What to Pack for Your First Bali Surf Holiday

What to Pack for Your First Bali Surf Holiday

What to Pack for Your First Bali Surf Holiday

Get ready to pack your bags like a pro, folks. The following article will save you time, hassle and stress by ensuring you have everything you need for your first Bali surf holiday.

The only catch?

While we've provided a comprehensive list, you'll still need to pack it yourself.

This is a must-read article for first-time visitors to the Island of the Gods. You'll need to bring some essential items for your Bali surf trip, but these days you can get a lot on the island.

Travelling Bali surfing holiday

The art of packing for a Bali surf trip

We get it.

Upon booking a surf holiday to Bali, it's natural to go overboard with the packing. Multiple tops, different boards, litres of sunscreen and so on. 

If you want some advice from surfers who have been travelling the world for decades now, here's a golden rule for you:

Less is more.

Bali's tropical climate means you're likely to experience warm weather year-round, making it unnecessary to pack a lot of heavy clothing. 

Versatile, lightweight fabrics are key. And unless you're hiking the freezing cold peaks of Mount Agung, leave the cold-weather gear at home.

What's more, Bali isn't the remote, bucolic island it once was. Buying mosquito repellent used to be a task on its own. Same goes for toiletries, sun protection and other essentials.

Now, you'll find shopping centres, supermarkets and convenience stores aplenty in the major tourist hubs of Kuta, Seminyak and Canggu – all packed with everyday items you can purchase at reasonable prices.

Bali Surf

Your Bali surf holiday packing list

Do bring...


Ensuring your passport is current and valid for at least six months beyond your visit is crucial.

It's your means for entering and exiting Bali. Without it, you can kiss your Bali trip AND those world class surf breaks goodbye, so double-check its validity before you leave.


The new Tourist Tax in Bali is IDR 150,000 (approximately USD 10/AUD 15) per person for all foreign tourists entering the island. You only pay this once and you can pay in cash or via card. 

The reason we mention it is to ensure you have cash in your account when you arrive. The airport wifi can be spotty and slow (see: frustrating) to use if you need to transfer money before going through immigration.

Reef-safe zinc and sunscreen

Sunburn sucks. No two ways about it. Prevent the dreaded Indo peel (and save yourself from paying extortionate prices for sunscreen in Bali) by bringing zinc and sunscreen.

We recommend SPF 50 or higher and reef-safe products. It's suited to Indo’s sun, kinder to the ocean and better for your skin. 

Just remember not to apply it on your stomach before surfing or its "Hello, slippery surfboard and impossible pop-ups". 

Note: you'll still need zinc or sunscreen when surfing Bali during the wet season.


Water bottle

Bali's daytime temperature can reach 30°C, and surfing all day long is thirsty work.

Carrying a refillable water bottle when exploring the island or sampling different beginner surf breaks will not only help you stay hydrated but also reduce your plastic waste... something Bali is doing all it can to combat.

Dry bag

The dry bag, which is a waterproof bag, is ideal for keeping all your valuables safe and dry when surfing Bali.

You can also use it to store any wet clothes or towels after a surf session with our surf camp. Take it from us, this is an invaluable bit of kit for Bali surfing vacationers.

Closed shoes and flip flops

You'll be on the no-shoes train most of your stay in Bali, but it's still a good idea to pack some closed shoes or trainers for scooter rides or any activities (like hiking or mountain biking) that may require them.

Don't forget your trusty flip flops or sandals too -- they're ideal for beach hikes, daily surf trips and casual wear.

Rashvest, booties and/or surf hat

You might think you look cool surfing in boardshorts or a bikini, but that won't be the case if you get a gnarly reef graze or rash from all that paddling.

Protect your skin with a long-sleeve rashvest. If you're prone to sunburn or prefer some extra protection, add a surf hat on top for added coverage. Same goes for booties. They’ll protect you from those infamous Indo reefs and make walking in/out of the water infinitely easier on your tender footsies.

In the world of reefs, sea creatures and shore breaks, it's better to be safe than sorry. Besides, even the smart surf guides, surf coaches and experienced surfers wear them.

Reef Indonesia

Aloe vera gel

If the unfortunate does happen and you do get burned, aloe vera gel will be your Bali surf trip best friend.

It soothes your skin, provides relief and aids the healing process. Note that it's readily available in Bali if you run out, but you’ll most likely have to pay more than if you’d just bought it from your home country.

Ziplock bags

These handy little bags are like the Swiss army knife (which you don't need to bring) of the traveller's world.

They can be used for storing snacks, keeping your phone safe from sand and water or even carrying small souvenirs back home. Not essential, but definitely helpful.

Travel towel

Big beach towels are nice and fluffy to lay on, but they're not practical for travelling.

Invest in a quick-drying, lightweight travel towel that you can throw in your bag and take with you on all your adventures. You'll thank yourself later.


God forbid you look at a whitewashed wall in Bali or the surface of the ocean at midday. 

It's like staring at the sun – except with the added intensity that the reflection brings.

Pack a pair of sunnies (or two). One for day-to-day and a backup pair. Just make sure they're polarised to protect your eyes from harmful UV rays.

E-reader or book

As much as we wish we could control the waves, the fact is that sometimes you'll have down days when the conditions don’t cooperate or you simply feel like slothing around the pool.

And what better way to relax than stretching out with a good book or your favourite e-reader? Pack some reading material and enjoy some downtime during your Bali surf holiday.

Books Vacation Bali

Don't bring...

Excessive clothing

Remember, Bali is a tropical paradise with warm weather all year round. 

Don't bring your entire wardrobe, you won't need it. Stick to lightweight, versatile items that can easily be mixed and matched.

All the surfboards

For advanced surfers and even intermediate surf nerds, it's normal to bring specific boards for certain conditions. 

The last thing you want is world class waves... without the boards to ride them.

If you're only here for beginner surf though, keep in mind that airlines will sting you with hefty baggage fees (unless you fly Garuda – no extra charge) and carrying surfboards around airports, Ubers and what not is horrendous.

Garuda airlines Bali surfboards

Want our advice? 

Leave the board at home if you're a beginner or early intermediate. We have a wide range of boards (including custom surfboards you can buy pre-visit) to suit all levels that you can take to your favourite surf spot.

Single-use plastic items

Bali is taking drastic measures to reduce its plastic waste, so don't bring any items that have unnecessary single-use plastic packaging. 

Opt for eco-friendly alternatives instead, such as bamboo toothbrushes and reusable containers for toiletries.


Ladies, we know you love to dress up on holiday, but leave the heels at home. 

Not only are they unnecessary in Bali's laid-back atmosphere, but they're also impractical for all the walking you'll be doing and potential scooter rides.

BIG toiletry bottles

These take up valuable space in your luggage and will likely leak everywhere. 

Instead, buy travel-size toiletry bottles and fill them with your essentials. You can also find many products you'll need in Bali, so don't worry if you forget something.

Packing tips from a pro

Knowing what you need is half the battle. The other half is knowing how to pack everything efficiently. 

Here are some tips from a seasoned pro:

  • Roll your clothes instead of folding them to save space and reduce wrinkles
  • Use packing cubes to keep your belongings organised and compact
  • Place heavier items at the bottom of your bag for better balance
  • Pack small items, such as socks, underwear, and swimwear, inside shoes to maximise space
  • Use a compression bag for bulkier items like towels and jackets
  • Don't forget to leave room in your luggage for souvenirs and gifts to bring back home

Suitcase packing Bali holiday

Final words

Bali surf holiday over-excitement = Bali surf holiday overpacking. 

Don't fall into this trap. Stick to the essentials, pack smart and leave room in your luggage for the memories you'll make during your trip. 

And remember, if you do forget something, Kala Surf has everything you need... except for your passport. You'll need to remember that yourself.

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