Surfing in Indonesia: Is Indo the World’s Best Surf Spot?

Surfing in Indonesia is a dream come true for any wave lover! It boasts over 17,000 islands and thousands of miles of coastline, with endless opportunities for surfing adventures. Whether you want to ride the legendary lefts of Bali, explore the remote and perfect waves of the Mentawai Islands, or discover new and uncrowded spots in Lombok or Sumatra, Indonesia has something for everyone.

Indonesia is popular for its famous surfing spots in Bali, Lombok, and the Mentawai Islands. Bali has the Uluwatu wave with five individual surf breaks that crash left and run along the cliffs, Lombok has world-class waves like Desert Point, and the Mentawai Islands boast the iconic Lance’s Right.

 Indonesia’s surfing scene is full of opportunities to take it easy on the waves or practice your most daring maneuvers against menacing waves. Let’s dive into the best surfing spots for every skill level, discuss what makes Indonesia such a hotspot for surfing, and see what’s important before you visit. We’ll also cover accommodations, packing tips, and everything you need to know to get started!

 Where Are The Best Surfing Spots In Indonesia?

Indonesia has thousands of islands with endless waves that suit every level of surfer and make for an unforgettable surfing adventure! Whether you want to ride Bali’s legendary barrels, explore Lombok’s uncrowded breaks, experience the perfection of Mentawai Islands, or challenge yourself in the powerful reefs of Sumbawa, you will find your dream spot in Indonesia.

Bali

The Island of the Gods has over 100 surf spots, ranging from beginner-friendly beach breaks to challenging reef breaks. Some of the most famous ones are Uluwatu, Padang Padang, Kuta, and Canggu.

These spots have hosted many international surf competitions and events, such as the Rip Curl Cup and the WSL Championship Tour. They have also been featured in many surf movies and magazines, inspiring generations of surfers.

You can find everything from long point breaks, hollow barrels, mellow longboard waves, and rippable walls. Bali has a year-round surf season, thanks to its position in the Indian Ocean and its exposure to different swells and winds.

Lombok

Bali’s neighboring island has fewer crowds and more variety. You can find world-class waves like Desert Point, Mawi, and Ekas and beginner-friendly spots like Selong Belanak and Gerupuk.

Lombok has fewer crowds and more variety than Bali, offering beginner to professional surfers a more relaxed and authentic surfing experience. You can expect beach or world-class reef breaks, plus thrilling barrels!

Lombok has some of Indonesia’s most consistent and perfect waves, such as Desert Point, also known as Bangko-Bangko. This spot is world-famous for having one of the craziest waves on the planet, with a long and fast left-hand wave that can produce unique tubes. It works best on a large swell and a low tide but can also be very challenging and dangerous due to the shallow reef and strong currents.

Mentawai Islands

The Mentawai Islands host some of the globe’s most untouched and secluded surf breaks. You’ll find these magnificent islands off the coast of Sumatra, in northern Indonesia, and they are only accessible by boat or plane.

This makes them the perfect remote and exotic destination for adventurous surfers looking to escape the crowds and enjoy pristine nature. It has some of Indonesia’s most consistent and perfect waves, such as E’bay, Beng-Beng, Nipussi, and Pitstop.

The Mentawai Islands have some of Indonesia’s most consistent and perfect waves, thanks to their location in the Indian Ocean and their exposure to powerful swells from the south and southwest. The islands have over 70 different surf spots, ranging from long point breaks to fast walls, from left-handers to right-handers.

Sumbawa

This island in the Lesser Sunda chain has some of Indonesia’s most powerful and hollow waves. You can surf epic spots like Lakey Peak, Scar Reef, and Super Suck. Be prepared for fast and shallow reef breaks, not for the faint-hearted.

Sumbawa’s world-class reputation attracts a number of professional surfers who train and shoot at spots like Lakey Peak ,Yoyo, Super Suck, and Scar Reef. It’s less crowded than Bali or Lombok because Sumbawa is more remote and wider than its neighbors. This means you can find many empty spots to surf on both the west and east side of the island.

Hollow and reefy, which makes it more suitable for advanced surfers who can handle fast and powerful waves. Intermediate surfers can also enjoy some head-high waves on good days.

Indonesia Surfing Season: When To Go?

Maximizing your tail slides, cutbacks, and snaps often means finding that perfect wave at the right time and place! Indonesia’s waves are at their best from April to October. Here’s why:

 

  • Indonesia’s dry season runs from April to October, and its wet season from November to March. This means April to October has less rain and more sunshine, making the climate more pleasant and the water clearer for surfing.

 

  • During the dry season, the Indian Ocean produces consistent and powerful swells that hit the Indonesian coast at a favorable angle. The result is optimal conditions for many surf spots, especially on the west and south coasts of the islands.

 

  • From April to October, the trade winds blow from the east, creating offshore breezes that smooth out the waves and make them more hollow and clean. This enhances the quality and shape of the surf breaks, especially the left-handers.

 

Surfing Indonesia: From Beginners To Experts

Eager to plan your next surfing trip but need help figuring out where to start? Indonesia is full of exhilarating surfing spots that match every surfer’s level and expectation with surprise and enjoyment! Here are the best spots for beginners and experts!

Best Surfing Spots For Beginners

  • Kuta Beach, Bali – great beach breaks with soft and gentle waves over a sandy bottom. It has multiple peaks where you can learn and practice on small waves. It is also highly a fantastic destination to enjoy an educational surf lesson with one of the local instructors.

 

  • Old Man’s, Canggu, Bali – beautiful right-hand waves, with a mellow break and extremely long rides. It breaks over a reef, but it is not a dangerous one. It is also a favorite spot among longboarders.

 

  • Fish Fingers, the Mentawai Islands – a fun and easy wave that breaks over a coral reef. It has a long wall and a forgiving lip. It is also less crowded than other spots in the Mentawais.

 

  • Lombok Island – less developed and more laid-back alternative to Bali. It has many beginner surf spots, such as Selong Belanak, Gerupuk Bay, and Ekas Bay. These spots have gentle waves that break over sand or reef and offer stunning views of the island scenery.

 

  • Batu Karas, West Java – a black sand beach with a beautiful right-hand point break. It has long and mellow waves that are perfect for beginners and longboarders, and it doubles as a serene and peaceful place to relax and enjoy the local culture.

Best Surf Spots For Intermediate Surfers

  • Balangan, Bali – you’ll find long left-hand peeling waves that break over a flat reef. It has big walls, occasional barrels, and multiple peaks. It is very consistent and works with all tides and seasons.

 

  • Padang Padang Right, Bali – this beach break is next to the famous Padang Padang Left. It has fun and mellow waves that break over sand and reef. It’s ideal with mid to high tide and a small swell.

 

  • Beng Bengs, Mentawai Islands – a safe, deep wave that breaks over a coral reef. It has a long wall and a forgiving lip. It works best with mid to high tide and a moderate swell.

 

  • E-Bay, Mentawai Islands – The fast, left-hand barreling reef break is a favorite among photographers. It has hollow and powerful waves that offer long rides and works best with low to mid-tide and a big swell.

 

  • Medewi, West Java – a long left-hand point break breaks over a rocky bottom. It has slow and long waves that are perfect for carving and cruising. It’s at its best with mid to high tide and a small to medium swell.

Best Surf Spot For Experts

  • Uluwatu, Bali – Uluwatu is Indonesia’s most famous wave and sits at a legendary spot with five individual surf breaks that offer up vast and powerful waves that crash left and run along the cliffs. The best one is a fat wave called Outside Corner that invites turn after turn. It breaks over a reef and can be very dangerous.

 

  • Grajagan (G-Land), East Java – remote and challenging, this spot is only accessible by boat. Its long, fast left-hand wave breaks over a shallow reef and forms perfect barrels. It is also known as the Indonesian Pipeline and can hold up to 20ft (6m) of swell.

 

  • Mentawai Islands, Sumatra – a chain of islands with some of Indonesia’s most consistent and perfect waves. There are numerous spots to satisfy your surfing cravings, such as E’bay, Beng-Beng, Nipussi, and Pitstop. These spots have hollow and powerful waves that break over coral reefs and offer long rides.

 

  • Desert Point, Lombok – a world-class spot with one of the world’s longest left-hand barrels. It breaks over a sharp reef and can be very shallow and dangerous. It is also very fickle and only works on certain tides and swells.

Surfing Indonesia’s Mentawai Islands: The Famous Wave

While Indonesia has a few famous waves, Lance’s Right is perhaps the most iconic one! The story of its discovery is also exciting and adds to its majesty and awe.

It was first surfed by an Australian surfer named Lance Knight, who stumbled upon it while searching for shelter from a dangerous storm in 1991. So great was the spot that he kept its existence a secret for several years until he shared it with Martin Daly and his crew aboard the Indies Trader.

Lance’s Right is a long, perfect right-hand reef break offering fast, hollow barrels. It is among the most high-quality and consistent waves in the Mentawais, and it works best with a big swell and a southeast wind. You’ll find it off Sipura, the midmost of the Mentawai’s four main islands.

What Should Beginners Know When Surfing In Indonesia?

While Indonesia has endless surfing possibilities, they may not all be accessible to you as a beginner, and you may spoil your own experience. Here are the important things you need to consider if you plan to learn surfing in Indonesia.

Choose A Surf Spot For Your Level

Indonesia has many surf spots for beginners, such as Kuta Beach in Bali, Old Man’s in Canggu, Selong Belanak in Lombok, and Batu Karas in West Java. These spots have gentle and fun waves that break over sand or reef and offer a safe and enjoyable learning environment.

Join A Surf Camp Or Take A Surf Lesson

Numerous surf camps and schools can help you learn the essentials of surfing, like popping up, paddling, turning, and reading the waves. They can also supply you with the equipment you need for a great surfing experience, such as a soft-top board and a rash guard. They can also show you around and help you find the best surf spots for your level!

Know The Local Surf Etiquette

Indonesia is a diverse and prosperous country with many different customs and traditions. Be respectful of the local people, their beliefs, and their way of life.

When surfing, follow the basic rules of surf etiquette, such as not dropping in on someone else’s wave, not snaking or paddling around someone to get priority, and not being aggressive or rude in the water.

Practice Good Protective Habits

The tropical climate in Indonesia has strong sun exposure and high temperatures. Make sure you wear sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses, and a rash guard or a wetsuit top when surfing. Also, be careful of the reef, which can be sharp and dangerous.

Wear booties when surfing over reef breaks, and avoid touching or stepping on the reef. If you get cut or scratched by the reef, clean your wound immediately and apply antiseptic cream.

Planning Your Trip: Surf Camps And Guides In Indonesia

When planning your ideal surfing trip, a little preparation will mean the difference between a good trip and a great one! Let’s cover surf camps and surf charters, getting around, surfer tax, and packing.

Surf Camps And Surf Charters

Surf camps and surf charters are both viable options, although they offer slightly different experiences. Let’s look more closely at each, weighing in on the pros and cons of each.

Surf Camps

Surf camps are land-based accommodations offering surf packages that include lodging, meals, lessons, surf equipment, and transport to nearby surf spots.

They are usually located near popular surf destinations, such as Bali or Lombok, and cater to different skilled surfers, from beginners to experts. Among the best surfing camps in Indonesia are:

 

  • The Point Surfcamp Bali – this surf camp is located near Medewi, a long left-hand point break in West Bali.

 

  • Dreamsea Surf Camp Uluwatu – located near Uluwatu, it’s one of Bali’s most iconic and famous waves.

 

  • Tregge Surf Camp Uluwatu – this surf camp is also located near Uluwatu, but it offers a more budget-friendly option for surfers who want to enjoy the waves without breaking the bank.

 

The pros of surf camps are:

  • more comfortable and spacious than boats
  • extra facilities and amenities (pools, spas, yoga classes)
  • allow for more interaction with the locals and culture
  • more affordable

 

The cons of surf camps are:

  • more crowded and less exclusive than boats
  • limited access to remote or uncrowded surf spots
  • depend on road conditions and traffic to reach the waves
  • sometimes have less flexibility and variety in terms of surf itineraries

Surf Charters

Surf charters are boat-based accommodations offering surf packages, including lodging, meals, surf guides, surf equipment, and transport to various surf spots.

You can find them in remote areas, such as the Mentawai Islands or Sumatra, and they cater to more advanced or adventurous surfers who seek perfect and uncrowded waves.

 

The pros of surf charters are:

  • more exclusive and less crowded than camps
  • unlimited access to remote or uncrowded surf spots
  • move around according to the swell and wind conditions
  • more flexibility and variety in terms of surf itineraries

 

The cons of surf charters are:

  • more expensive and less comfortable than camps
  • fewer facilities and amenities
  • less interaction with the locals
  • higher risk of seasickness, bad weather, or boat breakdowns

How Do You Get Around The Islands?

You can get from one surf spot to another by boat, car, motorcycle, or plane.

Boat

Traveling by boat is the most popular and convenient way to access many surf spots, especially in remote areas like the Mentawai Islands, without roads or land-based accommodations.

You can either join a surf charter offering a package of accommodation, meals, and transportation to various surf spots or hire a local boat to take you to nearby breaks.

Surfing by boat allows you to explore different waves and avoid crowds, but it can also be more expensive and less comfortable than staying on land.

Car Or Motorcycle

Traveling by car or motorcycle is ideal if you plan to travel to numerous surfing spots on the same island, like Bali or Lombok. Renting a car or a motorcycle is more relaxed, but ensure you hire a driver who knows the area and the surf conditions.

Surfing by car or motorbike gives you more flexibility and freedom to choose your own itinerary and pace, but it also requires more planning and preparation, such as finding parking, paying tolls, and dealing with traffic.

Plane

Traveling by plane will allow you to jump between surf spots on different islands quicker than any other method, such as from Bali to Sumatra or Java. You can either book a domestic flight with one of the local airlines, such as Garuda Indonesia or Lion Air, or take a charter flight that caters specifically to surfers.

Surfing by plane saves you time and hassle, but it’s more expensive and riskier, as flights can be delayed, canceled, or overbooked, and your surfboards can be damaged or lost in transit.

Surfer Tax

The Mentawai Islands will require you to pay a surfer’s tax to gain access to the waves. It helps the Indonesian government construct supporting facilities at several surf spots, such as jetties, moors, health facilities, roads, transportation, and security.

You pay a fee that stays valid for 15 days. If you plan a surfing trip that lasts longer than 15 days, you are welcome to extend your stay with an additional fee.

Essential Things To Pack For Your Surfing Trip

Here are some essential things to remember for your surfing trip:

 

  • Board shorts, swimsuit, or bikini
  • Reef booties
  • Fins and an extra set
  • Leash and a spare leash
  • At least two boards
  • Ding repair kit
  • First aid kit (antiseptic, plasters for reef cuts)
  • Zinc
  • Sunscreen
  • Two or three bars of tropical surf wax
  • Mosquito spray
  • A good book

Conclusion

Indonesia is undoubtedly up there when it comes to favorable surfing spots! You’ll have the chance to enjoy Kuta Beach in Bali as a beginner, refine your skill as an intermediate surfer at Medewi, West Java, and perfect your technique as a pro at the Mentawai Islands in Sumatra.

 

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