Your Ultimate Guide to Surf Travel in Indonesia

Indonesia has 13 main surf areas. There are 165 surf spots and 102 surf holidays. Go explore!

Overview of surfing in Indonesia

Indonesia holds a special place in the hearts of surfers around the world. Ever since its discovery as a wave riding destination surfers have made the pilgrimage to its emerald waters. Indonesia is a massive archipelago that holds 17,000 islands. This means a huge amount of potential surf set ups. It’s location in the Northeast of the Indian Ocean also ensures that there is plenty of energy in the water to supply these setups with epic swell. Although the most famous spots are reefs that barrel here, there are plenty of options for all skill levels on the island. Read on to learn everything you’ll need to know about a surf trip to Indonesia.

Best Surf Spots in Indonesia

There are way too many top quality surf spots to choose from in this incredible island chain, so here are three that are considered the best of the best.

Nias

This right hand reef break was heavily altered after a big earthquake. The change is positive for those looking for deep barrels, which are on basically every wave now after the reef jutted up. The wave is heavy and best left to those that are well prepared. Learn more here!

G Land

One of the more remote breaks, G Land offers up one of the longest right-handers in the world with performance sections as well as barrels. Aside from Pipeline, this is Gerry Lopez’s favorite wave in the world. The multiple take-off spots and sections allow for intermediate and advanced surfers alike to enjoy the surf. Learn more here!

Desert Point

One of the longest right-hand barrels in the world when on, although it is fickle. This spot when working dishes out barrels of upwards of 20 seconds! Take care, the reef is both extremely shallow and sharp. Learn more here!

Accommodation: Where to Rest and Ride

Accommodation options in Indonesia are as diverse as its surf spots. Budget travellers can embrace the surf camp culture, sharing waves, rooms, and stories with fellow surfers. Mid-range options offer cozy surf resorts with easy access to the waves, while luxury seekers can indulge in stunning beachfront villas or exclusive island retreats. No matter your budget, you can get great accommodation close to world-class waves.

The Good
World Class Surf
Year Round Surfing
Cultural Richness
Affordable Travel
The Bad
Crowded Spots
Inconsistent Wifi
Weather Extremes
Language Barriers
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Getting there

Regions: The Wave-Rich Archipelago

Indonesia’s surf regions are as diverse as the waves themselves, promising an unforgettable adventure for surfers from all walks of life.

  1. Bali:  Bali, often hailed as the “Island of the Gods,” is the heart of Indonesia’s surfing scene. Its enchanting beauty, rich culture, and warm waters have lured surfers for decades. The southern Bukit Peninsula is a surfer’s dream, home to world-renowned spots like Uluwatu, Padang Padang, and Bingin. Uluwatu’s long left-hand wave, breaking in front of awe-inspiring cliffs, is a must-surf spot just based on the historicity of the setting. If you prefer right-handers, venture to Keramas, a high-performance wave offering perfect barrels and air sections. Check out the best spots on Bali here!
  2. The Mentawai Islands: Surfing’s Gold Standard Located off Sumatra’s coast, the Mentawai Islands are one of the top Indonesian surf destinations. This remote and wave-rich series of islands offers legendary breaks such as HTs, Rifles, and Macaronis. Charter boats and land camps cater to surfers and families alike, and the allure of uncrowded waves in paradise is undeniable. The Mentawai Islands are ideal for experienced surfers ready to take on heavy barrels and fast walls, making it a bucket-list destination for many. Check out the absolute best spots on the Mentawai chain here, and for a more detailed overview click here!
  3. Java:  While Bali might steal the spotlight, Java’s wave potential should not be overlooked. The infamous G-Land in Grajagan Bay offers one of the longest and most consistent left-hand barrels in the world. The thrill of riding this epic wave, set against the backdrop of the lush Plengkung National Forest, is an experience to cherish. Java’s rugged coastline is ripe for discovering other spots. There are so many little corners and reef passes that are home to both known and unknown breaks.
  4. Lombok and Sumbawa: Neighboring Bali, Lombok and Sumbawa offer surfers an escape from the crowds and a chance to score perfect waves in a more secluded setting. Lombok’s Desert Point is home to one of the best and longest barrels in the world. With the right swell, it transforms into an endless tube ride, just watch out for the razor sharp and shallow reef. Sumbawa boasts Indonesian staples like Lakey Peak, Supersuck, and Scar Reef, offering a mix of world-class barrels and rippable walls.
  5. West Timor: For the adventurous surf traveller seeking solitude, West Timor is the answer. Situated to the east, this lesser-known region shares more similarities with Western Australia than other parts of Indonesia. The waves in West Timor, such as the rippable left at T-Land, are user-friendly and often uncrowded. The region’s desert landscapes, sapphire blue waters, and friendly lineups make it a great option for those looking for an off the beaten track trip to the archipelago.

Getting There: Embarking on the Surf Journey

Getting to Indonesia is easier than ever, with international flights connecting major cities worldwide to the country’s main airports. Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport is a popular entry point, serving as the gateway to the Indonesian archipelago. From there, domestic flights and ferries transport surfers to various regions, ensuring quick access to the best waves.

The 165 best Surf spots in Indonesia

Overview of surfing spots in Indonesia

Telescopes

10
Left | Exp Surfers
200m long

Lagundri Bay (Nias)

10
Right | Exp Surfers
200m long

Desert Point

10
Left | Exp Surfers
300m long

One Palm

10
Left | Exp Surfers
300m long

G – Land

10
Left | Exp Surfers
300m long

One Palm Point

10
Left | Exp Surfers
300m long

Lagundri Bay – The Point

10
Right | Exp Surfers
200m long

Padang Padang

10
Left | Exp Surfers
100m long

Surf spot overview

Indonesia is one of those places that has something for everyone. Despite its reputation for heaving reef breaks (don’t worry it has those too) there are plenty of smaller beachbreaks and sheltered reefs perfect for those progressing and learning.  From world-class reef breaks to inviting beach breaks, you’ll find an array of waves that beckon to be ridden. Indonesia does not have favorites when it comes to lefts and rights. There are world class options going either direction. For rights check out Nias, Lances Right, or Keramas to name a few. If you prefer left-handers, the iconic G-Land in Java, Padang Padang, or Desert Point are all options.

Surf seasons and when to go

The best time of the year to surf in Indonesia

Surf Seasons

The Indonesian archipelago straddles the equator and lies in an area influenced by the position of the Intertropical Convergence Zone. As such it has a tropical monsoon climate typified by cloudiness and precipitation, warm temperatures, and high humidifies, which is characterised by two monsoons. Maximum daytime temperatures close to 30 degrees or above year-round, water temperatures in the mid to high 20’s, make Indo weather ideal for surfing for at least 6 months of the year. Transition periods and actual onset times for these monsoons vary from one end of the island groups to the other, but the mean months divided into the Wet Season (November – April) and Dry Season (May – October).

Northeast Monsoon (Wet Season) (Nov – April)

During these months the subtropical ridge is at its farthest south and the thermal high over Australia has been replaced by a thermal low. This combination pulls the monsoon trough (trade wind convergence zone) into its farthest south position of the year lying across Java by December and south of the islands in January. With most of the main surfing locations in the southern hemisphere, you can expect the wettest weather over the famed surfing breaks during this period. This wet weather is brought in by the monsoonal winds from the northwest and their convergence with southeast trade winds. The transition to the wet season begins in October in Sumatra and Java and in early November further east and it is on everywhere by the end of November. The number of rain days peaks with the passing of the trough and varies from across the archipelago. Java has the most rain days in November to January at 15+, and further east over Bali, Lombok and Sumba have the most rain days in January through April at 12 to 15.  Mean high temperatures are between 29C and 31C. The mean lows are from 23C to 25C.

Southwest Monsoon (Dry Season) (May – Oct)

The subtropical ridge is at its farthest north position by mid-June, and drags the monsoon trough north of the area and allows southeast trade flow to cover most of the archipelago by May and continues until October. This creates clean conditions for surfing at many of the better-known surf breaks from Macaroni’s in the Mentawais to Uluwatu in Bali. This is also the time that more intense low-pressure systems start to form through the Indian and Southern Oceans. Large, long-period groundswell can travel 1000’s of kilometres once generated by these winter storms, reaching the exposed southwest coastlines of Indonesia with great power and size. With drier weather also occurring at this time of year, it is generally considered the golden time to go. The east islands are into the dry season as much as a couple of months earlier than Sumatra. The most rain in this season occurs in May and early June on Java and Sumatra with 6 days with rain. By July and August at most locations this drops to virtually 0. Mean high temperatures are between 29C and 31C. The mean lows are from 23C to 25C.

Annual surf conditions
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OPTIMAL
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Air and sea temperature in Indonesia

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Indonesia surf travel guide

Find trips that fit a flexible lifestyle

Activities other than Surf: 

Beyond its surf, Indonesia is a treasure trove of diverse activities. Immerse yourself in the lush landscapes by trekking through picturesque jungles, chasing waterfalls, or exploring ancient temples. Snorkeling, scuba diving, and free diving open up a world of underwater wonders, and for the adrenaline seekers, try white-water rafting or volcano hiking. There will always be something to do when the surf is flat!

Language

Indonesia is a vast and diverse archipelago, and its linguistic diversity mirrors its rich tapestry of cultures and landscapes. While Bahasa Indonesian serves as the official language, you’ll discover over 300 spoken dialects and native languages across the islands. Locals greatly appreciate travelers who make an effort to speak the language, even if it involves some playful mispronunciations. A few useful phrases can enhance your experience: “Selamat pagi” (Good morning), “Terima kasih” (Thank you), and “Silahkan” (Please) can go a long way in forging connections and showing respect. Although English is widely spoken in tourist areas, especially in Bali, taking the time to learn a few local phrases can open doors to a deeper appreciation of Indonesia’s diverse cultures and people. From the intricate rituals of Bali to the hearty hospitality of Sumatra, each region’s unique cultural identity is expressed through its language, creating a richer experience for those who seek to engage with it.

Local Culture: Embracing Traditions and Cuisine

Indonesia’s rich cultural heritage adds an extra layer of depth to your surf trip. Engage with friendly locals and embrace their warm hospitality. Experience traditional ceremonies, captivating dance performances, and vibrant festivals that showcase Indonesia’s colourful heritage. Don’t forget to savour the local cuisine – from satay to mie goreng – each dish is a delightful fusion of flavours.

Currency/Budget

Indonesia offers incredible value for surfers of all budgets. The local currency is the Indonesian rupiah (IDR), and while larger resorts in popular tourist areas may accept US or Australian dollars, it’s advisable to have some rupiah on hand for local transactions. In the most touristy areas like Bali, you’ll find a wide range of dining options, from street food stalls serving delicious dishes for just a few dollars to mid-range restaurants offering hearty meals for around $5. A local beer costs approximately $2.50, while imported options might be around $3.50. Accommodation caters to all budgets, with hostels and surf camps offering affordable options starting from $20-30 per day, mid-range hotels and resorts ranging from $100 to $300 per night, and luxury beachfront villas or exclusive retreats exceeding $300 per night. Domestic flights between islands are relatively affordable, and local SIM cards make staying connected a breeze, especially in well-touristed areas. Indonesia’s favorable exchange rate ensures that your surf trip can be as budget-friendly or as luxurious as you desire.

Cell Coverage/Wifi

Indonesia may be a tropical haven for surfers, but it’s also well-connected when it comes to staying in touch. While the level of internet connectivity varies depending on your location, heavily touristed areas like Bali offer Wi-Fi practically everywhere, often for free. Many accommodations, from surf camps to luxury resorts, provide reliable internet access. For those wanting to stay connected on the go, numerous cell providers like Telkomsel, XL Axiata, and Indosat offer prepaid SIM cards with data plans that allow you to use your smartphone’s hotspot technology. With a local SIM card, you can easily check swell forecasts, post envy-inducing surf shots, or simply keep in touch with loved ones back home. Whether you’re on a remote island or a bustling surf hotspot, Indonesia’s connectivity options ensure you won’t miss out on sharing your epic wave-riding moments.

What are You Waiting For?

Indonesia is a surfing mecca where surfers of all skill levels can find waves that suit their desires. With diverse regions, stunning accommodations, easy accessibility, and a welcoming local culture, Indonesia promises an unforgettable surf trip. Whether you’re seeking the legendary breaks of Bali or the remote charm of West Timor,be ready for a once in a lifetime trip. Pack your boards, embrace the adventure, and let Indonesia become your favorite surf destination.

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