World’s Best Kept Travel Secrets: Surfing Spots, Indonesia

By Dian Hasan | June 3, 2009

bali_www.errantsurf.comMore often than not, the best travel destinations – especially ones involving nature – are of the “undiscovered” breed! Naturally, very few travelers are into the category of travel like a “lone survivor on a deserted island”, but traveling to destinations where the nature overwhelms you more than the people is always welcomed! Such is the experience that awaits surfers in Indonesia – especially of the die-hard type. It’s the natural pairing, the sun and surf – after all Indonesia is the world’s largest archipelago. And surfers are rewarded with some of the best swells on the planet, in the most pristine settings imaginable. Here’s a look at some of Indonesia’s best-kept surfing site secrets.

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, and a myriad of other miniscule offshore islands.


1. Mentawai Island, West Sumatra

The Mentawai Islands are one of the most consistent surf destinations in the world. Surfer aficionados from across the world swear by Mentawai’s surf breaks that are indescribable. The Mentawai Islands are regarded as having some of the most consistent surf breaks in the world and home to some surf breaks that will blow your mind! With the discovery of the incredible surf of the Mentawai Islands off the coast West Sumatra, the search for surfing perfection is over-all is available in staggering abundance. Islet after islet, flawless reef after flawless reef; sun and blue water, offshore winds and spitting tubes.


2. Panaitan Island, West Java

Situated just off the coast of West Java, Panaitan Island hosts 7 excellent surf spots including the legendary One Palm Point and Apocalypse. Panaitan is rich of wildlife and now you can surf its world class waves in warm, clear blue water away from crowds. Panaitan is part of Ujung Kulon national park, which is a United Nations World Heritage site. One of the world’s longest (upto 800 yards), most perfect, most dangerous shallow left-hand barrelsreels across a reef point.


3. Bali

Bali is every surfer’s paradise and requires no introduction. For those who have always wanted to surfing, Bali has very consistent surf and great warm weather. Bali Island, the perfect holiday destination for all ages offers something for everyone. This tropical paradise has a unique blend of modern tourist facilities combined with wonderful shopping and a rich past and heritage. Some of the best surfing beaches in the world can be found on the western side of the island. 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 spots.


4. Lombok, Lesser Sunda Islands, East of Bali

Lombok is also known for its best secret surf point, The Desert Point. A long walled and incredibly hollow left hander that on its day can break up to 300 meters, growing in size from takeoff to end. Best between 3-8 ft. You may need to hire boat from locals to take you to some of the wave’s point. If you stay in Kuta Beach Lombok, ask around, many locals surfer will guide you to find the waves. Kuta Lombok is “surfers’ paradise”. Waves are excellent and many good surf points, such as Mawi, Mawun and etc include “Point X”, along South coast of Lombok.

The Hook & Yo-Yo's. Photography: Sylvain Cazenove

5. Sumbawa, Lesser Sunda Islands, East of Bali
Situated East of Bali, Sumbawa Island boasts a range of world class waves that work on varied conditions maximizing the potential for good surf. Sumbawa offers some classic tropical surfing with two main surfing areas: West Sumbawa and the Lakai area. This area has many steep cliffs that offer scenic backdrops to the epic surf. The coast of West Sumbawa is dotted with a series of quality breaks. The three main and most famous spots surfed on the west coast of Sumbawa are Scar Reef, Super Suck and Yo-Yo’s. When those all surfe is working, it is really working and will make your trip to Sumbawa more than worthwhile.

Nias and Hinako Islands_Lagundri Bay_Marc
Lagundri Bay, Nias. Photo: Marc Fenies

6. Nias Island, West Sumatra
Home to some truly amazing surfing, Nias Island is famous for the perfect waves breaking off Lagundri Bay, with perfect waves ranging from 2 to 15 feet. Access is easy thanks to a break in the reef called “The Keyhole” that will spare you getting over the sand bar regardless how big the obstacle. The reef itself is not dangerous compared to other surfing spots in Indonesia. The corals are abundant but not aggressive. Because of the geographical position of the archipelago, this cluster of islands is one of the most interesting areas in the world.


G-Land, Grajagan, East Java

7. G-Land (Grajagan Islands), East Java
G-Land is a magical place and one of the surfing world’s most incredible surfing destinations. For many surfers, it’s been a very special surfing site of primitive beauty and perfect waves. Like the primitive magical sound of its name, the mentions of Grajagan is an Indonesia incantation that causes surfers everywhere gaze longingly at the horizon.The long lines are unmistakable perfect and the discovery that followed is now regarded as arguably the world’s best left-hander ever. Known for its consistent off-shore trade winds during the sessions. G-Land is a Mecca for travelling surfers and the global pilgrimage to G-Land occurs all year around as surfers travel to Java to sample G-Land jewels.


Sumba, Lesser Sunda Islands

8. Sumba, Lesser Sunda Islands, East of Bali
Close to Bali, Sumba provides some excellent waves in beautiful surroundings. With an exciting local culture and a relatively small population, Sumba is one of the more pristine, unspoilt, undeveloped and least crowded regions of Indonesia. There are good waves all over the island providing options for surfers of all levels – from beginners right through to advanced surfers. On top of perfect tropical surf, the island is also great for fishing, snorkelling, bird watching, beach combing and relaxing. Uncrowded waves, laidback living and spectacular sights – Sumba is the spirit of surf travel

West Timor_Pulau Dana_photography by

Dana Island, West Timor. Photography: Joli

9. Timor, Lesser Sunda Islands, East of Bali
The West Timor islands have some of the best uncrowded waves in Indonesia. The islands of West Timor and Roti have some well-known, little surfed breaks (like T-Lands) as well as quite a few secret spots. T-Land is the ultimate fun wave, a lefthander where you can smack reo after reo, ride the nose forever or just cruise your way through section after section. Roti island is the furthest southern point of Indonesia, with beautiful unspoilt beaches combining amazing surfbreaks, pockets of lush tropical rainforests, savanna’s and rolling hills ending in sheer cliff. You now have the chance to experience this Indonesia dream.


Nusa Penida and Nusa Lembongan Islands, Bali

10. Nusa Penida & Nusa Lembongan Islands
Nusa Penida region consists of 3 isles, which are Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembongan, and Nusa Ceningan. These isles, located on the east-west side of Bali. Another secret place for some private time on beautiful white, sandy beaches and obviously a great spot to surf as well
. Usually, the Nusa Penida region is visited by fanatic surfers seeking hideouts to surf. Explore the crystal clear, warm waves of the island of Nusa Lembongan. From the gentle fun waves of playgrounds to the hollow perfection of lacerations, Nusa Lembongan has a surf break for all levels.

Squeezing a list of only 10 surf spots into the extensive archipelago that make up Indonesia, simply does not do it justice, so we’ve added reserved one last spot.


Lombok Island, East of Bali

11. Gili Trawangan & Gili Meno Islands, Lombok, Lesser Sunda Islands, East of Bali
In a land of left handers, this place is a refreshing change. The locals are cool, the atmosphere on the Gili Islands is horizontal and the break, albeit a little fickle, is well worth checking out. People doubt this spot, which is good because it keeps the crowds out. When its breaking you can’t miss it. This spot is called secrets by the local boys who are more than welcoming to traveling surfers, and it picks up more swell than you’d expect. The take off spot on the outside point is fairly easy, but it quickly jacks up to produce long and hollow walls. It breaks over a shallow reef for a long and fast ride. Its fun up to double overhead with long tube rides, but over that it becomes one serious wave that walls seemingly forever.

Inspired by original piece that appeared in Syahid Deradjat’s wordpress blog.



Filed under Adventure Travel, Asia, South East Asia

5 responses to “World’s Best Kept Travel Secrets: Surfing Spots, Indonesia

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