Overview of surfing in Java
Java is the world’s most populous island, home to Indonesia’s capital Jakarta, and is one of richest and most diverse areas on the planet. The influence of Hindu, Buddhist, and Islamic traditions runs deep and you will be amazed at how different this place feels compared to other islands in Indonesia. So why is Java often overlooked as a world class surf destination (often in favor of Bali or Lombok)? It has nothing to do with the number of quality waves, incredible scenery, or ease of getting there. Indeed, the only con it seems is that access to much of the surf is difficult.
Despite being the most populous island, most of the amenities on Java are found in or very near to Jakarta, a place that you really don’t want to spend too much time if you are planning on surfing often. The rest of the island is difficult to get to but is well worth the extra effort. One only needs to hear the world “G-Land” to immediately envision the perfection that awaits you here.
Java, like most of Indonesia, offers plenty of reef breaks to go around. Luckily, there are also points and beachies for those not inclined towards shallow and sharp coral bottoms. There is something for everyone here, especially if you are willing to put the travel time in to get to some of the more out of the way areas. It must be noted that almost all of the top quality spots are coral reefs. These breaks are best suited for intermediate and advanced surfers, while beginners and progressing intermediates should stick to the mellower and lesser known reefs. No need to get cheese grated on your first international surf trip.
Top Surf Spots
One Palm is a fantastic left hand barrel that is well known for the lone palm tree on shore that marks the reef. The wave itself is fast, hollow, and shallow. This can be less than inviting for many intermediate surfers, but might get you the barrel of your life. Take care and make sure you take your turn! Learn more here!
Cimaja is a little off the beaten track, which lends itself to less crowds and more surf! There are a few waves in the region, but this one is a good reef that throws out long rippable walls. It holds size well, so bring a couple step ups for when the swell starts firing. Learn more here!
G Land, or Grajagan, is one of the best left handers in the world. More than comparable to Desert Point and Uluwatu, this wave is long with both barrel sections and turn sections. This wave is out of the way, and staying at the surf camp on shore is the best way to experience the wave and dive deep into an Indonesian adventure. Learn more here!
Java has it all. From bare bones surf shacks to 5 star luxury resorts you will be vey staisfied no matter your budget. Once you get clear of Jakarta it might become a little more difficult to find quality middle ranges, but they are definitely around. Surf camps are an excellent option, such as the one at G Land, and offer an experience based on the rhythms of the ocean. All inclusive resorts are great as well, just make sure they have access to surf or a way to get you there.
Java is an incredibly long and varied island. The coastline almost entirely faces due South, and is full of reefs and bays which lend themselves to creating a myriad of set ups, both mellow and heavy. You have to keep in mind that the coast of Java is mostly undeveloped. For the most part it is an adventure getting to a lot of the spots as you must enter nature preserves or cross through them on your way. The far east tip of the island is where you will find the infamous G Land. The far west side will bring you to Panaitan Island, which allows swells to bend and form perfect and powerful walls. If you are looking at the more central coast, look for inlets and bays to bring you to groomed reef breaks and points.
Access to Java and Surf
Getting to the island of Java is very easy. Jakarta is home to the largest international airport in Indonesia and has plenty of direct flights in and out daily. Once you are here you’ll want to make sure you can get to the surf. Some of the most well known spots on the coast are accessible by car, and if you don’t have a boat set up or transport already arranged for your trip you’ll want to rent one.
For many of the spots that are more remote the easiest access is by boat. Therefore a boat charter is a very appealing option for many surfers traveling to the island. Many of the accommodation options also provide boat transport free of charge (if they are a surf focused accommodation). The plus side of having a boat is the ability to hop away from Java if you so please and hit a perfect session elsewhere before returning.
Same as the rest of Indonesia, most nationalities can receive a 30 day tourist stay without a visa. For those that want a visa most nationalities are eligible for a visa-on-arrival, which can also be extended by 30 days at the end of your planned exit which can prove helpful if you see a perfect storm brewing in the Indian Ocean. See the Indonesian government’s site for more information
The 36 best Surf spots in Java
Overview of surfing spots in Java
Surf spot overview
The vibe here is generally (now that is a generally) more relaxed than more popular areas in Indonesia like Bali. That being said, if you find yourself at one of the premier breaks expect the general friendliness to evaporate. Of course as is the case anywhere follow the general rules of etiquette and make sure the locals are allowed to take the waves they choose too. Funnily enough the breaks near Jakarta are generally the more relaxed ones. It is places like G land and Panaitan Island where things really begin to get very competitive.
Surf seasons and when to go
The best time of the year to surf in Java
Java is governed by the dry and wet seasons. The dry season extends from May to September and the wet season from October to April. The dry season sees heavy swells from the Indian Ocean and the wind direction is generally favorable. The wet season sees lighter swell and the wind windows are low. Unsurprisingly there is also a lot more rainfall this time of year. Make sure to avoid surfing near Jakarta during the rainy season as it is not the cleanliest city in the world.
Java surf travel guide
Find trips that fit a flexible lifestyle
Activities other than Surf
While the allure of Java’s waves is undeniable, the island is also teeming with cultural, natural, and culinary treasures waiting to be explored. Take a step back in time with a visit to the ancient temples of Borobudur and Prambanan, bearing witness to the island’s rich historical tapestry.
For the adventurers, the volcanic landscapes of Bromo and Ijen offer breathtaking treks, revealing ethereal sunrises and the mesmerizing blue flames. And no trip to Java would be complete without diving into its culinary world. From the iconic Nasi Goreng, a fried rice dish garnished with a variety of toppings, to the warm and hearty Soto, a traditional soup, Java’s flavors are sure to captivate your palate.
Navigating Java’s linguistic landscape is an experience in itself. While Bahasa Indonesia serves as the national language, a majority of Javanese residents communicate in their native tongue, Javanese. However, the global influence and the rise of tourism mean that English has made significant inroads, especially among the younger generation and in tourist-centric locales. As always, attempting a few local phrases goes a long way in building rapport and bridges of understanding.
When it comes to finances, the Indonesian Rupiah (IDR) reigns supreme on Java. The island, with its broad spectrum of experiences, caters to both budget backpackers and luxury seekers. Whether you’re sipping coffee in a streetside warung or dining in an upscale restaurant, you’ll find that Java offers incredible value for money. While credit cards are gaining traction, especially in urban areas, it’s wise to carry cash when venturing to more remote corners of the island.
In this digital age, staying connected is often paramount. Java, despite its vast and varied terrain, boasts commendable cell coverage in cities and most populated regions. Moreover, travelers will find WiFi readily available in a majority of accommodations, ranging from quaint guesthouses to luxurious resorts. Cafes, too, often provide internet access. However, those seeking the untouched surf spots in the island’s more secluded areas might encounter sporadic connectivity, adding to the charm of truly “getting away.”
Java is not just a destination; it’s an immersive journey where world-class surf meets a mosaic of cultural experiences. Every wave ridden is complemented by the soulful tunes of traditional gamelan, the aromatic wafts of street food, and the genuine warmth of its people. Whether you’re a novice surfer chasing your first wave or a seasoned pro seeking the perfect barrel, Java’s shores beckon. And beyond the coastline, the island’s rich traditions, vibrant arts, and culinary delights promise an adventure that transcends the ordinary. In essence, Java is where the spirit of Indonesia truly comes alive, making it an indispensable stop on every surfer’s global odyssey.