With warm waters and empty breaks Indonesia is home to some of the world’s best surfing. This Indo surf holiday guide provides you with information about the best Indonesia surfing destinations, plus some useful Indonesian travel information.
The Indonesian Islands are all very different, offering everything from lush tropical rainforest to sparse arid desert. But thanks to it’s position at the confluence of the Indian and Pacific Oceans, conditions are frequently ideal for surfing across the thousands of islands that are part of the world’s largest archipelago.
Best Indonesia surfing destinations
To get started you need to know is which are the best Indonesia surfing destinations, so we asked the guys at Indo Surf Camps, who have bags of experience, to let us know their favourites. You can then plan your Indo surf holiday from there.
Bali has tons of surf spots scattered all around the Bukit Peninsula and up both the east and west coasts of the island. You really can’t go wrong. There’s always a good wave somewhere in Bali and always a perfect offshore to go with it.
Beginners will find ideal set-ups along Kuta and Legian Beaches. This is the heart of the tourist centre of Bali. It’s a really long stretch of beach with fun peaks and many surf schools with surfboard rentals. You’ll be standing up in no time on the large soft boards specifically designed for learners. The local surfing instructors have mastered the methods of explaining the correct technique to make it easy.
If you want to get away from Kuta, head a little north on the west coast of Bali to Echo Beach at Canggu. Here there are waves for all levels with a great strip of bars and restaurants right on the beach. Just perfect for a little rest and refuelling while you take in all the action.
Just a couple of kilometres south from Kuta to Tuban the airport runway juts out into the ocean right between two breaks known as ‘Airport Lefts’ and ‘Airport Rights’. Then carry on further to the Bukit Peninsula to Dreamland, Bingin Beach, Uluwatu, Padang Padang and heaps of other spots.
Bali is also famous for waves to suit the pros and more advanced surfers at places like Padang Padang and Uluwatu. The latter is famous for its steep descent and the entry to the surf through a large cave at the foot of the cliff. It is quite an attraction, even for the non-surfer.
Swells are most consistent and best during the dry season from April through to November. These perfect surf conditions attract surfers from all over the world so be prepared for some crowds.
If the crowds are too much it’s always possible to find quieter waters in the not so famous line ups. These hidden gems are easily found using the local surf guides who always have their finger on the pulse. They can easily connect the swell size and direction with wind and tide to find the right spot for you. Surf guides in Bali are very affordable and a good starting point if it’s your first visit.
From the famous and highly competitive waves at Uluwatu or Padang-Padang to the miles of beach breaks there is something for everyone in Bali. That’s why we had to start this Indo surf holiday guide here.
Find a surf camp in Bali one of the best Indonesia surfing destinations.
Just a short flight or boat-trip from Bali is the magnificently rugged island of Lombok where you’ll find another Kuta Beach. But this Kuta is a lot quieter than the Kuta on Bali. The laid back villages all along the south coast of Lombok have an excellent variety of quality surf breaks nearby.
Lombok has always been just as famous as Bali as a surf destination, even though the waves are perhaps generally not quite as spectacular. However, Lombok’s famous Desert Point is considered one of the best waves on the planet.
Lombok has several other top surf spots given the right conditions, with the waves being user friendly without so much of the sharp reef. You may need to hire a boat from locals to access some of the Lombok waves but local surfers will be happy to guide you.
Gerupuk Bay is home to five different spots which work on various tides, wind and swell combinations. There’s great protection from the headlands of the bay and they are easily reached by boat.
Are Guling is a right hand reef break located a few kilometres to the west of Kuta, accessed by boat or overland by road or tracks. Mid to low tides can see the inside section doubling up and barrelling. Are Guling can hold 8-10ft when conditions are perfect but it’s at its best at 4-6ft.
Also, there are some great options here for surf during the low season as the lay of the land creates a bit of a rain and wind shadow – like a sunny pocket during monsoon season.
Most visiting surfers connect flights to Lombok from Bali but there is a new international airport at Mataram so direct flights are possible from a few destinations. You can also hop aboard one of the fast boats from Bali to Lombok, which is only a two hour trip, and makes it possible to take in the party at Gili Trewangan.
The Gili Islands are famous for 24/7 fun – just visit to find out why. These idyllic islands have a relaxing vibe and some equally relaxing surf but it does need a big swell. Easily one of the best Indonesia surfing destinations.
Find an Indo surf camp in Lombok.
Lampung Province on the southern tip of Sumatra is another of the finest surf destinations in Indonesia. Krui is about a six hour drive from Bandar Lampung, which is the provincial capital and the nearest airport for travelling to the south coast.
It’s a bit of a mission to get out to Krui, with the short flight out of Jakarta followed by the seven hour drive through the lush Sumatra countryside. It can take a whole day and this often contributes to the smaller visitor numbers.
With beach breaks, peaks, slabs and a few points there is a huge variety of waves to choose from. Different wind and swell directions have different places firing when you don’t expect it. So make sure to check with local guides wherever you stay to find the best options.
Whatever happens there is always a wave breaking somewhere along this stretch of coast. Generally it’s not crowded and you can always score waves with just a few friends.
Ujung Bocur is also an excellent, world class left point. You won’t want to get out of the 30 degree (85 Fahrenheit) water. UB, as it is often called, is consistent and pretty much always has a wave, though it’s hollower and a bit more challenging at low tide. It’s an amazing left with really long walls and barrel sections – all set in the coconut tree-lined beaches of this tropical paradise.
Way Jambu, or ‘The Sumatran Pipeline’ in some of the old surf movies, is a little further south and offers experienced surfers the barrel of their lives. With heavy, critical take-offs into a top to bottom barrel, it’s a must check if you have the barrel riding skills.
The waves in Krui town need a bigger swell to get going, but once they do, be on it. The left is a bit like Bingin in Bali, with a friendlier reef, and the right offers longer walls with the odd barrel. When Ujung Bocur is huge or the swell direction is just right, these waves are some of the best in the area.
The Krui left is a mechanical barrel and can be a lot of fun. Further north from Krui there are more points with incredible waves when conditions are good.
Mandiri is a huge stretch of beautiful beach that is almost always fun. It’s always easy to find a barrelling peak to yourself here and it’s hardly ever flat. ‘Honey Smacks’ is a popular spot with the body board crowd. It’s a short but intense left barrel located just up from Jenny’s right.
Jimmy’s is another world class wave in the area. Here you can enjoy either a long, hollow challenging left or a sucking, slightly less hollow right. Both break off a shallow reef within a bay.
The Lampung Province is well worth exploring if you are a surfer and like getting off the beaten track. It can be on at any time of the year. Local surf camps in the area all have the motor bike rental business going and will set you up with a bike that has surf board racks at an affordable price.
No Indo surf holiday guide is complete without South Sumatra find out more.
Rote Island – West Timor
The south west end of Rote Island has an array of world class surf breaks with long lefts and some thick lipped crushing rights. The west facing Nemberala Beach offers beautiful fiery sunsets over the reef and views of other close by islands . You will never find a more idyllic tropical beach setting – it is truly beautiful.
The southerly swells generated in the deep south of the Indian Ocean winter are very clean and tidy after travelling so far towards the equator and Indonesian coast. Fortunately these swells coincide with the Easterly offshore trade winds that create the corduroy ocean.
All the main spots are within easy access from Nemberala fishing village, with the most famous wave, T-Land, right out in front. This is the main wave to surf in Nemberala and the premier wave in this region of Indonesia.
Nearly all of the surf resorts and Losmen here have a fast boat service to ferry you to the waves which are all a long paddle off the beach. It’s not that bad a paddle but it can be a bit tricky navigating through the seaweed farms that cover the reef, which keep many of the locals employed.
The T-Land break has some similarities to the famous wave on Java, G-Land. Nemberala is definitely a softer and more ‘user friendly’ wave than its namesake. The point-like reef is approximately 400 metres long and broken into four separate take off zones. From ‘The Point’, ‘The Steeple’, ‘Magic Mountain’ and ‘Inner-tubes’ the different take-off spots spread out the surfers.
On good days they connect and long rides are really good on the legs. This wave can also be very good in the early and late season when the winds are light and variable. The reef is non-threatening and the wave is not tide dependent, although it’s often better at low tide than high.
T Land can get big. And it’s really fun when it does because no matter how big it gets, it stays friendly. Not a lot of fear in the water here. The Bommie is a section of reef on the north side of the large Nemberala boat channel. Although the Bommie is a right/left peak, the left is seldom surfed as it is not as organised as the right which ends in a deep water channel. It’s a ‘the lower the tide, the better the wave place’ and one of the best Indonesia surfing destinations.
Suckies, sometimes called Sucky Mamas, is an amazing right just a bit north along the beach. It’s easiest to use the boats to get there. Suckies is a right hander which has a short but good barrel but on a higher tide it can be a little fat.
Boa is about fifteen minute by boat or a ten minute drive in the car. This classic right-hander barrels right from the take-off which can be steep and hollow and then a long very fast wall. Boa is best when the trade winds are very light so best surfed at early morning or during the wet season months from November to April.
Rote Island is the most southern of the Indonesian Islands and is very different in the landscape and the people compared with the rest of Indonesia. It looks and feels a lot like the Western Australian Desert (which makes sense with Australia so close) and the people are different too.
West Timor isn’t exactly a lush jungle paradise like many of the other islands but it does boast some of the most beautiful tropical beaches.
It’s quite a bit different from Bali, Sumbawa or Lombok. The far-eastern end of Indonesia is also not as frequented by surf travellers and you’ll find a very relaxed vibe around the village. There are some classy surf resorts and some locally run surf camps at Nemberala.
West Timor is a fabulous surf destination that you’ll love. It doesn’t get much more laid back anywhere and the waves can be great.
First you need to get to Bali and from there find the local airlines with flights to Kupang. Sometimes an overnight in Kupang is needed, as flight and ferry schedules don’t allow same day connections. From Kupang it’s a two-hour ferry ride to Baa, the main small town on Rote, and from there it is an hour by car to Nemberala.
Find an Indo surf camp in West Timor.
West Java’s south coast is fully exposed to the Indian Ocean and the famous surfing areas of Pelabuhan Ratu Bay (Cimaja), Panaitan Island and a few others that attract the adventurous surf travellers. Some of the best waves in West Java are on offshore islands but there are a few exceptions with a real potential for completely empty line-ups.
If you can get out and explore this region there are breaks to discover. The dry southern winter season from April through to October is the best, with consistent swell. The wet season is from November through to March and while the surf is less of a guarantee, there are still waves. Through the wet season (Dec-Mar) the winds change to W-NW, grooming the rights on Panaitan and on the points in Cimaja.
Despite the huge population of 45 million, the West Java region is wild and unspoilt, a rugged land with large National Parks and World Heritage sites. One of the scariest but most rewarding waves in the world can be found here on the eastern side of Kasuaris Bay on Panaitan Island, in the Ujong Kulon National Park.
‘One Palm Point’ is known for its long barrels. It’s recommended to listen to the local surf-guides on the trip. Many of the surfers at One Palm Point will be fully wet suited in neoprene and crash helmets for protection from the reef. You won’t find crowds here – it feels a bit like going to the edge of the world.
On the western side of Kasuaris Bay is another well know break called ‘Apocalypse’, which is a steep take-off into incredible stand-up barrels. November through to March are the months with winds from W-NW. Through the wet season (Dec-Mar), it shifts to W-NW with W first and then NW, grooming the rights on Panaitan and some of the other points along the south coast of Java.
Ombak Tujuh translates as Seven Waves in English and is known as the best big wave spot in West Java. It is a huge left-hand peak that barrels at the take-off and walls up a bit down the line. Because it’s straight out of deep water it picks up the secondary swells and comes at you from different directions. Like other deep water waves, a gun is recommended for the paddle into such a large scale wave and to make the drop possible.
Getting to Ombak Tujuh can be a bit tricky. Over land is possible but it depends on the track conditions. The most practical way is to hire a boat from the local fisherman’s harbour village near to ‘Turtles’. This makes for a day of adventure, and there are other breaks of smaller scale further into the same bay as Ombak Tujuh. Just ask about Ant-farm – we had to mention it in this Indo surf holiday guide.
Find an Indo surf camp in West Java.
Indo surf holiday guide
Indonesia visa requirements?
All visitors to Indonesia require a visa. If your stay is less than 30 days a ‘visa on arrival’ (US$35) is the easiest solution. Make sure your passport is included in the list of countries that this rule applies to. It is possible to extend this by another 30 days in Indonesia.
For longer stays it is best to apply to your nearest Indonesian Consulate in plenty of time before travel for a Social/Tourist visa for 60 days. This visa can also be extended while you are in Indonesia to allow a stay of up to six months.
Should I have travel/medical insurance?
Travel insurance is recommended. Many surfers travel to Indonesia without insurance but it is a risk. Most injuries are smaller reef cuts and bruises but we have seen broken legs, arms and other serious injuries. Remember, if an evacuation from a remote surf camp is required in the event of serious injury it could be costly.
Rent a car or motor-bike?
Grab a motor bike from your local rental for around US$5 per day. They are everywhere and easy to find, and the best way to explore the different breaks. If there are waves in the area you will find motor bikes that have board racks. There is always other surfers to share the cost of car rental for trips anywhere throughout the islands, and that can also be fun.
Here is a list of items to consider for your indo surf trip:
- Two and up to four surfboards (four boards can sometimes attract an additional fee on arrival at customs so pack them tight to avoid additional charges)
- Surf wax (tropical)
- Reef booties (surf style)
- Leg ropes, fins & keys
- Sun screen – get the good stuff 30+SPF
- Mosquito repellent
- A few t-shirts
- Two or three pairs of board shorts
- Photocopies of current passport
- Travel documents and insurance details
- First aid kit
- Ding repair kit
- A good book, laptop with movies and music on hard disc.
- Electricity adaptor (Indonesia is same as Europe – two round pins)
- Fishing gear, lures, rod, spear gun, etc….. if you are keen to fish
- Driving licence – good idea to have an international licence or you can be fined – especially in Bali
Is there malaria in Indonesia?
Many areas of Indonesia are well known for malaria but most of the windward coastline on the Indian Ocean is free of it. Most surfers never take any anti-malaria pills as there can be nasty side effects. Of course it is not a 100% guarantee there is no malaria or other mosquito born disease in Indonesia and there is that small chance you could get something.
Typically from June to September there are hardly any mosquitos around. But March, April, May, October and November can have more mosquitos due to the extra rain then. In the middle of the dry season it really isn’t an issue.
How is the security?
Most surf camps and resorts have great security. They are usually on the job 24 hours a day and seven days a week so your valuables will be safe. Remember though to keep your gear secure and locked at all times.
That’s the end of this Indo surf holiday guide. We think it includes all the best Indonesia surfing destinations and it’s sure to come in handy before you travel.
Thanks to Indo Surf Camps for the words and images in this Indo surf holiday guide. To plan your own trip to the best Indonesia surfing destinations check out: www.indosurfcamps.com