Indonesia, the world's largest island country, has more than 13,000 islands. That’s a lot of coastline. 61,567 miles in fact. So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that it is one of the world’s most decorated and celebrated surf spots. While Bali and East Java lead the pack with their trailblazing swells in G-Land and Uluwatu, who offer year-round rides, sunshine and Bintangs on tap at their surrounding beach bars, there’s also a whole host of untrodden frontiers that come with their own unbridled wilderness and palm-lined shores. So, whether you’re a thrill-seeking pro or a beginner looking to catch your first wave, Indonesia’s warm waters, consistent swells and breathtaking scenery await. Read on for our round up of the very best places to surf in Indonesia.
- Uluwatu, Bali
- G-Land, East Java
- Desert Point, Lombok
- Mentawai Islands, West Sumatra
- Nias, North Sumatra
- Nihiwatu, Sumba
- Padang Padang, Bali
- Mawi, Lombok
- Sumbawa, West Nusa Tenggara
Let’s kick off our Indonesian surf adventure in the iconic island of Bali and the legendary Uluwatu. Known for its long, barrelling left-hand reef break, Uluwatu draws in surfers from all over the globe. Its consistent swells and powerful waves make it a favourite among experienced surfers, but fear not, beginners can also get their kicks along the smaller waves on the inside section. After a satisfying surf session, be sure to stay for the stunning sunset from the cliff top Uluwatu Temple, which famously overlooks the break below.
Prepare yourself for the ultimate adrenaline rush at G-Land, also known as Grajagan, on the southeastern tip of Java. It’s a renowned surf spot that has gained a reputation for its epic left-hand reef break known as ‘Speedies’. This wave is not for the faint-hearted though. It can reach up to 12 feet and comes with long, fast barrels. Intermediate to advanced surfers will find themselves in surfer’s paradise, with several other breaks like ‘Kongs’ and ‘Moneytrees’ providing further thrills and spills.
Desert Point is Lombok’s best wave by a mile. This fast and hollow reef break is a challenge even for the best surfers. It’s been known to give 20 second barrels that can only be rivalled by Namibia’s Skeleton Coast. This fickle spot can go weeks without waves, but there are a host of waves that work in smaller conditions as well, along with a few secret ones that you can hunt out yourself.
Image by Alix Pardo
For those seeking a more remote and adventurous experience, the Mentawai Islands are an absolute must. Located off the coast of West Sumatra, this archipelago enjoys some of the best waves in the world. With over 70 surf breaks spread across the islands, you’ll find everything from mellow breaks to heavy barrels catering to all skill sets. The Mentawai Islands offer a fabulous surf experience, with pristine beaches, lush rainforests and amazing marine life all adding to the appeal.
Next up, we venture to the island of Nias, off the coast of North Sumatra. Nias is famous for its powerful and consistent waves, pulling in surfers looking for a challenge. The most well-known break, ‘The Point’, offers a long, hollow right-hand reef break that can reach up to ten feet – fair to say this is one for the thrill-seekers. Experienced surfers will be rewarded with long rides and the chance to test their skills. Nias also has other breaks suitable for beginners, making it a versatile destination for surfers of all levels.
Nihiwatu may be a lesser-known surf spot, but it’s one of Kelly Slater’s favourite waves in the world. The island of Sumba is right beneath Sumbawa. It is Indonesia at its most authentic and is ideal for adventurous surfers. Uncrowded and consistent, it is a perfect left-hand wave.
Padang Padang is another flagship surf spot on Bali, located in Bukit’s Peninsula. This left-hand wave is a hollow reef break, perfect for practicing some barrel rides or simply playing with its long steep wall.
Image by Faustine Poidevin
Another nice wave on Lombok is Mawi Beach, probably the most consistent surf spot on the island. Mawi works at all stages of the tide and breaks left and right, making it a fun place to practice. Mawi Beach is about 25 minutes from Kuta so spend the day making it your surf crescendo, you’ll pass a few other breaks along the way and they’re not to be missed.
Our final stop takes us to the lesser-known island of Sumbawa in West Nusa Tenggara. So secret we weren’t sure whether to spill, this is a spot perfect for surfers seeking uncrowded waves and pristine beaches. ‘Lakey Peak’ is the most revered of its reef breaks, offering a powerful left-hand one that’s all about long rides and barrel sections. Sumbawa has other breaks like ‘Periscopes’ and ‘Scar Reef’, which cater to all different skill levels. With its laid-back atmosphere and stunning natural beauty, Sumbawa is literally just waiting to be explored.
Remember while chasing the wave to always respect the local surf etiquette, be mindful of the environment and support local communities. Now, pack your bags and get ready to ride those waves… The best places to surf in Indonesia are calling.
Header image by Alix Pardo