SURF CAMPS INDONESIA – Coming Soon!
Country of unlimited opportunities and surf spots
Welcome to Indonesia, the world’s largest island state. Altogether 17,508 islands belong to the country and thereby a giant number of coasts, beaches and waves. As a surfer, you should come here at least once in a lifetime. The flights are affordable, life is cheap and the waves are free anyway. So don’t think twice and jump on the plane! Surf Camps Indonesia in Sumatra, Java, Bali, Lombok, Sumbawa and Sumba await you with thousands of spots and dream conditions.
Surf regions – The most important Islands
We’d love to share every little detail about all of the 17,508 islands with you. Unfortunately that’s a little overconfident so we hope you’re content with the six most important Indonesian surf islands. Have fun browsing through the Planet Surf Camp Indonesia guide!
Sumatra – The Giant
Sumatra is the world’s sixth largest island. Only Borneo is larger in the archipelago but Indonesia shares this island with Malaysia and Brunei. Because of the large spread of land which runs tubular from north-west to south-east, Sumatra offers lots of coasts for surfing.
Surfing in Sumatra happens inside divine nature and glassy water. Most of the spots are only suitable for the experienced surfers like the Sorake Beach on the Nias islands or the spots on the Mentawai and Banyak islands in the western part of Sumatra. Beginners can get started at the Air Manis beach in the south of Padang.
Beneath surfing, Sumatra is an incredible fascinating part of Indonesia. The Lake Toba in the centre of the island emerged due to the eruption of the supervolcano Toba which almost ceased human kind 74 thousand years ago. Today the Lake Toba is a wonderful tourist attraction.
The Sumatran society is one of the world’s biggest matriarchies. Although the male-dominated Islam has a big influence in all parts of Indonesia women carry a greater weight in Sumatra. Daughters inherit everything and men just marry into the families.
Java – Island of the People
Although Java is almost four times smaller than Sumatra 130 million inhabitants live here what represents more than half of the entire Indonesian population. There is no island on earth which has a bigger population density. More than 1000 people live on one square kilometre. Therefore, the spots are more crowded than on the other Indo islands. Locals have to share the waves on the shoreline with surf travellers. As part of the island chain Java gets the same swell as Bali and Sumatra which offers a high consistency. You should go to the south-west where great surf is almost guaranteed.
More experienced surfers should visit the One Palm Point which offers one of the world’s longest barrels. The famous left-hander isn’t on the main island but on the small island Pulau Panaitan, the ‘Prince Island’ right in front of Java’s coast. You’ll find easier beach and point breaks around Karanghawu like Cimaja, Karang Haji, Karang Hawu and Karang Sari. Apart from that, Java has great spots for experienced surfers. The name of another famous spot on Pulau Panaitan, ‘Apocalypse’, should be taken serious. Also Sawarna in the south-west of the island offers conditions which can frighten beginners and intermediates.
Bali – The Famous
So many things have been said, written and showed about Bali. The variety of information draws a picture of the small island with the big name but it never represents the reality. You should discover the wonderful nature, the rich culture and of course the unbelievable surf conditions yourself. One of our surf camps Indonesia is in Canggu.
At our website, you get an overview of the best surf spots in Bali, information about the culture and the Balinese people, the landscape and good tips. The rest is left to yourself. Draw your own picture!
Lombok – Home of the Desert Point
The cool thing about Indonesia is the multitude of contrasts which you encounter here. All islands offer different surf spots and there are several cultural and religious differences. But at first, it’s the landscape that leaps to the eye. It differs from island to island.
The contrast is very strong especially if you travel from Bali to Lombok. Bali has a very tropical green nature whereas Lombok is very dry and partly savanna-like. Most of the travellers get to know Lombok only on the offshore Gili islands (Link). But also, the main island is worth a visit. Lombok is home of the second highest volcano in Indonesia, the Rinjani. It stands 3762 metres high. You won’t be able to overlook it. Lombok offers one of our Surf Camps Indonesia.
Lombok’s surf spots can’t keep up with the enormous quality of Bali’s. In exchange, they aren’t that crowded. But to call Lombok an insider tip would be overconfident because it’s home of the world-famous Desert Point, one of the most famous left barrels. The pros can experience up to 20 seconds barrel time here. The best base for less sophisticated surfers is Kuta in the south of Lombok. There are lots of good waves nearby: The Grupuk waves and Don-Don in the east of Kuta and Segar and Are Guling in the west. The beach break Selong Belanak is highly recommended for beginners.
Sumbawa – The Original
In the east of Lombok is Sumbawa, one of the small Sunda islands. Sumbawa is composed of two demographic groups which speak two completely different languages. On the island, you can experience a very original Indonesia that is very well described in its surname BESAR which stands for bersih, elok, sehat, aman damai, rapi. Roughly translated that means clean, beautiful, healthy and tidy. Sumbawa’s economy is very small. There’s almost no industry and tourism isn’t very relevant in comparison to the other Indonesian islands.
The undeveloped Sumbawa is perfectly suited for those who search for empty surf spots and cheap accommodations. Altogether the spots are very challenging and some are dangerous because of sharp coral reefs. In the west, you’ll find a great number of spots like the Scar Reef, Super Suck, the Yoyos and the Tropicals. At the southern coast Lakey Peak is famous for excellent waves.
Sumba – The Unknown
As the fourth poorest Indonesian province Sumba is just like Sumbawa less overcrowded than the other parts of the island state. You may reckon that there won’t be too much luxury offered on the island. Nonetheless, in search of great swell you shouldn’t miss out on Sumba. The island is often called the Bali from 20 years ago because the infrastructure isn’t developed too much. However, Sumba’s landscape is very different from the more popular islands in the North. It’s less bluff and volcanic and instead characterized by rolling hills and lots of unspoiled nature. As an offshore part of the large mountain chain Sumba’s south-western coast gets a lot of swell. The ocean trench right in front of the coast makes the waves even bigger. They bang constantly on Sumba’s reefs which consist of corals, volcanic rocks and boulders.
Overall, Sumba’s conditions can be very wild and unpredictable what shouldn’t scare off more experienced surfers. If you can put up with the undeveloped infrastructure or even appreciate it you should absolutely visit Sumba. Who’s in search of empty line-ups and the best swells should be here in any case. One of the best waves of the island is the Occy’s Left in Nihiwatu which is also called ‘luxury wave’. To surf here you need to be guest of the luxurious Nihiwatu Resort which has exclusive access to the great wave. Be careful: Armed security guards will chase you away if you try to sneak in.
But don’t worry: That’s just an individual case. The rest of the swell is for everybody and of course for free. You will find great spots on the east coast, especially in the regions Kabanda, Madala and Bondokodi.
Travel Time, Flight and Transfer on Site
Again, Indonesia is not that ONE place. The island state is 1882 km long from north to south and 5114 km long from west to east. It has three different time zones and is traversed by the equator.
Therefore, the surf conditions can be different on each island. In Sumatra, best swell is from April to October when the Roaring 40s and Howling 50 winds reach the island. The best travel time in Java for beginners is from September to May and for the experienced surfers from June to October. The well-known spots can be very crowded in summer. Bali’s spots work both in the dry season from April to October and in the rain season from November to March. During the European winter Bali’s east coast is better, during summer the west coast offers better swell. Lombok is also affected by the Roaring 40s and Howling 50s. According to this, most of the surf spots in the south work from April to October. Same applies to Sumbawa and Sumba which get the big swell from south. But also in the off-season some of the spots work.
All of Indonesia’s larger islands have their own airport. You need one or two stopovers to fly to Sumatra, Java, Bali and Lombok. Of course, there are also direct flights but they cost many times more. Good flights to Indonesia are easy to find because there is a wide choice of airlines and the prices are affordable. To get to the smaller islands like Sumbawa and Sumba you might need more than two stopovers. You find cheap domestic flights on the Indonesian website Tiket. We recommend approaching one of the bigger airports. The two biggest are in Java Banden and Java Timur. Bali has also a very big international airport in the capitol city Denpasar. Next on the list are the airports in Sulawesi and Sumatra. All in all, there are 25 airports in Indonesia so you have plenty of opportunities. Surf Camps Indonesia are easily reachable from the bigger airports.
The average flight duration from Europe is about 20 hours including stopovers. This of course varies by many hours.
The biggest airlines on this route are Singapore Airlines, Garuda Indonesia, Air France, Emirates, Turkish Airlines, Qatar Airlines and Etihad Airways. You’ll find the cheapest flights from March to May which is also a very good travel time in Indonesia. Check out Skyscanner for the best flights.
Within the country there are lots of transport possibilities other than flights that will bring you from one point to the other. Indonesia consists of more water than land so it’s likely that you use one of the frequently running ferries or speed boats.
If you want to plunge into the hectic Indonesian traffic you can rent a scooter, motor bike or a car from one of the many local vendors. The rent is very cheap but you should be careful. Most of the time they don’t offer an insurance so you must pay the repair costs if you have an accident. Also, rented vehicles get stopped by the police quite often. Alternatively, you can make use of the wide range of tuk-tuks and taxis which are very cheap.
Public busses and trains are less risky. The rail network is very well developed especially in the big cities and almost in every part of Java. The differences can be big though if you go to the islands with less tourism like Sumbawa or Sumba.
The History of Surfing in Indonesia
The first Indonesian island where surfing arrived is today’s surfer paradise Bali. Robert Koke, tennis coach and photographer from Los Angeles brought the sport from Hawaii to the Kuta beach in 1936. Because of World War II and adaption processes it needed again 30 years until surfing went viral in Bali and Indonesia.
As in many aspects you can’t speak of the ONE Indonesian culture. Onshore and by sea you need to travel about 5400 km to get from one end of Indonesia to the other. That’s like the distance between Germany and Saudi Arabia. It’s obvious that you find cultural differences here.
Indonesia consists of 360 different folks and many of them are trying to gain independence. Accordingly, it’s not easy for the Indonesian government to accomplish a common identity.
The contrasts within the country don’t seem to be reflected in the religions. Islam is the most represented religion in almost every part of the island state. 200 million Muslims live here what makes 88% of the whole population. There is no country on earth that has a higher number of Muslim inhabitants. Islam is not the official religion as in many Muslim countries but all Indonesians must confess to one of the five accepted religions. Although many of them practise traditional religions they officially belong to the Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Confucianism or Hinduism.
The official language in Indonesia is Bahasa Indonesia. Since tourism grew in the last couple of decades almost everybody in the touristic areas talks English. In some places people even speak other European languages. We can assure you that you won’t have communication problems at our Surf Camps Indonesia!
Food in Indonesia
The basis of almost every Indonesian dish is rice. The kitchen here is very much influenced by India and China. In some areas, you also find remains of the Dutch colonial era in the form of cakes and tartes.
Beneath rice and lots of spices there are regional differences. Especially in the coast regions you will find lots of fish and sea fruit dishes. Pork is only common in the Eastern archipelago where the number of Christians is higher. Particularly vegetarian dishes are an important part of the Indonesian kitchen. If you like either South East Asian, Indian or Chinese food you will get satisfied.
Weather, Climate and Water Temperature
Despite the enormous size of Indonesia, you can generally say that the dry season is from May to September. Of course, there are different regional characteristics. The Northern part of Indonesia like Sumatra has a tropical wet climate all year long. The South is characterized by the monsoon. The most comfortable time of the year is between May and June because the rain season ends and the temperatures are endurable. The nearby Equator ensures an average temperature between 24 and 28 degrees all year long.
Water temperature is always between 25 and 28 degrees so you can surf in shorts and lycra everywhere. A good sunblock is essential in Indonesia. Here you learn more about the climate in Indonesia.
Top 10 Indonesia Highlights
1. Hike the Mount Bromo
In Java, you should visit the 2329 metres high stratovolcano Bromo which is one of the most active volcanos in Indonesia. The view on the three volcanos Bromo, Batok and Semuru is gigantic – especially at sunrise. The only problem: It’s a money machine. Every morning you will meet countless tourist groups that crowd on the small viewing platform to get the best view on the volcano. If you’re looking for a quieter atmosphere you should choose another daytime for the ascent.
2. Visit the ‘Last Dinosaurs’
Komodo – home of the famous Komodo dragon. Go there if you’re on a surf trip on the neighbouring islands Sumba or Sumbawa. The animals can get longer than three metres and weigh up to 70 kilos. That’s why they are called the last dinosaurs in common parlance. Unfortunately, the Komodo dragons are threatened to become instinct. There are only 3000 to 4000 of them left so the species is ranked ‘vulnerable’ by the IUCN.
3. Gili Islands Hopping
Right in front of Lombok’s coast but also within reach from Bali are the Gili islands. Gili Air, Gili Meno and Gili Trawangan are little paradises and suitable for each and every one. Gili Trawangan is the perfect place for party animals whereas the other islands are quieter. There are also spots for surfing and diving.
4. Discover Java’s capitol city Jakarta
You need to witness the crazy hectic on the streets of the biggest city in South East Asia. Although Jakarta is not the most beautiful city on earth it’s just impressing. Take a look at the masses of cars, Tuk-Tuks and scooters which crawl through the streets at an average speed of 8.3 km/h and you will be prepared for the whole Indonesian travel. As a European it’s hard to understand how the Indonesians are always able to keep a cool head. Just see it for yourself if your plane lands here!
The name sounds pretty similar to Jakarta but it doesn’t compare to the capitol city. Yogyakarta is less hectic, less full, less loud. Whereas in Jakarta economy looms large Yogyakarta is the educational centre of Indonesia. There are Universities and lots of culture to experience. Two of the country’s most important temples are nearby. Borobudur is a Buddhist temple whereas Prambanan is Hindu. The proximity of the two temples symbolizes the harmony of the religions in Indonesia.
In the past few years there has also been established a young student culture scene that expresses itself with beautiful cafés and street art.
6. Diving in Raja Ampat
In Raja Ampat there is a lot going on as well. Not on the streets but underwater. The archipelago in the Indo-Pacific region is one of the best diving areas on the planet. There is no other place on earth with so many madrepore species (488 has been identified), which is an important habitat for fishes and other marine organisms. Many spots are situated right at the beach or reachable by speed boat in a short space of time. And best of all: The conservation area isn’t very crowded. Nature and underwater fans can’t ignore the beautiful Raja Ampat.
7. Discover World History at the Lake Toba
The Lake Toba in the centre of Sumatra emerged about 74 thousand years ago when the super volcano Toba erupted. The Toba catastrophe theory says that human kind was reduced to between thousand and ten thousand individuals so the human species was almost extinct. The eruption also caused a huge cooling of the planet climate.
What remained of the catastrophe is a green fertile landscape which formed around the Lake Toba. In the middle of the lake is Samosir, which is approached by boats several times of the day. Although the lake has grown as a tourist attraction it retained its beauty and originality.
8. Delving into the Indonesian Surf Culture at Kuta Beach
Kuta Beach is the birthplace of the Indonesian surf culture. Robert Koke brought his surf board here which got the ball rolling. Since that day, Kuta Beach is pilgrimage site for the surfers from all over the world. There aren’t many places on earth with a comparable swell consistency. And the best thing about it: Kuta Beach is only a stone’s throw from Canggu (link) where on of our Surf Camps Indonesia is located.
9. Tanjung Puting National Park in Borneo
Borneo is not very attractive for surfing because the swell is absorbed by the islands in the South. Nonetheless, the third largest island of the world is worth a visit because it offers a lovely piece of nature. The Tanjung Puting National Park is 4150 km² large and famous for the big Orang Utan population. About 6000 specimens are protected here. With a bit of luck, you will also be able to catch sight of the threatened long-nose ape, crocodiles, lizards and uncountable birds. A three-day boat tour including airport transfer, overnight stay and food costs about 300€.
10. Ascent Kelimutu
The ‘Cape of Flower’ Flores is a small paradisiac spot of land in the Indonesian province East-Nusa Tengara. The mountain Kelimutu in Flores offers a very special natural wonder. On top of the 1639 metres high volcano you’ll find three lakes right next to each other which change their water colour through the years. The spectrum ranges from black, turquoise and red brown to green. Flores is a must for all of those who are more into great landscapes than into parties and choose the quiet of the nature over the hectic of tourist regions and big cities.
Why Indonesia with Planet Surfcamps?
Indonesia’s main islands profit by the Roaring 40s and Howling 50s all year long that conjure a constantly good swell on the Indonesian southwest coast. As a surfer, there is no way around Surf Camps Indonesia on a permanent basis. Especially Bali is considered the surfer Mecca of South East Asia – and it’s true. Our Balinese surf camp is in Canggu which is nearby the best spots with consistent swell.
But also regardless of surfing you shouldn’t miss out on Indonesia. The country’s size tells a lot about the endless opportunities here. Giant volcanos surrounded by unbelievable landscapes, historic temples that tell from ancient cultures, long palm-lined beaches, sun, warm water and nice people.. The list could be carried on forever. One thing is sure: If surfer or not – you will love Indonesia!