Surf tourism is a huge money spinner for the Indonesian economy. Over the years it has built up from someone spotting a perfect surf break from a plane, which was Bali to the tourist resort that has become Kuta Beach, Bali. From there the expansion of discovering other unknown surf breaks. G’land, Nusa Lembongan, Nias, Banda Aceh, Lombok and Sumbawa were all discovered. Bali became the mecca and transit point for all long term surfers.
After months on islands, in jungle surf camps, people hit Kuta Beach and to get their fix of civilisation, to catch up on missed partying, and usually meet other surfers that they had seen on their adventures and to catch up to see how the travels were going.
Before departing on your surf adventure the necessities for a good long surf tour is a good medical travel kit. Anti malarial tablets, anti nausea, fasigyn to stop the long-term Bali Belly or Guardia, things to clean wounds like disinfectants (coral cuts need a good scrubbing which can really hurt)etc etc. Travel insurance will also help you. A smart traveller venturing out of Bali should never leave without it.
These days there are very few frontiers left to discover. Imagine yourself sitting on the beach at Desert Point in Lombok, with 7 other people, knowing that at low tide the break is going to pump, and then at the right time 5 surf tour boats with at least 8 people on each boat arrive. The take off point becomes crowded and your fun turns to frustration as you now have to compete for waves.
There are 2 ways to get to a surf destination. Going overland, or by public transport may seem cheaper, but in the end all the food accommodation and fares add up to the same amount once your arrive there. You also, have the added pressure of meeting up with dubious characters like Tuan Besar (Mr.Big) at Dompu airport that prey on tourists and leave your pocket quite a bit lighter. Sure going by boat takes away most of the cultural experience. But you have to be a seasoned Asian traveller to put up with a new Tuan Besar every day. You have to face off with him, and let him know you’re onto him and his schemes so he will just steer clear of you.
Otherwise going by boat takes away the pressure of all the on land stress, but costs a lot more. The result less medical fatalities, no malaria, and only finding a good wave to worry about.
Surf boats will take you to most of the islands off Sumatra. A few island groups like Siberut Islands were uncommon for surf trips but now stories of other surfers will tell you that between Banda Aceh the northern tip of Sumatra and Sumbawa, you can’t go far without, seeing another boat turn up. I’m not sure these days but Sumba and further west were always a little undiscovered and hopefully remain so. On the other hand, the boats are the best way to avoid the malaria problem on land
Surfers from around the world have now discovered that Indonesia is a good cheap surf destination, full of awesome waves that rival the fame of Hawaii. Even many Hawaiians will tell you that they are in awe of the calibre of waves that Indonesia receives. There is a lot of information on surf tours available online. Companies like the Perfect Wave Surf Tours have a good range of Indonesian surf trips. You can also line yourself up a surf trip on the streets in Kuta Beach, Bali. Go to Tubes restaurant for example,and they have selected tour operators that can take you by boat to many a surf destination.
Coming soon, Indonesian Slang to help you negotiate your way through Indonesia