Surfing in Indonesia
Considered as the country with the best waves in the world. There are waves for everyone. Beginners, intermediates, and for the crazy big wave surfers. Warm water, warm air temperature and good waves all year long!!! Bali and Mentawai are probably the most visited by surfers, but places like Sumbawa and Banyak North Sumatra won't take long to catch up. The climate is tropical. Famous waves are Keramas, Uluwatu, Padang Padang, Dreamland, Canggu, Yoyos, Super Suck, and others...
Indonesia is the world's largest island country, with more than 13000 islands (around 6000 of which are inhabited). Every year new waves are discovered by adventurous surfers who come to enjoy the unbridled wilderness and the palm-lined Indonesian beaches.
Surf in Indonesia first caught on in Bali in the 1960s, partly thanks to the surf film “Morning of the Earth.” From there it spread to other Islands and became so important that some communities rely on surf tourism entirely as a means of income. Some famous competitions hosted in the country are the Indonesian Surfing Championships (ISC) and the Asian Surfing Championships (ASC).
Amongst the best surf spots in Indonesia are Bali’s Uluwatu, a left-hand reef break; Java’s G-land, a hollow left-hander; Lombok’s Desert Point, a world-famous left-hand point break; Sumbawa’s Lakey Peak, an A-frame reef break that has a hollow right; and the Mentawais’ Kandui Left, a very fast left-hand barrel.
Why Surf in Indonesia?
The top 5 reasons to have a surfing holiday in Indonesia are:
- It's a tropical island destination with paradisiacal weather and outstanding surfing conditions. Indonesia is considered by many to be a paradise for surfers, as there are swells and rides non-stop throughout the year.
- Wonderful people. Indonesia has many different cultures and ethnicities with unique customs, foods, and dances. You’ll visit one country but enjoy many different experiences.
- As affordable or as luxurious as you want it to be, there’s a choice for everyone. From €1 meals to Michelin-starred restaurants, from €5 rooms to pampered private villas overlooking dense tropical forests and lakes, you can find whatever you are looking for.
- All the things you can do. Trek on the slopes of an active volcano, visit thousand-year-old temples, dive, and snorkel near sunken ships surrounded by colorful reefs, swim with turtles and enjoy hundreds of exotic ceremonies and festivities.
- Given surf’s importance in the country, surf camps in Indonesia fit all budgets and expectations. Options range from cheap fun stays with surfers from all over the world to more exclusive and private all-inclusive surf resorts.
Climate in Indonesia
The surf in Indonesia is affected by the dry season (June to October) and wet season (November to March). Rainfall and wind direction is the biggest difference between the two, and average temperatures range from 28 to 30°c near the coasts. Winds are predictable despite the tropical storms. Monsoons usually blow from the southeast in June through September, and from the northwest in December through March.
Best Time to Go
Surfing the Dry Season in Indonesia
The best time to surf in Indonesia is during the dry season, typically between April and October. The offshore winds pick up in the south and southwest of the country, and consistent swells hit the islands. While the weather it's slightly fresher than the rest of the year, there are still beginner-friendly spots available all over. That being said, this season is also when you’ll find world-class waves breaking.
Surfing the Wet (Monsoon) Season in Indonesia
A surfing holiday in Indonesia’s low season is still possible. There’s plenty of rain and the weather is hotter, but there are also fewer people on the beaches, and prices drop considerably. In general, swells are less consistent, but the east coast still boasts some nice rides (although the waves might be more suitable for experienced surfers, such as Nusa Dua on Bali).
Main Surfing Areas in Indonesia
Surfing in Bali
Bali is the tourism powerhouse of Indonesia. It hosts excellent waves for all levels, has temperatures around 28°c all year long, and there are awesome surf camps and accommodations for all budgets.
Bali sits between Java (west) and Lombok (east), is the best-known surfing area in Indonesia, and is also part of the coral triangle, which has an incredible 500 coral reef species. So expect awesome reef breaks and excellent waves.
Some of the best surf spots on Bali are Uluwatu (a consistent left reef break), Impossibles (a good left reef break), Padang Padang (one of the best left-hand reef barrels on the planet), and Kuta Beach (a beach break that is good for beginners).
Surfing in Sumatra
Swells are typically 6-12ft from March to November in Sumatra and 3-6ft the rest of the year. The main surfing spots are off the main coast, in the Mentawai Islands, a chain of almost 70 islands with waves as varied as it gets. There are beaches, reefs, lefts and rights, tubing sections, aerial ramps, and rippable walls.
You won’t find as many surf camps in Sumatra as in other parts of Indonesia. This idyllic surfers' playground is all about discovering new breaks and riding epic waves surrounded by rainforests and pristine waters.
Some of the best surf spots are Lance’s Left (with a good hollow section), Macaronis (a left-hander with a perfect starting barrel section), Kandui (a fast left-hand reef break that works on big swells) and Playgrounds (where anyone can ride without much care).
Check out some of the best surf charters in the Mentawais, Indonesia.
Surfing in Java
Located between Sumatra (to the west) and Bali (to the east), Java is Indonesia's most populated island. Although it's not as touristy as its neighbors, It still faces the swell-generating Indian Ocean to the south.
Java’s surf season runs from April to September. The weather stays around 28°c most of the year, and surf is best around the rocky cliffs on the southern coast and on the western reefs.
Some of the best-known spots are G-land (one of the best left’s in the world), Ombah Tujuh (pumping out some of the biggest waves in Indo), and One Palm Point (a risky left that some claim is the longest barrel on earth. fFr beginners, there’s also Pangandaran’s fun beach break.
Check out surf camps and accommodations in Java now.
Surfing in Sumbawa
An island with a savanna-like climate and some of the best beaches in Indonesia, Sumbawa sits in the middle of the Lesser Sunda Islands, with Flores to the east and Lombok to the west.
The best time to surf here is between April and October. The southern coast faces the Indian ocean and receives consistent swells.
The best-known surf spots are Lakey Peak (an A-frame reef break and one of Indo’s most popular waves), Super Suck (an intense and shallow left-hand reef break for advanced surfers), and Scar Reef (known for its barrels and sharp coral). There’s also Yoyo’s, a fun wave best suited for beginners. There aren’t too many surf camps here, so book in advance.
Surfing in Lombok
Lombok has good waves during the wet season. Although typically smaller, they are also cleaner, ranging from 4 to 8ft. The southern coast works best in the wet season and the west coast in the dry season. Compared to Bali, this is a less popular destination for an Indonesian surf trip, so it tends to have fewer crowds and be a bit cheaper.
Lombok is surrounded by the famous Gili islands, which is a popular tourist destination. Dry savanna-like plains are the norm, and the temperature remains between 28 and 30°c most of the year.
Famous surf spots include Desert Point (a powerful and crowded left point break, and, Lombok's best wave), Air Guling (a right-hand reef break for all levels, best in wet season), and Grupuk, a right-hand reef break for beginner surfers that works in both seasons.
Surfing in Indonesia: What Is Your Traveling Style?
Luxury Surf Accommodations in Indonesia
No matter your surfing level, you can experience the best surfing holidays in Indonesia while staying in luxury villas, surf resorts or lodges. Ride with experienced surf guides while indulging yourself with outstanding service and quality cuisine. Catch a wave while your loved ones and friends enjoy the luxury day spas and amenities.
You can expect beachfront accommodations in exclusive locations, private areas with infinity pools, fully furnished houses, and 24/7 catered resorts.
Packages can include surf lessons, guided surf trips, transfers from and to your chosen accommodation and surf spots, amazing videos and photo sessions to remember your trip, private yoga lessons, bed-and-breakfast service, all-you-can-eat or a la carte meals, snorkeling with turtles, whale watching, kayaking with dolphins, diving and much more.
Prices range from 40 to 320 USD per person per night
Book your luxury surfing holiday accommodation in Indonesia now.
Surf Boat Charters in Indonesia
Get on board an exclusive surf charter in Indonesia with experienced surf guides that will show you to the best waves. Surf boats in Indonesia generally go out from Bali to the Mentawai and Gili Islands, but you’ll find them all around the country.
A boat trip will give you the opportunity to surf the kinds of waves you want, from world-class breaks to deserted and rarely surfed spots where you and a couple of friends can relax and enjoy an experience of a lifetime. Get into the best possible waves on every trip.
In addition to surfing, you can also fish, snorkel near sunken ships, dive coral reefs, sea turtles, walk on uninhabited islets, and explore the fauna and flora.
Prices range from 140 to 350USD per person per night. Full boat charters from 20,000 USD.
Budget Surfing in Indonesia
You can book surf camps in Indonesia and have a great time without breaking the bank. Budget accommodations and surf schools are located mainly in Bali, near Canggu, Kuta, and the Bukit. The country has cheap prices compared to Europe and Australia.
Surf camps usually have shared rooms (a choice of mixed or female-only), basic amenities like fridges and shared kitchens, fans or air-con, shared bathrooms, Wi-Fi, and sometimes swimming pools. Surf lessons by the hour can be included or asked for as an extra. Surf schools in Indonesia usually provide surfboards and a basic UV shirt. Since the weather is great, no wetsuit will be needed. Transportation to spots that are only accessible by boat is offered as an extra.
Prices range from $19/day for the basic camps to $40/day for more complete packages and privacy.
See surf camps and budget accommodations in Indonesia now.
Indonesia Travel Guide
Packing and Equipment: What Should You Pack for a Surf Holiday in Indonesia?
Depending on where you are planning to go for your surfing trip to Indonesia, you might need to pack all your surf gear, plus extras. In the more remote zones like the Mentawais you won't be able to find rentals or spare equipment like fins, leashes, extra boards, wax, zinc, or sunscreen, so take two or three of everything with you.
Indonesia uses 220v and round two-prong power outlets, common in Europe. Bring an adaptor if that’s not your outlet type (USA, Canada, and most of Latin America will need one).
The weather in Indonesia does not typically get cold unless you go into the high mountains, where temperatures can drop to 15°C, so take a light coat or jacket and good trekking shoes. In the wet season, there’s plenty of rain, so you’ll need an umbrella and a raincoat. You can buy cheap plastic ones in convenience stores all over the country. For the dry season, your best summer outfit will do, but don't forget your sunglasses and sunscreen.
Basic Info for Indonesia
Most of the surf camps in the tourist areas will have staff that speak good enough English. The official language of the country is Bahasa Indonesia, and knowing a little bit will pay off and make your trip easier, so learn a few phrases!
The local currency is the Indonesia Rupiah (1USD = 14.500 IRD).
Before Going to Indonesia
Visa / Documents
For your surf holiday in Indonesia, no visa is required for up to 30 days (140 countries included). You only need a valid passport, proof of onward or return flights, and sufficient funds for your stay. Your passport will be stamped at entry for free, but you still need to pay 35 USD as a processing fee for the tourist visa.
If you want to stay up to 60 days, you’ll need a visa on arrival and a 30-day renewal. Using an agent is highly recommended since the process will be faster and easier. A renewal takes about seven business days and costs around $50USD.
Vaccines / Health
Indonesia only asks for proof of the yellow fever vaccine if you come from a country that has the disease. Although it's not mandatory, you might opt to get routine vaccines such as hepatitis A, hepatitis B, typhoid, cholera, rabies, meningitis, polio, Tdap, chickenpox, shingles, pneumonia, influenza, and measles, mumps and rubella.
Getting to Indonesia
The main airports you will be using for your surf holiday in Indonesia are Soekarno-Hatta in Jakarta, the Ngurah-Rai in Bali, Juanda Airport in Surabaya, Lombok Airport in Mataram and Minangkabau Airport in Sumatra (to reach the Mentawais).
Getting to Indonesia by plane is the fastest and safest option, particularly if you use Bali as your point of entry. A round trip from Australia can be as low as $250AUD from Perth or $700AUD from Brisbane. From the USA, return tickets are around 900-1500 USD. Coming from Europe you will pay between 500 and 750 euros (Madrid 700, Rome 690, Paris 600), and from Brasil around $2000USD.
Moving Around Indonesia
You can rent cars and motorbikes everywhere with just your passport. You’ll need an international driver's license or you will get fined when stopped. Always wear a helmet when on a motorbike. If you are with your family or don’t know how to ride a motorbike, you can rent a car with a private driver, or use taxis (make sure they use the meter or bargain the total price in advance).
When possible, moving around by plane is the fastest option. A round trip flight from Bali to Badung is 134AUD; from Bali to Praya (Lombok) is $54AUD; from Bali to Sumbawa is $134AUD; and from Bali to Padang (Sumatra, near the Mentawais) is 263AUD. Ferries are usually cheaper but much slower, and you’ll need to bargain. Bali to the Gilis is usually around $60AUD.
- Budget meal: $1 to $10AUD for nasi goreng.
- Mid-range meal for two: $15 to 45AUD, including drinks and desserts.
- Higher-end restaurant for two: $50 to 300AUD, including full courses with drinks and desserts.
- Domestic beer is around 25,000IDR.
- Budget accommodations: $10 (shared) to $40AUD (private).
- Mid-range accommodations: Private room from $40 to 90AUD for a hotel/villa/resort room with aircon, Wi-Fi, mini-fridge, and meals.
- High-end accommodations: From $100AUD for a small villa for two or five-star hotel rooms to $1200AUD for exclusive villas, resorts, and hotels like the Four Seasons.
- Board rental in indonesia: $7AUD/hr and $20AUD/day; 150 to 250AUD/month.
- Simcards: Telkomsel’s simPATI offers 4G and 3G, and one the fastest Internet speeds. A 4GB package is $10AUD and an 8GB package is $16AUD. The other brands are typically the same. You can buy them in convenience stores, little phone shops, or airports. Shop staff will set them up for you for a small fee of $0.5AUD, but make sure you receive an SMS confirmation.
- The taxi tariff in Indonesia is $0.65AUD/km.
- Motorbike/scooter: $50-80AUD/month.
- Car rental in Indonesia is $20-35AUD/day, or $275 to $480AUD/month.
- Private driver from $35-60AUD/day for a four-person car to $70-120AUD/day for a 5-person+ minivan.
- The current gas price is around $1AUD/lt.
Other Things to Do While Surfing in Indonesia
Discover Indonesia’s Famous National Dishes and Diverse Ethnic Cuisine
Indonesia features a rich mixture of indigenous and foreign cultures, with more than 5000 local recipes (most of them deliciously spicy). Sumatran cuisine has Middle Eastern and Indian influences, boasting curried meats and vegetables. Javanese food is proudly indigenous, and Balinese food is an amalgamation of Hindu, Muslim, and local recipes. Influenced by Buddhism and Hinduism, vegetarian and vegan options are easy to find, including tempeh, tofu, and vegetable curries.
Make sure to try the five national dishes: Soto, rendang, satay, nasi goreng, Gado-Gado and tumpeng (the dish that combines the diversity of Indonesia's various culinary traditions). If you don’t like spicy food, be sure to tell your server ahead of time!
Sightseeing - Culture in Indonesia
Surfing in Indonesia might be your main focus, but there is so much more to do. The fascinating wilderness and varied landscapes offer adventures for all tastes. Venture into the many national parks and trek vast mountains. Marvel at the active volcanoes and stunning sapphire-blue lakes. Join safaris into exotic rain forests and tropical savannas in search of the elusive Komodo dragon, or snorkel and dive near ominous sunken ships on the world’s most diverse coral reef systems, bursting with colorful fish and sea turtles. Immerse yourself in the rich ethnic diversity, with hundreds of ceremonies and festivities, and ancient thousand-year-old temples like the magnificent Borobudur in Java and Tanah Lot in Bali.
Types of Risks
Mosquito bites are common in the tropics, and getting malaria is a great way to spoil your trip, so be sure to wear repellent and shower at least twice a day. Also, because of the warm weather, cuts and wounds can easily get infected.
Because of its location on the Pacific Ring of Fire, Indonesia is prone to earthquakes, floods, and tsunamis. Radio stations, locals news, and your accommodation staff should tell you if any of this happens, but usually, it's nothing to be worried about.
How to Prepare
Indonesia’s sun and long daylight hours make it mandatory to wear sunscreen/zinc or a UV shirt. Avoid paddling out alone, as strong currents can pull you out to sea. Let people know where you are, and go with a buddy to look out for each other.
Many beaches don’t have lifeguards, so check the surf forecast before you go. Look out for useful info like the presence of jellyfish or an upcoming storm. Shark attacks almost never occur in Indonesia, so you shouldn’t need to be worried about that.
Always get travel insurance before heading out on a trip. WorldNomads is a good option, but If you already have insurance, make sure it covers surf accidents, and check which hospitals they recommend near your surf camp. Also, a basic emergency kit for your Indonesian surf holiday should include ear drops and plugs, eye drops, Band-Aids, gauze, rehydration salts, and a broad-spectrum antibiotic.
In case of an emergency, call 112 (free). This is Indonesia's emergency and rescue number. They will direct you to hospitals or police, get you an ambulance, and help you with any emergency-related issues. If you have an accident while surfing in Indonesia, 112 is your best option, but keep your family and friends informed of your whereabouts too.
Emergency numbers will have English-speaking operators. Direct numbers are:
110 for the police department.
113 for the fire department.
118 for ambulance.
For hospitals, call 112. Ask your insurance which hospitals they recommend in the area you will be heading to. In Bali, famous hospitals include BIMC (+62 361 761263) and Siloam (+62 361 779900).