Surfing Adventures in Indonesia
Here are the top 10 surf spots in Indonesia everyone seems to be talking about.
Everyone has their own story of a particularly long ride in a perfect tube, or an almost romantic reminiscence of how the sand tasted when they bit the big one.
Stretching roughly east to west along the equator, Indonesia is perfectly positioned to receive the magnificent surf swells that come in from the South and Southwest on the Indian Ocean side.
This includes some of Indonesia’s major islands, such as Bali, Java, Nusa Tenggara, and Sumatra. But there’s a lot more – Indonesia has 17,508 islands, so outside of the majors, there are hundreds of small islands that hold hidden surfing pleasures that require local knowledge to find.
Being the most accessible part of Indonesia for tourists, Bali tends to come up most frequently. Bali is easy to get to, and has a good transportation infrastructure. Bali certainly has great surfing, but also has crowds of wave hungry surfers competing for position. Many surfers have told me they’ve given up on Bali in favor of quieter surf spots.
Bali’s surfing is concentrated in its southeast and southwest coast where giant arctic swells roll in unimpeded. The southwest coast is surfed in the dry season (April – November) to take advantage of the offshore, easterly winds. The southeast coast is popular during the wet season (November – April) when the prevailing winds switch direction.
Kuta Beach is the most crowded surf beach because it is the center of Bali’s tourist industry where hotels, restaurants, bars, and shopping centers abound. Kuta beach is a great place to learn to surf with its gentle, rolling waves and sandy bottom.
Dreamland has an ever popular reef break, but of late, has become overcrowded, despite its difficult access, which used to help keep the numbers down.
Canggu (Echo Beach) is north of Kuta and faces slightly more southerly, so tends to have bigger breaks, especially in the early morning.
Nusa Lembongan is an island off the coast of East Bali that offers excellent surfing, and in a very laid back atmosphere. The surf spots Lacerations, Playground, and Shipwreck all break across a shallow reef, making for a dangerous, challenging ride.
Plengkung Beach, also known as G-Land is Java’s crown jewel surf break. It’s home to what many consider the best, most consistent left hander in the world. It’s difficult to get to though – most surfers arrive by charter boat from Bali.
Tiger Tracks Surf Camp offers an all inclusive package that includes pick-up in Bali, return transport, food, accommodation, beverages, and pretty much anything else you’ll need – they even throw in the beer.
Prices start at U.S.$275/double; U.S. $425/single for a five day, four night stay in a standard room. Bungalows are also available at a slightly higher price. For safety’s sake, helicopter evacuation (at the guest’s expense) is available should it be needed.
Bookings can be made through Pt. Plengkung Eco Lodge, Jl. Raya Kerobokan Pertokoan Semer Jaya No.7, Bali.
The main G-land break is made up of four unique breaks. Kong’s is the first break. It produces a consistent, long three foot wall. Next, there is usually a natural transition into fast and furious Money Tree, and it’s nearly perfect barrels. If you’re still on the wave, Launch Pad takes over and thrusts you into it’s famous barrel. Finally, finish off with a smooth transition into Speedy – the name says it all.
If you’re looking for something a bit more relaxed, 20/20 is a short walk away. It has left and right intermediate level waves. Further down is Tiger Tracks, where you’ll find the most relaxed wave – a right hand barrel that breaks over a soft (relatively) sponge reef.
Pulau Panaitan in the Ujung Kulon national park, offers experienced surfers the chance to conquer a very challenging shallow left hander rolling across a coral reef – not a good place to take a spill!
About five hours from Jakarta, on Java’s south coast, Ombak Tujuh (7 – Waves), Sawarna, Turtles, and Loji are all excellent surf spots. These places are pretty remote, so you’ll want to take all the supplies you need with you if you’re camping. There are a few scattered resorts and cheap losmens in some areas, particularly around Cimaja, and Pelabuhan Ratu. The environment is a paradise with its heavy left hander and barrels – experienced surfers only.
Bulak Benda, near Batu Karas is a remote, quiet surf beach that has a good supply of two to three meter right handers.
Batu Karas is a little known, quiet fishing village 42 km from Pangandaran. It’s much quieter than Pangandaran, and offers one to two meter swells with a smooth, sandy bottom, as well as a more challenging (and dangerous) reef break. It’s known as the best place in Java to learn to surf – lessons and board rentals are available.
Lombok’s most famous surf spot is Desert Point (Bangko Bangko Beach) – a three meter hollow left hander that can give you a 300 meter ride. It’s a bit isolated – hence the name.
Kuta has a variety of excellent waves – left and right handers.
Batu Bolong and Ekas Bay have a famous left and right hand peak breaking in medium and large swells.
There are many surf spots on Lombok that require local knowledge to find. The local surfers are well known for their willingness to show traveling surfers their secret spots.
Just off Lombok’s northwestern coast Gili Trawangan and Gili Meno has some sporadic left handers with long tube rides, double overheads that wall intensely. The problem is, you have to catch it when it’s working.
Sumbawa’s west coast offers many good surf spots. The famous ones are Scar Reef (left hander), Super Suck (tube) and Yo-Yo’s (right hand reef break).
Sumba has many undeveloped, unknown surf spots that you’ll have all to yourself once you find them. Befriend a local surfer to guide you, and don’t tell anyone where you went.
West Timor, Roti, and Rote Islands are steadily gaining popularity among surfers in the know. There isn’t much surf infrastructure, but take your board, find a local surfer, and enjoy some of Indonesia’s secrets.
On West Timor, T-Lands (left hander) is known as “Gentelman’s G-Land – the consequences of falling off a wave are much less severe than at G-Land.
While, on Rote, Nemberala ( long left hand reef break) is off a beautiful, isolated stretch of white sand beach.
Located 130 km off the west coast of West Sumatra , Mentawai needs no introduction – it’s a surfing legend. There are many world class reef breaks including: Bankvaults, Lance’s Left and Lance’s Right, Macaronis, and Gilligan’s. A live aboard surf charter may be the best way to go here.
Another internationally famous destination that rivals Maui, Nias’s hot surfing spot is Sorake Bay, and the beaches of Lagundri and Sorake, with excellent right and left hand waves breaking to five meters. The nice thing is that the waves are always pumping, so if you make the trip, you won’t be disappointed.
Whoops, we got a bit carried away – there a lot more than 10 surfing spots here. That’s Indonesia – an almost unlimited surfers paradise.
Please share your surfing adventures!
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