GARUT: Padang is our proving grounds. There are so many amazing barrels in Indo, and every year it seems like there is a new discovery of some crazy new wave, but Padang is still the original Bali Pipeline. It’s the spot where you’re guaranteed to see the boys like Rizal and Bol out when there’s a really big swell in prime season. In Bali, if you want to be respected in big barrels, you have to show up at Padang. Padang works best on a huge southwest swell – the more west the better – and medium-low tides. It needs SE dry season trade winds to really be classic Padang and the early can suffer from morning sickness lumpiness a lot of the time. It’s super fickle and doesn’t all come together very often, but when it does, Padang is still one of my all time favourite barrels in Indo.
On your way down to the beach from the road you go past the Labuan Sait Temple, where the local people from Pecatu village come to celebrate the Melasti ceremony. We also come here for a special ceremony to ask for good waves and a safe event at the opening ceremony for the Padang Cup every year. You have to walk down the steps, past the temple, and through a narrow cave to get to the beach. Sometimes there can be a lot of foot traffic, so be patient because not many people can fit in the rock tunnel. And watch out for monkeys!
Padang is one of the best spots in Bali to watch the sunset. It’s a full scene here at sunset and the sand is packed with people from all over the world: hot chicks in tiny bikinis, strange characters playing weird instruments, even the ice cream man. When a big west swell is hitting Bali, all the boys will be hanging out in the warungs on the beach before and after their surfs, enjoying a Bintang and watching the show on the beach and in the lineup.
C. Paddle Out & Channel
The paddle out at Padang is pretty straightforward and easy, which is one of the reasons why it gets so crowded out there. Just paddle straight out from the beach through the deep water channel. At low tide when there is a solid swell there can be a strong rip current running out, so save some energy for the paddle back in against the rip.
D. Fisherman’s Rock
This rock is a favorite spot for local fishermen to cast lines. You paddle right by them on your way out to the break. The view of the fishermen on the rock while a surfer gets a deep tube in the background is one of those special things about Padang and they are often in the foreground in a lot of the most famous surf shots of Padang. Watch out you don’t get hooked on their lines when paddling out!
E. Take Off Zone
It’s a really small takeoff area at Padang, which means there’s not a lot of waves to go around, especially when it’s crowded with 50+ surfers and bodyboarders. Padang doesn’t break often, so when it does everyone wants to get one of those perfect green barrels. The wave is a pretty straightforward drop into a perfect yawning barrel. After that it’s a grinding barrel and a race to the exit. The wave is usually pretty short. Just stand tall and get spat out.
F. Inside Bowl
This is the inside bowl section where the barrel can open up really wide. On a good day this section is usually packed with water photographers setting up for the money shot. This is also where you can get pinched if the swell is too south or the tide is too high. Or you get spat out onto the shoulder and either do a big turn or throw a big claim
if you’re into that kind of thing. It can get really shallow on the inside and if you don’t make the barrel, you can wind up on the reef at low tide. The reef here is sharp and filled with spikes and holes. A wipeout at any tide can mean a scalping, but especially at lower tides.
G. Outside Corner (Uluwatu)
Outside Corner needs to be at least 8-10 feet for Padang to really start breaking. The cool thing is that you can see the sets breaking up at The Corner before they hit down at Padang, so you have a pretty good indicator when a big set is coming. On super big swells, sometimes guys get washed down from Outside Corner and have to come in through the channel at Padang.
H. Padang Right & Impossibles
On small days, the right across the channel from Padang is one of the best beginner waves on Bali. It’s usually super crowded and can almost be more dangerous than real Padang because of all the surf camps and out of control beginners crashing into each other with big longboards. Further north, the lefts at Impossibles can be really fun on a bigger day. Super fast walls and barrel sections. Bring your Mach 5 channel bottom board.
I. Cliff Lookout & Judges’ Tower
This is where most people check the wave from these days (the old check spot looking into the wave has been taken over by a big hotel). This is also where the judges’ tower is positioned for the Rip Curl Cup. On a good day of waves at Padang, the cliff will be covered with people and they’ll usually start screaming when there’s big set stacking up on the horizon. Coming out of a deep Padang barrel to the sound of people hooting on the cliff is still one of the best feelings in surfing.