A True Surfer’s Paradise
With miles of exposed coastline offering incredible swells, Bali is ground zero for ultra-luxe surfing resorts that have partnered with the most experienced instructors and coaches in the business.

COMO Uma Canggu (comohotels.com) opened in 2018 on a 2.2-acre stretch of volcanic, black-sand beach surrounded by rice paddies and centuries-old Hindu shrines. It’s the first international five-star hotel in this small southern village, which is about an hour from the airport and about 7 miles from the much busier Seminyak. The five-building complex, designed by Koichiro Ikebuchi and Paola Navone, combines Balinese and Asian architecture with sleek Italian style. The result is a sophisticated yet beachy minimalism that bears no resemblance to the camper-van vibe associated with Beach Boys–era surfin’ safaris. The place still feels low-key enough for guests to wander unselfconsciously through the communal spaces in swimsuits and bare feet.

The surf experience is managed by Tropicsurf, the Australian company started more than 20 years ago by surf instructor Ross Phillips, who wanted to make the thrill of surfing safe, comfortable, and available to anyone willing to pay for the access. The customized program at Uma Canggu encompasses all skills and ages; while first-timers learn the basics in the hotel’s 377-foot lagoon pool, there are six breaks of varying difficulty within walking distance of the hotel. Spots that pick up more swell are just a short drive away. All surfers begin the day in the sandy-chic Surf Shack, where a selection of equipment (shortboards, fish, hybrid boards, and longboards) is available. “It’s all about balance. In the water, of course. But if a non-surfing partner isn’t having the same fantastic experience, then it’s not a successful holiday,” says CJ Kimell, Canggu’s Tropicsurf guide, whose Scandinavian roots and architecture degree inform his teaching techniques. “But here, there is something for everyone.”

Another Tropicsurf partner, the Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay (fourseasons.com) kickstarted the over-the-top modern resort wave on Bali and 25 years later is working to reclaim its place in the highly competitive local pecking order after two years of top-to-bottom renovations. The 147 villas, all Balinese-style compounds set within high stone walls that enclose gardens, private pools, and separate living and bedroom structures, now have bigger enclosed areas and larger pools. Two all-new, mansion-style Imperial and Royal villas were added. The new Healing Village Spa has been fully renovated with 10 treatment suites, each with a private outdoor relaxation area. Most notable is its Tropicsurf offering of helicopter-surfing excursions to remote breaks off neighboring Java.

Anantara Uluwatu Bali Resort (antara.com) sits directly opposite a Bali beach ideal for seasoned surfers. Renovated in 2019, the all-suite property is more of a traditional hotel than an opulent, all-compound resort, but it’s well known for its enviable location and partnership with Odyssey Surf School, offering a surf package that explores Impossible Beach (right below the resort) as well as Padang Padang and Dreamland further along the coast.  —Colleen Curtis

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