I know you saw that movie and also wanted to be Kate Bosworth. I’ve been trying to learn to surf since my first lesson in Maui, Hawaii, to lessons in Varkala, India, and even in Sri Lanka but with my lessons so spaced out over months and the waves in Goa being so small, I just wasn’t getting any better.
Before coming to Rapture Surf Camp in Bali, I could catch most waves with an instructor yelling at me when to stand up and could turn on them about half the time. On big waves, I needed to be pushed by an instructor or I wasn’t going to paddle into them fast enough. I was also only using a huge soft board.
My goal by spending 10 days at Rapture Camp was to be able to judge a wave to know if I could handle the size, know which way to turn into it, paddle out on my own, and turn on all the waves I caught… while upgrading to a hardboard. I had ten days, so felt it was a fair enough goal.
Guide to Bali: Where Else to Visit
Trying out a hard board for the first time at the camp
One instructor, Dickey, surfing with a local guys’ dog. Photo credit to Ben who was in the water with a GoPro!
The large foam boards beginners start with
My favorite surf spot, Geger
the pool at Cliff
Here’s my Rapture Surf Camp Bali Cliff Review
There are two locations of Rapture camps in Bali: Cliff and Padang. I stayed at the Cliff one which was less backpacker vibes and more boutique chilled out vibes. The Padang location is generally always full so you have to book ahead of time.
Uluwatu is a populated party area which Padang is very near to and Cliff is more secluded so you will want to make your choice based on the vibe you want. I’m all about going to bed early and quiet nights, plus I really didn’t want to drink when I was so focused on getting better at surfing and waking up for the early morning surf sessions.
I took 300 photos and edited about 100 of those, so forgive me for the photo overload, but the beaches here are just so blue and beautiful. The camp itself was also very photogenic.
I’m going to break this post down first by telling you about the actual surfing and surf locations then I’ll tell about the camp rooms and living spaces, yoga & massage, food & drink, and how the payments are made.
The actual surf lessons and locations: how it all works
The night before, staff put up the surf times for the following morning. You’re expected to be ready to go 15 minutes before leaving. Getting ready means getting your surfboard out and remembering what number board you pick up, as well as grabbing your rash guard.
You find out the destination in the morning and go as a group to the surf spot. It depends on various factors like the wind (are the waves too small), the tide (is it too shallow or deep?), avoiding crowds, and if the waves are too big for us. Groups are split into beginner and intermediate. Even people who have surfed a lot and are decent should go with a beginner! The intermediate is really intense from what I hear.
You do carry your board yourself. But truthfully, if you are not strong enough to carry the board you’re going to struggle to paddle!
The spot above is Balagan which is where we went quite often. It was great in the morning. You do two sessions. Each one is 1.5 hours but usually more like 2 hours. You can take a lunch break between or if it’s going to be high tide too soon then they say just take a quick 15 minutes break. Of course, you don’t have to do the second sessions. If you are tired you can just chill and watch which I did several times.
The second session in particular at Balagan was a little rough getting in and out as when the tide came in it was a shore break and I’m a moron who can’t seem to get out past that without injuring myself! I had the (thankfully soft) board hit me in the knee and knock me over when a wave hit me trying to get in. After that, I didn’t do the second session here because I was nervous of that.
You can see above someone had just pushed me into that wave. When you first start and have a lesson, you’ll be on this huge soft board which is easier to balance on. Someone will push you into the wave. It’s so easy to stand on this type of board so after a day, I really wanted to push myself to try the hard board.
I actually stood on my first try with it! One thing I learned is if you start out the day with confidence doing well, you’ll do well but if you start out with a bad wave you’ll be discouraged and not do as well.
That doesn’t mean I didn’t wipe out. I did! I even gave myself a black eye once on a wave that was too big (my last day when I went without lessons, silly me).
Ben was like this the whole time which was SUPER frustrating lol, just kidding he did awesome and surfing just comes naturally to him.
Some places we went had a really big paddle-out so you have to be well rested so you can get out to the waves. Other places, the waves were nearly crashing on shore. See how above it looks flat, it really isn’t. The waves look tiny from here, but when you’re out there, they are pretty big.
This location above, Geger, was my favorite. To the right it was more beginner waves but they went left and right which was great practice. On the left it was bigger more intense waves. I tried them once, hence the black eye.
You do need to be careful with your board carrying it in and out, as well as in the water, because they check for board damage after every session. I got dinged once, and it was about 100,000 Rupiah which is $8 so it’s not a biggie, but good to know if you’re on a budget.
On day three, I tried to go without a lesson and catch waves on my own. I stayed on the small waves, and was paddling in myself and turning on them with the hardboard which was basically my goal.
I should have just kept with that, but I really wanted to be able to do bigger waves. I thought if I was on bigger ones, they go for longer, and I’d get better at turning and being stable on the board while riding the wave. Well, I definitely am not ready for big waves lol but it sure was fun to try!
When I got the black eye, I had paddled in before everyone else and kind of popped up shocked that the board had hit my cheek bone so hard. I thought for sure it was busted open and cried out of shock, although it wasn’t painful. One woman in the group came over and said it was swollen up already and maybe I should take a break. But, my adrenaline was up and that was my FIRST wave of the day so I stayed in and actually had my best day ever! It was great. After I got out, my cheek and eye had turned blue and I ended up with a shiner for the next 2.5 weeks I was in Bali.
One woman in the group came over and said it was swollen up already and maybe I should take a break. But, my adrenaline was up and that was my FIRST wave of the day so I stayed in and actually had my best day ever! It was great. After I got out, my cheek and eye had turned blue and I ended up with a shiner for the next 2.5 weeks I was in Bali. The surf instructors also offered to take me back in to shore at the time, but I just didn’t want to and actually felt fine.
People get hurt surfing, it’s just a fact and if you go for 10 days, you probably will have some small injury, even if it’s just getting cut by the reef. You have to be a little bit up for that before going because the waves are not something instructors can control; it’s all up to you!
Above is a shack we would chill at between sessions at one of the destinations.
Types of rooms at Bali Cliff: something for every budget from dorms to bungalows
The actual surf camp has a lot of different rooms from different sized private rooms to dorms. You can see the options and prices here. I can’t do dorms anymore. I really need my own space so we stayed in the Longboarders Suite. It was massive and had perfect natural light.
If I stayed again, I would go for the same type of room. You have all the suites which is $88 per night then you have the dorm which is $45 per night. This rate includes WiFi, breakfast, and dinner PLUS being taken and “guided” at the surf spots. It does not include if you want an actual lesson or board rental. You can book surf lessons online with your room booking and get a bulk discount.
Everything Else You Need To Know about Rapture Camp Bali Cliff
So, since I was talking about the price, I’ll start there.
The rooms and lessons are booked online and you can add then booking yoga as well.
At the camp, yoga and massage are both $10. If you book too many lessons and you end up not needing them, they are flexible and let you swap that for a yoga class or massage which is pretty cool.
Breakfast and dinner are included in your rate. At breakfast you order, but at dinner, it’s a set menu. If you have a dietary preference you can let the chef know. If you won’t be there for dinner you should also let them know.
All drinks, scooter rental, laundry, lunch, board damage, massage, and yoga classes get added to your bill. At check out they only accept cash (pretty normal in Bali, and actually most of Asia). You should ask to see the total the day before so that you can hit up the ATM. This seems to be the only significant complaint on their TripAdvisor page, but as someone who travels and lives in India where things are mostly cash-only, I don’t see the problem with this.
You can also keep track of what you’ve eaten/drank if you are worried and make sure it matches. Mine came out dead-on.
You should bring your own beach/pool towels, sunscreen, and if you want a rash guard if you have one. You cannot take room towels to the pool and beach. Their rash guards were fine enough and are washed every day so I just used that.
Plus, if I rocked up with a cool trendy rash guard, people would expect me to be good. So, when I ask the instructor to push me into the wave, I’d feel like a bit of a loser. Let’s wait until I’m a little better before I start acting that cool.
The shared space was the room above with games, the kitchen/dining room, and a huge hang out space behind the pool. There is also a big deck to watch the sunset.
You can see the menu above for breakfast and lunch. It’s very similar menus to what you see at beach shacks but the food was better. I suggest the chicken burger and the tuna salad. When we got back from surfing, usually we had already eaten lunch at the beach but too many calories were burned (that’s my excuse and I’m sticking with it) so a sandwich was pretty necessary.
Meals are included Monday-Friday but on Saturday and Sunday it’s BBQ and pizza night, respectively. Both of these are the best meals they do, but they are not free. You have to pay.
We did eat out sometimes but did that on the weeknights. The Western food was good (lasagna, spaghetti bolognese) but I’m not so into Indonesian food. I know that is terrible as a traveler, but I think India has ruined me with its spice and I find other Asian food so bland. It wasn’t just here but everywhere I ate Indonesian food, I had to put hot sauce on everything. Since we came from India, we wanted steak, BBQ, Mexican food, etc so would go into town some nights and forego our free dinner. Below is the lasagana, and I ate two pieces it was so good.
We were the only weirdos who gave up a free meal to go out to eat. Everyone else loved Indonesian food. They also give you seconds if you are still hungry. The pizza night was definitely my favorite. The BBQ tasted better than it looks, I tried to edit this pic but it was so dark when I took it. It was delish!
The bottom line with the food is that nowhere these days includes dinner in the plan and since Bali Cliff is pretty secluded, this is ideal. The food in Bali actually isn’t that cheap unless you eat local, so if you’re on a budget, you’re going to get fed better at the camp than if you go out to eat.
I did not do yoga as I had hurt my knee and I’m lazy. That’s the truth. It was usually at 4 pm and after surfing all morning, I don’t know how these people had the energy! Props to them. I was already showered, watching a movie on my computer.
I pretty much had a sunburn (no matter how much zinc I put on my nose) and a black eye the whole time there. I was also bloated the whole time because I just kept eating everything that wasn’t Indian food (I get too excited for Western food when I leave India!)…. so I was not looking very Blue Crush.
I loved that there were dogs on the property. It just makes any hotel feel more like home. When you first get to the surf camp it seems really big, but by the end you feel very comfortable here.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time here.
If you really want to learn to surf, I highly recommend staying here for at LEAST 5 days before you see the rest of Bali. I was so stoked after my stay here, I was all I’m going to buy a surf board and surf all the time! Well, guess what I was in Bali 2.5 weeks after I left here and I didn’t surf once.
Because you’re at this camp, you get up with the group and go surfing at 7 am. When you’re alone, you aren’t going to feel inclined to do that. They also tell you where to surf and take you there. Alone, that’s a headache and I tried using websites to see where the waves were good, but that’s basically rocket science to me.
I feel so alive when I’m in the water trying to surf and it reminds me of being a little kid learning to ski and snowboard. I used to dream about it. Now, I was dreaming about surfing, setting goals for each day there.
I am happy to say I reached all my goals and looking back, it was an unbeatable experience. The instructors were very helpful with technique and also explaining the basic rules of surfing so you don’t piss people off in the water. I don’t feel comfortable enough yet to see waves, decide if they are too big, and go out in the sea alone. So, I guess that means I have to go to another surf camp! Good things Rapture has locations in Nicaragua and Portugal, too.
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I was compensated for my time in reviewing this surf camp.
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This looks like the perfect place to surf and chill. Honestly, I’d probably stay there even if I wasn’t surfing!!
Some people do! You totally can, it’s a great accommodation option.
I love the idea of surf camp but discovered in Fuerteventura that I don’t like surfing all that much! Too much of a wuss!
Impressive shiner, that.
This looks like such a great experience! I am too much of a chicken to try surfing – not to mention I struggle to carry the board most of the time for SUP already.
Looking forward to more Bali posts :)
Carrying the board to the beach is literally the hardest part lol
Really enjoyed this post, I love how you go over everything in depth. Last year I spent about a month in Bali, but never managed to go surfing, I can be pretty lazy too sometimes
I’ve never commented on this website, but I’ve been reading it for a couple of years. I am planning a trip to India later this year – I think it’s solely due to reading hippie in heels (and Indian food!) Love hearing about all your adventures, thanks Rachel
Ella, thank you for taking the time to comment and say hi! I Love meeting readers of the blog! I can see how you can spend a month there and not surf because I stayed 2 more weeks and didn’t surf once, it’s just so much easier to get in the surf groove if you stay at a camp!
I hope you love India :D let me know if you need any help planning!
Really enjoyed reading your review! I was planning to go to Bali to learn surfing in June and your blog has definitely pushed me to go make the bookings. Will most likely be spending time at the Rapture Camp as an intern and learning on the side cause I’m on a tight budget, but super psyched about making this trip nevertheless :)
Woo hoo! You’re going to love it :D I’m jealous haha I want to go back! Have fun
I absolutely love this post Rachel as Bali is one of my favourite places. Ever!
I was in Bali a few years ago, and we had booked a few days surfing for our son who was pretty excited, but the weather wasn’t ideal, so we couldn’t do it. I would love to try it for myself, but perhaps just in the swimming pool, as I don’t actually like open water! It’s strange. I like sailing and I love rivers and lakes, but I don’t like swimming in the open sea!
p.s. The photography is awesome. Great job Ben!
I kinda feel ya on that, swimming in the open sea is a little unsettling but only if I am too far from shore. If I am close like in surfing and especially clear water I feel okay – but I would never surf in places known for attacks like certain popular surfing places in Aus. I would have way too much anxiety! Shame your son missed out, weather can be such a bummer. Just now in Slovenia, half my plans I had to cancel due to rain.
The color of the sea really is appealing, these pictures really makes me want to go back to this beautiful island. I am working for an events company in London where we list several trips and travel related events, and reading them inspires me seeking for new activities to try on vacation. Next time I am in Bali, I will definitely stay in a surfcamp to try surfing !
Hi Juliette I hope you do – surf camp is so fun!
Thanks for the sincere and lovely review Rachel. I have never surfed before and am thinking of giving Rapture a go next week!
Hey Rachel, I have a friend from Goa and he always talks about how Bali reminds him of Goa, or Goa reminds him of Bali….
I was wondering how many surf camps you’ve been to before, and what you looked for in a surfcamp.
We work for a surfcamp here in Bali, and looking to improve it and get advice from people who have been to surf camps.
Is there anything you feel you would need in a surfcamp?
Any thoughts are helpful and I liked what you said about, surfing with a surfcamp makes you get out and surf, but when you’re by yourself, you didn’t surf at all.