Surfing in Indonesia
The very first surf
travelers who came here in the 1960's sent back reports of
impossibly perfect crystal tubes, white sand beaches fringed
with palm trees, warm weather and brilliant sunshine, and
local people who were friendly and hospitable. It wasn't just
a surfing experience: it was paradise.
It hasn't changed. Indonesia has some of the very best waves
in the world, and the locations are as spectacular and exotic
as the best tropical island dreams you've ever had.
Some of the famous
breaks - like Uluwatu on Bali - are now busy, but there are
still many legendary places that remain all but empty; and
thousands of kilometers of coastline where unsurfed breaks are
waiting to be discovered.
Big waves, wild
Indonesia offers the ultimate in surf travel adventures and is
definitely an experience not to be missed. The first thing to
understand about the surf is that there's plenty of it. The swells
come from the south and southwest, so all the islands that have
coastlines facing in those directions get waves. That includes
Sumatra, Java, Bali, Lombok, Sumbawa, Flores, Sumba and Timor,
plus countless tiny offshore islands.
The conditions that create these waves are ideal: the swells are
formed by huge winter storms deep in the Southern ocean, and roll
across thousands of kilometers of open sea before they reach
Indonesia. That gives them time to even out, and also means they
arrive at the same time as the southeast monsoon winds - light
offshore breezes that give perfect shape to the faces. It's also
the ideal time of the year for weather: clear, sunny and warm.
When you go to Indonesia to surf, April to September is definitely
the time to be there.
To party, camp or cruise
With so many waves to choose from, it's not surprising that you
also have a wide range of surf holiday choices.
The easiest is to head straight to Bali, where the waves are
superb - though busy. There's a vast array of accommodation and
the nightlife is rated the best in Asia. The huge breakers of
Bukit peninsula make it one of the world's best surfing spots. The
white sand beaches and dramatic cliffs of Uluwatu add to the
attraction. For a more exotic tropical experience that gets you
far away from the crowds and closer to the culture of Indonesia,
try one of the growing number of surf camps. You'll find them on
Nias Island (Lagundri Bay), Java (Garajagan and Ombak Tujuh), and
Sumbawa (Cempi Bay). The accommodation is simple but comfortable,
the food is good, the local people are friendly, and the waves are
guaranteed to be uncrowded.
For real adventure in isolated areas where there'll just be you, a
few friends, and some of the best waves in the world. Take a surf
cruise on one of the several boats that are now run specifically
for this purpose. Ports of departure include Bali (cruises to
Lombok, Sumbawa, Flores and Sumba); Jakarta (cruises to Panaitan,
Deli and the southwest coast of Java); and Padang (cruises to the
Mentawai and other islands Off Sumatra).
The big breaks
The main choice, of course, is which waves you want to go for.
When choosing, you should take into account your own ability. Many
of the best breaks require skill and experience, and on sharp
coral reefs there's a genuine element of risk. If you're really
going to enjoy your holiday choose conditions that will be fun,
Surfing in Bali
With names like Padang
Padang and Uluwatu with its famous entry cave, Bali is a
surfer's 'dream' destination. Bali gets the full force of
southern ocean swells direct from the antarctic with its
south-west and south-east coasts being littered with surf
The dry winter months
(June-Sept) are preferred for surf conditions however this
means that these are also the most crowded times. Given a bit
of local knowledge it is still possible to find uncrowded
perfect breaks on Bali.
When the surf's up you
can catch some world-class rides. When there is no surf the
beaches become quiet lagoons with crystal clear water lapping
up the white sand. Uluwatu is world-class and is the most
famous wave of Bali for experienced surfers, as well as the
busiest. There is always some swell here so it's also always
The spot offers several
waves which are working with different swells and tides. To get
there go to the Uluwatu temple. Walk down the reef by the famous
spot is Padang Padang. This area is for experienced surfers.
Padang in two words: power and fear. Its the most dangerous and
hollow wave in this area because there is no water on the reef.
The wave is incredible and dangerous. If the technical level is
too high for you, just come and enjoy the show.
Kuta Beach offers great surfing even for beginners. Just stumble
out of your Kuta hotel room and you're on the beach.
Other adventure and recreation activities in Indonesia: