Indonesia's Best Surfing Beaches


NIAS, NORTH SUMATRA
surfingIsolated yet worldly, surfers both domestic and international have long placed Nias high on their list of best surfing spots in Indonesia, and this is not without reason surfers often talk about how they like to watch sea turtles swimming past below as they lie afloat, waiting for the perfect waves. A particular shinning gem among surfers is Sorake Beach in the Sorake Bay area, which possesses one of the world's best right hand breaks. Moreover, two other world class waves can be found in the nearby Hinako Islands of Asu and Bawa, while many other lesser known, high quality surf spots with minimal crowds await those with natural dispositions towards adventure. Nias Stone Jumping RitualSurfers usually hang out in the Keyhole, surveying waves from the balcony until they spot something good. The best right hand waves, it is said, occur sometime between June and October. Once they do, the waves can reach up to four metres in height. Certainly delish ! On days when the waves are less than spectacular, visitors to Nias find solace in Nias remarkable diversity of festivals and celebrations. The world famous Nias War Dances, performed regularly for tourists, and stone jumping ritual, a manhood ritual that sees young men leaping over two metre stone towers, are not to be missed while you are here. The music of Nias, performed mostly by women, is noted worldwide for its haunting beauty.

surfingSurfers usually take up residence at the popular Keyhole Surf Camp (www.niaskeyholesurfcamp.com), which also rents surfing gear, offers surfing and tour packages ( a ten night package is available for US$ 550 and includes accommodation, pick up, surfing rental, food and beverages and a village tour) and is located 2,5 hours from the airport. Alternative accommodation is available at Toha Surf, JJ Losmen, and Morris Losmen at an average rate of around IDR 75,000 per night.


 

CIMAJA, WEST JAVA
surfingDede Suryana, the first Indonesian, and indeed the first and only Asian, to ever compete in the prestigious surfing World Qualifying Series, hails from Cimaja. That should offer a little glimpse into why Cimaja is a favourite surf destination and why a growing number of Jakarta based surfers flock here at weekends to catch some spectacular breaks. In fact, Cimaja is West Java's most crowded surfing area, due to its ease of accessibility, and next to other "super secret" world class surfing spots, the road to Cimaja is a walk in the park in comparison. If you've had a chance to watch the documentary film about surfer extraordinaire Dede Suyana "Mengejar Ombak" ("Chasing Waves"), then you'll have seen the type of surf that makes Cimaja immensely popular with both local and international surfers. surfingDespite being West Java's most popular surfing spot, most people who visit Cimaja for the first time do not even know that they have arrived. The crowds are minimal and the town is still a sleepy fishing village ! Most of the surf that pounds the shore here features the famous Cimaja break, a right that rises off a rocky reef and from a solid, angular rock bottom. This great break feeds off the south and southwest swells rising out of the Indian Ocean.

surfingWaves in Cimaja are huge, challenging and are usually point breaks (waves that break away from the coast), thus making them extremely fun to ride. The ISC (Indonesian Surfing Championship), the Indonesian chapter of the professional surfing circuit, regularly holds its championship event here, which is also helping to elevate Cimaja's popularity.


 

SOUTHERN LOMBOK, WEST NUSA TENGGARA
surfingWith its many bays accommodating various swell angles and prevailing winds, Southern Lombok (or the "South Coast of Lombok" as some people call it) is truly a surfer's paradise. An exemplary gem here is Gerupuk Bay, located about seven kilometers east of Kuta. Gerupuk itself consists of five distinct and entirely awesome surfing spots, offering something for every level of surfer. The best waves however can only be accessed by boat here, but don't annoy your skipper and be mindful of where he is at all times, because you'll need him in order to return to shore ! Down at Gerupuk, Bumbang Bay is the onshore part of the deal and this beach offers rookies some fun, as the waves are big and funky, with long walls and forgiving lips. surfingThe outer Gerupuk area, known as Gili Golong, boasts right handers with big drops and waves that reach the monstrous heights of between eight and ten feet. Don-Don is the farthest break inside the bay and is perfect for all level of surfers. The waves here work in any season (as long as the winds are light) and on any tide. Kid's Point or Pelawangan is another right hander and is reserved for special days when the breaks are at their biggest. I's barrel city on those days.

Seger Beach is located about two kilometers from Kuta and is a worthy area to visit, with its right reef break. For better right hand breaks though, head to Are Guling, which is located on the west side. Similarly, Mawi, located 20 minutes west of Kuta, holds a few trick up its sleeve with deceptively mild reef breaks on small days which transform into huge left barrels when the waves hit six feet plus. surfingWhen they hit ten feet though you may need to say a few prayers. Last but not least, Bangko Bangko Beach (or Desert Point as it's known by Australians) is Lombok's undisputed best kept secret. Located a three hour drive from Kuta, many international surfers have sworn by its 20 second barrels and ten second tubes, which are common occurrences during the area's best days. Put up with the long journey and visit this spot at any cost.


 

TANJUNG SETIA, WEST LAMPUNG
surfingAnother huge contender for the title of Indonesia's best surfing beach is Tanjung Setia Beach, which is located in West Lampung. In fact, the waves at Tanjung Setia are touted by surfers from all over the globe as perhaps the world's third best and on a par with the world famous surfs of Hawaii. Tanjung Setia though, has not yet achieved the kind of international circuit fame as its counterparts in Bali or Lombok, which translates to fewer tourists and more surf to go round. Tanjung Setia also boasts a near virgin condition and some stunning natural beauty, with white sandy beaches that stretch from shore to shore. Its sunset is also legendary and to die for.surfing

During the peak surfing months, which last from June to August, waves can reach up to six metres in height and stretch for as long as 200 metres, making them a prime playground for surfers, who predominantly come here from Australia and the United States. These visitors, sticking to a true surfer's lifestyle, often stay up to two weeks during a single visit, no doubt hoping for ever bigger and better waves than the ones they sampled today. Still other foreign visitors come to Tanjung Setia to enjoy another favourite pastime fishing. Tembakak Beach in the Karya Punggawa distric boasts a superb bule marlin habitat known as Tuhuk in local parlance. The diving sites here are also legendary amongst dive aficionados, although nowhere near as popular as their more heavily promoted counterparts in Manado or, again, Bali.surfing


 

G-LAND, EAST JAVA
surfingThere are many great spots in Indonesia which cause surfers to confidently exclaim to each other that they have found the "Last Surfing Paradise" or "Surfing's best kept secret". Well, I'll bet that most of these guys haven't been to G-Land yet, a jaw dropping spot that lies tucked away in the depths of the Alas Purwo National Park. I mean, have you ever heard the name "Grajagan Bay" ? Thought not. G-Land is situated on the eastern side of the Grajagan Bay, which boasts a very long, world class, barreling left hand reef/ point break, considered by those in the know to be one of the world's best left hand waves. Reaching the Promised Land that is G-Land entails a bumpy ride through thick, dark jungle for several hours about half a day to be precise. The journey is made by road from the popular tourist destination of Sanur in Bali. It's a tough slog but at least you won't have to go through what Bill Boyum did in order to discover G-Land in 1974, after he spotted the amazing breaks from his plane window as he flew overhead. After a year of pleading with government officials to grant him a permit to visit the park, he eventually got his wish, only to find himself in as yet uncharted jungle fending off bug bites, sunstroke and a few healthy encounters with the local snake population, not to mention wild boars weighing over 400 kilos.

surfingThe G-Land surf breaks consist of four distinct sections. There are the Kongs, which break up to several hundred metres in length and which are between two and 12 feet in height, the Money Trees, with long, testing, barreling world class waves that reach up to ten feet high, and the Speedies, which sport an outside takeoff section in between them known as the Launching Pads. The Launching Pads are a particularly nasty zone in which waves break a significant way out to sea in large swells and are sure to catch many surfers off guard. The Speedies are the heaviest and most dangerous waves at G-Land, but also offer one of the most rewarding rides you will ever experience in your life, should you happen to find yourself skimming through one of its very round barrels for several hundred metres.


CANGGU, BALI
surfingCanggu is located just 30 minutes away from the hustle and bustle of Kuta, yet it seems like a world apart from its busy neighbor. This add up to a considerably more relaxed surfing adventure. If Kuta is for the inexperienced masses, then Canggu is for those in the know. Kuta Beach is the main beach in Bali and is sometimes actually, always rather crowded, although generally speaking there are plenty of good banks around to grab a few waves at. More breaks lurk further up the coast and have fewer crowds. Canggu, on the other hand, has a range of waves that are suitable for all levels of surfer, and boasts beach breaks, river mouths and point breaks which can hold varying size swells. Once upon a time, surfers used to hop between the shores of Kuta and Canggu, back and forth on motorcycles. surfingBack then, it wasn't uncommon to see surfers tearing through the soft sands of Kuta Beach on the way to Canggu on a high speed motorcycle ride. Speed is necessary on sand as wheels sink into the soft beach if one rides too slowly. Obviously those days are over now and getting to Canggu entails a mellower ride through picturesque rice paddies.

Once you arrive at the main strip of Echo Beach, the first thing you'll notice is the black sand and the reef breaks that are famous for offering something for everyone. There are a few soft rolling waves that are ideal for beginners, some hot dog, rippable peaks, and on days when things get big, some gnarly beachfront barrels for expert surfers. surfingCanggu is more south facing than Kuta Beach and thus more affected by the trade winds, making a surfing expedition here best undertaken in the early morning. After 9 am, Canggu is frequently side shored and not the perfect glass of a few hours earlier. Many of the sweet spots in this area feature smaller swells that are rewarding, and many of Bali's hottest surfers will make the morning trip over from Kuta. The best time of year to surf down in Canggu is during the dry season, which roughly runs from March to November. This is when the trade winds are blowing offshore. Good luck out there surfers !