As Corona possibly comes to an end and the world starts opening up again, for those interested in surfing the first question that comes to mind is “Where is the best place to surf?” Or, “Where is the best place to learn to surf?” The undoubtedly end result being, “When is the best time to travel to Indonesia?”
To start by briefly answering the first question, surfing has many variables which make it hard to name one place the best in the world. It depends on what you are looking for, or maybe you don’t even know what to look for. The different variables to consider are:
Consistency. Surf conditions vary from day to day, unlike skateboarding, you can’t just surf all the time. There are multiple factors involved here: local wind patterns, swell, and tides.
Type of Waves. Everyone is on a different level and looking for different types of waves. Some people enjoy surfing point breaks, others reef breaks, and some even prefer surfing beach breaks. Are you looking for barrels, long rides, air sections, big waves, small waves, etc.?
Accessibility. Do you have to travel long distances to surf the wave? Do you have to pay for expensive boat rides or take multiple different flights to get to the surf spot?
Crowds. Even though the surf spot is good or even considered amazing, you should consider how many people will be in the line up at a given time. It is hard to enjoy yourself if there are 100 people out in the line up.
The first place that pops into mind is Indonesia
Indo, because of the nature of the islands, isn’t just one of the best places in the world to go surfing, but also one of the best places to learn to surf. It offers a wide variety of different surf conditions. There is something for you whether you want to travel to remote surf spots via surf charter, surf beach breaks, point breaks, barreling waves, etc. All these different types of surf spots can be found within close distance from each other, between Lombok, Bali, and Sumbawa.
For anyone wanting to learn to surf, Lombok is an especially special place to do that. There are surf breaks in Lombok that allow even the most beginner surfers to get right in the line up. Just to be clear – we always recommended to do so with a coach though.
This brings us to our ultimate question.
“When is the best time to travel to Indonesia?”
You would think that the answer would be straight forward, but it is most definitely not. To determine the best time we need to take variables and preferences into account, because Indo offers good waves year round. It has to be one of the most consistent places in the world to surf. There is somewhere to surf year round here, but the most consistent time to be in Indonesia is from about March to October. This is when the south east trade winds start.
If you are a beginner surfer, then coming to Indonesia between the months of February & May and September & November is the right time for you. Bali is an amazing place but Lombok is where it’s at – the quality and consistency of surf spots for beginners here is amazing.
February & May and September & November offer little wind (which is good for surfing). The worst of the rainy season is either just about finishing in March and starting in November, so you miss the worst of it and remember to bring a surf hat since the sun is relentless this time of year. Also, during those times there are consistent small to mid-sized waves. These times are specific to Lombok.
If you are an intermediate surfer there will be surf for you year-round. In order to find the best time, we have to take into account all the variables. The best time to surf in the Uluwatu area is between April to October, when the winds are offshore everyday and there is always somewhere to surf. The Uluwatu area mostly houses left handers, so there will be no going right if that is your preference. If you are looking for right handers in the intermediate range, then Lombok is best for you.
The best time to surf in Lombok and its contrasting right handers is during the wet season from November to April, but between February through May is best. Spots like Are Guling, Serangan, Inside, and Outside Right are all available during this season. As the dry season with southeast trade winds approches, the only available wave of the bunch is Insides. The other spots are south facing and get hammered by the trade winds.
If you are an advanced surfer and looking for the crème de la crème then you may as well skip the wet season. It is better to arrive around April and leave in September. Spots you may want to look out for are, Desert Point on Lombok (a long left barrel), Super Suck & Scar Reef (freight train left barrels), and the Bukit on Bali which offers the Famous Padang Padang and Uluwatu (also lefts).
Last but not least for the left handers, G-Land which is arguably one of the best lefts in the world. In fact, I would put all of the above mentioned breaks into the top 10 left handers in the world along with Pipeline, Skeleton Bay, Cloud Break, Mundaka, and replace Scar Reef and Uluwatu for Chopes and Macaronis.
Back to the point, if you are looking for advanced right hand waves then coming to Indo might not be the best option. The only rights that exist between Bali, Lombok, and Sumbawa are all mainly wet season waves. Yoyo’s on Sumbawa is a heavier version of Outsides in Lombok. In Bali the only real good options are Serangan and Keramas, which again only break in the wet season and require a good amount of swell which isn’t abundant during this time of the year. Not to mention crowded because they are the only real right option.
As a more advanced surfer looking for right handers in Indonesia, you may have to make your way further into the jungle and onto a boat. The ‘Ments’ as they say offers a variety of righthand breaks such as, the ever fickle, but bullet as it’s named Rifles suggests, a speedy barrel that only works on the perfect swell with perfect wind. HT’s or Lances Right and the Sanitized Surgeons Table. The best time to be in the Mentewai’s is between March through October, with the best surf being recorded during June & July, but the wind can also be relentless during that time for certain surf spots.
To conclude, the answer to the main question “when is the best time to travel to Indonesia?” is…..it depends. I hope this article was helpful, of course if we wanted to give you an easy answer we would have just said all the time, but hopefully this serves as more insight into what Indonesia has to offer.
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