel more like 35-40deg some days.  I found it very difficult to sleep without air-con in Bali.  
  • Constant rain makes driving that little bit more hazardous.  It also means you will want to purchase a poncho for days out on the bike as, when it rains & you are on a bike, you get soaked to the skin in a matter of minutes!! Driving in Bali is an experience in itself, so be prepared! 
  • If you come to Bali as a surfer in the wet season, looking to surf the waves of Uluwatu & the Bukit Peninsula, think again; they are strictly dry season territory.  The Bukit had good waves only a handful of times during this recent wet season, compared to on an almost daily basis in the dry season.
  • Again, for surfers, although the amount of people visiting is not as high as during the dry season, do not think you will score uncrowded waves during the wet season; you will not.  I put this down to the fact that, as there is less swell in the wet season, there are fewer options and, despite smaller numbers of visiting surfers, almost everyone ends up at the same few spots that are good on a small swell.  You might seriously want to think about another destination for surf travel in the wet season as you may well end up sharing waves with half of the surf schools on the island on a small day!
  • I am not sure if this is proven scientifically, but I found mosquitoes to be more of a problem during the wet season as they thrive in wet, humid conditions and yes, they are everywhere!
  • For beachgoers in general and especially surfers, heavy rains in the wet season wash out all kinds of rubbish and junk from rivermouths straight into the sea.  Not good, especially when you see just how polluted most of Bali's main waterways are.  After heavy rains, stay away from rivermouths as you will be putting yourself at risk.
  • The wet season is plagued by unpredictable and often onshore winds at most spots after 10.30am.  This can be frustrating as it makes most of the day a no-go for surf trips.
Wet season rains sometimes leave the beach strewn with litter & polluted water runs into the sea.

  • Fewer tourists mean that it is much easier to find accommodation.  This also means that you can be a bit more relaxed about finding a good hotel or hostel to stay as there are many more vacancies.  Combined with this are the lower rates to entice travellers which means you will save a few quid!
  • Even though there aren't so many people around, there is still good atmosphere on a night out on almost any night of the week and so, if you are coming  to Bali for the party scene and to hit the clubs, you will not find it difficult to have a good time.
  • For surfers, the water is at its warmest from November to April and you will never get cold.  This means you can stay out for hours without a chill in just shorts.
Dry season juice (filmed late May, 2010)

Now, for the dry season,

  • Fresher air and more bearable temperatures make it much more pleasant for tourists. I find it pleasant sleeping with just a fan at night, very different to the sticky wet season.
  • For anyone coming to Bali for surfing, the dry season is the time to come.  Consistent, powerful swells hammer the coast meaning that it is unlikely you will go a day without surfing.  It also means less 'surfaris' hunting down spots as there are so many to choose from.  Also, the world-class waves of the Bukit are combed by daily offshore trade-winds which blow almost like clockwork, something which has to be seen to be believed!
  • Without a doubt, the best waves are to be had in the dry season; think Uluwatu, Padang Padang, Bingin, Balangan - the list goes on!  An average day of surf in the dry season is as good as, if not better than, a good day in the wet season.

Me @ Canggu, mid-June 2010.  Enjoying the dry season!


  • Prices in the dry season can go up a fair bit, and by this I mean flights, hotels, hostels, guided tours - the lot!  The difference is not substantial but would be more of a concern if you are travelling with a family and have to foot the bill!
  • Also, July & August are peak season here in Bali so, on top of the increase in prices, you will find it more difficult to find accommodation.  It is highly advisable to book in advance as there are substantially fewer vacancies.  This means you can't be quite as relaxed about your planning and have to shop around a bit if you don't come with everything already booked, but that is not to say there is nothing out there - there is - it's just that good hotels and the like are harder to come by!
  • The dry season surf can be quite a lot more crowded as the whole surfing world seems to stop by (just see the video above for an idea!)  However, the pro surfers come here in their droves for good reason - amazing waves on a daily basis!
  • The water temperature drops a few degrees and you might want to bring a wetsuit top or even a shorty as mornings and evenings can have a bit of a chill to them.  Added to this is the fact that the Bukit Peninsula generally has cooler water than on the rest of Bali and, as this is where you will do most of your surfing, is something to think about.  However, you will be in boardies the whole time and it is not really anywhere that most of us would call 'cold'!


  1. Awesome blog, Stevie, but you didn't say when exactly the wet and dry seasons are!

  2. consider it ammended!! Have a look at the first para! Very good of you to point that out, haha!

  3. Hey Steve,

    I'm in the process of planning a trip with my girlfriend, and we're trying to decide whether or not to go in November. Would it be alright if I could give you a call and ask you a few questions?


    [email protected]

  4. Great post Steve. Useful info for when I hop over there to visit. Now I've just got to decide whether to start surfing or not.

  5. I should add that this year's wet season has been terrible for rain and thus the water has been extremely dirty. I went surfing earlier and the sea absolutey full of empty packets and other rubbish. Pretty horrible.

  6. Hi - cool blog and some great Info.

    Would just like to add that in both dry and wet season it is totally possible to score uncrowded waves here in Bali. Sure there are all the named and famous spots but if you take the time and effort there are still some uncrowded gems to be had in both seasons. I have trouble finding someone to surf with some days.

  7. @Pete - Thanks for the comment. Out of curiosity, do you happen to own 526 Foot surf shop on Sunset Road?

  8. This blog is just great !
    I'm going to bali in mid february with my girldfriend. I would consider myself a beginner...i can go down line and do a small close-out turn but thats it...still screwing up my cutbacks...what spots would you suggest and do you think its possible to sleep in a tent at any time ? i wanted it to be a budget trip and i dont like huge crowds around me, although i figured theres no way around it while surfing. I dont know if you have heard about guides that take you surfing and help you with getting around but if you have, could you suggest any of them or are these things complete rip-offs ?

    p.s. sorry for the irritating language skills...i'm from germany ^^

  9. @Leon - thanks for the comments!
    I think the best place for you would be somewhere like Tugu/Batu Bolong (See here for report - ) as it is a friendly vibe and never gets too heavy down there.
    I have never taken a guide but I know there are a few who are quite good. I think you might be better off hiring a driver for the first few days and ask around when you are here.

    As for the tents, the only place to do that is up in the mountains and it's not actually very cheap (I don't understand either!).
    It's best for you to look for a homestay near the beach when you arrive as they are usually the cheapest - I should warn you that cheap places here = poor hygiene standards, if you can handle that.
    Anything else, just let me know!

    1. Thanks for the advice. We dismissed the tent-idea completely now since no positive reaction came back from several forums ^^
      how exactly does the whole "driver-thing" work ? you go to a car rental, rent a car plus driver and he sticks with you 24/7 ? do you know any daily rates ?
      sorry for all these probably dull questions but you seem to know your way around bali so well (no asskissing, seriously ^^)...
      anyway, thanks again mate!

  10. @Leon - yeh, tents here would be horrible also with the mosquitoes and humidity.
    The driver thing basically is that you get shouted at while walking down the streets of Kuta (or almost anywhere for that matter) with people saying "TRANSPORT! Yes, TRANSPORT! You want transport Boss?" and people generally find a good deal. I think most charge around 300,000Rp (30Euros, approx.) per day for driver, car & petrol but it may be more expensive now. If you are happy with the guy, you can arrange for him to take you the next day or whenever you want direct from where you're staying. Most people have a contact from a friend who has had a driver before but I can't give you any as I have never had a driver!
    Hope that helps.

  11. hey steve, we're taking off in a few hours. Just thought of another thing to ask you ^^ are there any good rights in wet season anywhere ? would like to catch my first barrel but i think it has to be on my forehand ;)


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