Bali’s Most Famous Surf Spots Like You’ve Never Seen them Before: Completely Empty!

Impossibles surf during Nyepi festival

Picture perfect Impossibles, but where is everybody?

We all dream of empty lineups. The luxury of having total freedom to choose any wave that takes our fancy is a privilege reserved for a select few: pros competing in competitions, hardened adventurers who have managed to get far enough off the beaten track to escape the ever increasing masses, and the downright lucky.

I can’t be alone in fantasizing about the hundreds of thousands of waves that must have gone unridden at the world’s most prolific spots. For millions of years the ocean has been churning out liquid gold, endlessly delivering surfable waves to shallower waters. What must the North Shore of Hawaii have been offering 500 years ago? Were the barrels as picture perfect as they are today?

This week in Indonesia’s surf capital we’ve been afforded a glimpse into what the ocean must have looked like ‘pre-surfing’. Both magnificent and highly frustrating in equal measures, these stills captured from the webcams on Bali’s Bukit Peninsular are the stuff of dreams.

The Nyepi Festival is translated locally as Bali’s ‘Day of Silence’. The evil spirits are thought to be in transit, flying high above Bali’s tropical waters, and it’s up to the residents of Bali to make sure they pass on by, with everyone lying low and pretending there’s no one home. So strong are the beliefs that Bali effectively shuts down for 24 hours. The airport closes. Lights must be switched off. Enforcers patrol the streets to return any ill-advised tourists to their hotels. And fundamentally… nobody surfs.

The empty line ups are certainly a rare site in what has become one of the favorite destinations for the travelling surfer. For those of us who dream about the Bali of old, this is as close as we’re going to get, it’s just a shame we can’t get in the water!

Tom Keyes

Recently returned to the UK after several years chasing waves in Asia, Tom takes inspiration from living on the doorstep of Cornwall's finest beaches to write articles and features on all thing surf related. Regularly featured on Surfing Sections and The Inertia his work has been viewed and shared by... Read more

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