By Dian Hasan | July 6, 2010
Avid surfers the world over have managed to put a lid on the world’s best-kept surfing destination secret, Indonesia. But with the explosive spread of of social media, Indo’s secret is out on the internet.
As home to the world’s largest archipelago, Indonesia is spoilt for choice for surfing destinations, and new surf spots are still being discovered, as surfers venture further afield, exploring outer-lying islands along Indonesia’s western and southern islands.
Timor Island, east of Bali, is one of the new finds, home to the famed T-Land that is fast gaining the accolade as among the world’s best left-hander.
Until recently, Timor was far too remote, with limited infrastructure and lodging. This has now changed with the opening of Australian-managed Nemberala Beach Resort has made the trek more palpable. Attracting a new crop of surfers, pioneered by the Aussies and closely followed by surfer dudes and dudettes from other countries.
Indisputably the crown jewel of Roti, Nemberala’s “T-Land” was actually named after G-Land, although T-Land is much more user-friendly than its famous Javanese cousin. T-Land is similar in that the long, flat reef is broken into four sections: the Point, the Steeple, Magic Mountain, and Inner Tubes. Because of this, T-Land has a huge take-off area, able to accommodate several surfers. When big the wave can get fairly top-to-bottom, but generally it is a very long, steep, wally face, with the barrel being more “top-to-middle” or almond-shaped or a top-to-middle wave. T-Land is just as epic as anything else in Indo. Goofy-footers rejoice! ~ Michael Kew
Although Nemberala’s main break , “T-Land”, known by locals by the name of Besialu, has been surfed since 1979, it remains uncrowded, it is a top world class lefthander comparable to a softer G-land that holds up to a very manageable 15ft faces, and it can handle as big as gets (the bigger the more perfect it gets.)
It breaks with great shape at any size of swell and on all tides, making it very consistent and enjoyable for all levels of surfing.
The reef is not sharp, is rather soft and non treating and the waves break into 3 different sections that connect making 200 mt/600 ft long rides a common scene.
Ideal for “older surfers” or longboarders looking for long and relaxing lines, “pointbreak style” versus short square tubes breaking over deadly reef, but also suitable for younger surfers looking for more juicy waves. A bigger board may be required for the bigger days, but generally your everyday board will do the job. As a general rule winds are lighter in the mornings and late afternoons. This wave is usually off shore all day and because it keeps breaking throughout the different tide changes you can surf it all day at any time making it possible to find times to have it just to yourself and your friends. (source: Rote Surf House)
INTRODUCTION ON TIMOR (source: Surfline)
The westernmost nook of Timor is a bit anomalous in terms of standard Indonesian surf trip. For starters, it looks and feels a lot like deserty Northwestern Australia (which would make sense since Australia is so close); the people look different, too, and their east end of Indo has been ravaged by warfare, so Timor isn’t exactly a lush jungle paradise á la Bali or Sumatra. While its people nowadays are generally friendly towards outsiders, Timor has a long way to go before it becomes a mainstream surf destination, not only from the stigma surrounding its war-torn society, but also because of its relatively narrow swell window compared to the rest of Indo. West Timor sits above Australia, so swells must be large and have enough west in them to make it up and over there. But when they do, West Timor gets perfect since the trade winds howl offshore at T-Land, Timor’s marquee wave, and the swells are very organized, having traveled a great distance. With the easy options of booking a Mahalo boat trip or staying at deluxe Nemberala Beach Resort, West Timor is ideal for anyone who wants to avoid the traditional Indonesia surf routes, basically going the opposite direction of the crowds. Honestly, you can’t go wrong.
West Timor is nothing like Bali or the Mentawais (or even Sumbawa or Lombok); the far-eastern end of Indonesia is generally overlooked by surf travelers. But this isn’t to say the lineups of West Timor are completely empty, because they usually aren’t – there is a well-known surf resort at Nemberala, and a couple of surf charter boats continually work the Roti area. Either way, West Timor could hardly be considered crowded.
Hitting the reef is probably the biggest danger; malaria is present, too.
Being Indo’s official “off-season,” November through February is not the best time of year for surf on Roti, but being the wet season, there is the chance of some cyclone swell hitting the area. Unfortunately, the winds in summer generally are onshore, but they are offshore at a few rare spots.
Fall is a transitional period, when the southern Indian Ocean starts to slowly wake up, spawning some early, long-period southwest swell. The southeast trade winds start in April, and the skies begin to dry. The trades blow offshore at most the spots around Roti, especially T-Land.
The dry season, winter (May-September) is also prime surf season; the swells come, and the winds blow offshore. The trades are strongest June through August.
This is another transition season, still with swell possibilities and the chance of having very light and variable all day. But typically the southwestern swell train begins to slow down; the winds change, and rain reappears.
First you must get to Darwin (Australia) or Bali; from there, Indonesia’s Merpati Airlines has daily flights to Kupang. Getting to the resort requires an overnight in Kupang, then a two-hour ferry ride to Roti. The Mahalo will get you in Kupang.