Bali Beach Safety

Many dream of holidaying beach side in Bali however much of the time they are unaware of the dangers they potentially face both in and out of the water. The size and strength of the surf, treacherous rips, gutters and dangerous marine creatures can pose significant risks for inexperienced beach goers.

Alcohol And Swimming

Some people might look to consume a few drinks when enjoying their Bali holiday however its important to understand that swimming when under the influence of alcohol can be a recipe for disaster. Alcohol impairs a persons judgment and significantly reduces a persons reflexes, making it a dangerous and potentially deadly combination when it comes to the surf. Consuming alcohol can lead to:

  • Impaired judgment, prompting swimmers to take unnecessary risks as they often overrate their ability in the surf.

  • Consuming alcohol at the beach can adversely impact a swimmers ability to identify and manage dangerous situations.

  • Lack of coordination and reaction time.

  • Alcohol often affects a persons senses including sight, sound and touch both in and out of the water.

  • Alcohol often makes it longer to react to situations due to a decrease in brain response including their ability to process information.

  • Inability to control and regulate body temperature.

  • Overheating at the beach can often result due to dehydration and unawareness of sun exposure.

The risks of swimming after consuming alcohol are high. Common sense dictates that a person should not drink when swimming, boating or fishing in any aquatic environment.

Beach Safety

Not all swimmers are aware of the potential dangers they may encounter at many of Bali's exotic and iconic beaches as for many this may be only their first or second visit to the ocean. The size and strength of beach conditions can vary widely with unpredictable rips, gutters and dangerous marine creatures posing significant risk for swimmers. So it's important to know how to protect yourself in the water and understand the warning signs to ensure you remember your Bali beach adventure for all the right reasons and not all the wrong ones.

Rip Currents

Rip currents are one of the greatest hazards on many beaches and some of Bali's beaches have a notorious reputation for rough conditions. Many drownings are due in part to inexperience with rip currents. Deaths have occurred after swimmers begin to panic and contrary to recommendations to swim parallel to shore they attempt to swim against the current directly back to the shoreline. This leaves swimmers exhausted and unable to remain afloat. Rip currents have also been responsible for claiming the lives of non-swimmers who were dragged from shallow and waist deep water into deeper surf.

How To Identify A Rip Current

The key signs to look for are when identifying a rip current are:

  • Debris or seaweed.
  • Fewer breaking waves.
  • Deeper and/or darker water.
  • Significant water movement.
  • Sandy colored water extending beyond the surf zone.

Sometimes it can be easier to look for where waves are breaking consistently than to look to each side where they don’t break consistently. Those areas are rip currents.

Waves And Large Surf

Playing among the waves can be one of the most enjoyable things to do when swimming in the ocean. Different conditions can affect waves so it’s important to understand how waves work, what types of waves may be present when you visit the beach and how to deal with them to reduce any potential for injury or death.

How Do Waves Get So Big?

Wind Strength: The stronger the wind, the bigger the waves.

Wind Direction: Wind needs to push waves towards the beach for there to be surf. Sometimes beaches are also protected by headlands or reefs which stop waves from reaching the beach.

Wind Duration or Fetch: The distance the wind has been blown over the ocean. The bigger the fetch, the bigger and cleaner the surf will be.

The Breaking Wave: When the swell reaches shallow water it pushes itself upward until the slope of the crest cannot support itself. This is when the wave will break. There are three types of breaking waves, each with their own key characteristics.

On any beach there will usually be a combination of these three wave types breaking. Plunging or dumping waves create a hollow tube feature when they break. Surfers call this the ‘barrel’ or ‘tube’. Plunging waves are particularly dangerous as they can pick people up and ‘dump’ them onto shallow sandbanks or reefs with great force.

Spilling or rolling waves are found where there are flat shorelines. These are generally safer types of waves. They occur when the crest breaks onto the wave face itself. Surging waves may never even break as they approach the water's edge since the water is very deep. They are commonly seen around rock platforms and beaches with steep shorelines. Surging waves are considered dangerous as they can appear suddenly and knock people over before dragging them back into deeper water.

Be alert and surf safe in Bali.