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24 Reasons Why Indonesia is the World’s Best Surfing Country



Indonesia is the world’s best surfing country. That’s a big claim, but the sheer variety and year-round consistency of the waves in this tropical archipelago of more than 18,000 islands back it up.

If laid on a map of the continental US, Indonesia stretches from ​Seattle to Washington DC, a distance of 2,800 miles with the Papua provinces sticking far out into the Atlantic Ocean. That’s a huge country and, with 250 million people, Indonesia is the fourth most populated land area on earth.

For surfers, what matters is the waves. The Indian Ocean swell season of April to September is famous for sheer consistency, with swell after swell generated by storms in the high latitudes of the Roaring 40’s and the Furious 50’s traveling across the Indian Ocean to eventually collide with with thousands of miles of waiting coral reefs. With favorable southeast trade winds and occasional northwest winds during this period, it’s the stuff of surfers’ dreams.

Less well known are the many waves on the Pacific side of Indonesia. More spots are being discovered every season and with several charter boats now operating in North Maluku province, more waves are sure to be found.

If one were to make a list of the 25 or so best waves on earth, at least ten and perhaps as many as 15 would be located somewhere in Indonesia. For surfers worldwide, it’s pretty clear: Indonesia is the world’s best surfing country.


1. Uluwatu, Bali

brewing into bag in a cupFrom its first appearance in a surfing film in "Morning of the Earth" in 1971, Uluwatu has been inspiring surfers for decades. While the surroundings have undergone an avalanche of development with restaurants, bars and hotels, the wave is much the same as it was 40 years ago -  a long left wall with crunchy hollow barrel sections over dry reef.


2. Lagundri Bay, Nias, North Sumatra

brewing into bag in a cupLagundri Bay at Nias is one of the iconic fantasy waves of Indonesia, a perfect righthander in the land of lefts. After the massive 2005 earthquake, the sea floor in the area rose as much as two meters and the wave got better: longer and hollower than previous.


3. The Bukit Peninsula, Bali

brewing into bag in a cupThe Bukit Peninsula is the home of several perfect reef waves, from Uluwatu at the tip pf the peninsula to Balangan inside Jimbaran Bay. A helicopter view shows the coral reef formation that makes for perfect waves.


4. Asu, North Sumatra

brewing into bag in a cupThe classic Indonesian left at Asu, where long lines of Indian Ocean groundswell wrap around a coral reef with mechanical perfection. Asu is located on the equator, so shade is mandatory in the middle of the day as the tropical heat can be intense.


5. Laki Peak, Sumbawa, East Nusa Tenggara

brewing into bag in a cupLaki Peak in Sumbawa is one of the most popular surfing areas in Indonesia, with clean offshore lefts and rights. The many accommodation places in the area are usually booked with regulars who return season for their dose of tropical perfection.


6. East Java

brewing into bag in a cupInside the boundaries of Alas Purwo National Park is the long point of G-Land, one of the world's best lefts. After the southeast trades start to blow in mid-morning, the barrels spin down the long reef with hypnotic perfection.


7. Mentawai Islands, West Sumatra

brewing into bag in a cupThe Mentawai Islands need no introduction, this fantasy playground of perfect tropical waves for surfers has been regularly featured in video clips, photo essays and magazine stories for well over two decades, and for good reason; it's the best tropical surfing area on the planet.


8. Hinako Islands, North Sumatra

brewing into bag in a cupViewing platform at Bawa in the Hinako Islands. Bawa is known as the Sunset Beach of Indonesia, where huge right barrels can happen on a northwest offshore wind.


9. East Nusa Tenggara

brewing into bag in a cupIn Indonesia's far eastern reaches are several islands that receive plenty of swell in the Indian Ocean season and offer great waves with strong tidal fluctuations of up to 10 meters/30 feet between high and low tides.



10. North Maluku

brewing into bag in a cupFar off on the Pacific Ocean side of Indonesia are islands so remote that Imperial Japanese Army soldiers were fighting World War II as late as 1974. Not far from the jungle camp of these holdouts is a series of pristine reef breaks, now accessible by at least one surf charter boat.


11. The Hinako Islands, North Sumatra

brewing into bag in a cupThe Hinako Islands have two excellent waves, the classic left at Asu and the hollow rights of Bawa. As they work on opposite wind directions, both can be surfed in the same day with a good boat to make the connection between islands.


12. G-Land, East Java

brewing into bag in a cupThe waves of G-Land are where the concept of the "surf camp" was conceived by Mike Boyum, Gerry Lopez and Peter McCabe in the 1970's. Surf, eat and sleep was their program and things are still much the same today at one of the world's best lefts.


13. Aceh, North Sumatra

brewing into bag in a cupAlthough rocked by two of the strongest earthquakes of the century in 2004 and 2005, Aceh in North Sumatra is rebuilding and actively promoting surf tourism on the mainland and offshore islands.



14. Banten, West Java

brewing into bag in a cupIn far West Java, densely populated Banten province has a wide variety of breaks including the powerful peaks of Ombak Tujuh (Seven Waves), a spot that produces of the biggest ride-able waves in Indonesia.


15. East Nusa Tenggara

brewing into bag in a cupHome of this righthander, one of the best rights in Indonesia, the many islands of East Nusa Tenggara are best reached by boat charter as they rarely visited by foreigners.


16. West Sumatra

brewing into bag in a cupThe Mentawai Islands are a surfer's dream. The islands have ultra-consistent swell, a huge variety of waves suitable for experts only to casual beginners and several world-class setups like the classic afternoon perfection of Lance's Right.


17. North Maluku

brewing into bag in a cupAn increasing number of waves are being surfed in this area of Pacific Indonesia, a boat charter company now lists this lefthander as one of their destinations and a luxury resort is under construction on an island nearby.


18. Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara

brewing into bag in a cupThis righthander on a popular holiday in Lombok only works on the biggest ocean swells and an incoming tide. At low tide it will be stone flat. As the tide surges through the Lombok Strait, the waves increase in size and in two hours it can be six feet and perfect.


19. Sumba, East Nusa Tenggara

brewing into bag in a cupThe dry and sparsely populated island of Sumba is well off the tourist trail and has some of Indonesia's least assimilated native cultures. It also has several very high quality waves and receives perhaps more groundswell energy from the Indian Ocean than any other location on the country.


20. West Java

brewing into bag in a cupThere are plenty of waves and surfers in West Java. This wave is on private property and needs permission for access. A rare rivermouth break, the sandbar is a mix of gravel, sand, rock and trash from the river, with the thousands of plastic bags and other rubbish anchoring the sand and giving the bar excellent shape.


21. Panaitan Island, West Java

brewing into bag in a cupInside the parameters of Ujung Kulon National Park is Panaitan Island, home of two of the best waves in all of Indonesia, One Palm Point and Apocalypse. This is where you surf on smaller days, a hollow left known as Napalm for it's extreme  shallow​ness and vicious coral reef.


22. West Papua

brewing into bag in a cupIndonesia shares the giant tropical island of New Guinea with Papua New Guinea and more waves are being discovered in this remote area every season.


23. North Maluku

brewing into bag in a cupOn the other side of Indonesia is the Pacific Ocean, with an equal or perhaps greater number of good waves than the Indian Ocean side of the country and hardly anyone surfing.


24. West Papua

brewing into bag in a cupWith plenty of swell from the Pacific Ocean, there are many unridden waves in eastern Indonesia. This hollow wave breaks like a beachbreak but is unforgiving coral reef.

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